Bendigo student wins surprise $20,000 performance scholarship

Olivia Brereton, 16, will now have the opportunity to study at Jason Coleman's Ministry of Dance performance academy. Picture: NONI HYETT
Olivia Brereton, 16, will now have the opportunity to study at Jason Coleman's Ministry of Dance performance academy. Picture: NONI HYETT

A Bendigo teenager could be on her way to becoming the region’s next entertainment superstar after the surprise awarding of a $20,000 performance scholarship this week.

Bendigo South East College year 10 student Olivia Brereton got the surprise of her young life when So You Think You Can Dance judge Jason Coleman made the shock announcement after the school’s performance at the Wakakirri Victorian State Secondary Schools final.

The director of BSE’s performance, Donna Lierse, said Olivia was “ecstatic” when she found out she would get the chance to attend Coleman’s Ministry of Dance performance academy.

“I had to take her down to the theatre and I knew but couldn't tell her,” she said.

“I put my arms around her and said ‘I think they’re talking about someone we know Livvy’, and she said ‘You're joking, is this why you brought me down?’.”

Olivia said it was an “awesome feeling” to realise her performance had caught the eye of a respected industry figure like Coleman.

“Our school had two representatives up on stage to accept some awards and I wasn’t one of those so when I got called down to go stand side stage I was really confused because I had no idea what was going on,” she said.

“Then when he started talking about a girl from Bendigo that had inspired him I was quite excited.”

Bendigo South East College perform Dare to be Different at the Wakakirri Victorian State Secondary Schools final. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Bendigo South East College perform Dare to be Different at the Wakakirri Victorian State Secondary Schools final. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The 16-year-old said while she planned to finish her VCE first, she hoped the prize would help her pursue her dream of performing in a professional musical theatre show.

“There are some amazing shows on at the moment like Aladdin and The Book of Mormon and obviously recently there’s been The Lion King and the Sound of Music and it’s my absolute dream to be a part of a show like that,” she said.

“I know I’m super young still but my plan is just to work extremely hard to become a part of the industry.”

Ms Lierse said she always knew Olivia was “destined for great things” but the scholarship still came as a surprise as it was the first time an individual honour had been announced at the Wakakirri competition.

“Another judge said she had the most beautiful voice she’s ever heard,” she said.

“I think they were just mesmerised by her.”