Callum Linnane has come a long way since developing a fascination with Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean as a little boy.
The Ballarat born and raised dancer once surprised his family of bricklayers by dedicating himself to tap and jazz, before throwing himself into the serious study of ballet.
But now, all those years of hard work have paid off – Linnane has just been named the 2016 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winner, one of the most prestigious dance prizes in the country.
The Australian Ballet dancer and former St Patrick’s College student has $20,000 and a promise of a glittering career in the arts.
The announcement was made on Saturday night at the Sydney Opera House, following The Australian Ballet’s opening night performance of Coppélia.
“They announced the award on stage after the show, so to receive the award in front of the audience and with all my fellow dancers on stage is definitely a moment I’ll always remember,” Linnane, 21, said.
“To even be nominated was a huge honour for me, along with five other people in the company, to be recognised as having potential. But to take out the award means a huge amount. For the director and the staff of the Australian Ballet and all the supporters to see a strong future in me makes me really want to realise that future.”
Linnane was recently selected to perform the lead role in John Neumeier’s Nijinsky, a huge achievement for the dancer.
“Winning the award has really given me a huge surge of confidence. It will really carry me forward and allow me to push further and further,” he said.
“I never really stop and think about how hard am I working, it’s always just been a part of it for me. This career is much too taxing unless you’re passionate about it.”
Linnane also said he expected more and more ballet talent to come out of Ballarat.
“There’s a big dance community in Ballarat,” he said.
“ As society progresses and the stigma around dance, and especially boys in dance (decreases)...I think Ballarat will continue to produce more and more talent in the arts.
“We’ve only got one life and it’s going to be very short. So if there’s something you want to do – music or dance or drama or sport – if it’s something you’re passionate about, everything is going to be worth it.”
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