The Leanne Benjamin Awards

The Leanne Benjamin Awards 2016

John Frost Award

    • Funded by Australian theatrical producer and Tait Patron, John Frost AM
      The Royal Ballet School

Rebecca Blenkinsop
Rebecca is 17 years old and is from Melbourne, Australia. She started dancing at the age of 10 years and at the age of 11 was accepted into the dance programme at the Victoria College of the Arts Secondary School in Melbourne. At the age of 13 Rebecca began to develop a passion for ballet and
for the last three years has studied Cecchetti. She completed her final examination of ‘Advanced 2’ with a score of 100%.

At the age of 14 Rebecca won the State Silver Medal Award section, and also the National Lucie Saranova Silver section for her Cecchetti. Later that year Rebecca won a bursary to compete in the Cecchetti International Ballet Competition in the United States of America. Whilst one of the youngest
competitors, Rebecca received the second prize and was recognized as ‘The Most Promising Dancer’.

Rebecca’s Cecchetti success continued this year when she won the National Lucie Saranova Gold Medal section. In January 2015, she was also delighted to be a finalist in the prestigious Prix De Lausanne in Switzerland where Mr Powney first saw her.

Rebecca had the opportunity to perform the role of a child ballerina with Victoria Opera, in their production of ‘La Traviata’. She was also cast in several lead roles in her school productions, her most memorable being a ballet work of Opus 47 choreographed by English-born dancer Jonathan Taylor. Rebecca has received her ballet training from some amazing ballet teachers over the last few years, three of whom trained at The Royal Ballet School. Rebecca feels honoured to have been selected to attend The Royal Ballet School and looks forward to receiving what she considers is the best available teaching and the opportunity to train with exceptionally talented students.

This is Rebecca’s second year with The Royal Ballet School and as a LBA recipient.

Tait Awards

The English National Ballet School
Chloe Keneally

Chloe Keneally studied at the Debra Whitten School of Dance, Australia. In January 2016 she auditioned for the English National Ballet School and was accepted immediately for commencement in September.

In April 2016, Chloe competed in the 2016 Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York following a successful video audition in December 2015. In 2015 she was selected to participate in The Royal Ballet (Upper School) Summer School in London as one of five Australians. Chloe participated in the City of Sydney Eisteddfod and was a Finalist in the Robert and Elizabeth Albert Scholarship (top 8%) and then placed 2nd (out of 80) for the 15 years classical section.

Other successes include the encouragement award for the 2015 RAD Jacqueline Morland Awards (youngest and only non-full time student in finals) and was awarded the most outstanding classical dancer of Brisbane Eisteddfod that same year. Chloe has been part of the Australian Ballet School Interstate training program from level 1 through to Invitee, and continued to train weekly with the Queensland Ballet Junior training program (since 2012). A career highlight was to dance the lead role of the Sugarplum fairy in 2015 in the Debra Whitten Ballet School end of year concert, dancing the challenging Grand Pas de Deux and variation with a professional male ballet dancer as guest artist

Tait Awards

The English National Ballet School
Lauren Songberg

Lauren has been dancing since the age of 4 at a local dance school, under the guidance of Kim Traynor. Through the encouragement of her teachers, her love of ballet was fostered. After performing with the Australian Ballet, in The Nutcracker, her dream was set. Shortly after, she became an associate of the Australian Ballet School, maintaining this position for 4 years.

In 2012, Lauren decided to focus on ballet and moved to The McDonald College and was taught by various teachers including Jane Kesby, Josephine Jason and Allan Cross. to continue her training. Moreover, Lauren performed various roles for the Premier State Ballet.

This year, Lauren was offered numerous places at various schools across Europe, but has decided upon attending the English National Ballet School, commencing this September.

Along with performing choreographed dances, Lauren has taken a passion to choreographing her own dances including; a contemporary piece she performed at the Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship Finals and a classical solo which won the Classical Ballet 17/o section at Sydney Eisteddfod.

LBA History

The Tait Memorial Trust in collaboration with Tait Patron Leanne Benjamin AM OBE launched new ballet awards for young Australian dancers studying in the UK. The proceeds from the first event at The Royal Ballet School on Thursday 12th June 2014 were added to this scholarship fund. Australian students at the school including Sophie Moffatt, Josephine Frick, Kiely Groenewegen, Grace Robinson, Harry Churches, Connor Barlow (English National Ballet School) and Kenji Wilkie performed for an audience which included Lady Sainsbury CBE, Maestro Richard Bonynge AC CBE and Sir Peter Wright CBE. The evening ended with a masterclass given by Leanne Benjamin.