2016 Genee International Ballet Competition: A double Gold & a farewell to Lynn Wallis
The 2016 Genee Awards ended with mathematical precision: From 12 finalists there were six medal winners, with one girl and one boy winning a medal in each level – Gold, Silver and Bronze.
But the big surprise of the night was the very unusual choice of the judges to award two Gold Medals.
As far as I can tell from a Royal Academy of Dance list of all Genee awards since the competition began in 1931, there have never been two Gold medallists in any one year and often, the judges donâ€™t give any Gold medals at all.
This year, judges David McAllister, Kevin Oâ€™Hare and Francesco Ventrigilia were generous in their decision and there was also an element of a special occasion at the Sydney Opera House on the finals night, held at the Sydney Opera House on December 11.
Before the medals were handed out, the Royal Academy of Danceâ€™s chief executive, Luke Rittner, gave a speech in honour of Lynn Wallis, who reached the end of her 22 years as the RAD artistic director on the night of the finals. As well, Rittner told the audience the date marked Wallisâ€™ 70th birthday.
In a further tribute to Wallis, three dancers from the Australian Ballet performed Monotones II, the Ashton Ballet she has coached many times.
The Gold Medal for a girl went to Maeve Nolan, 16, from New South Wales (taught by Marie Walton-Mahon of Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy).
Joshua Price, 16, from Queensland (taught by Janice Heale of the Amanda Bollinger of Dance Academy) won the Gold Medal for a boy.
The female silver medal was won by Talia Fidra, 15, (taught by Heidi Landford of Claudia Dean Coaching) while the male silver was taken out by Brayden Gallucci, 17, (taught by Hilary Kaplan of Alegria Dance Studios).
The female bronze was awarded to Madison Ayton, 15, (trained by Annette Roselli of Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy) and the male bronze was given to Hamish Scott, 18, (trained by Sarah Dickinson of Elmhurst Ballet School, Birmingham, UK).
Scott was the only medallist who was not Australian.
Unlike many ballet competition finals the 2016 Genee Awards was not one of those evenings where it seems that one outstanding dancer is almost certainly going to win and while the perennial audience pleaser, Le Corsaire, brought much applause, the audience also cheered almost every performance, as always happens with ballet competitions.
After all students, teachers and parents make up much of the audience.
In a media release after the event David McAllister acknowledged that the judges’ choices were difficult and “we kept changing our minds all the way through the evening”.
The judges took into account the finalists’ three solos – their classical variations, a solo of their own choice and the variations specifically choreographed by Tim Harbour for this year’s Genee.
Gold medal winner, Maeve Nolan, and two other impressive young finalists, Alexandra Wilton (trained by Teresa Johnson) and Jessi Seymour (trained by Hilary Kaplan) chose the charming Summer Variation from Ashtonâ€™s Cinderella as their classical variation.
The other female finalists chose either Raymonda Act II, variation II, Raymonda Act III, variation I, or La Bayadere Act III, 2nd Girl or 3rd Girl.
While Gold medal winner, Joshua Price, danced the Act III variation from Le Corsaire, the two other male finalists chose Swan Lake, Act III, Prince Siegfried.
The next Genee awards will take place in Lisbon when the new RAD artistic director will be the New Zealander, Paula Hunt.