Jessi Seymour, winner of The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship 2017. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
This year, Margaret Illmann and Damian Smith, two great Australian dancers of international renown, will spend several days adjudicating the Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship. Their work will begin on July 19 with the warm-up heats that open the program and run until July 23 when eight finalists emerge from the Semi-Final masterclass.
As a principal ballerina with leading companies throughout the world, Margaret Illmann danced major roles in all the classical ballets and a huge number of modern works. She also won The Theatre World Award as the Best Actress of Broadway for her performance as Victoria Page in The Red Shoes and over her stellar 21-year career was recipient of other awards and prizes. Margaret who returned to Australia in 2006, has maintained her links with the dance world served on the adjudication panel for The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship in both 2008 and 2009. On both occasions, she did a marvellous job and we take pride in welcoming her to our program again this year.
A former champion of The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship, Damian Smith left Australia soon after his victory in this event 1989 to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. Following his graduation, he spent three years in France and in 1996 he returned to the United States to join the San Francisco Ballet. He soon attained the rank of soloist, became a principal dancer in 2001 and danced with the company until his retirement in 2014. Damian now divides his time between America and Australia, he still dances occasionally and when in homeland, greatly enjoys encouraging Aboriginal children to follow their dreams.
When Margaret and Damian return for the Final on 26 August they will be joined by guest adjudicators David McAllister AM, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet and Li Cunxin, Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet, who will assist them in the final decision making.