16 July 2014
If 15-year-old Kayla-Maree Tarantolo is feeling pleased with herself at the moment, it is not without reason. Last week, the Bella Vista ballet student out-danced over 170 rivals for a place in the final round of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships. Chuffed by her success, Kayla-Maree is now preparing to compete against the cream of the nation’s dancing talent at Sydney Opera House on 3 August.
A student of Josephine Jason and Jane Kesby at the McDonald College, North Strathfield, Kayla-Maree cannot recall a time when dance played no part of her life. She began taking lessons when she was two-and-a-half and was soon consumed by the magic of dance. Since then, she has excelled in all her Royal Academy of Dance exams and won many
prizes at McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod and in other competitions. In 2008, she appeared with The Australian Ballet as the young Clara in the Sydney production of Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker, and last year she danced with the company again as The Young Girl in La Sylphide.
Carrying a total prize purse of $36,000, the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships are the most valuable awards available to teenage ballet students in the southern hemisphere. They unfailing draw the finest talent and this year attracted 180 entrants from all over Australia and New Zealand.
Over five-days, the entrants passed through a series of elimination heats. On the sixth day, the 24 dancers who were still in the running competed in a semi-final master class before adjudicators Colin Peasley and Rani Luther. Both commented on the exceptionally high standard of this year’s competition, but by the time the master class ended, only the eight finalists were left standing and Kayla-Maree was thrilled to be among them.
Since beginning in 1974, so many winners and finalists have progressed into successful careers, the scholarships have gained respect in world ballet circles. Qualifying for the for the final is almost prize in itself, so whether Kayla-Maree wins or not, she is bound to benefit from the experience
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