Sydney Eisteddford’s ballet scholarship finalists, 2014

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This year’s eight finalists in the Sydney Eisteddfod’s McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship will compete for the two top prizes tomorrow, 3 August, at the Sydney Opera House.

The finalists are from three states, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

I know that the scholarship seems, at the time, to mark a pivotal moment in the life of the talented young dancers. I’ve seen the highs and lows over 21 years, first as an interested observer and journalist and in later years as a mother.

If you’re close to one of the candidates, as a teacher or parent, of course it’s hard accept the results impartially. Usually the happiness and the bitter disappointments are kept private, or only for an inner circle.

But this year, for the first time in my memory, a Sydney ballet teacher has expressed his frustration and distress publicly on Facebook, suggesting that the failure of any one of his three male students to make it into the finals was due to either “politics” or because the judges needed glasses.

In the long term, the decisions of judges do not determine the dancers’ future career.

Teachers usually tell their students, whether successful in competition or not, that the most important attribute they need is resilience and that a win at one competition does not guarantee success at the next and will never guarantee a career.

Ballet is a beautiful art form but often a heartbreaking world to live and work within. So often it’s potluck, and “politics” is not often the culprit unless of course you’re thinking of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Tomorrow, this year’s judges of the scholarship, Rani Luther and Colin Peasley, will be joined by the Australian Ballet’s artistic director, David McAllister, to choose the two finalists.

The finallists:

Matthew Bradwell (Mount Waverley,VIC)

Bethany Cockburn (Highland Park, QLD) Prue

Noah Dunlop (Southbank, VIC)

Chiara Gonzalez (Benowa, QLD)

Sasha Leong (Mosman) Sydney Ballet school

Daniel Russell (Umina Beach)

Sera Schuller (Aroona, QLD)

Kayla-Maree Tarantolo (Bella Vista)

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Back row from left: Kayla Maree Tarantolo, Daniel Russell Colin Peasley (adjudicator), Matthew Bradwell, Sera Schuller, Rani Luther (adjudicator), Noah Dunlop, Sasha Leong. Front row: Chiara Gonzalez, Bethany Cockburn.