Local ballet dancer gets highest award

2012-01-19 00:00

SHE put her best ballet shoe forward and the results were worth it for Pietermaritzburg dancer and ballet teacher Julia Powell.

Powell has achieved the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti Ballet Diploma.

She has become one of only 50 in southern Africa and the only one locally to get this diploma.

Her gruelling exam took place in Durban last year where she had to dance before three examiners for hours of intense dancing while they examined her every movement for accuracy.

The examination is the highest award given to Cecchetti Ballet followers and is known as the “Final Diploma.”

Like many little girls, Powell’s ballet career started at the age of four under the tuition of local Hilton Cecchetti teacher, Ros Nicholson.

In 2004 she qualified to become a ballet teacher and then began to teach with Nicholson until 2007 when she opened her own studio in Pietermaritzburg.

In 2008 she passed her Advanced Two Cecchetti dancing exam with highly commended and in 2011 she achieved distinction for her anatomy one exam.

Following in her ballet shoes, her students have also achieved well and are winning a string of trophies and bursaries.

When Nicholson retired at the end of 2010, Powell was a natural choice to succeed as the renowned studio’s new owner.

Until recently, Nicolson’s studio was the only ballet studio in Hilton and she taught ballet to a generation of moms and their daughters.

Cecchetti ballet is a well known style of classic theatrical ballet based on the teaching of the great Italian ballet master, Enrico Cecchetti.

He taught in Russia, Poland, Italy and England and became the private instructor of the renowned Anna Pavlova and many other celebrated dancers.

Many internationally famous ballet dancers owe their skill and style to his methods.

While it is a cliché that little girls are entranced by the beauty and grace of ballet and it is a “phase” that mothers indulge, Powell said: “Ballet is a form of dance that develops physical strength and agility, strong concentration skills, an understanding of music and rhythm and a love of movement.

“Instruction in ballet can provide numerous benefits for children of all ages, regardless of their skill level,” said Powell.

“Ballet dancers can usually be singled out in a crowd by their poise and posture. Many dance forms can trace their roots to the studied grace of ballet,” she added.

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