Emerging Ballet Stars Shine at the 2023 Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition

Royal Academy of Dance Awards Talented Young Dancers at the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023

by Cherciu Lavinia
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London’s His Majesty’s Theatre was the venue for the highly-anticipated final of the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023, hosted by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). This prestigious event represents the pinnacle of achievement for young dancers who have trained in the RAD syllabus, and its alumni include renowned Royal Ballet principal dancers, such as Steven McRae and Francesca Hayward.

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Exceptional Young Talent Shines

Following a week of intensive coaching and competitive semi-finals, the gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to the following exceptional young talents:

Gold Medal: Jakob Wheway Hughes, a 16-year-old prodigy hailing from Britain and trained at the Dance Faculty of Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. Jakob’s star had already been on the rise, having secured the RAD’s Bedell’s Bursary in 2022 and the Barbara Geoghegan award in the Cecchetti Society Trust for 2022-23.

Silver Medal: Lucia Moore, aged 15, representing New Zealand and trained under the guidance of Annette Roselli, Shane Wuerthner, and Miranda Zeller.

Bronze Medal: Ed Cooley, aged 17, from Australia, who received training from Daniella Crismani, Daniel Gaudiello, Karen Donovan, and Wim Broeckx.

Audience Appeal: Zai Calliste, aged 18, boasting a diverse background from Australia, Britain, and the Caribbean, and mentored by Annette Roselli, Michael Berkin, David Yow, and Jane Pirani. Zai Calliste also earned the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award, a testament to his audience appeal.


Recognition from Prominent Figures

Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the RAD, expressed her delight at witnessing the finest young ballet dancers from around the world converge for a week of extraordinary dance. She extended her special congratulations to the medalists for their remarkable achievements.


Return to London

This year, the Fonteyn competition (formerly known as The Genée) made a triumphant return to London for its first in-person event since the onset of the pandemic. The competition featured 79 candidates who underwent a week of rigorous competition and coaching sessions led by esteemed figures in the ballet world, including Endalyn Taylor, David Nixon, and Sarah Wildor. The semi-finals were judged by a distinguished panel that included 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 Final Showdown

The semi-finals, which took place at RAD’s Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre, saw the finalists vying for the coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals, as well as the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.


Celebrating Choreographic Talent

Additionally, a special award, the Dancer’s Own Choreographic Award, was up for grabs, which recognized candidates who choreographed their variations. This accolade was bestowed upon Alfie-Lee Hall, a 17-year-old British dancer trained by Denise Whiteman, for his exceptional choreography piece titled “The One.”


A Platform for Future Stars

The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition continues to be a significant platform for identifying and nurturing young ballet talent, providing a launchpad for future stars in the world of dance.

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