Alana Haines Australasian Awards 2017

April 22, 2017 at 1:48 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | Leave a comment
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Just as in 2013 and 2015, I went to the finals of the 2017 Alana Haines Australasian Awards (AHAAs) the other night at the St James Theatre – Wellington.

The AHAAs is the largest ballet competition in Australasia, and can justly claim to be the premier competition in Australasia – this year the finalists get preferential entry into the 2018 Youth America Grand Prix, in recognition that the two competitions clashed.

This year’s competition was bigger than before: there were more than 550 entrants; the competition started one day earlier than before too.

The Theatre was packed to witness the finalists (22) put themselves out there one last time. There were moments of thunderous applause – particularly for Nae Kojima and Cameron Holmes.

The night started with ‘set’ solos: Seniors followed by Juniors with their ‘set’ solos. Then the Seniors came back on with their ‘own choice’ contrasting solos. Then their there were performances by past winners – an audience favourite was Harrison Lee.

The finalists, and their solos, were:

  • Juniors (11 – 13):
    • Sonia Woods, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle;
    • Jasmine Healey, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle;
    • Brooke Wong, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle;
    • Jenna Civin, CupidDon Quixote;
    • Macy Trethewey, CupidDon Quixote;
    • Rylie Wilkinson, Kirov Peasant Pas – Giselle;
    • Sotique Macuga, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle;
    • Alfie Shacklock, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle;
    • Madeleine Glassey, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle;
    • Juliette Gray, Flower Festival; and
    • Honey Black, Peasant Pas 2nd Solo – Giselle.
  • Seniors, 13 – 15:
    • Meg Newton, Odalisque 2nd Solo – Le Corsaire;
    • Stella Byers, Lilac Fairy – Sleeping Beauty;
    • Macy Cook, Kitri’s Wedding – Don Quixote;
    • Hyo Shimizu, Basil – Don Quixote;
    • Noah Benzie-Drayton, James Act 1 – La Sylphides;
    • Monet Galea-Hewitt, Giselle; and
    • Kayla van den Bogert, Odile – Swan Lake.
  • Senors, 16 – 21:
    • Abbey Lavery, Lilac Fairy – Sleeping Beauty;
    • Nae Kojima, Gamzatti – La Bayadere;
    • Saul Newport, Siegfried – Swan Lake; and
    • Cameron Holmes, Corsaire Variation 2 – La Corsaire.

It was nice to see Monet Galea-Hewitt back from 2015.

This year’s adjudicators were:

  • Lisa Pavane, Director of the Australian Ballet School, former Principal Ballerina of the English National Ballet;
  • Stephane Leonard, Director Aspirant Program of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, former Soloist Royal Winnipeg Ballet;
  • Leslie Hughes, Tutor at the Hamburg Ballet School, former soloist Hamburg Ballet Germany; and
  • Terence Etheridge, Choreographer Duchy Ballet Cornwall UK, former artistic Director Hong Kong Ballet, former soloist Festival Ballet (English National Ballet).

With 550 entrants, the panel must have put in a heroic effort. They were still on their feet and handing out scholarships and awards on the final night. Lisa Pavane, the head of panel, gave a wonderfully appropriate address to the contestants and audience: she praised all of the contestants for their hard work and dedication; emphasised the need for good technique (in the upper back and head); called for a round of applause for the parents; and thanked Katie Haines and the volunteers. She was also open about ballet not being for everyone – as its technical demands and work load were more suited to those born with the necessary per-requistes.

Congratulations to the winners:

  • Alfie Shacklock
  • Macy Cook
  • Nae Kojima

Nae Kojima received a huge round of applause for her Gamzatti solo; her technique and elevation were breathtaking. Cameron Holmes, the runner up to Kojima, received two huge rounds of applause for his Corsiare solo and his contrasting solo; he was strong and athletic, yet technically well controlled.

Macy Cook’s first place was well received; she is the first Wellington based winner in the competition’s 29 year history.

All of the competitors are to be congratulated for their hard work and willingness to put themselves out there. [Apologies for any transcription errors – Junior and Senior results are available the at the AHAA website]

This biannual competition is held in memory of Alana Haines – a promising young dancer who died in a car accident on Christmas Eve in 1989. The competition has become the launching pad for some wonderful talent.

