Ebony De La Haye loves skiing and being on the water. It’s not a hobby or a pass-time, it’s who she is. She began her adventure waterskiing just past the age of walking and it has followed her throughout her life to current day as a stuntwoman in huge live action theater productions and feature films. The skills and athleticism that she honed from natural ability have become malleable and led to her stunt fighting and a host of other tools that have made her the sought after stuntwoman of current day. One of the ways in which Ebony sculpted her mastery of skills on the water was performing for six consecutive years at Australia’s biggest event of the kind, the Moomba Masters Festival in Melbourne, Australia. The festival boasts an astounding crowd attendance of over one million people each year. Performing so many years at this event focused De La Haye’s athletic mastery in addition to the ease she felt doing so in front of enormous crowds. She agrees that this experience set the tone for her being comfortable enough to enter the entertainment industry. Those who witnessed her abilities here directly led to offers that would take her into performing as different action characters around the planet and into the TV and film world.
The significance of the Moomba Festival for Australians cannot be overstated. It’s an institution in the same way that many Americans might think of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There is a universal awareness of the Moomba Festival. Although De La Haye had never attended the festival prior to performing there, she had been aware of it for as long as she could remember. It is synonymous with family activities like big street parades, a carnival, the waterskiing tournament, firework displays, and entertainment on the Yarra River. Robert Dance was instrumental in Ebony’s training and involvement. He states, “When Ebony was only nine years old I took her along with a team of professional water skiers to perform in Cambodia. While she was there she performed with the skills and professionalism of someone well beyond her age. It was evident to everyone that she possessed something very special. From 2001-2009 Ebony performed nightly at the Moomba Festival, often in front of crowds of 15,000 or more. Ebony's multi-disciplinary skills in water skiing and stunts meant she was cast in a high number of acts in which she excelled. I’d dare to say that she was the star of the show, a facet even more impressive due to her young age.”
The demands on De La Haye in performing at this festival are quite substantial. As one of the premier events in Australia of this kind and one of the most prestigious water events in the world factors such as: the audience size, skiing at night (instead of during the day), the size of the team, the number of acts, the number of boats in the show, the scale of pyrotechnics, all of these aspects were magnified for this event. Or course, the talent and skill which led the VWSA to select Ebony were still required to be exhibited in top form. For the more artistic events, Ebony took part in the Star Aerial doubles (couple) which might be described as athletic ballet on skis with one male and one female skier, and Water Ski Ballet which is choreographed between a number of female skiers. A more dramatic and athletic display of her abilities was swivel skiing. Swivel ski is a single ski with the binding attached to a ball bearing system allowing the skier to spin 360 degrees. This allowed Ebony to perform various spinning tricks overhead and around her body. It requires a high level of water skiing skill to start learning and even then requires years of practice in order to master the basic maneuvers. For the climax of the show, De La Haye took part in the human pyramid, a challenge of skill, strength, and flexibility for all involved and a great thrill for the audience. Ebony confirms that this event always elicited a huge reaction. She states, “The audience at the Moomba Festival found the Human Pyramid act the most impressive. There would sometimes be three 3-tier pyramids in a row coming down the Yarra River in sync, all topped with pyrotechnics. It is the finishing climax to the show and the sheer size of the spectacle is what makes it such a crowd pleaser. Though there are some challenges with this act it is definitely not the most difficult skill to perform in the show. An act that gets less notice from the crowd but is much more difficult to learn is Swivel Skiing. It is a slower paced “graceful” act, generally performed by just a few female skiers. Swivel Skiing is a difficult skill to master and typically takes 3-4 years of training until it can be performed at a show level of consistency and technique.”
There’s likely no better proving ground for a young athlete/performer based in waterskiing events than the Moomba Festival in Melbourne. The proficiency in a wide variety of the most challenging events is required just to be offered a position performing there. The usual uncontrollable weather factors are involved as well as challenges to one’s senses (vision-skiing at night, hearing-constant pyrotechnic explosions). Add components like massive crowd size and De La Haye’s young age and one begins to understand that it was equal parts physical, mental, and emotional ability which allowed her to excel at these performances. Ebony would go on to represent her country and win in numerous competitions (including the inaugural Australia/China Show Ski Star Competition in 2010 for which she attained some of the highest scores) and being cast in a number of international theatrical/water based performances that utilized her skill set and enhanced them. All of this training has led her to being a sought after and successful international stuntwoman working internationally on feature films. It’s all exciting and dangerous…and just another day of doing what she has always done for Ebony De La Haye.