This year's Lucy Saronova Memorial Awards, held by Cecchetti Ballet Australia, demonstrated a fine standard of dancing. Held at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, the awards brought together the top two place getters from heats held in each state for a final day held on April 15.
The contestants were required to undertake a class during the day in front of the judges as well as perform two solos before an audience – the first being a compulsory set solo from repertoire (the same for all); the second the student's choice from a set repertoire. Seeing the same solo performed by each contestant was an excellent way to compare each dancer, while the solo of choice allowed them to play to their strengths.
The adjudicators were Megan Connelly, ballet mistress for The Australian Ballet, and Craig Cathcart, now company manager for the Queensland Ballet. They both praised the technical standard of the contestants, saying they should be very proud of themselves.
In the Silver category (under 15 years old/Grade 5 to Intermediate), they awarded first place to Charlotte Chivers, from Victoria (taught by Kerry Moore and Trudy Harris at the Kerry Moore School of Ballet in Ballarat). Runner Up went to Sotique Macuga (from NSW, taught by Monique Feain at Classical Coaching Australia, Brisbane). Honourable Mentions went to Mia Zanardo (Alegria Dance Studios, NSW) and Sonja Braunl (Perth School of Ballet).
In the Gold category (Intermediate and above), they awarded first place to Noah Benzie-Drayton (from Perth School of Ballet). Two second places were awarded – one to Pearl Arrowsmith (Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, NSW) and another to Laura Griffiths (Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School). Lucinda Worthing-Shore (TPCCA) received an Honourable Mention.
While the adjudicators deliberated, the audience was treated to a solo by one of the Gold level contestants, Lily Minchenko, who received the biennial $10,000 Valrene Tweedie Scholarship, the result of a bequest from the late ballerina and beloved Cecchetti patron.
- KAREN VAN ULZEN