Cape Town - He has been labelled the Billy Elliot of the Cape Flats, a 10-year-old from Hanover Park who has a passion for ballet that transcends his sometimes shy exterior.

Faarkhir Bestman is the only boy in his ballet and modern dance classes at the Eoan Group School of the Performing Arts at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone. He did not start at the age of five, like some of the girls in his classes, but his commitment and drive saw him finish top of his class in his first year last year.

“I have always dreamt of becoming a dancer,” Faarkhir said when we met him at his school. “I get excited when I dance, especially doing the jetés and jumps in ballet.”

Faarkhir is in Grade 3 in ballet.

He was inspired by the dancing in the Step-Up movies he saw on television and performed for his family at home. He performed especially for his younger sister, Akeeda, 6, who is paralysed.

“I like dancing for my younger sister because she laughs and smiles when I do. It makes her happy. I want to make this my career one day so I can look after my sister.”

Faarkhir’s natural flair for dancing, and his devotion to his sister, prompted Shafiek Rajap, director of the Joseph Stone Auditorium, and Abeedah Mendell, principal of the Eoan Group School, to give him a full scholarship after his grandmother brought him to them.

Mendell said: “That is why his dancing goes deeper than a passion, because he made a promise to his sister always to dance to make her happy. He is a boy with so much potential. We thought we had to get him motivated, as we don’t often get boys lining up, and give him a full scholarship.”

“He just came in at Grade 2 and did the exam and was top in his class for ballet. I want him to skip the next two grades and go into the intermediate level. He got a distinction, with 89 percent, and some of the girls got jealous because they said the examiner always noticed him on the floor,” laughed Mendell.

Faarkhir’s grandmother, Asyha Bestman, 61, with whom he lives with his mother, older brother and three younger sisters, said she was immensely proud of him.

“He said people often called him a moffie, but I said he must not take notice of them and just continue with what he is doing. Now look at him, he finished top of his class. He won’t even let his asthma get in the way of his dancing. He just has this willpower to do this for himself and for his baby sister.”

Faarkhir said: “I want to dance in different places and travel the world. And to the boys who make fun of me, I just tell them it’s because they cannot dance that they think ballet is not for boys.”

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Cape Argus