7 February 2023 09:48

The biennial Alana Haines Awards were held at the St James Theatre Wellington over the Easter weekend. An astonishing 400 contestants from Australasia, aged from 11-18 years, attended the event, competing for a total of $50,000 in cash prizes as well as scholarships to elite schools.

The event commemorates a promising 11-year-old Wellington dancer Alana, who was tragically killed on Christmas eve in 1989. The AHA was established in 1991 by Alana’s mother and former RNZB dancer Katie Haines. It has since grown into one of the most prestigious dance awards in Australasia, supported by dance communities worldwide, with scholarships offered by schools in the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and Australasia and with an elite panel of local and international judges.

The Grand Final was hosted by Turid Revfeim (Artistic Director of BalletCollective Aotearoa). Thirty-three outstanding finalists presented their solos to a full house at the St James Theatre in Wellington, alongside stunning guest performers, 2021 Fonteyn Gold medal Winner, Alice McArthur and her pas de deux partner Mitchell Millhollin from Stuttgart’s John Cranko Schule,  2018 Genée Gold medal winner Monet Galea-Hewitt and Dane Head both with the New Zealand School of Dance, the Balletcollective Aotearoa and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

The top three placegetters in each age group receive their first choice of a scholarship from the list of sponsoring schools. Scholarship sponsors can offer all finalists scholarships via a finals link with an unlimited number of scholarships. Already, head judge Stephane Leonard, who is the director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, has offered 21 three-week summer school scholarships, including accommodation.

The winner of the Junior section (11-12 years) was Leni Howlett (12), from the Kerry Moore School of Ballet (Vic). She won $5000 cash. Second place ($2000) went to Aliza Song, from the Philippa Campbell School of Ballet in Auckland, and third place ($1000) went to Holly Robinson, from the McDonald College (NSW).

The winner of the $7000 Supreme A group (13-14 years) award was Lauren Wycherley (14), a pupil at Papilio Atelier, Auckland. She also won the Gailene Stock Award of $4000, bringing her total prize money to $11,000 cash.

Elodie Lamont, from Rebekah Davey Academy of Dance in St Kilda (Vic), came second ($3500) and Katie Shi, from the Mt Eden Ballet Academy in Wellington, came third, winning $2500.

The winner of the Supreme B Group (15-18 years) was Emily Sprout (16), a pupil of the Prima Youth Classical Academy (Qld). She also received $7000 cash. Runner-up was Lyn Lin, from the Mt Eden Ballet Academy ($3500) and third place went to Summer Edgley ($2500) from BMC Coaching on the Gold Coast, Qld.

It has been 33 years since AHA Awards was founded. To mark the years, 33 girls and boys presented a red rose to 33 finalists.

All the finalists received $500 cash.

For the full list of winners and finalists, go here.

Pictured above are 2021 Fonteyn Gold medal Winner, Alice McArthur and her pas de deux partner Mitchell Millhollin from Stuttgart’s John Cranko Schule, Germany.  Photo: Andrea Crawshay