In a year when snap lockdowns and the threat of lockdown have left many too afraid to plan events, the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) managed to deliver the hugely successful 2021 Festival of Dance in Western Australia. The event, which took place over the long weekend in June, adhered to strict COVID-19 safety plans but managed to return to its full strength after a slightly abridged event in 2020.
Every year, the Festival gives dance students, in and beyond the RAD community, a place to develop their skills and perform on a professional stage in front of leading industry professionals. Over 400 students entered this year despite the disruption to their studies in 2020, a number the RAD attributes to the candidate’s sheer dedication and commitment to excellence.
The event was due to see long-time supporter David McAllister AC attend to adjudicate, but a lockdown in Victoria meant Aurélien Scannella (artistic director, West Australian Ballet), Sandy Delasalle-Scannella (principal ballet mistress and artistic associate, West Australian Ballet) and Melissa McCabe (demi-soloist with West Australian Ballet and former dancer with The Australian Ballet and Alberta Ballet) stepped in to judging responsibilities to ensure the event could proceed as planned. Other adjudicators included Brooke Jacobs, Justin Rutzou, Scott Eltsermann, Diana de Vos and Denise Nunn.
The adjudicators agreed the standard across the board was very high and selected the major scholarship winners as:
-Evelyn Hodgkinson Scholarship (10-12yrs) Recipient Millie Cottey trained by Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching with Phoebe Sedgman The Graduate College of Dance as runner up
-Gay Cruickshank Scholarship (13-14yrs) Recipient Rhett Davies with Kyla Payne runner up, both trained by Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching
-Joan Stacy Scholarship (15-16yrs) Recipient Sonja Braunl trained by The Perth School of Ballet and Isabella Lockyer trained by The Graduate College of Dance as runner up.
-Linley Wilson Scholarship (17+yrs) Recipient Zane Smith-Taylor trained by Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching with Aimee Yong trained by Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching as runner up
Other notable highlights include the Grishko Award which also went to Rhett Davies from Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching and the Claire Marshall Trophy for National Dance which was awarded to Olivia Devine from The Perth School of Ballet. The annual David McAllister Cup, named after its benefactor who trained in Perth before becoming a professional dancer and later the artistic director of The Australian Ballet, went to Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching.
A brand new prestigious medal was introduced into the programme in 2021, to commemorate the RAD celebrating 100 years of teaching dance globally. The Centenary Medal was awarded in three levels as follows: Junior – Phoebe Sedgman, The Graduate College of Dance; Intermediate – Rhett Davies, Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching; and Senior – Zane Smith-Taylor, Perth Classical and Contemporary Coaching. These winners displayed exceptional artistry and performance for an audience.
The Festival culminated on Monday 7 June with a Gala evening including a performance from guest artists Carina Robert and Jesse Homes, demi-soloists from West Australian Ballet. The duo performed Natural Dualities choreographed by Matej Perunicic. They were joined on stage by 3rd year students from West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) who performed Barroco choreographed by Kim McCarthy.
A full list of the winners can be downloaded from the RAD website here.