Seven-year-old Isabella Duck likes doing ballet because it is pretty and she gets to wear tutus. But the principal of her ballet school sees a lot of talent in the youngster’s ability. Isabella is this year’s recipient of the East Maitland Academy of Dance Daphne Parker Memorial Scholarship. Academy principal Janos Szabo said Isabella had been really concentrating on her dancing and had grown so much in the four years she has been dancing.

“She is delightful,” he said. “She turned up one day like a little sunshine.” Mr Szabo said Isabella’s family would have to construct an extra shelf in their house to store Isabella’s growing trophy collection. Isabella, who is starting in grade two this year, said she loved being able to go to ballet with her friends.

“I like it because I get to wear a tutu and because it is pretty and I get to dance with the little kids and do lots of things,” she said. This year Isabella will be focusing on ballet, jazz and contemporary. Mr Szabo said the tuition scholarship would allow Isabella to take more classes this year. The scholarship is in honour of Ms Parker who was a big part of the Maitland dance world for more than four decades. Mr Szabo took over the dance school in 2008 after Ms Parker died and started the scholarship program the following year.

“You have generations of people who grew up doing ballet because of Daphne Parker’s school of dance,” he said. “Her name was synonymous with children learning to dance. “She was a very amazing woman, she dedicated her life for such a long time to teaching dancing.” Mr Szabo said the scholarship was introduced to encourage students to dance – and they didn’t have to want to be a professional ballerina to be in the running.

“This is more about the essence of Daphne,” he said. “If the opportunity to learn about dance has given you confidence and made you grow as a person then it is has done its job.”