Hannah O’Neill wins Paris Opera Ballet contract

It’s a long, long way from Wagga Wagga to Paris but that’s the next big step for the New Zealand dancer, Hannah O’Neill.

Now in her graduate year with the Australian Ballet School, she is performing in the present tour of The Dancers Company –the Australian Ballet’s regional touring company.

But only as far as Wagga on August 20, after which she flies to Paris to take up a contract with the Paris Opera Ballet.

It’s a seasonal contract, ending in April next year, but with O’Neill’s talent it wouldn’t surprise if the contract was extended. She will be dancing in La Bayadere and Cinderella.

O’Neill flew to Paris last week to audition along with more than a hundred others and received a call in Singapore on the way back home to Melbourne with the offer.

I’ve seen O’Neill dance once in Peggy!, an Australian Ballet tribute to its founding artistic director, Peggy van Praagh.

In a review for www.ballet.co.uk in July last year, I mentioned O’Neill’s outstanding presence and technical assurance in a piece originally created for the Australian Ballet School.

She was then only 17 and had won the Prix de Lausanne the previous year and the first prize in the senior section at the Youth American Grand Prix final, held in March 2010.

O’Neill’s mother is Japanese and Hannah lived in Japan until she was eight. When the family moved to New Zealand (home of her father), she trained at the Mt Eden Ballet Academy in Auckland.

Here she’s dancing her contemporary variation for the Prix.