I enjoyed the evening and for me the highlight was seeing Cameron Holmes do a jump 360 about an axis that was set at 45 degrees; and a series of 720’s where the last 45 degrees slowed was slower than the first 690 – giving an impression of great control.

As always, I hope fortune will favour all the contestants in the years to come, and I will be able to say “I saw them at the AHAAs”.

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Alana Haines Australasian Awards 2013

April 1, 2013 at 7:08 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review, Sporting Event | 6 Comments
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Having gone to the final of the Genee 2012 late last year, I had to go to the Alana Haines Australasian Awards (AHAAs); so I attended the final night at the St. James in Wellington, New Zealand.

The AHAAs is probably the premier Australasian ballet competition – held every two years in memory of 11 year old Alana Haines, a promising young dancer who died in a car accident on Christmas Eve in 1989.

The format of the final was that the seniors would dance a piece chosen from a short list of classical works, then the juniors would do the same, then the seniors would do a piece of their own choice.

The knowledgeable audience gave full vent to its appreciation of some fine dancing.

The finalists were:

  • Juniors, 11 – 13 years:
    • Larissa Kiyotto-Ward
    • Sophie Smith, Queensland
    • Madison Ayton, Queensland
    • Lily Maskery
    • Talia Fidra, Queensland
    • Nae Kojima, Queensland
    • Damen Axtens
    • Bianca Scudamore, Queensland
    • Madeleine Skippen, Queensland
    • Harrison Lee
    • Narvin Turnball, Queensland
  • Seniors, 13 – 15 years:
    • Chloe Michelle Hollow, Queensland
    • Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, New South Wales
    • Bethany Cockburn, Queensland
    • Madison Whiteley, Brisbane
    • Alysha Martignago, Queensland
    • Shene Lazarus, Brisbane
  • Seniors, 16 – 21 years:
    • Emily Seymour, Sydney
    • Anyah Siddall, Sydney
    • Tirion Law Lok Huen
    • William Fitzgerald
    • Tynan Wood

The judges were:

  • Sarah Eliot-Cohen: Head of Development, Royal Ballet School (London)
  • Simon Dow: Senior Tutor, Australian Ballet School
  • Martin James: International Guest Tutor

NB: Ms Eliot-Cohen stepped in at the last moment when Gailene Stock-Norman (Director, Royal Ballet School) suffered a concussion and was ruled medically unable to fly. [Apologies if I have Sarah’s details incorrect – there being no errata to the programme.]

There was a very strong Australian contingent – 15 of the final 22 were not based in New Zealand.

Congratulations to the three winners:

  • Harrison Lee
  • Bethany Cockburn
  • Tynan Wood

I had seen Tynan Wood (and William Fitzgerald) dance before at the New Zealand School of Dance. Tynan was a worthy winner: his Siegfried – with its huge jumps and fine technical control – had the audience in raptures; and his Speaking in Tongues made the biggest connection with the audience. It should be noted that two of the top three places in the 16 – 21 year group went to New Zealand School of Dance students: Tynan, and William Fitzgeral. Anyah Siddal, who was the first runner-up is from Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching, NSW, Australia. [Full results at AHAAs]

The ‘boys’ did very well: Damen Axtens and William Fitzgerald came second in their respective sections.

Sir John Trimmer, was the host for the evening, and created a supportive and appreciative atmosphere to a tense few hours. He worked the audience like a music hall master of old.

There was a 25 minute interval to allow the judges to confer and make a final decision. This dragged out to 40-45 minutes; and this gave rise to some uncalled for rhythmic clapping and stamping at times (by the adults – it should be noted, not the competitors).

Just before the interval – to give the judges even more time and to showcase some young talent – students (Jarrah McArther and Tynan Wood) from the New Zealand School of Dance did a neo-classical pas de deux (Jeffrey Tan’s Facade) and Shayarne Matheson (Winner in 2011) did a neo-classical solo.

A most entertaining and educational night.

[Apologies to the participant for any errors – there being no errata to the programme – I am forced to rely on some notes scribbled in the dark.]

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