Stepping into the Spotlight: Genée Gold Medalist Maeve Nolan
It’s been an exciting few months for Maeve Nolan. The sixteen year old Sydney-born dancer has gone from one highlight to the next, starting with a remarkable win at the Genée International Ballet Competition in November. Maeve competed against 86 other dancers from 11 different countries over nine days, before taking home the top honour along with fellow Australian dancer Joshua Price.
Her performance is more remarkable still when you consider that not only does the Genée often withhold the Gold Medal, but Maeve’s win marks one of only ten times in the competition's 85 year history that judges (including Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McCallister) were compelled to nominate not one but two Gold Medalists. When asked about achieving such a wonderful accomplishment Maeve’s response is a mixture of unfiltered elation and disbelief, “Unreal. I was just so shocked I didn’t know what else to feel!” It appears that Maeve’s gentle, somewhat shy temperament and humble disposition may be part of the reason she’s a dark horse in the competitive arena: sweet and unassuming until the moment she steps onstage, where she transforms into a powerful dancer capable of communicating incredible emotional depth and versatility in her performances.
It follows that those that know Maeve as a dancer were much less surprised by the win than Maeve herself, her teachers at the Academy (Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy) describe her as an “intelligent, hard working, dedicated dancer with such artistry and musicality”, and Artistic Director and former Principal Dancer with the Australian Ballet Lucinda Dunn has nothing but effusive praise for her pupil – “She’s a wonderful student and extremely dedicated, and she’s so talented” Dunn says, further adding “She has such an incredible persona and an innate quality”.
Maeve’s journey with dance began in the familiar way; like many, she started young. She was introduced to dance at the age of five when her mother enrolled her in a jazz class in her hometown of Narraweena, New South Wales. However unlike the story-book version Maeve was decidedly un-infatuated by dancing. Luckily it was the style not the artform that didn't quite mesh, and Maeve's teacher eventually suggested her mother Amanda try Maeve in ballet instead... * spoiler * She loved it.
Ten years down the track and the passion has only intensified. Now training with Lucinda Dunn and Marie Walton-Mahon at Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, Maeve has her eyes fixed firmly on the future. Her aspirations don't extend to specific schools or companies just yet, instead her focus is fixed purely on ballet - keep dancing, keep progressing and keep doing what she loves. Which isn't to say there aren't tough days, physically and mentally dedicating yourself to something every single day isn't always easy, especially at sixteen. “The most challenging part of it is coming to ballet every day and working even harder than you did the day before. Because you’re sore and you don’t know if your body will be able to work harder” says Maeve, but moments like the Genée, and stepping onstage in front of an audience make it all worthwhile .
There's been an incredible amount of talent come out of Australia recently, with Australian dancers coveted by acclaimed international schools and companies around the world. Just this week fellow Genée competitor Jessi Seymour accepted a position with the Royal Ballet School in London, joining Makensie Henson and Amelia Townsend amongst the ranks of promising Australian dancers furthering their training in the UK. With such a bright future ahead of her, there's no doubt Maeve's journey has only just begun to unfold. In the meantime there's plenty for the young dancer to look forward to, including a current stint overseas, where she’s been taking classes at various schools including the English National Ballet School and Royal Ballet School, and soaking up new experiences.
2017 has only just begun, and we're looking forward to seeing what it has in store for Maeve, stay tuned.
Follow Maeve: @maevenolan