A Napier dancer has twisted and twirled her way to the top at a national dance competition, nabbing an award for an Australian scholarship.
Emma Stuart, of Heather Brunsdon School of Dance, took out the top Senior Jazz Award at British Ballet Organisation dance week in Christchurch. The prize is an all expenses paid trip to Australia to attend a week of dance training in Sydney next year.
The 15 year old, who began dancing when she was 5, has her sights set on a career in dancing and this is the first major step she has taken in that direction.
"It was amazing, the tutors were amazing, it was such a great experience," Emma said about her week in the South Island city.
The Taradale High School student is this year completing her final ballet exam, Advanced
Two, and is hoping to audition and make it into Sydney's Brent Street: Performing Arts School.
With a keen interest in both commercial and theatrical dancing, she is looking to finish her schooling while perfecting her technique and fulfilling a passion to perform.
"I definitely want to become a professional dancer when I'm older," she said.
Emma also won the Best All Round Excellence award for senior dancers. She said she was proud of herself for winning the prestigious award - "It's the first opportunity I've had to go for something like this."
Not a day goes by where the dancer does not stretch or practice, but she said she owed much of her success to teacher Heather Brunsdon, who said she was proud not only of Emma but of four other students who also picked up awards.
Mercedes Lang, 10, and Brianna Mahoney, 7, both received the Excellence Award for their level in ballet.
During the New Zealand Theatre Awards final, Brianna won the Scholars section and Charlee Carian, 10, was runner-up in the Junior section. Charlee and Mercedes were also runners-up for the Junior Duos.
Special awards were also presented to Mercedes in the Junior section, Briana Turfrey, 11, in the Intermediate section and Emma Stuart in the Senior section.
Mrs Brunsdon said the budding dancers had done particularly well in a competition of 160 dancers who travelled from throughout the country to attend.
"They're all very hard-working students and the hard work that they have put into their dancing has been rewarded," she said.
"After all the excitement, they have returned to Napier where they now are focusing on the upcoming examination in a four weeks time."