Interview with Laura Van Loon, winner of Junior Contemporary Award at CICB2017

I know that your parents are directors of a dance school. When did your passion for dance begin?
I started dancing at the age of 2 and a half, where my mum taught me and some friends of mine baby ballet. As I grew up I danced every afternoon, and have been very lucky to have had my parents as my teachers and support the whole time! However I feel that it was last year when I became really passionate for ballet and contemporary and really wanted to pursue it as a profession and career
What do you think about Cecchetti Method?
I absolutely love the cecchetti method and am so grateful to have had the chance to learn this method of ballet and to have been brought up in it. The syllabus of the advanced levels are challenging and so strengthening. After being exposed to and having experienced the other methods of ballet such as RAD or vaganova, the unique ways of the Cecchetti Method have really stuck out to me. The Cecchetti Method seems to have so much meaning behind each of the steps and exercises created by Mr Cecchetti. My parents, as my teachers, constantly educated me and my classmates on the history and meaning behind each exercise and step, deepening our understanding of the art form and the movement that is unique to the Cecchetti method
You took part to Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition. Which were your feelings when you discovered that you were chosen to represent Australia in such an important contest?
When my mum and I flew to Melbourne for the CICB where they were to choose the representatives for Australia, we were seeing the whole thing as just something for experience and I at least wasn’t expecting any award of any kind being at the younger end of the competition. When I was told I would represent Australia in Florence I was beyond words with excitement to receive such an honour! 
Australia is a country very far and different from Italy. What did you think when you saw Florence for the first time?
One of the first things I noticed about the beautiful city of Florence was the rich culture that the place was just buzzing with! Every street you turned onto, you saw the city’s beautiful old churches and castles. I also loved the atmosphere that brought the place to life late into the hot, summer nights! The small streets and busy bustle of the people in the Piazzas were very different to Australia, but gave the city its uniqueness.
Which is the moment you loved the most during all the CICB week?
The whole experience was so amazing and I loved every bit of every day so it is hard to choose a favourite moment but I think one of the most special moments would be the whole night of the gala; performing and then receiving the various awards and scholarships from the prestigious panel of judges. I think what made it most special was being able to share the moment with my parents as we had all done it together 
70 competitors from all over the world took part to this competition. Did you have the possibility to establish a friendship with other young dancers during the whole week?
Throughout the week of the competition I formed very close friendships with many of the dancers from Team Australia as many of them I had never met before. The competition was always so positive as everyone was so friendly to one another, making it that extra bit enjoyable to take part in. We all still keep in close contact with each other and it’s so nice to keep up with what they are all doing
How did you feel by dancing in front of a jury composed by such important personalities?
I was very honoured to have the opportunity to dance and perform in front of such a prestigious jury. It made the whole experience so special and unforgettable. To then be awarded scholarships by them was very humbling. 
How did CICB changed your life?
The CICB opened up many opportunities and experiences for me and for many other dancers too! I was very honoured and humbled to have received 5 scholarships to various schools around Europe as well as received the Junior Contemporary award. My dad and I returned to Europe on the 27th September to do a bit of tour, where we fulfilled two of the scholarships I received at the CICB (at the Balletschule in Basel and the Balletakademie in Munich) and auditioned at 5 other schools in Europe. I was accepted into majority of the schools I visited and was given the opportunity to choose which school I would like to start the next chapter of my dance training. My parents and I made the big decision for me to stay in Europe and study at the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp in Belgium. Without the CICB, and the scholarships I was awarded, we would not of considered visiting and auditioning at the several prestigious ballet schools in Europe.
What would you suggest to other dancers who will take part to CICB in Australia in 2020?
I cant express how much of an amazing experience it was!! Especially if it is your first time in an international competition (as it was with me) it is perfect as it is for Cecchetti students only, making it a more selected group of dancers. The competition is so generous in the scholarships they offer and opens up so many doors for dancers all around the world! I would tell any dancer wanting to take part in the competition to just enjoy the amazing experience and put your heart and soul into every performance and class as it’s a unique and amazing opportunity.
Would you tell us anything else?
I mainly just want to say a huge thank you for everything the Cecchetti Societies do, such as competitions like these, as they in my case, and for many other dancers, opened many doors and provided us with a great experience where we were seen by an illustrious panel of judges and got to make connections and friends with dancers all around the world... the exposure to the talent around the world was also so good! Overall, it was an unforgettable and life-changing experience!
Interviewer: Eleonora Secchi

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