In what’s believed to be a New Zealand first, a 14-year-old ballet dancer from Christchurch has won the junior category at the biggest ballet competition in the world.

Speaking from the United States, Tamison Soppet told 1News she was speechless to have won the Junior Women’s category at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York.

“I was super-duper-duper nervous but I was just excited to show them I’m a little Kiwi dancer from New Zealand and show them I can and I really want this,” she said.

Her ballet teacher, Olivia Russell from Convergence Dance Studios, travelled to New York with her.

Russell described the win as “one of my most rewarding experiences ever as a teacher”.

“It was just incredible and I couldn’t have hoped for more,” she said.

She said Tamison exceeded her expectations on stage.

“She radiated and I think what shone through was her love — she’s a very beautiful, humble dancer and person and I think she’s very deserving of this incredible award at such a young age.”

Hamish Giddens, who is also a top Canterbury swimmer, trains with Tamison in Christchurch. The 16-year-old made it to the finals of the Senior Men’s category. Russell said she’s “incredibly proud of a young man who masters many things, as an incredible swimmer as well”.

“He definitely held his own,” she said.

The pair are now being inundated with offers from some of the top ballet schools in the world.

Tamison said she’s received “multiple scholarships to most of the places I wanted to go” — including her top school of choice.

“I got a short-term scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London which is where I want to go, which I’m super-duper happy about,” she said.

Her parents were in New York to see her win.

Her mum Toni Soppet said she was “videoing and shaking and screaming and crying all at the same time”.

Tamison said it’s not just the scholarships that have made her a winner.

“I was so happy. My parents were proud, my teacher was proud, and everyone was just proud of me. It was an amazing feeling.”

Russell added: “I can see in her that ballet is the love of her life.”

Her family will now help her decide which offers to accept as she pursues her passion.

Share.