Two young Knysna dancers who attend Oakhill School, Hannah Micklewood and Dina du Plessis, have literally danced across the world this year following their passion and commitment to ballet. They have reached high acclaim internationally and “Oakhill School is incredibly proud of their significant achievements borne from hard work and commitment to their art form, “remarks Head of School, Jannie de Villiers.
Hannah and Dina are privately trained in ballet, currently committing to an average of 12 to 14 hours of dance a week, showing true tenacity in honour of their love of ballet. They have been dancing for most of their lives: Hannah Micklewood, a 16 year old Oakhill College pupil, has been dancing since she was 4 years old and has been trained for 12 years by ballet teacher Sidwell Roman who says “Hannah is a very talented and hard-working dancer. With hours of hard work and dedication, also comes the passion, which is quite evident when you watch Hannah dance”.
Thirteen year old Dina du Plessis has been part of Carmen School of Dance for nearly 10 years and her dance teacher Carmen de Sousa says, “Dina dances with her whole heart, seeing challenges as goals to achieve and as opportunities to hone her craft. I’m incredibly proud not only of her achievements but also of her love, humbleness and respect for her ballet”.
It has been a magnificent year for these dancers and there is much to celebrate as they continue to follow their passion.
Hannah Micklewood smiles and comments, “I can’t believe where dance has taken me this year”. A graceful and talented young ballerina, Hannah has set her sights on dancing internationally and this year alone has danced on world stages in Croatia and New York.
Hannah qualified in 2016 as part of the South African team to participate in Croatia at the Dancestar World Masters. Every year Dancestar holds auditions all over the world and particularly in Europe, where dancers can qualify for the World Dance Masters in Porec, Croatia. There were 7000 dancers in total in Croatia, spread out over all age groups and disciplines, from ballet to many others. Amongst the best young talent world-wide Hannah proudly achieved two 3rd places, a 5th place and a 17th place.
With another opportunity to travel on the horizon, Hannah then spent her July holiday in New York where she took up a scholarship offer to participate at the American Academy of Ballet (AAB) in their Summer School Intensive four week programme. Hannah says that this was “an amazing opportunity to meet and dance with dancers from all over the world and be taught by international master teachers”.
Hannah has since recently returned from the Port Elizabeth Dance Eisteddfod where she participated in the ballet categories winning 7 Gold awards and being placed as runner up in the Senior Ballet Championships. In September, Hannah will be completing her Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), Advanced 1 ballet exam followed by auditions for both the South African International Ballet Competition (which she participated in two years ago), as well as the Summer School AAB in New York next year. It looks like the appeal of the international stage has certainly entrenched itself and we look forward to watching her continue to shine.
Young Nadine du Plessis, known fondly as Dina by all, is petite in stature and an obvious ballet dancer on first impression. Dina has won the top junior dancing titles across Dance Eisteddfods in three South African cities – Cape Town, George and Port Elizabeth. This sweet, well-spoken and humble young talent says “I’m just doing what I love”. Dina has taken every opportunity afforded to her this year and given it her utmost, making friends along the way. In May, Dina took part in the Cape Town Eisteddfod winning the U13 years Demi Character section, National Dance section and Overall Best Junior Dancer. In August, she won the Junior Ballet section in George and immediately thereafter in Port Elizabeth won her age category and the significant title of Junior Ballet Champion.
Between winning the three Eisteddfods, Dina took up a scholarship as awarded last year and joined fellow dancer and friend Hannah Micklewood in New York at the American Academy of Ballet (AAB) Summer Intensive for three weeks, fully absorbing the well-earned privilege of being exposed to international dancers and teachers. Dina modestly plays down, when asked about the junior lead role she played in the production in New York, this significant achievement. Dina says “it has been a wonderfully rewarding and exciting year so far”. In late September she will be completing her ballet season with two ballet exams in one year the Vocational Graded Intermediate and Advanced Foundation exams with the Royal Academy of Dance.
These dancing role models are an inspiration to many other younger ballerinas at Oakhill. A culture of dance is enjoyed at Oakhill with all Prep and Little Oaks girls and boys up to Grade 3 having the joyful opportunity to appreciate its aspects as offered by Oakhill’s Cheryl Wolf. Oakhill is also privileged to facilitate private ballet teachers, Sidwell Roman and Carmen de Sousa, who both offer sessions to the pre-schoolers during their school day at Little Oaks.
Any budding young dancers wanting to follow similar dreams to dance on world stages and at international ballet training schools have excellent and accessible role models in Hannah and Dina!