The finals of the Royal Academy of Dance's Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition were held in London over the weekend: the first time the competition had been held in person since the pandemic. Previously known as the Genee, the week-long event is a pinnacle achievement for students who have trained in Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabus. This year it attracted 79 candidates from around the world.
The Gold Medal was won by Jakob Wheway Hughes (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 went to Lucia Moore (15), from New Zealand, trained by Annette Roselli, Shane Wuerthner and Miranda Zeller. Bronze was awarded to both Ed Cooley (17) from Australia, trained at Promenade Dance Studio and Queensland College of Dance, and Zai Calliste (18) from Australia/Britain/Caribbean, trained at the Annette Roselli Academy of Dance in Qld and now the English National Ballet School.
Calliste was also the recipient of the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.
The finals were held in front of an audience at His Majesty's Theatre in London. They were the culmination of a week of coaching sessions by Endalyn Taylor, David Nixon and Sarah Wildor, and semi-finals judged by a panel comprising 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. Twelve young dancers made it to the finals, including three Australians: Ben Moss (18) and Samantha Wong (18), both students of Alegria Dance Studios in Sydney, and Alice Wong (16), from Victoria, a pupil of Julie Fleming, Janne Blanche and Kynan Jones.
The Dancer’s Own Choreographic Award, available to all candidates who choreographed their own Dancer’s Own variation, was selected at the semi-finals. Alfie-Lee Hall, from the UK, won this award for his choreography, The One.
At the event all candidates performed Jeunesse, created by The Fonteyn’s Guest Choreographer Valentino Zucchetti, a first soloist with the Royal Ballet.
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 across the globe. Scholarships will be awarded in due course.
Darcey Bussell congratulated all the dancers who took part. “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," she said. 'Special congratulations go to the medalists for winning the coveted Fonteyn medals.”