New Zealand scoop three out of five medals at the Final of the Genée International Ballet Competition 2012
Recognised as one of the ballet world’s most prestigious competitions, the Final of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD’s) Genée International Ballet Competition, took place at the St James Theatre, Wellington, on Saturday 15 December, with the dancers finishing on top form.
The New Zealand ballet community had reason to be immensely proud on Saturday night as not only did they host a spectacular competition, they also scooped three medals – in the male category: gold for 15-year-old Aurelian Child-de-Brocas (trained by Hilary Kaplan and Archibald McKenzie), and in the female category: silvers for 17-year-old Kaena Ahern (trained by Melinda Palmer) and 16-year-old Ariana Hond (trained by Melinda Palmer, Heather Palmer and Allan Barry), who also won the Audience Choice Award. A gold medal was also awarded to 15-year-old Australian female candidate, Montana Rubin (trained by Mark Reily and Peta Frith), and a silver medal to 17-year-old Australian male candidate, Harry Davis (trained by Janne Blanch, Susan Massey and Steven McTaggart).
The 2012 judging panel was chaired by David McAllister, artistic director of The Australian Ballet and completed by Li Cunxin, artistic director designate of Queensland Ballet and Christopher Hampson, artistic director of Scottish Ballet.
David McAllister said: ‘It has been ten years since I judged the competition in Sydney, and I think it has really evolved in that time. The standard of the candidates was wonderfully good and the whole week has been a complete joy.’
The overwhelming public response was evident, with support in the run up to the competition from Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand School of Dance and large audiences in attendance for the Semi-finals and the Genée Dance Challenge – a junior competition in association with Genée. The atmosphere in the theatre for Saturday’s sold-out performance once again proved the Genée International Ballet Competition’s reputation as a tour de force in the worldwide ballet scene.
In the run up to the Final, 71 RAD-trained dancers between the ages of 15 and 19 from countries including Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Indonesia, the UK, USA and Spain, competed in the Semi-finals, held over two days. This year, as well as performing a classical repertoire variation and specially choreographed solo (separate male and female), exclusively commissioned by New Zealand choreographer, Adrian Burnett, the Finalists had the opportunity to perform an original solo choreographed by themselves or their teacher as part of ‘Dancer’s Own’ – a new addition to the competition.
Li Cunxin remarked, ‘I thought the standard was very high and the Dancers’ Own variations were the highlight of the competition and a valuable addition to the competition format. As a judge, I was pleasantly surprised to see how each of the candidates brought their own unique qualities to the set repertoire.’
Lynn Wallis, artistic director of the RAD and producer of the competition commented: ‘The introduction of the Dancer’s Own choreography section has gone so well that I will be introducing a special choreographic prize next year.’
As this year’s competition came to a close, the international ballet community looks forward to 2013’s Genée Competition, which RAD Chief Executive Luke Rittner announced would be taking place in Glasgow, Scotland.
The 2012 medallists are:
Gold: Montana Rubin, 15 years old, Australian. Trained by Mark Reily and Peta Frith
Silver: Kaena Ahern, 17 years old, New Zealander. Trained by Melinda Palmer.
Ariana Hond, 16 years old, New Zealander. Trained by Melinda Palmer, Heather Palmer and Allan Barry.
Gold: Aurelian Child-de-Brocas, 15 years old, New Zealander. Trained by Hilary Kaplan and Archibald McKenzie
Silver: Harry Davis, 17 years old, Australian. Trained by Janne Blanch, Susan Massey and Steven McTaggart No Bronze medals were awarded.
The Audience Award was sponsored by TORY & KO jewellers, who awarded an exclusively designed jewelled tiara to winner Ariana Hond.