The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) presented the final of its Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023 last night at His Majesty's Theatre in London. The Fonteyn competition is the pinnacle for young dancers trained in the RAD syllabus, with previous medallists including Royal Ballet principal dancers Steven McRae and Francesca Hayward.
After a week of intensive coaching and semi-finals, the gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to:
- Gold: Jakob Wheway Hughes aged 16 from Britain trained by Dance Faculty of Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. Rising star Jakob won the RAD's Bedell's Bursary in 2022 and the Barbara Geoghegan award in the Cecchetti Society Trust 2022-23
- Silver: Lucia Moore aged 15 from New Zealand trained by Annette Roselli, Shane Wuerthner and Miranda Zeller
- Bronze: Ed Cooley aged 17 from Australia trained by Daniella Crismani, Daniel Gaudiello, Karen Donovan and Wim Broeckx and Zai Calliste aged 18 from Australia/Britain/Caribbean trained by Annette Roselli, Michael Berkin, David Yow and Jane Pirani.
Zai Calliste was the recipient of the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.
Gold: Jakob Wheway Hughes aged 16 from Britain
Darcey Bussell, President of the RAD said:
What a joy it was to watch some of the best young ballet dancers trained in the RAD syllabus from around the world come together for such a wonderful week of dance. Special congratulations go to the medalists for winning the coveted Fonteyn medals.
The Fonteyn 2023 (previously known as The Genée) returned to London for the first in-person event since the pandemic. 79 candidates attended the week-long competition with coaching sessions by Endalyn Taylor, David Nixon and Sarah Wildor. The semi-finals were judged by a panel with 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).
Silver: Lucia Moore aged 15 from New Zealand
After the semi-finals, which took place at RAD's Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre, the finalists competed for a chance to win the coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and for the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.
Dancer's Own Choreographic Award which was available to all candidates who choreographed their own Dancer's Own variation was selected at the semi-finals. Alfie-Lee Hall, a British dancer, aged 17, trained by Denise Whiteman, won this award for his choreography, The One.
At the event all candidates performed a newly choreographed ensemble Jeunesse created by The Fonteyn's Guest Choreographer Valentino Zucchetti, First Soloist with The Royal Ballet – it was a piece they learnt earlier in the competition.
Bronze: Ed Cooley aged 17 from Australia
In addition to the medals and cash prizes – and for the first time – all candidates have been considered for a variety of tuition scholarship opportunities from renowned dance schools around the world. The scholarships will be awarded in due course.
Tim Arthur Chief Executive of the RAD said,
The Fonteyn is always such a special event for the candidates, their families and teachers, our staff and RAD members right across the globe, and this year was no exception.
Zai Calliste aged 18 from Australia/Britain/Caribbean
As well as the finalists taking to the stage, audiences saw a solo performance by The Royal Ballet dancer Caspar Lench who performed Takademe by Alvin Ailey Artistic Director and choreographer Robert Battle.
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.