Grant Aris has danced in the great theatres of the world and led a life of glamour. Now, after 24 years with the Geneva Ballet, he has packed his pointe shoes and moved to the Sunshine Coast, where he will teach ballet at Dance Edge Studios in Warana.
Born in the UK, he emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of five. He was accepted into the Royal Ballet School in the UK at the age of 10. After a few years he grew homesick, returning to Australia to study at The Australian Ballet School in Melbourne.
At just 17, he was accepted into The Australian Ballet, under the tutelage of artistic director Maina Gielgud, who spotted his potential as a soloist due to his height. “I toured with The Australian Ballet for five years and we were pretty much on tour for eight months a year, going around Australia,” he says.
“We also had the opportunity to have international tours. My first one was to China and I was enthralled. It was always my dream to dance in as many prestigious theatres around the world and work with as many different styles as I could, so I thought Europe would be the best cultural base to do that.”
In 1998 he moved to Switzerland and spent 11 years as a dancer and 13 years as an assistant director with the Geneva Ballet.
Mr Aris has been trying to move to the Sunshine Coast to be near family for the past 18 months and has had 13 flights cancelled. “My mother is in Alexandra Headland and my sister is in Coolum Beach,” he says. “Every time I had vacation time, I flew back to Australia and I would be teaching children. It was my dream to come back to the Coast and pass on my knowledge to the younger generations.
“I will be looking at a pre-professional age range – 13 to 17. I will be teaching mostly girls, but boys are always welcome. I remember when I was that age, we had two boys and 15 girls. That was normal, until I arrived at the Australian Ballet School. It’s very important for the girls to learn how to be lifted and partnered.
“I think with my career and my background it might attract more boys to dance, when they see the success in my career,” he says.
Mr Aris says it’s important for students to see different performances and communicate with different dancers. One of his ideas is to organise cultural exchange programs between ballet schools here and those he has worked with across the world.
He is particularly keen to pass on the joy and learning he has received after a long career doing what he loves most.
“Ballet has taught me discipline,” he says. “It has taught me to believe in myself, given me great self-esteem, taught me how to communicate with different cultures. It has taught me social skills and how to connect with important people.
“This is what I’m trying to bring back to the Coast as well.
“My goal for that is to make a bridge between amateur dancers into professional artists for their future. I’d also like to bring more performances here and develop the cultural wealth of the Sunshine Coast.”