Royal Academy of Dance Holds Prestigious Competition Entirely Online

Ground-breaking new format hosted by Wimbledon resident Darcey Bussell

RAD president Darcey Bussell. Picture: Elliot Franks

In a bid to widen accessibility the Wandsworth-based Royal Academy of Dance has announced medallists of The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition, held completely online for the first time in its history.

Alice McArthur, from New Zealand, won the prestigious Genee Gold Medal, more than 30 years after her mother won silver in the same competition.

The Fonteyn is one of the most highly regarded competitions in the world, and celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. The final, hosted by RAD President and Wimbledon resident Dame Darcey Bussell, and RAD Artistic Director Gerard Charles, took place entirely online last week.

Genée Gold Medal Winner Alice McArthur
Genee Gold Medal Winner Alice McArthur

The fledgling dancers were judged by Darcey Bussell, Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare, CEO and Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet Christopher Hampson and Irek Mukhamedov, Ballet Master of the Opera Paris Ballet. They made their judgements on a variety of dances including a 19th or 20th century classical variation, a contemporary solo choreographed by them or for them (Dancer's Own), a commissioned solo by choreographer Ashley Page and set class exercises, following online coaching and masterclasses from world-class choreographers and teachers.

In the early stages of the competition, the RAD delivered one-to-one online coaching for 114 dancers from 18 countries. The coaches included some of the leading professionals in dance today, included former Royal Ballet Principals Ed Watson and Leanne Benjamin, Miguel Altunaga from the Rambert and Amber Scott who dances as Principal with The Australian Ballet.

Seventy five per cent of candidates said that the competition being online helped them to participate in this educational opportunity. Ninety seven dancers then applied to be considered as a finalist, before judges selected the 15 dancers to take part in the final.

Alice McArthur, who picked up the Genee Gold Award, was trained by Auckland Academy of Dance and currently Sarah Abendroth at John Cranko School. It was a touching coincidence that 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.

Bronze medallist Amelie SohBronze medallist Amelie Soh

Australian dancer Milei Lee won the silver. Milei has been trained by RAD Teachers Liane McRae and Janne Blanch, and the English National Ballet School.

Bronze medals went to British dancer Hannah Martin, trained by RAD Teacher Mary Goodhew, and Australian dancer Amelia Soh who has been trained by RAD Teachers Jasmin Bobyk, Paris Bobyk and Celine Bobyk.

The Choreographic Award was won by British dancer Olivia Chang Clarke. The judges felt that her solo Rain of Tears (choreographed by herself) demonstrated the highest standard of choreography within the Dancer's Own category.

Go to the Royal Academy of Dance's website to find out more.

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September 29, 2021

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