4 August 2014
For Bella Vista ballet student Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, the dream came true on Sunday night when she was named outright winner of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship before a capacity crowd in the Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House.
Kayla-Maree, who will celebrate her sixteenth birthday later this month, cannot remember when dance was not part of her life. She began taking ballet lessons when she was two- and-a-half and has been dancing ever since. Tiny, fleet of foot and extraordinarily lissome, Kayla-Maree has excelled in all her Royal Academy of Dance exams and won numerous prizes. In 2008, she appeared with The Australian Ballet as the young Clara in the Sydney production of Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker, and earlier this year, she danced with the company again as The Young Girl in La Sylphide
Carrying a total prize purse of $36,000 Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships are the most valuable awards available to ballet students in the southern hemisphere.
The outright winner is awarded an $18,000 scholarship, the best dancer of the opposite sex to winner receives a $12,000 scholarship and the six unplaced finalists $1,000 each.
This year, the scholarships attracted 180 entrants from all over Australia and New Zealand, and Kayla-Maree succeeded in out-dancing them all.
Adjudicators Rani Luther and Colin Peasley monitored the huge field through a series of elimination rounds until only the eight finalists remained. They were so impressed by the high standard of this year’s competition, they were grateful to David McAllister AO, artistic director of The Australian Ballet, who joined them on Sunday night to assist them in making the final decision.
Next month, Kayla-Maree will begin a new adventure in dance by commencing a course of advanced study at the renowned Dutch National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam.
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