THE biennial Alana Haines Australasian awards (AHA) is back again this Easter at its usual venue at the St James Theatre in Wellington in New Zealand. Claiming to be the largest such competition in Australasia, this year’s event has attracted 670 talented candidates between 11 and 18 years of age vying for a total of NZ$460K in prizes.
.Adding to the already extensive list of international scholarships and cash on offer, this year the AHA has introduced a new award: the Supreme Gailene Stock Award – NZ$7000 for the “supreme winner” out of either A or B Group. The late Gailene Stock, who was director of the Australian Ballet School and the Royal Ballet School in London, was a head judge of the first AHA in 1991 and continued to be a supporter until her death from a brain tumour in 2013. She is sadly missed.
The young competitors must take part in classes as well as perform solos on stage in front of a panel of judges. This year’s jury consists of Patricia Barker (artistic director, Royal New Zealand Ballet), Lisa Maree Cullum (assistant director of the Bottaini Merlo International Center of Arts in Munich), Richard Bowman (artistic director of Napa Valley Ballet, California, and Ballet master at the Vitacca Vocational School for Dance, Houston) and Hao Bin (artistic director of Queensland Dance Centre). The tutors are Hannah Scott-McNeill and Vencio Samblaceno (both former RNZB principals) and Nick Schultz, RNZB ballet master.
The event culminates in a gala evening hosted by Sir John Trimmer which will include guest artists from the RNZB performing the pas de deux from Flames of Paris and former AHA winners Tabitha Dombroski (from John Cranko School in Germany) and Damen Axtens (Royal Ballet School 3rd yr graduate).
The AHA is named in honour of a promising 11 yearr old dancer Alana who died in a car accident on Christmas Eve, 1989, after she performed to an audience of 1500 in Wellington.
More info: www.ahaawards.co.nz
Pictured: 2017 A Group winner Macy Cook (then 13 yrs), now at Chilton Ballet Academy. Photo: Amber Griffin.