Kiwi ballerina pirouetting to success


New Zealanders are often associated with rugby and sport -- not so much ballet.

However one Kiwi ballerina has danced her way to the top, winning an international dance award which makes her one of the best ballerinas in the world.

Hannah O'Neill won the Benois de la Dance competition in Moscow -- and as you'd expect, her mother Sumie is as proud as punch.

The award is so prestigious it's considered the Oscars of international dance competitions.

O'Neill's lead role in Paquita won her the award ahead of six other principal dancers from the globe.

The 23-year-old put her first pair of ballet slippers on when she was just three, joining the Mt Eden Ballet Academy when she moved to New Zealand from Japan at the age of eight.

From there she travelled across the ditch to the Australian Ballet School, before joining the Paris Opera Ballet, where she's a principal dancer.

"She really enjoys going out, friends, and she used to enjoy school as well -- but ballet is the No.1 thing for her -- she just loves it, she just loves dancing," her mother Sumie explained.

 And her mother also has her eyes on what will come of such an amazing achievement.

"Just to be known by all the directors, and so that hopefully she can get to dance at other countries as well," she said.