First published on 2 Mar 2012. Updated on 6 Mar 2012.
Australian ballet dancer Shaw Coleman, who performs in the Singapore Dance Theatre’s Swan Lake this month, started dancing aged seven in Perth, and by his mid-teens was taking lead roles in shows such as Romeo and Juliet at the Perth City Ballet. After graduating top of his class at the Australian National Theatre Ballet School in 2006, Coleman has pirouetted and jetéd his way round the world, taking leading roles at Ballet Ireland, and Germany’s Landestheater Detmold and Ballet Hagen companies. He joined the SDT in August 2011. Here Coleman tells us about his life in dance.
On starting out
‘When I was seven, I think some boys at school took dancing classes, so I thought I’d give it a try. At first, it was a lot of fun. I was in a class with my two triplet brothers and just one other girl. As a kid I wasn’t self-conscious. It was only later, when it was just me going to a ballet class full of girls, that I got self-conscious.
‘But I knew I wanted to be a dancer from the time I was a kid. I just gradually became aware of this longing that was always there. My parents were very suppor tive, but not pushy. They didn’t get too involved, but they let me do my thing and suppor ted me fi nancially as much as they were able.’
On his favourite role
‘My favourite role was Albrecht in Giselle – it was my graduation performance at the Australian National Theatre Ballet School, so it’s very special for me. One of my most challenging roles was the Golden Slave in Scheherazade. The dancing was physically intense, and the character forced me to really learn to act.’
On SDT’s Swan Lake
‘I will be one of the hunters in the prince’s hunting party, and will be dancing the Czardas in Act III. The Czardas is an eastern European dance which is not always very technical, but requires a lot of style and character to per form well.’
On being a male ballet dancer
‘It’s a difficult path to take. You have to believe you can do it. People make comments about boys who dance; often they can be hurtful. Don’t let them tell you who or what you are. You need to start your training early and work hard. But you also need to take time to look after your soul.’
Swan Lake is at Esplanade Theatre 15-18 Mar.