Now in its eighth year, English National Ballet's Emerging Dancer competition will this year be held at Sadler's Wells, for the first time, on Thursday 25 May 2017.
Through this annual event, English National Ballet recognises the excellence of its own artists. Selected by their peers, six of the company's most promising dancers perform in front of an eminent panel of expert judges, before one receives the 2017 Emerging Dancer Award.
On the night the recipients of the People's Choice Award, selected by members of the public, will be announced, and the Corps de Ballet Award, acknowledging the work on and off-stage of a member of the Corps de Ballet.
Heading the judging panel will be Tamara Rojo who will be joined by former Royal Ballet Principal dancer and teacher Laura Conner; former English National Ballet Lead Principal dancer Dmitri Gruzdyev; former Royal Ballet Senior Principal dancer, teacher and choreographer Marguerite Porter; former Royal Ballet principal dancer, teacher and Guest Repetiteur for English National Ballet, Alfreda Thorogood; and Graham Watts, writer and chairman of the Dance Section of the Critics' Circle and of the National Dance Awards.
Finalists will first perform a pas de deux and a solo. Isabelle Brouwers and Emilio Pavan present the grand pas from Paquita, Madison Keesler and Guilherme Menezes will dance a pas de deux from Bournonville's La Sylphide and Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta will perform the Esmeralda pas de deux.
Brouwers will then dance a solo from a Drift by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The piece is extracted from a short trio of works first choreographed for LA Dance Project. Keesler performs We Move Lightly by Myles Thatcher; and Kanehara will dance Raimondo Rebeck's Blind Dreams set to music from Philip Glass's soundtrack from the film The Hours.
Menezes performs a new work from Danish choreographer Sebastian Kloborg, and Arrieta performs new choreography by Aleix Mañe set to three pieces: Flat of Angles, pt4 read by Benedict Cumberbatch, Hospital by Max Richter and Palladio by Karl Jenkins. Pavan's solo will be confirmed shortly.
This year's finalists have been mentored by their peers in the Company. Senri Kou has helped Madison Keesler and Guilherme Menezes prepare for La Sylphide, Pedro Lapetra has mentored Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta as they rehearse Esmeralda, and Fernando Bufalá and Maria José Sales have worked on Paquita with Isabelle Brouwers and Emilio Pavan.
Last year's winner of both the Emerging Dancer Award and the People's Choice Award, Cesar Corrales, will perform a pas de deux from Don Quixote with Katja Khaniukova.
The 2017 Emerging Dancer finalists:
Having trained at English National Ballet School, Isabelle joined English National Ballet in 2014. This season, Isabelle has performed as Myrtha in Akram Khan's Giselle, Mirliton and Lead Flowers in Nutcracker, and as Myrtha in Mary Skeaping's Giselle. A previous Emerging Dancer finalist in 2014 and 2015, Isabelle won Silver Medal at the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition, and came second place in Young British Dancer of the Year 2013.
Rina trained at the Princess Grace Academy, Monaco and joined English National Ballet after being named Prize Winner at the Prix de Lausanne 2015. In the 2016/2017 season Rina made her debut as Clara in Nutcracker, and performed as Moyna and in the Peasant pas-de-deux in Mary Skeaping's Giselle. Rina was a finalist in Emerging Dancer 2016 and has won Silver Medal at Varna 2016, Gold Medal at the Youth American Grand Prix 2012, Gold Medal at Nagoya Ballet Competition 2012, Gold Medal at Nara Ballet Competition 2011.
Madison joined English National Ballet in 2013, and was previously with The Hamburg Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. This season she worked closely with Akram Khan on the creation of Giselle and performed in the title role, as well as performing as Lead Snowflakes and Flowers in Nutcracker, and as Bathilde in Mary Skeaping's Giselle. Madison was a finalist in Emerging Dancer 2014.
Aitor joined English National Ballet at the start of the 2016/2017 season. In his short time with the company he has performed as Albrecht in Akram Khan's Giselle, as the Nutcracker, and in the Peasant pas-de-deux in Mary Skeaping's Giselle. He received The Professional Dancers' Association of Gipuzkoa Discover Award in 2015, the 2015 Dancer Revelation of Gipuzkoa Prize, Gold Medal at the International Dance Contest of Biarritz, 2013 and 1st place Championship of Euskadi Aurresku, 2011.
Guilherme joined the company from English National Ballet School in 2011. This season he has performed as the Nutcracker and Lead Flowers in Nutcracker, and in Akram Khan's Giselle. He was a finalist at Prix de Lausanne 2010 and was a finalist in Emerging Dancer 2013.
Previously a member of Queensland Ballet, Emilio joined the company in 2015. He has performed in Akram Khan's Giselle and made his debut as Nephew in Nutcracker this season.
English National Ballet – Emerging Dancer
Sadler's Wells, Thursday 25 May 2017 at 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 – £28
Box office: 0844 412 4655 or www.ballet.org.uk/emergingdancer
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.