Dunedin dancer Bene Stewart passed his Solo Seal exam with
flying colours. Photo by Jane Dawber.
When Dunedin ballet dancer Bene Stewart (18) finished his
final dance in the Solo Seal exam, he was sure he had given
enough to pass the prestigious test.
''I'll always think I can do better, but I was pretty
confident,'' he said.
In the 45-minute Dunedin exam, he danced variations from
Giselle, Swan Lake and Le Corsaire,
pieces he had visualised and performed many times in his
In the exam, he danced to a random piece of music selected by
the Australian judge from the British Ballet Organisation and
recalled the smile on her face as he choreographed his dance
on the fly.
His ballet teacher, Glenys Scandrett (74), said she had been
involved in teaching ballet in Otago and Southland for more
than 50 years and had never before heard of a male dancer
being awarded the Solo Seal in New Zealand.
The dancer's strength was his jumping and elevation, along
with his brawn and brain, Ms Scandrett said.
''You have to have a good brain to dance at this level.''
The ability to stay in character, and in time, while
maintaining technique, took true talent.
The best dancers had a strong desire to succeed because
ballet was hard work with little reward, she said.
''You wouldn't be doing it if you didn't love it.''
Mr Stewart said although professional ballet dancers careers
finished at the age of 30 because ''the joints started to
go'' he had not decided yet if he would pursue a position in
a ballet company.
Recently, he enrolled for his first year at the University of
Otago and would continue classes with Ms Scandrett in Dunedin