Marlee Gittings, 16, of Tregeagle, has won a $7000 scholarship to advance her career in the United Kingdom.
Marlee Gittings, 16, of Tregeagle, has won a $7000 scholarship to advance her career in the United Kingdom.

Giant leap for young dancer

IT TAKES more than a flawless pirouette to win a ballet scholarship as Trinity Catholic College student Marlee Gittings found out after winning a $7000 grant for writing an essay on her life as a dancer.

Although Miss Gittings spends seven days, and a total of 25 hours, per week dancing, she was awarded the scholarship for her essay.

The Big Brother Movement (BBM) Cecchetti Ballet Scholarship was awarded to Miss Gittings to advance her career in the United Kingdom.

The aim of the award is to preserve Australia’s historic ties to Britain, while broadening their horizons.

The 16-year-old heads off in July for her first taste of dance outside of the Northern Rivers, which just happens to be an overseas adventure as well.

Miss Gittings started dancing at the age of seven after seeing an advertisement for jazz ballet, but soon moved to classical after watching older dancers perform.

“I love everything about dancing,” Miss Giddings said.

“It’s a passion that just keeps growing as I dance.”

While in the UK Miss Gittings will compete in the Cecchetti Competition in Manchester and has also qualified for the National English Ballet School in London.

Her goal as a dancer is to join a company, and she said any company will do.

But, she is aware she needs to keep her options open and has architecture on the backburner.

“My goal is to be a ballerina and I’ll take it as far as I can take it,” she said.

Miss Gittings is the seventh Northern Rivers dancer to pick up the scholarship since 2005 from Monique Feain’s ballet coaching program. Several of those dancers were then offered opportunities overseas, including a scholarship at the English National Ballet School, London, an apprenticeship with the Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen and a soloist contract at Disney, Tokyo.

Her dance coach, Ms Feain said, “Marlee is very dedicated and puts in an enormous amount of personal time and energy to achieving her dream goal of aspiring to a career in dance”.

Ms Feain said she felt privileged to be a small part of Miss Giddings journey towards her dream.

“She deserves this for all the effort she has put in,” she said.

“This is just such a fantastic opportunity and I am so proud of her.”

Miss Gittings also trains at the Karen Ireland Dance Studio, Lismore. And she isn’t the only ballet dancer in her family’s history, though she only found out after she had taken up the art.

Her grandmother was a dancer at Sadler’s Wells in the UK, which is now known as the Royal Ballet School.

One of the more notable winners of a BBM award, though in a different field, was Kadina High School student, and now Australian cricketer, Adam Gilchrist in 1989.



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