By Lise Smith
March 10, 2014
The Young British Dancer of the Year finals took place at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on Saturday – and the top three awards all went to male dancers. Royal Ballet School student Erik Woolhouse, 17, took the top prize. Second and third prizes went to fellow RBS students Joseph Sissens, 16, and Nicholas Landon, 15.
Erik performed Albrecht’s variation from Act 2 of Giselle, followed by the male Pas de Deux variation from Le Corsaire to win the first prize of £3,000. Completing an all-male sweep of the awards, the Sibley Dowell award for a promising student with potential went to Ricardo Castellanos, 16, and commendations went to Jerome Barnes, 16, and Scott McKenzie, 16. Five Summer School scholarships were also awarded to finalists Olivia Caughey, Genevieve Eveleigh, Sophie Morris, Rowan Parker and Lesya Tyminska.
The competition is open to ballet students aged 15-17 who have been training in UK for at least 3 years. The finalists this year were selected from 83 applicants; 32 progressed into the semi-finals and sixteen were selected for Saturday’s finals. The finalists received coaching in their chosen solo variations from Royal Ballet Principals Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares. The star-studded jury for the finals included former Royal Ballet Principal Deanne Bergsma; Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet; Stephen Jefferies, Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet; David Nixon, Artistic Director of Northern Ballet; Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet; Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet; former Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Wildor; and Mavis Staines, Director and CEO of Canada’s National Ballet School.
The Young British Dancer of the Year awards were first held in 2000 to encourage and celebrate outstanding young British talent. The awards, held annually at the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, attract dancers from across the country. Past contestants have gone on to performing careers with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet and Northern Ballet as well as other international ballet companies. A young Sergei Polunin won first prize in 2007, and Royal Ballet principal Lauren Cuthbertson came second in the competition’s inaugural year.
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