The Royal Academy of Dance held this year's Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition entirely on-line, in what turned out to be a remarkable achievement for all concerned. Despite the obvious difficulties of holding an international competition with no on-site participants, the event (held on September 9 BST) was a great success, attracting a record number of 97 entries and providing viewing to a global audience by its live stream of the finals.
Fifteen finalists took part and four medals were awarded: the gold medal went to Alice McArthur (NZ), trained by Auckland Academy of Dance and currently Sarah Abendroth at John Cranko School in Germany. In a touching coincidence as the RAD celebrates 90 years since the competition began, Alice’s success comes over 30 years after her mother was awarded the silver medal in London.
The silver medal went to Australian dancer Milei Lee, who has been trained by Liane McRae and Janne Blanch, and English National Ballet School. Bronze medals were presented to Hannah Martin (UK), trained by Mary Goodhew, and Australian dancer Amelia Soh, trained by Jasmin Bobyk, Paris Bobyk and Celine Bobykm at Mosman Dance Academy (NSW). (For the first time this year the medals were not divided into male and female categories.)
The Choreographic Award was won by Olivia Chang Clarke (UK), with a pretty solo named Rain of tears.
The Fonteyn is open to RAD-trained dancers only.
The contestants were required to present examples of their classwork, as well as perform a classical variation and a contemporary solo (created especially for the competition by Ashley Page), all via video from their home studios.
However, as noted by RAD Artistic Director Gerard Charles, the Fonteyns are not just about winning medals, but are designed to provide a valuable learning experience. The participants took part in on-line masterclasses, received personal coaching (which their teachers could also observe) and learnt their contemporary solo from the choreographer himself.
The audience was treated to snippets of the classwork and coaching, as well as spoken insights from the choreographer and the judges – Dame Darcey Bussell (President of the RAD); Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare; CEO and Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet Christopher Hampson; and Irek Mukhamedov, Ballet Master, Opera Paris Ballet. The event also included a tribute to the late ballerina assoluta, Margot Fonteyn, in honour of whom the awards are now named. The winners were announced by Chief Executive Luke Rittner, who also announced his retirement after leading the organisation for 21 years.
In addition to competing for medals and prize money to further their training, all finalists’ solos will be sent to artistic directors of leading companies across the world, providing a potentially crucial stepping stone in their career path.
For all the finalists' names, go here.
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