By Kristy Johnson
Acceptance into the Paris Opera Ballet is a dancer’s dream come true, yet for Australian student Hannah O’Neill it did not happen the way most would expect. Failing to secure a contract after the audition, Hannah was initially disappointed, but grateful for the experience. Arriving in Singapore on her way back to Australia, Hannah received a call that would change everything. “I received a phone call from the Ballet Master of the Paris Opera Ballet offering me a seasonal contract,” says Hannah. “It was a big surprise! I was in shock at the time, but when sharing the news with family and friends, I was over the moon as my dream had become a reality.”
The audition proved to be a daunting experience for the Australian Ballet student. “I didn’t audition with anyone else from the school,” Hannah explains. “I was invited to audition by the Paris Opera Ballet and travelled to France with my mum. But I told myself it was important to stay calm and be myself. Overall I enjoyed the experience of the audition, from barre all the way through to the variation.”
The Paris Opera Ballet has always struck a chord close to home for Hannah. “I’m a huge fan of ballet companies all around the world, but the Paris Opera Ballet has always been my favourite company. I own many of their DVDs and could easily watch them over and over again. I’ve been fortunate to see them performing live a few times, including the night before my audition, which was a huge inspiration for me.”
Hannah hopes that her experience with the Paris Opera Ballet will launch her into a long and successful career. “By starting my professional ballet career in such a prestigious company, I’m sure I’ll gain the tools and experience to hopefully continue on in the ballet profession for a very long time,” Hannah shares.
And how has the Australian Ballet School prepared Hannah for the exciting experiences that lay ahead? “I’m proud to have been part of the Australian Ballet School now for almost four years,” says Hannah. “Through the school’s strong training program with its amazing teachers and mentors, I have been able to participate in the Prix de Lausanne and the Youth America Grand Prix. I’ve also been given the opportunity to guest perform at galas alongside world renowned dancers, some of whom have been my idols. I’m overwhelmed but excited to be starting my contract with the Paris Opera Ballet in September. I could not be more thankful to all the people who have supported me to make my dream come true.”
Top photo: Hannah O’Neill. Photo courtesy of Bloch & The Australian Ballet School