McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships 2010

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
August 8th 

By Dolce Fisher.

This year’s McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship gave us tutus, tiaras and tours and the Open Jazz finals were full of the usual canons, lifts and manic pirouettes.

Held once again at the Concert Hall in Sydney Opera House, the McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships was a night to celebrate the country’s young and talented.

The ballet competition was run a little differently this year and there was an even playing field with four male and four female dancers competing for the top prize. It was refreshing to watch just as many male dancers compete with the females. With each male performing a different solo, each contestant showed his individuality and strengths. The female contestants gave us the usual favoured variations from Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker.

The classical section of the scholarship showed us that these young students are determined and eager to move to the next level of their training. They all gave solid performances but there were a few obvious nerves.  The combination of the huge stage, a giant spotlight and the pressure of the competition is enough for anyone to be a bit wobbly!

In the contemporary section all of the contestants looked like completely different dancers. They proved to us that they are more than capable of performing in a different style and they all seemed very comfortable. Unfortunately, a few of the contemporary solos were a little disappointing due to either weak choreography or poor song choice. Former Billy Elliot cast member Rhys Kosakowski, at only 15, gave a mature performance in his contemporary piece but in his classical solo lacked the bravado needed. Hannah Chung and Gretel Palfrey both displayed great control and sense of movement in their contemporary solos.

This year’s scholarship process was judged by one of Australia’s most loved ballerinas, Marilyn Jones, alongside Wim Broeckx, the current Artistic President of the Prix de Lausanne. They were joined by guest judges David McAllister and Rafael Bonachela for the last section of the judging process. This judging panel alone is enough to make any young dancer shake in their slippers!

At the end of the evening, and for the first time in a few years, the judges and audience seemed to be in agreement with the choice of winners.  The top prize was awarded to Jordin Mullin, with Evan Loudon crowned as Runner Up.

Jordin hails from Dunedin New Zealand and is currently studying under Prudence Bowen Atelier in Queensland. She gave two very mature performances, with a very controlled classical variation and a captivating contemporary solo to the unusual music of Arvo Part, choreographed by Louise Deleur. She shone compared to the other dancers and seemed a clear winner.

Evan Loudon, who is currently a member of Sydney City Youth Ballet and studying at Tanya Pearson’s Classical Coaching Academy, has already been accepted into the Royal Ballet School in London. Evan has much potential and is the perfect candidate for many princely roles in the future. Both of his solos showcased his talents and my only critique is that he needs to really push his use of extension, particularly in his legs and feet. He has amazing, long legs and feet and they just need to work that little bit harder to finish his lines. But nonetheless, he was definitely the strongest male dancer in the competition.

Jazz Troupe winners Brent Street B

Ramon Daringo, Tia Jordon and Rachel Schmalz judged the Open Jazz finals. Brent Street Studios took out 1st and 3rd places and 2nd place went to Australian Dance Performance Institute from Queensland. Brent Street’s group A who took out 3rd place with their dance to ‘Bionic’ performed some of the quickest and neatest double pirouettes in perfect unison that I have ever seen.

Overall much of the choreography performed by the jazz troupes is so predictable every year, across many eisteddfods, and it would be nice to see more choreographers break the mould. Be creative choreographers! DLDC’s ‘Swingin’ did give us something different and was the most fun and entertaining number.

The other standouts were from Ev and Bow and Ministry of Dance. Ev and Bow, known for creative choreography, brought something a little different and it was refreshing to watch with some really strong partnering and lift work. The boy’s hip-hop crew from Ministry of Dance performed a very entertaining dance and had everyone laughing throughout.

There were many guest performances on the evening, with a special appearance by Sydney Dance Company’s Emily Amisano and Richard Cilli showcasing Bonachela’s new work Soledad for the upcoming season of New Creations.  It was an inspiring performance for all the budding dancers in the audience, with an ending that made everyone giggle.

All the dancers performing at this year’s Scholarships are eager and enthused about dance and are on their way to becoming the next generation of Australia’s professionals. After seeing their performances I am excited by what the future holds!

Top photo: Jordan Mullin and Evan Loudon

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