ARARAT - The Annual Ararat Eisteddfod was the largest ever in its 57 year history and the larger number of entries received in vocal, piano and dance saw a big influx of visitors to Ararat over the eight days of competition.
The committee was very pleased with how smoothly the daily events ran and thanks every volunteer who contributed to the successful competition.
Once again the highlight of the Eisteddfod was the dance troupes on the Thursday.
Troupe entries have steadily increased over the past three years necessitating a full day to be set aside to accommodate the many competitors and extra seating having to be put in to accommodate those wanting to view the wonderful variety of presentations on display.
Parents, grandparents, friends and community members queued to obtain tickets to view the spectacle of dances. The Performing Arts Centre was full to capacity for each session, as the 10 different Dance Schools from Bendigo, Ballarat, Creswick, Terang, Cobden and Ararat displayed their incredible talent, sparkling costumes, and cleverly created routines.
Ballarat Ballet Centre scooped the pool in the ballet sections taking out first place in the under 10, under 13 and open sections. Their open troupe was especially notable with 30 students in spectacular tutus presenting a well executed classical routine. Ararat Dance Centre and CV Dance Studios, from Bendigo shared the honours in the theatrical and jazz troupe sections. CV Dance Studios won the under 13 and open age theatrical troupe sections with well rehearsed song and dance routines and took out the open jazz section with a dynamic tribal inspired routine.
Ararat Dance Centre took out the under 10 theatrical and jazz troupes with the young students performing a cleverly choreographed tap routine to 'Singing in the Rain' and an exciting and vibrant 'Sesame Street' jazz. The under 13 troupe received their first placing for an energetic, colourful and fast moving 'Hairspray' routine.
"Members of the local community in the audience were thrilled to witness the talents of students from local dance schools, Dynamic Dance and Ararat Dance Centre in the troupe sections," committee person Chris Harris said.
"Dynamic Dance gained a second placing in the under 10 ballet and a third in the under 10 jazz. Ararat Dance Centre was second in the under 13 theatrical and open age ballet and third in the open age jazz and theatrical."
As well as competing in the troupe sections, local students from both schools competed successfully throughout the week in solo and duo/trio sections.
"All students, whether placed or not, performed admirably and benefited from the experience of competing against students from across the region," Ms Harris said.
The adjudicator Maxine Lockwood from Mount Gambier in South Australia was impressed with the standard throughout the Eisteddfod but was amazed with the overall strength of the eight and under 10 and 10 and under 12 age groups.
She said that this was a credit to the wonderful teaching these students are receiving and the commitment and dedication of the students and their parents to achieving their best.
Ms Lockwood awarded the adjudicator's encouragement awards to Mason Bennett from Bendigo (under 12) and Sarah Seery from Bendigo (12 and over)
The vocal and piano sections earlier in the week were also well attended by competitors and their supporters.
Curtis Bayliss from Melbourne adjudicated these sections and was also impressed with the standard.
Ararat had good representation in the vocal sections joining a large contingent of competitors from Ballarat.
The adjudicator's awards for the most deserving vocal students were won by Madelyn Ludbrook from Nerrina and Grace McGuigan from Mount Rowan.
The J M Forsyth Memorial Open Piano Solo is the pinnacle of the piano section and was won by Shimona Trevathasan, a student of Bron Sovanski of Ballarat.
Shimona was also awarded the Artistry and Technique award donated by Ian Baxter.
The Whillance family from Bendigo have been regular entrants of the Ararat Eisteddfod for over 10 years and this year youngster Ben, took out the award for the Most Deserving Piano student.
The Eisteddfod Committee is grateful for the financial assistance it receives from Ararat Rural City, through the Community Grants program and from the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria. Without these two sizeable grants it would not be possible to run such a successful Eisteddfod.
The Committee also acknowledges the regular and ongoing support from major sponsors First National Ararat, Southern Cross Motor Inn, Bendigo Bank and Peters Pix and also sponsorship from local businesses and individuals who donate section prizes or contribute to the prize fund each year. It is very pleasing to have their continued assistance.
"Ararat is known as the 'friendly' Eisteddfod and competitors and their supporters return year after year," Ms Harris said.
"The many visitors over the week of competitions enjoy their visit or stay in Ararat and are impressed by the friendliness of the Ararat community and the hospitality they are shown at local motels and caravan parks and when visiting local businesses.
"The Ararat Eisteddfod continues to grow and flourish and the committee would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to either join the committee or volunteer to assist at the Eisteddfod next year."