McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships winners 2013

From 174 candidates in the Sydney Eisteddfod’s major dance event, the McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships, the outright winner at the Sydney Opera House on 4 August was 16 year old Caleb Durbin, who trains at the National College of Dance in Newcastle, New South Wales.

His prize of $18,000 grew by $3,000 as he also won one of two Performance Awards offered this year by the Melbourne school, the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet, led by Christine Walsh and Ricardo Ella.

A student from the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet, Kiely Groenegwegen, 16, won the second McDonald scholarship, worth $10,000, while Jessica Allison-Walker, 16, trained by Prudence Bowen on the Gold Coast, won the second $3,000 Performance Award.

Caleb Durban danced Prince Desire’s variation from Act III of The Sleeping Beauty but the showpiece that may earned him the major award was a contemporary variation, titled Raw.

Choreographed by Debbie Ellis-Linnert, it was an ideal vehicle for him to show his acting skills as well as his technique. This was an intense solo with real heart and soul.

Kiely Groenewegen, who will be joining the Royal Ballet School on a scholarship next month, danced Aurora’s variation from Act III of The Sleeping Beauty. Her balletic contemporary variation, was choreographed by Ricardo Ella.

Jessica Allison-Walker gave an appealing performance of Giselle’s Act I variation and in her sweet contemporary variation danced to Somewhere Over the Rainbow, choreographed by Olivia Ansell.

Alysha Martignago, 15, a 2013 Prix de Lausanne finalist, who trains with Janine McGrath of Classical Coaching, Brisbane, gave an impressively secure performance of Aurora’s variation in Act I of The Sleeping Beauty.

The standard of the 2013 scholarships event was high and each of the finalists gave convincing and strong performances particularly in their contemporary variations.

In a guest performance, Lachlan Monaghan, the 2009 McDonald’s scholarship winner, now with Birmingham Royal Ballet, showed his exuberance and sense of fun in a solo from Elite Syncopations.

The finalists

Jessica Allison-Walker, 16. Trained at the Christa Cameron School of Ballet in Melbourne and, from the beginning of this year, with Prudence Bowen in the Gold Coast, Queensland

Belle Beasley, 16. Trains at the National College of Dance, Newcastle, New South Wales

Kiely Groenegwegen, 16. Studies with Christine Walsh and Ricardo Ella at the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet in Melbourne, Victoria

Alysha Martignago, 15, studies with Janine McGrath of Classical Coaching, Brisbane, Queensland

Josh Denyer, 18, trains at Ecole Ballet & Dance Theatre with Jane Allyn and Ashley Killar in Sydney, New South Wales

Caleb Durbin, 16, trains at the National College of Dance in Newcastle, New South Wales

Nathan Mennis, 18, studies with with Martyn Fleming at the Queensland National Ballet School in Brisbane, Queensland

Tyson Powell, 17, studies at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, Melbourne, Victoria

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Caleb Durbin and Kiely Groenewegen