Singapore dancer wins HK Ballet scholarship

LAST year, Hong Kong Ballet established the Natasha Wilson Scholarship Fund with the aim to enable members to extend their experience overseas and further their career in professional dance.

The foundation is a registered charity dependent on private and corporate donations. Named in honour of Lady Wilson, patron of Hong Kong Ballet from 1987 to 1992, more than $1 million was raised within a month.

The scholarship was open to applications in February. Interviews were conducted by a panel of five judges, comprising Commissioner for Recreation and Culture Rachael Cartland, Dean of Dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Margaret Carlson, dancer Lau Shiu-ming, Hong Kong Ballet artistic director Bruce Steivel and Hong Kong Ballet chief executive Paul Yeung.

Applicants were required to convince the judges that their study plan was worthwhile and to show that they were committed to their plan.

The winner was announced recently by Mr Clive Oxley, chairman of Hong Kong Ballet's executive committee, at a dinner reception. Donn Neo Cheng-heng, the first recipient of the scholarship, joined the company in April 1990.

Born and trained in Singapore, he received a scholarship to study at the West Street School of Dance in Britain from 1985 to 1987, after which he joined the Vienna Festival Ballet, touring Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Vienna and Great Britain. He was with the Singapore Dance Theatre from March 1989.