Photo Credit: Martin Bell

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is pleased to announce the medallists of the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023 final 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 the likes of Royal Ballet principal dancers Steven McRae and Francesca Hayward. 

After a week of intensive coaching and semi-finals, the coveted 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 CecchettiSociety 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.

The Fonteyn 2023 (previously known as The Genée) returned to London for the first in-person event since the pandemic.

This week-long competition attracted 79 candidates, who each took part in 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 RambertSchool

After the semi-finals which took place at RAD’s state-of-the-art 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 variationwas selected at the semi-finals. Alfie-Lee Hall, 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, a piece they learnt earlier in the competition.

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. 

Tim Arthur Chief Executive of the RAD said: Tim Arthur Chief Executive of the RAD said: “On behalf of the RAD, congratulations to all the candidates who took part in The Fonteyn. 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. I would also like to thank The Fonteyn coaches, David Nixon, Endalyn Taylor and Sarah Wildor, for imparting such valuable advice to all our candidates this week. Also a special thanks to our judges Dame Darcey Bussell, Amanda Britton and Aaron Watkin and our wonderful producer Lynn Wallis.”

Lynn Wallis Producer of The Fonteyn said: “Congratulations to all the candidates. It’s been a pleasure to welcome so many dancers from around the world. I do hope that they have made memories that they will cherish forever.”

Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the RAD said: “Congratulations to everyone that took part in The Fonteyn 2023 competition. 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.”

Amanda Britton Chief Executive, Principal and Artistic Director of Rambert School said: “It’s been a true honour to be a judge of this year’s competition. Congratulations to the medalists and all the candidates who took part in what was an outstanding showcase of ballet.” 

23 – 27 October 202

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. 

The Bedell’s Bursary winner 

The Fonteyn finalists were not the only young dancers who took to the stage on Sunday evening. At the RAD’s state-of-the-art Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre, dancers participated in The Bedell’sBursary. The winner was India Kennedy, a British young dancer training at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.

22 young dancers took part in this competition where candidates were judged by Ashley Shaw and Ibrahim Önal on a non-syllabus ballet class, a classical variation and a variation choreographed by themselves. In recognition of the huge importance of nurturing and providing opportunities for creativity in young dancers, this year’s Choreographic Award was presented to Noa Ng, a Maltese dancer training at Incite Motion School of Dance. This award was made possible thanks to a bequest from the estate of the late Dr Ivor Guest.

Recognising young dancers’ excellence in artistic and technical achievement and providing opportunities for creativity, the bursary is named in honour of Phyllis Bedells, a founder member and Vice-President of the RAD. The bursary, supported by the Mary Kipps Bequest, has a value of £1,000 to be used to further the winner’s training. This event is a global competition, open to members of the RAD who are 17 years of age and under, and have passed the RAD Advanced 1 Examination (with Distinction). 

With thanks to our partners Freed of London, Harlequin Floors, The Londoner and Diptyque