Competing in prestigious international competitions is an important step for many young dancers heading for a career in ballet. One of the world’s top competitions is the Royal Academy of Dance’s annual Genée International Ballet Competition, which in December was held at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Eighty-six teenage dancers from 12 countries competed at the Awards, the finals of which were judged by The Australian Ballet’s David McAllister, The Royal Ballet’s Kevin O’Hare and the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Francesco Ventriglia.
Five of the six main medals were awarded to Australian students, with the Gold medals going to Joshua Price, 16, from Queensland (taught by Janice Heale and of the Amanda Bollinger Dance Academy), and Maeve Nolan, 16, from New South Wales (taught by Marie Walton-Mahon of Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy). Price was also awarded the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.
Here, Dance Informa speaks to the gold medalists about their success and their plans for the future.
How did you feel receiving the Gold medal?
“I had so many mixed emotions. I was shocked, I was happy and a little bit overwhelmed. It was a very surreal experience.”
“At first, it was almost surreal. To be on stage with many of the competitors who I look up to, and be receiving an award that I had only dreamed about seemed almost impossible. And to also receive the Dame Margot Fonteyn Audience award was really special. It took a few days to sink in what had actually happened!”
What is the most important thing you learnt from your experience at the Genée?
“The most important thing I learnt was not to compare myself to other dancers and to trust myself.”
“I learnt so many new things, including what it’s like being live-streamed and also what it’s like to compete at an international level. But what I loved most was being able to work with a guest choreographer, take on a new and challenging piece, and work on it throughout the week.”
What advice can you give to future competitors?
“To future competitors, I would say go with an open mind, be a sponge and absorb as much as you can, because there are so many wonderful teachers and choreographers willing to share knowledge and experience. And above all, just enjoy the Genée experience!”
“Just have fun, make new friends, and enjoy the experience! The camaraderie between the competitors was really special – it almost didn’t feel like a competition!”
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
“In 2017, I am most looking forward to getting back to ballet class and continuing to improve.”
“I am super excited to be competing in the 2017 Prix de Lausanne, as well as a trip around London and Europe to attend classes at various schools. Having not travelled much internationally before, I hope that this experience will enable me to go to new places and help me progress further in my dance journey.”
Where would you love to be in five years?
“I would love be in a professional ballet company doing what I love.”
“Anywhere! There are so many amazing schools and companies around the world; it would be tough to pick just one. Wherever I end up will be the right place for me! I would also like to thank my teachers, Janice Heale (The Dance Centre), Amanda Bollinger and her staff (Amanda Bollinger Dance Academy), Sydney Eisteddfod for their continued support, Friends of the Arts Centre, the Gold Coast Airport and also RAD and the Genée team for an amazing experience.”
By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.