16 July 2014
Last week, 16-year-old Bethany Cockburn, who grew up at Mount Annan, gained a place in the final round of the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships by out-dancing 172 rivals. Although for the last year or so, Bethany has been training on the Queensland Gold Coast under the direction of the renowned teacher Prudence Bowen-Atelier, she remains a Camden girl at heart, and thanks her former teacher Joanne Simms of the Macarthur Ballet and Dance Studio for giving her a thorough grounding in basic technique and inspiring her love of dance.
In 2010, at the age of 12, Bethany created a sensation by winning five consecutive dance events at the McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod. In 2012, she repeated this feat and etched her name in Sydney Eisteddfod history as the only dancer to ever score five victories in the same competition twice.
Now dancing better than ever, Bethany is excitedly preparing to compete against seven other outstanding dancers in the final round at Sydney Opera House on 3 August. Carrying
a total prize purse of $36,000, these scholarships are the most valuable awards available to teenage ballet students in the southern hemisphere. The outright winner is awarded a $15,000 scholarship and a $3,000 cash prize, a second scholarship of $10,000 and $2,000 cash is presented to the best dancer of the opposite sex to the winner and the six unplaced finalists receive $1,000 each. These scholarships unfailingly draw the finest talent and this year attracted a record 180 entries from all over Australian and New Zealand.
After judging the preliminaries, adjudicators Colin Peasley and Rani Luther said they were so impressed by exceptionally high standard of this year’s competition, they were grateful that David McAllister, artistic director of The Australian Ballet, would be joining them on August 3 to assist with the final decision making.
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