The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) will mount The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition (The Fonteyn) from 22-29 October 2023 in London – it will be the first in-person The Fonteyn competition since the pandemic.
Lynn Wallis, Producer of The Fonteyn 2023 and Artistic Director of RAD from 1994-2016, says:
The Fonteyn is more than just a competition – it is a chance for young dancers to develop their dance practice, receive expert coaching, share a unique experience with their peers and make new friends. I am sure it will be a moment in their lives they will always remember.
The Fonteyn (previously known as The Genée) is one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet competitions in the world, representing the pinnacle of achievement for young dancers trained in the RAD syllabus.
Beginning in 1931, the competition has toured the globe and is dedicated to promoting dance, providing educational experiences and recognising excellence in young ballet dancers internationally. As a launchpad for a professional career, The Fonteyn offers aspiring dancers the unique opportunity to work with choreographers and dance professionals, as well as giving them the chance to perform on an international stage.
Over 80 dancers will participate in this year's week-long competition. Coaching sessions begin the week, with the semi-finals on 25-27 October at RAD's stunning Aud Jebson Studio Theatre in its London HQ. His Majesty's Theatre will host the grand final on 29 October.
All candidates will perform a newly choreographed piece created by The Fonteyn's Guest Choreographer Valentino Zucchetti, First Soloist with The Royal Ballet.
The finalists will perform their Dancer's Own variation and their chosen Classical Repertoire variation in front of a panel comprising Darcey Bussell, Aaron Watkin (Artistic Director of English National Ballet) and Amanda Britton (Principal and Artistic Director of Rambert School).
Dame Darcey, President of the RAD, says:
Audiences – prepare to witness some of the best, upcoming talent in ballet when you come to The Fonteyn semi-finals and finals. It'll be a wonderful event.
There are gold, silver and bronze medals and a Dame Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award. A Choreographic Award is available to all candidates who have choreographed their own Dancer's Own variation and will be selected at the semi-final.
In addition to the medals and cash prizes, for the first time all candidates will have the opportunity to be considered for a variety of tuition scholarship opportunities from renowned international dance schools.
Darrion Sellman, a previous Gold medalist and Prix De Lausanne dancer at the Royal Ballet, says:
The Fonteyn was an invaluable experience which allowed me to grow as a dancer and artist. Winning the gold medal opened doors I never thought were possible, and granted me the opportunity to progress as a professional dancer.
During the competition week from 22-29 October, numerous wraparound events will be taking place at the RAD for visitors, RAD teachers and dance lovers including:
- The Fonteyn: Insights event with Dame Darcey Bussell on 23 October 7-8pm. Ideal for all dance enthusiasts, this will be an inspiring talk by Dame Darcey Bussell with Aaron Watkin, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet.
- The Fonteyn: Creative Spaces from 23-27 October, a week-long course designed for dancers studying the RAD Intermediate, Adv Foundation, Adv 1 or Adv 2 syllabi.
- (Re) Discovering the Karsavina Syllabus CPD Workshops on 23 October for RAD teachers.
- The Bedells Bursary – Join the audience on 29 October for a show celebrating the talents of young ballet dancers.
Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae talks about his time at the competition:
The Fonteyn semi-finals
Date: 25-27 October
Location: Royal Academy of Dance 188 York Road London SW11 3JZ
Price: Single day ticket £23 per day. Three-day ticket £63
Booking link: https://www.thefonteyn.org/tickets
Only one ticket per day can be purchased at a time. Seating is unreserved.
The Fonteyn final
Date: 29 October
Location: His Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, St. James's, London SW1Y 4QL
Booking link: https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/international-ballet-competition-2023/
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.