2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship Winner Lania Atkins with the 2015 Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship Winner Harrison Lee. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Sydney Eisteddfod takes pleasure in congratulating Harrison Lee, Amelia Townsend and Lania Atkins, who recently graduated into the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden as members of the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Program. These outstanding young artists are all former champions of Sydney Eisteddfod stages and their success proves beyond doubt that Australian dancers now rank among the best in the world.
The three members of this grand trio have different stories. However, what they all have in common are their individual successes with Sydney Eisteddfod ballet events. Harrison was the winner of The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship in 2015 and likewise Lania the following year, with Amelia taking the title of Finalist in 2015.
Harrison began serious training at The McDonald College at the age of 11. In 2013, he won The Sydney Eisteddfod Robert & Elizabeth Albert Junior Ballet Scholarship, and in 2014 he made headlines in the ballet world by winning the Youth of America Grand Prix in New York. In 2015, he further confirmed the richness of his promise by emerging with the gold medal in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne. In the wake of this triumph, the world’s greatest ballet schools began bidding for his talents, and after due consideration, he decided to complete his advanced studies at the Royal Ballet School. Shortly before he departed to London, he achieved a long-held ambition by winning The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship on the stage at Sydney Opera House.
Amelia began winning events at Sydney Eisteddfod when she was eight. At nine she joined The Australian Ballet’s Interstate Program, and at 12, she successfully auditioned for its full-time training program. As this move involved leaving her family in Queensland, it was a difficult choice, but she accepted its challenges and relocated to Melbourne. While she thoroughly enjoyed her years at The Australian Ballet School, she also wanted to test her luck abroad, so she decided to complete her training with her mother, Annette Roselli. During this period, Amelia attended a Summer School at The McDonald College where she had the opportunity to take classes with leading teachers from abroad. They were all wonderful and among them was Jay Jolley, a leading teacher from The Royal Ballet School. Liking her style, he suggested she audition for a place in its Upper School, and when she pointed out there was no way she could reach London in time to audition, he there and then offered her a position at the school. Like Harrison, Amelia was in the process of leaving her homeland when she danced in the final of The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship in August 2015 and later described the occasion as one of the brightest highlights she encountered in her student years.
Lania began dancing as an Oz Tot with Miss Marcia who ran a studio for children in the three-to-five age group in Randwick. From then onwards she studied with Mark Reily and Peta Frith at The Dance Spot, where she trained for the next decade. At 10, she entered Sydney Eisteddfod for the first time and proudly finished in second place in the demi character solo for her age group. In 2011, she won her first event, also in the demi character section, but it was four years before she struck gold again and emerged as the tall, graceful dancer she was born-to-be by winning The Sydney Eisteddfod Robert & Elizabeth Junior Classical Ballet Scholarship. In the wake of this victory, she competed in the Genée International Ballet Competition in London and returned to Australia with the silver medal determined to complete her studies abroad. In 2016, her favourite childhood dream came true when she won The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship. A few weeks later, she left Australia to complete her training at the Dutch National Ballet Academy, and now, at the age of 18, after two years of advanced study at this wonderful school, she has joined The Royal Ballet by invitation.
Like the brilliant teachers who trained these three dancers in Australia, Sydney Eisteddfod staff and volunteers are also celebrating their success, and are convinced they all have exciting futures ahead and will follow their progress with interest.