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14 September 2023

From Thursday Island to the Stage

Growing up on Thursday Island, Kiyoshi Nakata-Binjuda loved to dance.

“I would always be dancing at home….I just felt a passion for it.”

When the idea of moving away to boarding school on a Yalari scholarship came up, Kiyoshi was understandably nervous. Thursday Island is a long way from Daisy Hill in Brisbane, where John Paul College (JPC) sits, both in terms of distance and culture.

Kiyoshi and another student, both wearing white costume, doing contemporary dance at JPC
Kiyoshi dancing at JPC

“It was really nerve wracking moving from a small community where I was really close to my parents.

“It was just a big change. It was really different.”

Conversations with his mum helped to alleviate the nerves. She explained he was going to JPC for the educational opportunities, but also for the school’s quality performing arts program.

“I was like, wow, I can live my dream of becoming a dancer.”

JPC’s performing arts program has given Kiyoshi a space to thrive. It was in Year 8 that Kiyoshi first began competitively dancing and since then Kiyoshi – now in Year 10 – has embraced the opportunities in performing arts that his school has offered.

Kiyoshi understands the value of what our partner schools offer to Yalari scholars: a leading education alongside a world of extracurricular opportunities and life-changing experiences, helping to empower students to be the best versions of themselves.

Kiyoshi has taken every opportunity to perform in school showcases and at school assemblies, seeing them as a way to grow as a dancer and as good experiences to perform for an audience.

And taking a role earlier this year in the school’s major production of Hairspray – the classic Broadway musical that has dominated stages for decades – was the next big step in chasing a childhood passion.

“I enjoyed it so much. It was so fun. Every time I’d go on the stage, I would bring everything because you’re a part of this amazing production.”

Kiyoshi (far right) performing in the JPC production of Hairspray

Performing night after night in front of an audience gave Kiyoshi a taste of what a future in dance may look like, both in his final few years at school as well as beyond.

The next big school production is in two years – when Kiyoshi will be in Year 12 – and after performing in Hairspray, he’s already keen to be involved.

Beyond school, Kiyoshi has his sights set on more dance. While he’s not quite sure in what form that’ll be yet, he knows whatever he’s doing and wherever he’ll be, there’ll be dance involved.

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