Former winners to perform at McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship final

 Sydney Eisteddfod has annouced that Claudia Dean and Aaron Smyth will feature as guest artists at the 2011 McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships Final at Sydney Opera House on July 31. Since attracting attention at the 2008 McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships, these dancers have worked tirelessly to make their dreams come true. Both are still in their teens and now, after furthering their studies overseas and establishing themselves as talents to watch in international ballet circles, they stand poised on the brink of successful careers.


After dancing in the final of the 2007 McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship, Aaron finished fourth in Australia’s Got Talent and in 2008 was awarded a scholarship to the Jacqueline Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. Before leaving for New York in September that year, he again made the final of McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships and, although he missed taking the male award by a whisker, he created such an impression, McDonald’s Australia rewarded him with a special $5,000 prize to help him through his studies in America.  A few days later, en route to New York, Aaron competed in the prestigious Genée International Ballet Competition and justified everyone’s faith in his talent by winning the gold medal, along with the Bravo Award from the audience. He excelled in his studies at the school and for the past year has been a member of ABT2.


In 2008, at the age of 15, Claudia became the youngest person in history to win the major McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship. The following year, she added the Alana Haines Supreme Award to her laurels and in 2009, after emulating Aaron’s success at the Genée International Ballet Competition, began a three-year course at The Royal Ballet School. She was immediately promoted into the second year class and was soon representing the school in international competitions and showcase performances. Claudia has already danced in Swan Lake, Giselle, Manon and Cinderella with The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. She revels in dance and earlier this year was headhunted by three leading companies. Now, with a contract signed and sealed; she is preparing for her graduation performance and will join The Royal Ballet in August.


Claudia and Aaron, who are both returning to Australia during the northern hemisphere summer break, say performing the Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire before a home crowd at Sydney Opera House will be the highlight of their holidays.


Claudia’s Photo by Johan Persson.