This is my fabulous nephew, Joel Walsham.
Remember that name.
Talented dancer. Gorgeous nephew. Fantastic human being.
I feel privileged to say that I have known him from the beginning. Eighteen years ago I caught an overnight train to meet him when he was just a newborn. It was Joel who made me an aunty; my first nephew.
And now he's on his way.
Like, really ON HIS WAY.
As I said, Joel is a dancer. He started lessons when he was a tot, at the age when lots of kids both boys and girls go to preschool dance, urged on by their mummies.
But Joel was different. He might have only been three years old but he knew he wanted to be a dancer. To be in shows, to travel around the world performing, and then one day bring home the skills he learned on the world's stage and set up a dance school, here in NZ.
(I remember having this conversation with him when he was about 11 years old.)
For years Joel has worked his butt off, doing nothing but dance, dance, dance.
He had a plan, he had a dream.
And now he's living it. Nearly.
Joel won a scholarship to the United States to try out for three prestigious dance schools in New York and San Francisco.
While he was there he met up with Michael Jackson's ballet teacher, Irina Brecher Hamilton. She spotted his talent, gave him personal tuition and introduced him to upcoming ballet star Christina Ricucci. They danced together, became friends.
Within a week of returning to NZ, Joel heard back from Lines Ballet school in San Francisco. They wanted him. he was IN. Then he heard back from the other schools too - they all wanted him.
And why not? He's fantastic. And as Irina said, the last time she got this excited about a dancer, his name was Mikhail Baryshnikov.
So watch out world, here comes Joel.
As we know tuition at prestigious American dance schools doesn't come cheap.
My clever sister Kristen (who took these beautiful photos) has helped Joel put together a fundraising campaign, to help get Joel all the way to his dream.
She's an artist (among other cleverness), and has applied her skills to creating some amazing pieces of art and images for t-shirts and suchlike, as a *thankyou* to those who donate towards Joel's education.
As Joel's aunty I figure I can help by putting the word out there on my little blog.
So if you love the arts, and respect clever people; if you want to help a kiwi kid who has worked for his dream and now has a chance to put Kiwi Talent in the world's spotlight... well every little bit helps.
Ten bucks, twenty... whatever you can spare.
I'd love you to check out Joel's fundraising website and share it with your friends.
Then one day when Joel Walsham's name is up in lights, when you see him on TV being interviewed on 60 Minutes, you will be able to say: "I knew him before he was famous. I donated towards his education..." and your kids will go, "Joel Walsham? Really? WOW! that's so cool mum! You're awesome...!"
Or something like that.
And Joel will go, "Wow, you're so generous. You don't even know me but you helped me put New Zealand on the the Map for Ballet. Without people like you I never would have gotten there..."
(Joel is such a great person. I'm not just saying that cos I'm his proud aunty. Like, he is really really NICE. If you met him you would be SO impressed with him. He's going to be such a great role model and inspiration for young dancers all around New Zealand, if not the world. Cos he's gonna be famous, I just know it.)
Billy Elliot has got nothing on Joel.
|[Please help Joel fulfil his dream and take on the world]|
[All photos taken by Kristen Walsham at Karekare Beach]