Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta were announce as joint winners of English National Ballet's 2017 Emerging Dancer Award, at the end of last month.
Finalists performed a pas de deux and a contemporary solo in front of a live audience at Sadler's Wells and the event was also streamed receiving 89,000 views worldwide.
Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta were selected as this year's winners by a judging panel consisting of the Company's Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, Laura Connor, Dmitri Gruzdyev, Marguerite Porter MBE, Alfreda Thorogood and Graham Watts OBE.
Kanehara danced Raimondo Rebeck's Blind Dreams set to music by Philip Glass and Arrieta performed SelF, a new piece by Aleix Mañe. The pair performed together in the Esmeralda pas de deux, making the result even more special for them.
I'm so pleased to win this award. Performing with Aitor has been amazing, we are great friends and have had lots of fun working on this together. I'm thrilled to be sharing this award with him.
I am so honoured to have won this award. This was the first time I have danced Esmeralda and I really enjoyed performing it with my friend Rina to the audience at Sadler's Wells and viewers online.
Sarah Kundi received the Corps de Ballet Award, acknowledging her exceptional work on and off-stage over the last year, while Georgia Bould was awarded the People's Choice Award, voted by the audience.
The other Emerging Dancer finalists were Isabelle Brouwers, Madison Keesler, Guilherme Menezes and Emilio Pavan.
Tamara Rojo commented,
Emerging Dancer is one of my favourite evenings in the season. I am so pleased that we have this opportunity to celebrate the young dancers of English National Ballet. Having this platform allows us to continue our commitment to nurture the stars of the future, and develop them artistically.
I am incredibly proud and absolutely thrilled with all the performances, the standard this year was so high that making a decision was very difficult. Rina and Aitor are two very charismatic and extremely gifted dancers who both have great careers ahead of them.
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.