News Release

Ballet Star Swaps Stage for Suit

Winner of the 2012 People’s Choice award

Jake Mangakahia, a dancer with the Australian Ballet, is about to swap his life on the stage for one in a suit.  It has just been announced that Jake, 22, will spend two years as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Toronto, Canada.

Currently a member of the Australian Ballet Company’s corps de ballet (the first professional level), Jake Mangakahia’s goal is to become a Principal with the Australian Ballet Company.  He has received numerous accolades and awards in his profession as a Ballet star.

Jake was the winner of the 2012 People’s Choice award and Telstra Ballet Dancer of the Year nominee.  He has worked hard developing his skills as a dancer, but he has also pursued a spiritual goal. “Both of my parents served missions and it is something I have been looking forward to doing for a long time,” Jake said.

The Church's missionary program is one of its most recognised characteristics.  Mormon missionaries can be seen on the streets of hundreds of major cities in the world as well as in thousands of smaller communities.

Most are young men and women under the age of 25, serving in 405 missions throughout the world, and its membership reaches 177 published languages.  Missionaries receive their assignment from Church headquarters located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and do not choose their destination.

The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel and baptising believers in the name of Jesus Christ.

With only one hour per day permitted for physical exercise in the typical life of a missionary, Jake knows he will have a challenge ahead of him when he returns in early 2016.  He has been watching with interest as NRL stars William Hopoate, Lagi Setu, and Robbie Abel have returned to their sport after taking time out to serve others in their Church as missionaries. 

After starting ballet classes at age five in Queensland, Jake successfully auditioned for the Australian Ballet School and moved to Melbourne at age ten.  After completing the Advanced Diploma of Dance, along with three classmates, Jake was offered a full-time contract with the Australian Ballet Company.  Jake has also previously trained with the National Ballet Schools of New York and Toronto after winning a scholarship.

Jake Mangakahia was born on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  When his parents discovered that their baby was bopping his little head to any music he heard, they put him into dance classes. At the age of ten Jake successfully auditioned for The Australian Ballet School; he left after a year to travel around Australia with his family.

In 2007 Jake returned to the School and received an Award of Excellence and a Travelling Scholarship for the Overseas Exchange Program. He was also the School’s first school captain. Jake joined The Australian Ballet in 2011.

What you may not know... Jake loves hip hop and can do the haka.

Mr Mangakahia departs on 15 January 2014 for the Missionary Training Centre in Provo, Utah where he will spend two weeks undergoing basic training before continuing on to Toronto for two years.  “My sincere thanks to the Ballet Company for their valued support. I look forward to returning in 2016, with a new perspective to bring to my dancing,” said Jake Mangakahia.

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