By Kristy Johnson of Dance Informa.
The Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarships allow ballet dancers, as well as other creatives across a wide range of fields, the opportunity to pursue their artistic goals. Set up through the Will of John Chisholm Marten who recognised the importance of travel in the early stages of a young artist’s career, the scholarship assists talented artists to cover the costs of further education, training, mentors, one on one tutoring, auditions and living expenses through travel to help them refine their skills and experience.
This year saw Samuel Pereira, Olivia Paine and Belle Beasley, win scholarships of $20,000 for outstanding ability and promise in ballet. Dance Informa caught up with the trio to chat about the opportunities presented to them, and where they hope to continue with their career.
Congratulations on winning one of the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarships. What was your reaction upon hearing you had won?
“I still cannot believe I won! Other than being surprised and shocked I was extremely grateful. This is such an amazing opportunity and will help me tremendously in reaching my goals for my dancing career.”
“I was ecstatic! It was the most wonderful news I had received in a long time.”
“I was in absolute disbelief. I didn’t think I had a chance of winning so it was such a wonderful shock! I was so grateful for both the financial support and the honour of being chosen. When I told my grandma she got all teary, everyone was so stoked for me!”
Samuel and Olivia, how do you think your time at The Australian Ballet School has prepared you for your career?
“I was 18 years old when I auditioned for The Australian Ballet School and entered into Level 6 in 2011, so by the time I graduated from the school I was 21 years old. I think for me it was extremely beneficial being that little bit older than my fellow peers because I went into the school knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the school, I learnt so much and I truly believe they helped me to achieve my full potential at this point in time.”
“I was so fortunate to have some great teachers at The Australian Ballet School who gave me solid foundations and career advice. Being taught by those who have previously been principal artists as well as a former Artistic Director was an experience unlike any other available in Australia. At ABS students are held to such a high standard, that when I was auditioning overseas, I was aware that I was very well prepared to be performing in such a brutally competitive environment.”
Belle, how do you think your training at the National College of Dance in Newcastle has prepared you for a career ahead?
“I was lucky to have such a great school, with such great teachers in my hometown. One thing I am really grateful for is the amount of stage time I had while dancing there, whether it was in our bi-annual concert, or in the many competitions we were encouraged to participate in for performance experience. We also had a wonderful ballet library that I used to gain a more thorough understanding of the history of ballet, something that I’m finding really useful artistically as I start to learn and perform classical repertoire in Queensland Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program.”
Since winning, what opportunities have been presented to you?
“The scholarship allowed me to audition in Europe at numerous companies and without it I wouldn’t have landed my job with the Slovak National Theatre Ballet. I hope to dance and learn numerous works including traditional ballets to brand new modern pieces. I am not sure yet exactly what I will experience in the company but I am extremely excited to move across the world and live in Bratislava. It will be a huge change to my life right now but I am open to anything and cannot wait.”
“The scholarship means that I can travel to Europe and continue auditions during the next audition season. It’s been such a struggle financially. Firstly the cost of full time training for such a long time, living away from home and now auditions overseas. I am not sure what I would have done without it. It means I can focus on training and not worry so much about how I am going to get to the next audition.”
“Basically the financial support of the scholarship has allowed me the freedom to pursue opportunities such as going to the San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive in July – this would otherwise have been financially impossible for my family. The scholarship will also open up possibilities such as taking a placement at a finishing school overseas to train, as the funding will cover fees and living costs.”
Where do you hope to see your career continue?
“Of course I am determined to find my place in a ballet company in the USA or Europe. I have more auditions planned. This scholarship has enabled me to continue with auditions and coaching until I reach that goal. I look forward to living overseas!”
“I hope to one day dance with an exciting company that produces a lot of new works, and provides opportunities to work with many choreographers. Any job that allows me to perform regularly in a big, beautiful theatre will be a dream come true!”
How do you keep focused and determined in such a competitive industry?
“It’s not hard to stay focused and motivated when I’m pursuing my dream, and there are so many new and exciting things to learn everyday. However, I do think it’s important to take the time to relax and do other things I enjoy such as cooking or watch TV to give my mind and body a break.”
“This career in ballet is something I have been working towards for most of my life. That and the fact that I love everything about ballet and performing is what keeps me determined. It’s the injuries that are the most challenging. Just when you think everything is going well, another injury occurs and everything has to slow down. I am currently nursing a couple of injuries, which has meant that I have had to miss quite a few auditions this year. They are coming good slowly now, but it is such a constant challenge.”
For more information about the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarships visit www.martenbequest.com.au. Next year scholarships will be awarded in the categories of acting, painting, singing and sculpture.
Photo (top): Beautiful Olivia Paine.