Having been involved in the training of debutantes and their partners for several years, through Dahlia & Arts, as well as with students from Kalianna School, I feel that I must respond to Eloise Johnstone’s editorial (Bendigo Advertiser, March 14) stating that the Eaglehawk Dahlia & Arts Debutante Ball is outdated and should be stopped.
These festival balls have been going for decades and are still attracting young people who wish to take part.
Young people are invited, not forced, to take part, however they willingly attend practice once a week for eight to 10 weeks, freely giving up their time to make new friends, be a part of a team and to learn a new discipline – namely dancing.
Coming from all walks of life with varying abilities, they all have the same desire of achieving a wonderful presentation on the night of the ball.
New Vogue dances that are taught are totally foreign to them, with most not being able to waltz, curtsy or even walk in time to music during the first few weeks, but perseverance pays off, culminating with all near foot perfect on their special night.
Progressive dances help teach social skills and by the time training nights are finished, these young people have gained enough confidence in their dancing abilities to ask grandparents, parents or friends to partner them on the dance floor.
From kids wearing shorts, singlets, thongs or sneakers and having brightly coloured hair on day one, to week 10 with the young lady wearing, possibly for the first time, a beautiful gown, high heel shoes, lovely hairdo and makeup, escorted by her partner in his tuxedo, shiny leather shoes and hair groomed to perfection. They both nervously await presentation to an honoured guest, fully supported by very proud family and friends watching close by, after which a flawless display of dances learned is presented.
What is really wrong with this tradition? I consider this team presentation to be not unlike a sporting team winning a grand final.
For the organising committee of volunteers at all debutante balls, these nights are an entertaining evening as well as a great way of raising much needed funds from a very friendly family orientated activity.
Debutante ball participants all have the right to achieve whatever they aspire to, with the costs far less than stated. What right does anyone have to stop them being a debutante or partner if they so wish to?