Boston dancer aims to challenge stereotypes after being chosen for top role

Meet Boston’s own Billy Elliot – a talented young dancer who is impressing industry judges and challenging stereotypes.

Zachary pictured outside the Hammond School of Dance.
Zachary pictured outside the Hammond School of Dance.

Zachary Hardstaff, 14, was chosen from others across the UK to be the 2022/23 ambassador for National Boys Dance Day – an annual celebration of young male dancers.

The role will see the Boston Grammar School pupil promoting boys dance and helping to break down stereotypes of male dancers, locally and nationally.

After hearing he had been chosen, Zachary said: “I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say other than thank you. It took a few days for it to sink in.

Zachary Hardstaff is hoping to become a professional dancer.

"It’s an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful that I got picked out of so many candidates. It means I can try and show other young boy dancers it’s ok to dance without worrying about the stereotypes or feeling embarrassed.”

Judge Luke Rendell said Zachary was chosen "because he comes across as not just understanding the stigma attached to boys who dance, but also mentions wanting to actively help others as well as striving towards his dreams himself.”

Zachary told the Standard: “I have been called names and treated like I am different or weird. I nearly quit a year ago due to this but luckily I decided that it was okay and it didn’t matter what other people said as long as I was enjoying what I do.”

He added: "I hope to challenge this and support other boy dancers, to express that dancing comes with no sexuality or behaviour.”

Proud mum Kay Hardstaff said: “Being a boy dancer has been extremely challenging at times and this is something that he has had to deal with."

Kay offered her son dance lessons aged seven after noticing he was “always dancing around the house”.

"Billy Elliot was the first West End show I went to see aged seven, and I really enjoyed it,” he explained.

Zachary’s other achievements this year include winning a scholarship to attend The Hammond School of Dance summer school in Chester which he successfully completed. He has now been offered a full-time place at this school, which the family are hoping to raise funds towards.

He was also offered three further scholarships at British Association of Teachers of Dancing (BATD) after his talent was spotted by an examiner.

Zachary added he hopes to start the Hammond School of Dance next year as it “could lead to lots of fantastic opportunities for me to perform professionally.”