Julia Conway was announced as this year's winner of English National Ballet's Emerging Dancer Award on stage at Sadler's Wells and livestreamed to audiences across the world last night by Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo. She performed the Flames of Paris pas de deux with partner Rentaro Nakaaki and Untitled Code, a solo by choreographed by Rambert dancer Miguel Altunaga.
I'm really surprised and honoured to be chosen as the 2019 Emerging Dancer. I think we're all winners in the end just for being voted as finalists and to have been given the opportunity to perform this evening.
I want to say a big thank you to my mentors, I couldn't have done any of this without them. They helped me mentally overcome challenges as well as physically prepare me for the evening. The choreographer for my solo, Miguel Altunaga, pushed me and we achieved something amazing, I'm just so proud.
My mum was in the audience and my sister tuned into the livestream, it's lovely to be able to share this moment with them.
Eireen Evrard was the recipient of this year's Corps de Ballet Award acknowledging her exceptional work over the last year:
I'm shocked but so happy, I had no idea! It means a lot – the corps de ballet work so hard, every single show, and sometimes it's hard to keep yourself going through the long runs, so this award is a great acknowledgement of that commitment and I'm so happy to receive this year.
The People's Choice Award this year went to Rhys Antoni Yeomans, an award voted on by members of the public:
I'm so surprised to receive this award, it means an incredible amount that the public have been voting throughout to year and have appreciated my work this season. It really is going to spur me on for the next season and I can't thank everyone enough.
Celebrating 10 years of Rojo said,
They are all winners because they all progressed so much during the process of Emerging Dancer, but I feel what set Julia apart is the security she had on stage. Both in the classical work and the contemporary – she seemed to have a presence beyond her years. The decision from the panel was unanimous, and much deserved – congratulations to Julia.
The other finalists this year were Alice Bellini, Emilia Cadorin, Rentaro Nakaaki, Shale Wagman and Rhys Antoni Yeomans.
Previous winners of the Emerging Dancer Award include Shiori Kase (2011), and Junor Souza (2014), who have since been promoted to Principal and First Soloist respectively, Alison McWhinney (2014) who went on to be promoted to First Soloist, and 2017 joint winners, Aitor Arrieta and Rina Kanehara who have been promoted to Soloist and Junior Soloist respectively. Daniel McCormick was last year's winner and highlights for him this season have included dancing the role of Lescaut in Manon, Nutcracker in Nutcracker and the pas de trois in Derek Deane's Swan Lake.
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.