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Dad and daughter make a winning ballet combination

Kamahl Cogdon, September 8, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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Father and daughter team John and Zi Sione show their winning moves in the Ballet Beat Drop Challenge run by Queensland Ballet. media_cameraFather and daughter team John and Zi Sione show their winning moves in the Ballet Beat Drop Challenge run by Queensland Ballet.

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Rugby-loving dad John Sione never thought he’d be an award-winning ballet dancer.

But that’s just what the Melbourne stonemason* and his daughter, Zi, 12, have become, taking out a global competition with their mashup* performance of ballet and hip-hop.

The duo’s dance video was chosen from almost 1000 entries to land the top prize in Queensland Ballet’s Ballet Beat Drop Challenge.

“I had never done ballet before but I always support my girls and support their dancing,” Mr Sione said.

“I didn’t hesitate when Zi asked me to film the video with her.”

Zi, who has been learning ballet and dance for about eight years, choreographed the performance to a remix of The Nutcracker’s iconic Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Their video opens with classical ballet moves and Zi wearing a tutu and pointe shoes as her dad holds her in arabesque position.

But it suddenly switches to hip-hop midway through, with Zi wearing runners and track pants and her dad in rugby gear, complete with a rugby ball. 

Queensland Ballet dance comp winners

“I would rate his performance very good for someone who hasn’t done ballet before,” said Zi, who wants to be a ballerina when she finishes school.

The Year 7 student said she roped in her dad so they could enjoying do something special together.

“I wanted to spend some time with my dad and I thought it would give the dance a creative twist, even though he doesn’t know anything about ballet,” she said.

Mr Sione said they never dreamt they would win the competition.

“Our focus was to have fun with it and hopefully give people a smile with what is going on at the moment, particularly with lockdown in Victoria,” Mr Sione said.

“It’s been tough for everyone and this was an opportunity for Zi to get creative and have some fun.”

Zi normally attends the Joanne O’Kelly School of Dance five times a week, but is now doing online classes in her lounge room where she shot the video because of restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Winning this competition has motivated her and lifted her spirits during such a strange time,” Mr Sione said.

media_cameraZi and dad John Sione in the hip-hop part of their winning Ballet Beat Drop Challenge video.

The competition was judged in three categories: Freestyle, which Zi and her dad won; Dance Studio, which was won by The Dance Academy from Maleny in Queensland; and International, which was won by a team of dancers from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin said Zi and her dad were awarded the top prize for their creativity, impact and execution.

Mr Li said the competition was a great way to inspire people to get moving and experience the joy of dance.

“Whether you dance ballet, hip-hop or just love to move to music, the challenge is an opportunity for everybody to show their creativity and passion for movement,” he said.


  • stonemason: a person who works with stone
  • mashup: a combination of two different styles


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Wise words from a circus star


  1. What is John Sione’s job?
  2. How long has Zi been learning ballet?
  3. What two dance styles do they combine in their video?
  4. What does John Sion hold in the second part of the video?
  5. How many entries were received in the competition?


1. Dance Moves
Make a group of 2-3 students (or family members) to choreograph your own 3 minute dance routine, mashing together different dance genres like John and Zi did. You don’t have to be an expert, and your moves don’t have to be technically perfect, just have a bit of fun with it.

First choose a couple of pieces of music that are totally different to each other and then add some dance moves to go with it.

Practise your routine and if you are comfortable, perform for the class (or the rest of your family).

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Dance, Music, Personal and social

2. Extension
Think of another activity or idea that you could do to bring a smile to the face of all the Victorians still in lockdown. Share your idea and film them a message wishing the kids in lockdown well.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking

Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the story. Write their name down.

Add three adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Who would you invite to dance with you in a video?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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