Larissa Kiyoto-Ward on stage in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
The Robert & Elizabeth Albert Sydney Eisteddfod Junior Ballet Scholarship has a long-standing reputation as one the most prominent events for younger dancers. Not only is it well regarded in the Sydney Eisteddfod calendar; it stands out amongst all the scholarships on offer across the globe dedicated to those pre-professional students who express a keen desire to pursue Ballet as a career. Generously provided by Mr Robert Albert AO and Mrs Elizabeth Albert, the Scholarship attracts upwards of 70 entrants between the ages of 14 and 15 years annually, whose technically abilities extend far beyond of that of others in this age group.
The standard of talent on display in 2016 was of an exceptionally high quality and only got stronger as entrants progressed through the heats and semi-final rounds. 14-year-old Larissa Kiyoto-Ward from Auckland, New Zealand took out top honours, winning the well-deserved prize of $1,000 cash plus an additional $6,000 Scholarship towards continued tuition.
2016 was the second time the Mount Eden Ballet Academy student competed in Sydney Eisteddfod, having already made her mark the previous year. In 2015 Larissa entered the Classical Ballet (13 years) event and The Wenkart Foundation Ballet Championship (13 years), and won both.
Blowing away the judges with performance maturity far beyond her years, judges Alexandra Cownie and Fiona Jopp were in mutual agreement on Larissa being awarded the winning title. Describing her performance as having a “professional quality”, both judges commented on her beautiful expression and strong technique.
Following closely behind, Heidi Freeman from Warragul, Victoria took our Second place and a cash prize of $1,500.
Notably, this Scholarship also rewards entrants who show enormous potential with the opportunity to be considered for one of two Scholarships from the Australian Ballet School. This year Annabelle Watt from New Farm, Queensland and Jordan Kim from Gladesville, NSW were awarded this esteemed prize, which covers tuition and academic costs for one year to study at the Australian Ballet School.
Many past winners and recipients of the Australian Ballet School scholarship continue to dance with professional ballet companies around the world. Remarkably, the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship Winner Lania Atkins and Second Scholarship Winner Joshua Jack Price were both successful in the last year in the 2015 event. Lania emerged triumphant overall and Joshua was awarded the Australian Ballet School scholarship.
Other noteworthy winners include Cristiano Martino who took out the title in 2008 and is currently a 'coryphée' with The Australian Ballet as well as the 2011 and 2012 winners, Montana Rubin and Isobelle Dashwood who joined the company this year as members of the ‘corps de ballet’.
Sydney Eisteddfod is confident that all the finalists who took part in this years Robert and Elizabeth Albert Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship will have successful dance careers in their future and hopes that through competing in this event have been equipped with either the resources or experience needed to further this dream.