SA RAD Awards celebrates 50 years

50th Anniversary RAD Awards. Photo by Belinda Strodder.
50th Anniversary RAD Awards. Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Global dance education organisation the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) celebrated 50 years of its annual Awards programme in Adelaide on Sunday 24 July. The event, which sees students from across South Australia compete for a range of prestigious trophies, has been a platform for numerous professional dancers and choreographers over the years. 

Bringing together all RAD dance schools and students in the state, the RAD Awards South Australia gives ballet students the opportunity to demonstrate their performance and artistry skills in a professional theatre setting, whilst competing for eight perpetual trophies and coveted prizes. 

Beginning in 1972, the RAD Awards SA was the first event of its kind for the RAD in Australia. There are now 10 other such awards events around the country. The first winner of the single trophy at the time was Sue Ladyman who won the Kathleen Short Award, named for a former teacher and state organiser for the RAD who taught ballet, ballroom dancing and debutants in Adelaide for over 50 years from 1930. Over the years, seven other trophies have been added recognising other long standing teachers and professional dancers, including professional duo Jack Floyd and Jonny B’Nay and one of Australia’s most famous dancers, Sir Robert Helpmann. 

The event has spotlighted a number of professional dancers and choreographers. Remi Wortmeyer won the Sir Robert Helpmann Award in 1996, and is now a choreographer and recently retired principal with Dutch National Ballet. Danielle Rowe, who has recently choreographed for San Francisco Ballet, and was a principal with The Australian Ballet, Houston Ballet and Nederlands Dance Theatre, is the SA Awards most prolific winner – taking home the Floyd & B’Nay Winner 1993, Eileen Hogarth Most Potential Award 1993, Floyd & B’Nay Award 1994, Sir Robert Helpmann Award 1995, Eileen Hogarth Most Potential Award 1995, Kathleen Short Award 1996, and Eileen Hogarth Most Potential Award 1996. Her husband Luke Ingham, now a principal with San Francisco Ballet, also secured the Eileen Hogarth Most Potential Award in 1999. Jill Ogai is currently a principal with The Australian Ballet and won the Sir Robert Helpmann Award 2005, Eileen Hogarth Award Most Potential 2005 and Eileen Hogarth Award Most Potential 2007.

Alec Roberts, an artist with Boston Ballet and formerly with National Ballet of Canada and Queensland Ballet, recalls his experience of winning the Eileen Hogarth Most Potential Award in 2008. “I remember making finals and eventually winning a big trophy. It had previous winners’ names engraved on it, some that I had looked up to. Like Danielle Rowe, Luke Ingham and Jill Ogai. I remember being exceedingly happy and proud to be on a trophy with such names. What the RAD enabled me to have — to make great friends, have fun, love dance, do exams, work hard, get rewarded and grow. It was a part of my youth which I’ll always treasure.” 

This year’s event saw students from a range of South Australian dance schools follow in the footsteps of their idols, winning prizes and adding their names to the trophies bearing such recognizable names in the ballet world. 

Alannah Hefford from Turning Point Dance in Thebarton took home the Sir Robert Helpmann Award for Intermediate and Advanced Foundation (RAD syllabus grades) and the Eileen Hogarth Award for Most Potential. And Mietta Brookman, a family name synonymous with the arts in Adelaide, from GWB Studios in Mile End, took home the Lorraine Irving OAM Scholarship and the Kathleen Short Award for Advanced 1, 2 and Solo Seal (the most senior award). 

Beyond a world leading ballet training syllabus, the RAD is an inclusive organization with a focus on the health and happiness dance brings to everyone. Encouragement awards were also given at this event to Hills Ballet School student Bundjalung Coker and Gideon Millar from Terry Simpson Studios. 

The RAD congratulates all the dancers who took part in the event and their teachers who worked hard to prepare them. The organisation also thanks the community who came out to show their support and helped mark a significant moment in RAD Australia’s history. View a full list of winners and their studio affiliations on the RAD website here.

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