Dance challenge puts ballerinas en pointe

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 10:06 27/11/2012

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Three Hutt City ballet dancers will soon sashay into the "Olympics of ballet", alongside top level international competition.

Olivia Naish and Kia Jewell, both 12, of the Mary Rodgers Ballet Academy, and Georgia Ryan from the Chilton Dance Centre, were selected for the national final of the junior Genee Dance Challenge in a regional heat.

The challenge is run alongside Genee International Dance Competition, which is for older dance students, many on the verge of a professional career.

The sister events are often referred to as the Olympics of ballet.

Held by the London-based Royal Academy of Dance examination body, the competitions have never been held in New Zealand before, but both will take place at the St James Theatre in Wellington from December 6 to 15.

Hutt City ballet teacher Mary Rodgers says they are expected to attract talented dancers from around the world.

"It's the most prestigious competition for the Royal Academy, it's the creme de la creme of dancers in the Academy."

The competition will be a step up into more serious practice for the girls and a window into the possibilities of where their dancing could take them in the future, she says.

"You're finally dancing, not just doing exercises.

"It shows them that all the hard slog in the classroom is worth it and you can go further and perform on stage," she says.

Kia will perform a barefoot free expression ballet piece, while Olivia will perform a classically choreographed piece.

One highlight will be to see the older dancers perform, and to be assessed by top level international judges.

Among them will be Li Cunxin, a Chinese ballet dancer whose life story is told in the popular book and film Mao's Last Dancer.

Olivia says she's excited.

"I want to see the older dancers and all the cool things you can do when you're older."

Kia says they are considering careers as ballerinas.

"It's what we could do if we work really hard," she says.

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