Giant steps for talented youngsters

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2012, 12:00am


When Kenneth Hui Ka-chun showed up at his first audition for a dance class, he burst into tears.

He was six, and he was the only boy in the group seeking to join a junior ballet programme at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

'There were more than 30 girls and I was the only boy,' Hui said. 'I literally burst into tears and refused to dance.'

But he persevered - although it was a long time before he would admit it to his friends.

And now the 19-year-old first-year dance student has had his efforts recognised with a Jockey Club scholarship.

Although he started in ballet, Hui developed an interest in contemporary dance when taking part in the American Dance Festival in the United States last year.

'I realised how many possibilities there were for me to choose from and try,' Hui said. 'It made me even more determined to make dancing my career.'

Hui hopes to use the scholarship money - about HK$290,000 paid over three years - to travel to Europe, learn more about the role of dance in different cultures and bring back choreography skills to share with Hong Kong students.

The annual scholarships are awarded to outstanding students who want to help the community.

Another recipient this year, mainlander Cathy Zou Zixian, overcame injuries sustained in a serious car accident when she was 10 years old that hampered her early learning.

Now majoring in global and environment studies at the Institute of Education, the student from Shenzhen says her experience taught her not to give up but to cherish life.

Zou needed more than 20 operations after the crash, which left scars all over her body. But while she fell behind with her schoolwork after each trip to hospital, she says other students helped her to catch up.

'I am so thankful that no one discriminated against me because of my scars,' Zou, said, adding that her experience made her more determined to help others - a desire that was strengthened by working as a volunteer on environmental protection in Australia last year.

She now wants to do more voluntary work in Hong Kong.

'Hong Kong has given me many opportunities to join different kinds of voluntary work,' she said. 'This has encouraged me to contribute even more.'

She also wants to join a non-government body serving people in need, or do environmental work after her graduation.

Every year an average of 27 local and mainland students from eight tertiary institutions and the Academy for Performing Arts receive Jockey Club scholarships. Since its establishment in 1998, HK$107 million has been awarded to 343 students.