TALENTEDyoung ballet dancer Taj Cooper of Foster has made his professional debut in The Australian Ballet’s latest production of Peter Wright’s The Nutcrackernow on in the State Theatre at The Arts Centre Melbourne.
Taj, the 12-year-old son of Ben and Nicole Cooper, is a member of the children’s cast that performs in the first act of The Nutcracker.
He dances in seven of the 14 performances of what is the world’s most frequently staged and best-loved classical ballets on alternate show dates.
In his role, Taj is one of a group of eight children who with their parents go to a magnificent Christmas Eve party where the daughter of the hosts is given a magical Nutcracker doll.
He shares the stage with guest international dancers and principal and senior artists of The Australian Ballet, including Andrew Killian, Amber Scott, Benedicte Bemet and one of Taj’s own personal ballet heroes, Adam Bull.
Taj has been training with the Lisa Pellin Dancers in Leongatha for the past seven years.
Last year he was accepted into the Australian Ballet School’s Intra/Interstate and International Training Programme (ITP) where he attends occasional ballet classes.
Through the ITP Taj was asked to be part of The Australian Ballet cast in The Nutcrackerand he appeared in the season’s opening performance on Tuesday September 17.
Taj is currently in Year 7 at Mary MacKillop Catholic Regional College in Leongatha and recently found out that he had won a place at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS).
He will enter Year 8 at VCASS in 2020 and will join his big sister Siobhan who is presently in in her first year at Year 9 level at the school and has just taken part in her major year dance performance at The Malthouse Theatre Melbourne.
Siobhan received 100 per cent in her first Cecchetti Intermediate level ballet examination earlier this year.
Taj’s mother Nicole said her son “can’t wait to be dancing more and being able to balance both his dance and academic studies at the one place.
“Taj has enjoyed the rehearsal period, dancing and watching the amazing cast of The Australian Ballet preparing for The Nutcracker,” she said.
“It is such an awesome experience and opportunity to perform with Australia’s best ballet dancers at the most wonderful venue.”
Nicole and Ben said they “are very proud of the hard work and accomplishments of our children.
“Our other son Jack is in Year 10 at Mary MacKillop and enjoys playing violin as well as small-boat sailing. He is very supportive, adaptable and proud of his siblings, too,” they said.
“We always tell the three children that ‘if they want it they have to work hard to get it, and we will help and guide you but we can’t do the work for you’.
“It’s not easy living in separate homes five-and-a-half days a week so time together is very precious,” the Coopers said. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds and where our children will end up!”