A Winton youth has pirouetted to a top placing at Wellington's Genee Junior Challenge during the weekend.
Damen Axtens, 12, was selected to perform at the challenge - part of the prestigious Genee International Ballet Competition - alongside four other Southland dancers: Hannah Dawson, 11, Dominic Burrows, 11, Grace Madoc, 13 and Jenifer McManus, 15.
Damen, who has been dancing since age 2, won the Level 2 competitions of the challenge, which he described as fierce.
''I was very nervous,'' Damen said. He was competing against 14 other young dancers from around New Zealand. He described his reaction as ''shocked'' when his name was called out as the winner.
Regardless of winning - which came with praise from the judges - he said there was always room for improvement.
His mother, Kim Axtens, said the standard was extremely high and it was wonderful to see all the Southland nominees dancing at a national level and doing the region proud.
''They all proved that dance in Southland is very strong, and we are right up there with the rest of the country.''
- The Southland Times