The prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod ballet scholarship has been won this year by 16-year-old Hyo Shimizu. This is his first year in the senior section of the competition. Hyo, who has been training at The Conlan College and has done so since the age of five, also represented Australia recently in the 2019 Prix de Lausanne.
The annual Sydney Eisteddfod runs from May to September, and attracts around 35,000 entrants. The competition includes events for singers, dancers, actors, musicians, composers, bands, choirs and orchestras in 17 venues across the Sydney area. The prize for the ballet scholarship includes a $15,000 scholarship and $3,000 in cash. Shimizu was judged by some influential adjudicators, including Rafael Bonchela, artistic director of Sydney Dance Company; Li Cunxin AO, artistic director of Queensland Ballet; and Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet David McAllister AM.
McAllister says, “It has been wonderful to watch Hyo’s growth and maturity over his time competing at the Sydney Eisteddfod. His confidence and command of the stage I am sure comes from both his training and opportunities to compete in previous competitions.”
McAllister continues, “Being chosen from an initial field of around 111 entrants and being whittled down to eight finalists, it requires stage presence, strong technique and an ability to stand out. The dancers are adjudicated on class, a classical variation and a free variation usually of a more contemporary style. It is a great opportunity to show the various facets of their ability technically and theatrically.”
In addition, McAllister adds, “This competition has been the launch pad for dancers over many years. While the experience is invaluable to dance alongside your peers and perform a range of solos, it also has a wonderfully generous suite of prizes that offer opportunities to take class and experience a number of companies, and obviously the cash prize enables the winner to continue with their training either in a vocational school here in Australia or overseas.”
The audacious Shimizu says his role model is Mikhail Baryshnikov. “He is the reason I have found so much inspiration to dance. I think he is a perfect role model for everyone, someone who has been successful and able to change peoples’ lives.”
Shimizu will be continuing his studies in Mannheim, Germany. “After I graduate,” Shimizu says, “I want to audition for companies around Europe, and hope to find a contract with one of the classical companies.”
Shimizu says of the Ballet Scholarship, “This means everything to me. I have worked incredibly hard for many years with this goal in my mind the whole time. When I won, it was the most incredible feeling.”
For more information, visit sydneyeisteddfod.com.au.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.