The moment Birmingham Royal Ballet principal dancer Robert Parker began talking about cartwheels, everything seemed to change.

By then the formal stage of this year’s first-ever Japanese auditions for the world-renowned Elmhurst School for Dance in England’s second city of Birmingham had concluded. Next, it was time for Parker — who takes over as the school’s artistic director in September — to conduct all-important workshops for its 13 aspiring young students — 12 female and one male — who had come to try out.

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