The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023: A Celebration of Talent

His Majesty’s Theatre in London Gleams with the Radiant Brilliance of Exceptional Young Ballet Stars

by Ballet Magazine
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Credit Photo: Martin Bell

London, one of the world’s ballet capitals, recently witnessed a spectacular event that drew the spotlight back onto the stage. The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023, an event synonymous with excellence and artistry, concluded with the crowning of its winners.

This prestigious ballet competition brought together the brightest young talents from across the globe to celebrate the beauty of dance. In this article, we’ll delve into the winners, the event’s significance, and the remarkable journey of the young ballet stars who graced His Majesty’s Theatre.

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A Tribute to a Legendary Prima Ballerina

When the name Margot Fonteyn is mentioned, it evokes images of grace, beauty, and the epitome of ballet excellence. Dame Margot Fonteyn, one of the most iconic prima ballerinas of the 20th century, left an indelible mark on the world of dance. Her contributions to the art form continue to inspire generations of ballet enthusiasts.

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The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023: Unveiling the Stars

After a week of intense coaching and semifinals, the judges, led by Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), awarded four medals to the deserving winners. These young talents have demonstrated extraordinary dedication and skill in the world of ballet.

Jakob Wheway Hughes (Gold), a 16-year-old British prodigy, stood out with his exceptional performance. Trained by the Dance Faculty of Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, Jakob’s gold medal is a testament to his remarkable talent and hard work.

Lucia Moore (Silver), a 15-year-old from New Zealand, impressed the judges with her grace and precision. Under the tutelage of Annette Roselli, Shane Wuerthner, and Miranda Zeller, Lucia’s silver medal is a reflection of her dedication and exceptional training.

Zai Calliste (Bronze), an 18-year-old with Australian, British, and Caribbean roots, captured the bronze medal. Her instructors, Annette Roselli, Michael Berkin, David Yow, and Jane Pirani, have nurtured her talent, resulting in this well-deserved recognition.

Ed Cooley (Bronze), a 17-year-old Australian, shared the bronze medal with Zai Calliste. He received guidance from Daniella Crismani, Daniel Gaudiello, Karen Donovan, and Wim Broeckx, and together, they showcased his remarkable skills.

Zai Calliste, in addition to her bronze medal, was the recipient of the Dame Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award, a reflection of her ability to captivate and enchant the audience with her performance. Another notable award, the Dancer’s Own Choreographic Award, found its home with Alfie-Lee Hall, celebrating creativity and choreographic talent.


A Night of Artistry and Emotion, in the Heart of London

The Fonteyn 2023, previously known as the Genée, returned to London for an in-person event after the pandemic-induced hiatus. This week-long competition attracted 79 candidates from all over the world. They participated in coaching sessions by renowned figures in the ballet world, including Endalyn Taylor, David Nixon, and Sarah Wildor. The semifinals, a significant step on their journey to success, were judged by a distinguished panel comprising Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the RAD; Aaron Watkin, Artistic Director of English National Ballet; and Amanda Britton, Chief Executive, Principal, and Artistic Director of Rambert School.


The Competition Heats Up. Scholarships and a New Choreography

After the semifinals, which took place at RAD’s Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre, the 12 finalists took the stage at His Majesty’s Theatre in London to compete for the coveted gold, silver, and bronze medals, as well as the Dame Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.

In addition to the medals and cash prizes, this year’s competition introduced an exciting new development. For the first time, all candidates were considered for a variety of tuition scholarship opportunities from renowned dance schools across the globe. This initiative aims to nurture the talent of young dancers, providing them with opportunities for growth and development.

At the event, all candidates had the privilege of performing a newly choreographed piece titled “Jeunesse,” created by The Fonteyn’s guest choreographer, Valentino Zucchetti, a First Soloist with The Royal Ballet.

This competition not only recognizes exceptional talent but also provides young ballet dancers with a platform to grow and excel in their careers. The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023 not only honors the legacy of a legendary prima ballerina but also sets the stage for the next generation of ballet stars to shine.

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A Glimpse into the Future

As we celebrate the winners of The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023, we also look forward to the future of ballet. These young talents are the embodiment of dedication and passion, and their journey has just begun. The competition not only showcases their remarkable skills but also offers them opportunities to further their training and careers. With scholarship opportunities and a nurturing environment, the legacy of Margot Fonteyn continues to inspire, ensuring that the world of ballet remains a stage for excellence and artistry.

The Fonteyn 2023 will be remembered as an event that brought back the magic of live performances and celebrated the enduring spirit of dance, proving that even in challenging times, the world of ballet continues to shine brightly.

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