Julian Ardley has a picture perfect life.
He owns a house in France with his husband Nicolas and works as a professional dancer at one of the most famous cabarets on earth – Le Lido, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
But it his rise to the top has not been all smooth sailing.
Julian’s family moved to Mount Isa in 1999 from Pleasant Point in New Zealand, to pursue better financial opportunities.
His father soon found work at Mount Isa Mines.
“Our first home in Isa was a small flat at 108 East street, where we all slept in one room while Mum tried to find employment,” Julian said.
“Mum eventually found a job as a rep at a small goods company called P.F.D.”
In the early 2000s Julian was an insecure high school dropout who felt like he never quite fit in.
High school can be tough slog for a lot of teens, especially if you are different.
“I was an insecure teenager worried about what the other boys said about me and how they treated me as I didn't conform to the sports boys were expected to play,” Julian said.
“If you weren’t in a footy scrum, holding a cricket bat or wearing a shin guard you were called a sissy. Because I feared the judgment, teasing and tormenting - probably justifiably so - I didn’t follow my passions as a kid.
“I had bigger dreams, though, travelling and expanding my horizons. So I decided to face my fears and go back to school at 16 in 2002,” he said.
Thankfully his close friend Anika "Nikki" Fox was always there to stand up for him.
“She stood up to anyone who tried to push me around or put me down for being gay or different. Without her I surely would have lost all faith in people.
At 17, Julian plucked up the courage to venture out on his own and spent a year abroad in Tokyo, Japan.
“That’s when everything changed. It was an invitation to break free and discover my potential without all the pressures and fears of what I was feeling being a gay teen in Mount Isa”.
After his year abroad Julian returned to Mount Isa and got a job at the Frog and Toad Bar at the Buffs Club where manager Deb Grant took him under her wing.
“I have so much respect for this kind and loving woman and all she did for me. I worked there for a few months before moving again - this time to Melbourne.”
At 22 with no dance experience, Julian began taking classes at at Patrick Studios Australia in Melbourne.
“For the first time in my life I was proud to stand in my truth of being a young out gay guy. From there I have danced from one contract to another, all over the world, meeting and making some amazing and wonderful connections with people, until eventually finding my feet in Paris the winter of 2015.
Today, Julian spends six nights a week on stage in one of the most famous cabaret shows on earth.
“You wouldn't believe it but I used to suffer badly from stage fright. Now that I have over come that I get to feel and embrace the thrive, confidence and the accomplishment of being able to express myself unabashedly through the rhythm of my belonging on my dream stage at the Lido in Paris,” he said.
“With dancing you could be having the worst day but when you walk out onto that stage you go into another world as if you were under hypnosis and all your cares just become energy that's now embodied into art.”
His advice for Mount Isa youth is to never lose sight of their dreams.
“If you have a passion for dance, then follow it and give it your all - don’t worry about what they think or say because with focus and self discipline those people will be watching you in your show someday and wish they had been able to live out there passion. Working hard will achieve amazing things for you,” Julian said.
“Everyone has a dream, whether it to be the greatest mum, dad, teacher, doctor or to become the most famous dancer or even just famous. You see, it's the possibility of having a dream come true is what will keep your life interesting.”
Follow his Instagram @jtardley.
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