Naomi Sano

Naomi Sano on stage at the McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media

Seven Australians bound for Lausanne


Sydney Eisteddfod takes pride in reporting the seven Australians chosen to compete in the 2015 Prix de Lausanne are all veterans of its stages. Widely regarded as the world’s most important competition for aspiring ballet students, the Prix de Lausanne showcases the best international talent before an audience that includes the artistic directors of leading ballet companies, academies and schools.

This year, 300 entries from 34 countries auditioned for the competition by video and from these 67 dancers were selected to compete in Lausanne. The competition will run from 1 – 8 February, and of 31 Australians who entered the event, four girls and three boys are now excitedly preparing to travel to Switzerland.

The seven Australian candidates come from six different schools. Cooper Cridland-Hayes and Olivia Betteridge, whotrain at the Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, have both given impressive performances on the McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod platform. The other five were all born in 1999, and over the past two years have attracted attention as winners or finalists in the Sydney Eisteddfod Robert and Elizabeth Albert Junior Classical Ballet Scholarship.

Since winning this scholarship in 2013, Harrison Lee, who studies with Josephine Jason and Jane Kesby at the McDonald College, has enjoyed one success after another. As this victory boosted his confidence, he began 2014 on a high note by winning the Royal Academy of Dance Isobel Anderson Award. A fortnight later, he established himself as one of most promising male ballet students in the world today by scoring a sensational victory in the Junior Division of Youth of America Grand Prix (YAGP).

After impressing some of world’s sternest dance critics in New York, Harrison won two events at the annual McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod, then travelled to Adelaide where he claimed top honours and another $10,000 as winner of the Australian Institute of Classical Ballet International Award. Having given himself a hard act to follow, Harrison who will undoubtedly start among the frontrunners in Lausanne, finished a year he will never forget by being named recipient of Ann McDonald Senior Scholars Award at his school.

Queenslander Bianca Scudamore, who studies with Janine McGrath at Classical Coaching Australia, was a finalist in the Sydney Eisteddfod Robert & Elizabeth Albert Junior Classical Scholarship in both 2013 and 2014. In April, she finished third in the junior section of YAGP, and has since added a win in the 2014 RAD Bursary to her laurels.

Another qualifier is Naomi Sano, from the Sydney Ballet School, who finished second to Harrison in the Sydney Eisteddfod Robert & Elizabeth Albert Junior Classical Scholarship in 2013, emerged as a clear winner this year after impressing adjudicators with her lyricism. The other two talented dancers stepping from this scholarship to Lausanne are Navrin Turnbull from Queensland, who is privately coached by Maldon John Czislowski, and Rebecca Blenkinsopfrom the Victorian College of Arts Secondary School.

Since its beginning in 1994, the Sydney Eisteddfod Robert & Elizabeth Albert Junior Classical Ballet Scholarship has been serving as a platform for Australia’s top up-and-coming talent. Over this period, a huge number of its winners and finalists have gained entry to leading international academies and progressed into successful professional careers with The Australian Ballet, The Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet and other leading companies throughout the world.

Proud of these dancers, Sydney Eisteddfod is confident that whether they gain selection into the final round of the Prix de Lausanne or not, they will all attract attention as outstanding ambassadors for Australian dance.