Questo sito non supporta completamente il tuo browser. Ti consigliamo di utilizzare Edge, Chrome, Safari o Firefox.


With cash prizes totalling $36,000, the Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship is the biggest cash prize for rising ballet stars in the southern hemisphere. Now in its 44th year, the scholarship is open to dancers aged 16-19 all of whom are teetering on the edge of securing a place in a world class ballet school, or for the lucky few, a company contract. For an art form reliant on funds to enable careers, the scholarship presents a serious opportunity.

Redlands perform at Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship. Photograph by WinkiPop media

subscribe to the latest in dance

“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

Your weekly source for world-class dance reviews, interviews, articles, and more.

Already a paid subscriber? Login

This year, more than 130 students from across Australia and New Zealand applied to compete. The road to the finals is not only rigorous, but plays out over weeks with preliminary rounds, quarter-finals and semi-finals before the finalists are announced. All competitors perform a classical ballet variation and undergo a master class with the adjudicators. Up to a third are selected to perform a free solo (usually a contemporary dance piece), before semi finalists complete a final master class. Ultimately, eight finalists are selected to perform onstage at the Sydney Opera House where the prizes are announced.

As the audience takes their seats in the Sydney Opera House, it is not your usual hushed ballet crowd. Instead you can hear mothers corralling children, mobile phones beeping and the chatter of budding ballerinas everywhere. But it suits the occasion—these are teenagers we are here to watch. Without the support network in tow, there would be no competition. The audience is also dotted with some of Australia's most notable ballet figures, including David McAllister, artistic director of the Australian Ballet, and Li Cunxin of Mao's Last Dancer fame and current artistic director of the Queensland Ballet. They are both guest adjudicators for the final.

Sydney Eisteddfod
Matisse Lewis, 2nd scholarship winner of Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship. Photograph by WinkiPop media

The night starts with the most nerve racking of the solos—the classical variations. On finals night, the stand outs were Joshua Green, Grace Humphris and Matisse Lewis, who all displayed artistry, confidence and technical prowess. Unfortunately, of the five female finalists, three performed the notorious Black Swan Variation from Act III of “Swan Lake.” Even for a principal dancer this variation is strikingly difficult. On this occasion, the risk didn’t pay off, while all three displayed the dramatics of the character, their technique, perhaps mixed with nerves, wasn’t executed to perfection.

After interval, the finalists then performed their free choice contemporary solos. Highlights were Shontaya Smedley and Matthew Maxwell, both performing bold choreography by Adam Blanch. Kayla Van Den Bogert's piece was captivating with its intensity, if reminiscent of Mauro Bigonzetti’s contemporary piece commissioned for the 2018 Prix de Lausanne candidates. Joshua Green's solo was again a highlight, a superbly performed and self-choreographed contemporary piece. The work was performed to spoken word text and explored the bullying many young male dancers experience.

Sydney Eisteddfod
Joshua Green, winner of the Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship. Photograph by WinkiPop media

In addition to the eight finalists, the afternoon also played host to the finals of the Secondary School Dance Groups. Scheduled between the classical performances, they turned out to be a fabulous interlude. Collectively they displayed enormous dedication, maturity and skill for young dancers still at high school. With themes ranging from climate change and social media, sick children and anxiety, the themes were weightier than anticipated. Perhaps a sign of the social media age, they highlighted widespread social issues with maturity beyond their years. The winners were the outstanding Albany Creek State High School, with second place going to Redlands Cremorne. A number of special guests also graced the stage as we waited for the results. The absolute surprise highlight of the afternoon was a cracker circus-like performance by the students of Glenhaven Public School.

As the results of the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship were announced, Joshua Green being declared the ultimate winner and Matisse Lewis receiving the 2nd scholarship, it was clear ballet, and more broadly, dance in this country is in good hands. The dedication displayed by the high school competitors, too, was moving, and a reminder of why we were all there. To those families moving heaven and earth to allow their children the privilege of learning to dance, they should be so proud.

Outright Winner - $18,000 cash and prizes:
Joshua Green

2nd Scholarship Winner - $12,000 cash and prizes:
Matisse Lewis

Tanya Pearson Artistry Award:
Grace Humphris

The Australian Conservatoire of Ballet Performance Award:
Joshua Green

Shontaya Smedley
Joshua Green
Kayla Van Den Bogert
Grace Humphris
Matisse Lewis
Matthew Maxwell
Tyler Robinson
Jemima Scott

Margaret Illmann
Damian Smith

Guest Adjudicators:
David McAllister AM
Li Cunxin

Claudia Lawson

Claudia Lawson is a dance critic based in Sydney, Australia, writing regularly for ABC Radio National, ABC Arts, and Fjord Review. After graduating with degrees in Law and Forensic Science, Claudia worked as a media lawyer for the ABC, FOXTEL and the BBC in London, where she also co-founded Street Sessions dance company. Returning to Sydney, Claudia studied medicine and now works as a doctor. She is the host of the award-winning Talking Pointes Podcast.



A Little More Action
REVIEWS | Karen Hildebrand

A Little More Action

Smuin Contemporary Ballet is a different company than when it last came to New York in 2012, five years after the sudden death of its popular founder. Michael Smuin was known for his highly accessible works full of musical theater splash. While his San Francisco based company continues to perform his repertory, it has commissioned a broad range of new work under succeeding director, Celia Fushille.

Continua a leggere
Summer Fun
REVIEWS | Merilyn Jackson

Summer Fun

In its Summer Series 2024, the Philadelphia contemporary ballet company offers three world premieres by choreographers Amy Hall Garner, Loughlan Prior and Stina Quagebeur. The extended run, July 10-21 at the Wilma Theater, is just about the only dance to be seen during summer’s dog days. And what a cool and breezy show it is. Just the boost we needed.

Continua a leggere
India Week
REVIEWS | Karen Greenspan

India Week

On a scorcher of a day in July, New York’s Lincoln Center launched India Week, a cultural extravaganza celebrating the variety and vibrancy of Indian culture. 

Continua a leggere
Good Subscription Agency