Classically trained ballet dancer Nicole Quilin Eno, 14, has been chosen as the South China Morning Post Student Dancer 1996. The youngest of seven finalists, Nicole stood out through her strong performance and technique as the white swan in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. 'It is a difficult dance,' said Margaret Crawford, dean of Dance at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA), and a judge in the contest. 'It's a fast piece with lots of turns,' said Nicole. 'I was a little scared but I enjoyed it.' Nicole's second performance revealed her extensive ability for jazz and modern dance. 'They are two completely different styles and emotional expressions,' said Ms Crawford. 'At such a young age, Nicole has proved an all-rounder with many different faces . . . and is an experienced and able dancer,' said Tania Tang, principal of Hong Kong Ballet Centre, who was also a judge. Another judge, Pun Siu-fai of the City Contemporary Dance Company, described Nicole as a gifted dancer with a good foundation. Nicole said she believed technique and her passion for dance won her the award. 'I love to dance. How you dance should show how you feel inside . . . there is much passion in dancing.' Born in London of Malaysian Chinese-British parents, Nicole moved to Hong Kong when she was two. She started ballet dancing when she was four years old, influenced and guided by her mother. She became interested in modern dance when she was 12 and is also studying jazz ballet. She finds both dance forms freer and less restrictive than classical ballet. Nicole says her best performance was in 1993, when she played Clara, the leading actor in the Christmas ballet favourite - The Nutcracker, a Hong Kong Ballet production by Bruce Steivel of the academy. Nicole gives credit for her ability to her teachers at APA - Ng Sheung-ha and Victor Madrona. She has also attended several summer dance seminars abroad, including the Ilkley Yorkshire Ballet, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Princess Grace Academie de Danse Classique and Royal Academy of Dance in London. Dance takes up six days of her week and Nicole still has to find time for homework, exams and sport. Her prizes for the Post competition were a $20,000 Citibank scholarship, two British Airways return tickets to Manila, a dance course with City Contemporary Dance Company, Hong Kong Ballet Centre, and complimentary tickets to each performance at the centre. Runner-up was Shirley Tsoi Wan-wa, 16, a Form Five student at Sacred Heart Canossian College, who won a $4,000 Citibank scholarship. Shirley brightened the academy's audition studio with her 'refreshingly lively' Oriental dance of spring. Shirley has chosen to specialise in Oriental dance rather than ballet.