Canberra boy Drew Hedditch joined The Australian Ballet in 2014. We sat down with Drew to talk to him about his start in ballet – as well as frozen custard and pet cows!
What was the first time you saw a professional ballet?
It was a triple bill by The Australian Ballet called White, at the Canberra Theatre Centre. It included the Kingdom of the Shades scene from La Bayadère, Adrian Burnett’s Relic and Serge Lifar’s Suite en blanc, which is easily one of my favourite ballets. I was eleven at the time and I remember being so excited because Annabel Bronner Reid (a wonderful dancer with the company, and she was from Canberra!) was dancing and I was fortunate enough to meet her after the show; it was organised by our fathers who worked together.
Have you ever performed at the Canberra Theatre Centre before?
When I was training at the Lisa Clark Dance Centre, our yearly concerts were held at the Canberra Theatre. Having previously performed on the stage, I think it will be really nice to return, bringing back a lot of memories.
When you were growing up, it was ballet vs rugby. What made you choose ballet?
I think as I grew older there wasn’t really much choice to be made, I’d be standing on the field on a Saturday morning just waiting for the game to finish so that I could hop in the car, get my tights on and get into my ballet class. I have a very clear memory of pretending to be sick one day so that I didn’t have to play rugby, I called my mum (dad playing along) and told her I was too sick to play. I watched the game from the car with my dad, but as soon as it was finished I miraculously felt much better and was fine to go to ballet after.
What’s a role you dream of playing?
I dream of one day being a prince. Prince Sigfried from Swan Lake would be one of my top choices. Frederic Ashton’s Rhapsody is a work that I would love to do one day, particularly the pas de deux. The ballet is set to Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, which is a piece of music I also love, so I find the ballet very appealing.
How did you make the transition from school in Canberra to the The Australian Ballet School?
I was adamant that I wanted to complete Year 10 of my schooling before moving to The Australian Ballet School in Melbourne, which is exactly what I did. While training in Canberra I travelled to New York and competed in the Youth America Grand Prix. This was an eye-opening experience for me that really made me decide that ballet was what I wanted to pursue and that its world was something that I really wanted to be a part of. At the age of 16 I moved from Canberra to Melbourne alone to complete three years of full-time schooling at The Australian Ballet School. At first it was hard settling in to a new environment and being one of only a few newcomers into my level at the school. I didn’t really get homesick, I knew I had a lot of support from my family, but I missed my friends and my dog more than anything. Once over the first hump, I had a great time at the school and was fortunate enough to have great training and many opportunities. I performed on two regional tours around Australia with The Dancers Company and in my graduating year I travelled to Toronto, Canada, with some of my peers and performed at the Assemblée Internationale 13. In the same year I was offered a contract by The Australian Ballet and the day that it happened I remember being so overwhelmed, that I was somewhat unresponsive and had to be told by a friend to call my mum and tell her my news! Now in my second year with the company, I can happily say that it is everything and more than I expected and it’s quite exciting to think that this is still the start of my career.
You’re hosting Boys’ Day: what advice would you give to young boys starting out in ballet?
I’m quite excited to host Boys’ Day, it’ll be nice to get a glimpse of Canberra’s up-and-coming male talent! I think my biggest piece of advice would be to focus, and to know what you want to achieve. I think you have make the most of what you’re given and constantly work to better yourself. If I were to talk to my 12-year-old self, I’d probably tell myself to point my feet and work my lower legs! It’s something that is so obvious for ballet but I think that’s why I never really thought much about it. I now know much more about the importance of it in relation to injury prevention.
How has your family responded to your appointment at The Australian Ballet? Will this year be the first time they see you on stage with the company?
My family love seeing that I’m a part of the Ballet. My mum and sister both subscribe so they’ve already seen me on stage many times, but this season in Canberra will be the first time my extended family are able to see me perform, in particular my Grandma who has been a big supporter of me from the beginning.
You love animals – do you have pets, in Canberra or in Melbourne?
Unfortunately I can’t have any pets where I live in Melbourne. At home in Canberra though I have a dog called Sadie, she’s a Jack Russell X Border Collie, so she’s an interesting mix but is gorgeous and always excited to see me when I come home. When I was younger I actually had a pet cow on my grandma’s farm, her name was Maisy and I’d often be found in the paddock with her asleep and her head resting on my lap.
How would you describe growing up in Canberra?
Growing up in Canberra was great, to me it’s city that still has the community of a town. I had a great constant support from my school and friends for what I did which I think really helped me face the high demands of ballet training.
What’s the first thing you do when you visit Canberra?
The first thing I usually do is have a roast that my dad’s cooked for the family, followed by a trip to Goodberry’s to get a frozen custard! I love food, there’s no denying that.
Can you share some of your favourite things about Canberra – cafés, places, times of year?
I think Autumn is great time of year in Canberra, lots of colour and it doesn’t yet have the harsh cold of a Canberra winter. As I mentioned, I love Goodberry’s Frozen Custard, whenever I’m home it’s a must and I can’t get enough of it. I also really like Dobinson’s Bakery in the city, it’s a place I’ve always gone to since I was little, and the chocolate ganache tarts are fantastic!