IN STEP: Rachel Solomon, Amber Van de Boogard and Milly Deefholts practise the Homage to the Crown dance on the Market Square stage ahead of next weekend's Jacaranda Queen Crowning Ceremony.
IN STEP: Rachel Solomon, Amber Van de Boogard and Milly Deefholts practise the Homage to the Crown dance on the Market Square stage ahead of next weekend's Jacaranda Queen Crowning Ceremony. Adam Hourigan

The girl who will deliver the Jaca crown

MILLY Deefholts first stepped onto the Jacaranda stage as a flower-girl when she was three years old, and loved watching the "big girls" dance gracefully with the Jacaranda crown.

This year, she gets to deliver the prized possession to its new holder.

She will dance the Homage to the Crown, along with 36 other students from the Studio 1 Dance Academy next Saturday night as part of the Jacaranda queen crowning ceremony, and she can't wait to perform her new role.

"I always remember seeing the girls with the crown, the sceptre and the cape and not being able to wait until I did that," Milly said.

"It's a bit of a rite of passage," Studio 1 director Gail Harding said.

"The homage was first danced and choreographed by my mother-in-law Joan McBay, who is a life member of the Jacaranda festival, in the early 1950s, and it's been an integral part of the queen crowning ever since.

"It's one of the very unique parts of the festival that's found nowhere else in Australia."

And while the dance has changed over the years to accommodate different groups of boys and girls and the changing of stages, the delivery of the royal items to the new Jacaranda party has gone off without a hitch every year.

And ever since the jacaranda blooms appeared this year, the students have been hard at work preparing the works for the big night.

"We're also bringing back maypole at the crowning, which hasn't been done for a very long time," Gail said.

"We're trying to bring a traditional feeling to the crowning night."

But it won't be all tradition on the night, with a large-screen allowing the crowd gathered in Market Square to see all the action on stage close up.

VIP reserved seating packages are also available for the crowning performance for $25, and tickets are available through the Jacaranda website, or the festival office.



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