Joining Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, on the judging panel this year are former Royal Ballet Principal dancer and teacher Laura Conner; former English National Ballet Lead Principal dancer Dmitri Gruzdyev; former Royal Ballet Senior Principal dancer, teacher and choreographer Marguerite Porter MBE; Alfreda Thorogood, former Royal Ballet principal dancer, teacher and Guest Repetiteur for English National Ballet; and Graham Watts OBE, writer and chairman of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle and of the National Dance Awards.
The finalists will first perform a pas de deux, followed by a solo. This year will see Isabelle Brouwers and Emilio Pavan present the grand pas from Paquita, Madison Keesler and Guilherme Menezes will dance a pas de deux from Bournonville’s La Sylphide and Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta will perform the Esmeralda pas de deux. This year’s finalists have been mentored by their peers in the Company. Senri Kou has helped Madison Keesler and Guilherme Menezes prepare for La Sylphide, Pedro Lapetra has mentored Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta as they rehearse Esmeralda, and Fernando Bufalá and Maria José Sales have worked on Paquita with Isabelle Brouwers and Emilio Pavan.
Last year’s winner of both the Emerging Dancer Award and the People’s Choice Award, Cesar Corrales, will perform a pas de deux from Don Quixote with Katja Khaniukova.