Press Release: The McDonald College student wins the major 2014 Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship

6 August 2014 

On Sunday night, a dream came true for 15-year-old Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, when before a capacity crowd at Sydney Opera House, she was named outright winner of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship.

A student of The McDonald College, North Strathfield, Kayla-Maree, who studies with Josephine Jason and Jane Kesby is the second outright winner of this scholarship produced by the College in the past five years. During this period, two other students, have finished in second place and another five have danced in the finals.

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. The outright winner claims the major scholarship of $18,000, the best dancer of the opposite sex to winner receives a second scholarship of $12,000 and six remaining 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.

Kayla-Maree 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, she 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

Adjudicators Rani Luther and Colin Peasley monitored the huge field through a series of elimination rounds until only the eight finalists remained. They were both amazed by the high overall standard of this year’s competition and were grateful David McAllister AO, artistic director of The Australian Ballet, joined them on Sunday to assist in the final decision making.

Next month, Kayla-Maree begins a new adventure in dance by commencing a course of advanced training at one of the most highly regarded dance schools in Europe, the Dutch National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam.

Jennie Lees
Media Liaison & Public Information