The Malta Independent 19 August 2019, Monday

Young ballet prodigy to star in four British shows

Dayna Clarke Monday, 29 July 2019, 09:00 Last update: about 21 days ago

Julia Gauci, an 11-year-old ballerina from Mosta, has become the youngest Maltese dancer to land a prestigious part in three live performances at The Crescent in Birmingham and one gala show at London’s famous Sadler’s Wells Theatre in September.

To land the coveted roles, Julia battled tough competition from hundreds of entrants, through a stringent audition process held in London earlier this year. Julia attended an intensive course at Opera de Paris in the beginning of July. She then flew to London to join the English National Ballet School’s intensive course. Both of these courses are part of her development training.

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Julia will return to Malta in the first week of August and after a week-long break, she will fly to Birmingham to join the National Youth Ballet Company to start rehearsals for the shows.

“I’m really looking forward to training for the rest of this summer in Paris and the UK and so happy about these opportunities — I know I have a lot of support and I have trained so hard to get here,” the young girl said. It must be acknowledged, three hours of training a day after school, not to mention keeping up with her academic studies, as she is described as an ‘exemplary student’, is by no means an easy feat for any youngster.

“It is my dream to become a professional ballerina, and I admire stars such as the Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova — she is my idol! I have been fortunate to have been trained very well at the Academy of Dance Arts in Mosta, as well as by talented visiting top ballet professionals such as Lucy May Di Stefano, Daria Lyakisheva and Mark James Biocca.”

Managing a strict training schedule, as well as physiotherapy sessions, deep tissue massage, and with extensive work and financial sacrifices along the way, it is clear her family have devoted their lives to supporting Julia. “If she decides this isn’t for her anymore, or if we see this isn’t making her happy any longer, she knows full well she can stop. Right now, dancing brings Julia so much joy, and it is truly mesmerising to see her perform,” says her mother, Diandra.

Julia adds: “Paris and London are both amazing! The chance to travel internationally has helped me grow personally and professionally, through learning a variety of dances and absorbing new cultures. Last year I went to a summer school as part of the Opera de Paris training programme for the first time, and I had to pick up French pretty fast! I did manage to make some good friends.”

With the pairing of her natural gift and hours of training, a whole plethora of opportunities has opened up for Julia.

“I know that if I train hard enough and push myself, I will continue to improve and can achieve my dream of taking on leading roles. I am grateful I have some local sponsors such as Bupa Malta, the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation, the Arts Council Malta and a few individual benefactors. Thanks to this financial support I can now follow my dream to become a professional ballerina,” she added.

Earlier this year, Bupa Malta executive director Adriana Zarb Adami noted: “Julia is a young Maltese top-class ballerina with immense potential, and Bupa Malta is always very willing to support exceptional talent.”

Upon meeting Julia, who has been under the teaching of the Academy of Dance Arts in Mosta since the age of five, it is apparent she was born with an exceptional natural talent for classical ballet. Coupled with her parents nurturing support, she channels this talent with great passion and determination. “Initially, I tried a variety of dancing classes, including hip hop, Spanish and contemporary — then I guess I found my calling in ballet,” she says.

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