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Australian Awarded Genee Gold

by Jennifer Leake

Australian dancer Aaron Smyth was awarded Genee Gold as well as the audience vote in Canada recently!

It’s a good year for Aaron Smyth, taught by Joy Ransley and Diane Talbot, of Queensland. He had just left the finals of the McDonald’s Scholarship in Sydney, Australia, where he missed out on first and second prize two years running, but was awarded a special $5,000 encouragement award to help him with the expense of attending the Genée and settling into the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre.

Another Australian, Chelsea Andrejic, who studies at Tanya Pearson's Coaching Academy, won the Genée girls' silver. She was amongst the six finalists of The McDonald’s Scholarship in 2007, but missed out on a prize.

About Australia’s Annual McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship:

Australia’s annual McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship rates amongst the most prestigious ballet competition in the Southern Hemisphere with prize money totalling $36,000. This year’s prize money tallys a grand $41,000, thanks to the special prize awarded Aaron Smyth. The competition gives Australian company directors, teachers and other dance enthusiasts the opportunity to view the upper echelon of Australia’s want-to-be-professional ballet students. This year’s panel included: Marget Illmann (Australia), Carol Walker and Nadia Thompson (USA), Mark Annear (The Australian Ballet School). They were joined for the finals by David McAllister (Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet) and Francois Klaus (Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet).

This year’s first prize winner was Claudia Dean. Second Prize was awarded to Jack Bertinshaw.

Previous winners of the McDonald’s Scholarship include: the Australian Ballet’s: Rachel Rawlins (1989), Adam Bull (1998), Paul Knobloch (1993) and Annie Carroll (2003). Miami City Ballet’s: Daniel Baker ( 2004) and Houston Ballet’s: Andrew Murphy (1988), just to name a handful.

Many former finalists have gone on to brilliant careers. To name a few, these include Stanton Welch (1987), Geon Van Der Wyst (1988), Nigel Burley (1989), Lucinda Dunn (1990), Kirsty Martin (1992), Jenna Roberts (1999) and Steven McRae (2001).

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s: Alexander Campbell (2003), Callie Roberts (2004)

Royal Ballet, Netherlands, Michael Clark and now Bonchela Dance Company: Adam Linder (1999)

Bayerisches Staatsballett Munchen: Stephanie Hancox (2000)

Northern Ballet Theatre: John Hull (2001)

Among the earlier winners Tristan Borrer (1981), Susan Hogard (1984) and Anna Manning-Smith (AKA De Cardi), all enjoyed hugely successful careers.

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