|Top attitude: Kapiti dancer Salem Foxx is a finalist |
in the artistic category of the Attitude Awards.
A teenage Kapiti dancer thriving despite the challenges of Asperger's Syndrome is among a small field of national finalists in the Attitude Awards.
The awards celebrate New Zealanders with a disability who are achieving excellence in their fields, and Salem Foxx, 14, has been named in the Artistic Achievement category.
"It's really exciting, and the recognition is good," he said.
Salem lives and breathes dance, especially ballet, and practices for two hours, six days a week, including weekly private classes with celebrated Royal New Zealand Ballet veterans Jon and Jacqui Trimmer.
"It is my life. I want people to know that boys dance too," he said.
Salem's mother Michelle Foxx said having Asperger's Syndrome meant Salem faced challenges communicating, and sometimes his enthusiasm had been misread for "naughtiness", so he was now home schooled.
As a toddler, he would communicate by hitting and screaming, but from an early age he made it clear he wanted to dance, she said.
"When I was really little my older brother did dance classes and I just wanted to get up and go into class and so as soon as I was old enough I did," Salem said.
"It was a mission to keep him off the dance floor," Michelle Foxx said.
"Often we would have to leave the studio, and it's been all go ever since."
"He loves it; it's his passion, it's what he loves doing, and why not have that as his profession, and if he can he'll be a good role model to others, to show that it's not a girly thing."
Earlier this year Salem was accepted into the New Zealand School of Dance junior associate programme in contemporary dance.
He was one of only three young dancers chosen for the development programme from throughout New Zealand.
He has also collected a haul of top prizes from dance competitions, and top exam results, and performed in four Royal New Zealand Ballet productions.
Salem had also become a role model for many others through social media, which connected him to other ballet enthusiasts worldwide, Michelle Foxx said.
His blog balletboynz had about 18,000 readers, he has about 3.5 million connections on Google Plus, and 47 YouTube dance videos loaded, she said.
"Lots of young boys see it, and they are inspired to keep on dancing, even if it's other types of dance, and kids actually try to copy his dances."
Salem's blog has also been included as resource material for dancers at the London Boys Ballet School.
This year Salem had also been named as a provisional finalist in the senior Creative Achievement and Innovation Award in the Pride Awards, and for the last three years had received a Variety Gold Heart Scholarship, which allowed him to fund his lessons and competitions.
He has also entered the AMP Do Your Own Thing People's Choice Scholarship, which is decided by public votes.
To vote for him, visit Support Salem Foxx on Facebook, by October 13.
Videos of all the Attitude Award finalists will be screened on TVOne at 8.30am on October 26, and the final category winners will be announced at a black-tie ceremony in Auckland, on December 3.
- Kapiti Observer