• Harry Davis. Photo by Peter Gillian, National Photography
    Harry Davis. Photo by Peter Gillian, National Photography

The Ballet Teachers' Workshop is an exciting annual event for both students and teachers. This year's finals of the Ballet Teachers' Workshop scholarships were held on Sunday, August 19 at the Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre in Melbourne. Of the 550 students who auditioned, 119 had the privilege of displaying their training, artistry and love of classical ballet in front of an audience and esteemed adjudicators.

From this year, a new patron, David McAllister, artistic director of the Australian Ballet, took over from the founding patron and mentor, Paul Hammond, who died in 2010. Adjudicated by senior artists of the Australian Ballet, Robyn Hendricks (soloist) and Daniel Gaudello (principal artist), the students had the benefit of being assessed by some of Australia's leading ballet talents.

 Established in 1964, the Ballet Teachers' Workshop has sought to provide a forum for teachers of classical ballet. It continues to provide training opportunities for both teachers and students. In 1971, the first scholarship awards were held. The Ballet Teachers' Workshop also extended to provide performance opportunities for dancers training at ballet schools in any accredited syllabus. (No So You Think You Can Dance in those days!)

 Competitors for the Paul Hammond Award (boys over 16), performed short variations from ballets including Swan Lake, Paquita, Don Quixote, Raymonda, Giselle and La Bayadere. Girls competing for the Mabel Pryde Prize (16 years and over) took on solos from The Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Don Quixote and La Bayadere. All students were congratulated warmly by the adjudicators and there was a short, heartfelt speech made by David McAllister as he paid tribute to Paul Hammond.

 The winner of the $1,200 Paul Hammond award was Harry Davis (17) from the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. The VCASS dominated this section, with pupils Matthew Crawford and Tyson Powell winning the $550 second prize and $300 third prize respectively.

Laura Sakkas (16), from the Professional Ballet Coaching Academy (Byron Bay, NSW), won the $1,200 Mabel Pryde award, with VCASS pupil Latisha Sparks coming second and Ballet Theatre of Australia (Kensington, Vic) pupil Vanessa Morelli coming third.

The overall winner of the $2,500 Frances Naylor award was also Harry Davis; he romped away with $3,700 altogether.

Other sections were awarded as follows:

SECTION A: ages 8-9
FIRST:        Mio Bayly       $450.00  Anita Coutts School of Dance
SECOND    Laura Griffiths  $300.00   Carmel Amelia School of Dance
THIRD:       Ella Vivian-Kay   $200.00 Melbourne School of Classical Dance
FOURTH:   Milei Lee    $100.00 Brian Nolan School of Dance

 SECTION B: ages 10-11
EQUAL FIRST: Ada Sayasane  $425.00   Anita Coutts School of Dance
EQUAL FIRST: Madison Ayton  $425.00  Strictly Dance
THIRD:   Maidie Widmer $200.00  Anita Coutts School of Dance       
FOURTH: Ruby Moore $100.00  Dance School of Distinction -Ballarat

SECTION C: ages 12-13
FIRST:      Emily Bray   $650.00 Jane Moore Academy of Ballet   
SECOND: Luke Dimattina   $400.00   V.C.A.S.S
THIRD:     Riley Fitzgerald   $250.00 Anita Coutts School of Dance    
FOURTH: Emma Koppelman $150.00  Christa Cameron School of Dance

SECTION D: ages 14-15
FIRST:    Alexandra Moore $750.00 Dance School of Distinction - Ballarat
SECOND:  Tom Casamento  $400.00 V.C.A.S.S
THIRD:      Charles Herkes   $250.00  V.C.A.S.S
FOURTH:  Sarah McCrorie  $150.00  V.C.A.S.S 


For more photos see the Oct/Nov issue of Dance Australia.

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