16 July 2014
Last week, 16-year-old Sasha Leong, who studies with Jasmin and Paris Bobyk at the Sydney Ballet School, George’s Heights, qualified for a place in the final round of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships.
Carrying of prize purse of $36,000, these scholarships are the most valuable awards available to Australasian ballet students in the southern hemisphere. They unfailingly attract the best and this year drew a record total of 180 entries from all over Australia and New Zealand. Following a series of elimination heats and a semi final master class before adjudicators Rani Luther and Colin Peasley, the field whittled down to the final eight and having survived every test, Sasha is thrilled to be among them.
Sasha knows what it is like to compete at the highest level. Last year, she won the silver medal, the top prize awarded, at the Genée International Ballet Competition in Glasgow. She was thrilled with this success, but as the McDonald’s Scholarships hold a special place in the dreams of all Australian ballet students, when she dances solo stage at Sydney Opera House on 3 August, she will realise a long-held and very special ambition.
In the wake of the semi final, the adjudicators commented on the exceptionally high standard of this year’s competition. 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 Sasha
wins or not, she is bound to benefit from the experience.
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