Coffs Eisteddfod highlights career paths in Performing Arts

Ayden Hayes.

THE burgeoning careers of past Coffs Harbour & District Eisteddfod performers provide ongoing inspiration to the current crop of young students.

With all applications in for this year’s local Eisteddfod, participants are busy practicing for their performances, which begin in May.

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Coffs Harbour & District Eisteddfod President Debbie Waters said it’s a great motivation to entrants to acknowledge past students who are now successfully pursuing careers in the performing arts.

“Coffs Harbour & District Eisteddfod has for over 50 years been a platform for Dance, Instrumental, Piano, Choirs, Vocal and Drama students, providing opportunities for performance, feedback and to obtain scholarships and awards to continue their chosen pathway,” said Debbie.

A number of students from Julie Ross Dance Studio (JRDS) have continued exciting journeys in dance, choreography and acting since leaving the local dance school.

Since graduating from JRDS in 2017, Jaimie Nirvana trained for four years at Launch Performing Arts Centre, gaining two qualifications in Elite Dance and Dance Teaching and Management through the Australian Teachers of Dance (ATOD).

During her training, Jaimie was signed by her dream agent, PJ Clarke, and has since begun working in the commercial dance, theatre and film TV industry.

Some of Jaimie’s recent credits include ELVIS, Empire of the Sun, Gatsby (Sydney Opera House), L’Hôtel (Sydney Opera House) and The Wilds (Amazon Prime).

Ayden Hayes has been on his own exhilarating journey since graduating from JRDS in 2016.

“From competing at the hip hop world championships in the US to performing at EuroVision, my passion for dance has taken me around the globe,” Ayden told NOTA.

“I’ve had the privilege of working on some of the largest cruise ships, filming television commercials, and now I’m gearing up to embark on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Utopia of the Seas.

“Despite facing setbacks along the way, I’ve persevered, and looking back, I’m thrilled with what I’ve accomplished.

“As I look to the future, I’m eager to continue chasing my dreams and exploring any and every opportunity that I can get my hands on.”

For the past two months, former JRDS student Darci O’Rourke has been on tour with Dancenorth, a contemporary dance company based in Townsville.

“It has been with deep joy and gratitude to share Wayfinder with regional Australia and larger cities which will tour again later this year.”

Before this, Darci spent three years dancing for the long-established Australian Dance Theatre, founded in 1965.

Kelsie Feltrin is currently living in Vancouver, Canada working as an actor.

She is known for the TV mini-series ‘The Australian Wars’ and continues a career working in short films, tv series, commercials and more.

Amy Gillespie is currently dancing as a trainee with the Tulsa Ballet in Oklahoma.

She has featured in ballets with the main company as well as community outreach performances.

“It has been such a fun opportunity,” Amy told NOTA.

“I get to learn new, exciting choreography every day and to take classes with some world-renowned dancers.”

Debbie Waters told NOTA the Coffs Harbour Eisteddfod is proud to be part of the students’ ongoing performing arts journeys, while expressing excitement for the current student group as they approach 2024 events.

“Any member of the public can come along, watch and support these amazing students give it their all for the teachers, studios and adjudicators in 2024.

“You never know you could be watching the beginning of an amazing career, whether it’s a dancer, singer, actor or instrumentalist.”

For info on the upcoming Eisteddfod visit


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