The winner of English National Ballet’s 2015 Emerging Dancer Award – the company’s sixth competition – was Jinhao Zhang. Zhang, who joined the Company just last year after graduating from English National Ballet School, performed the Dying Swan which he choreographed himself, and also a pas de deux from Don Quixote with fellow nominee and English National Ballet School graduate Isabelle Brouwers. The evening also saw Laurretta Summerscales named as the recipient of The People’s Choice Award, voted for by members of the public throughout the 2014/2015 season.
The annual competition, held at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, was judged by an esteemed industry panel: Leanne Benjamin AM OBE, Michael Nunn OBE and William Trevitt OBE (BalletBoyz), Wayne Sleep OBE, Didy Veldman and English National Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo. The judges had a hard task on their hands in their requirement to select a winner from such huge talent and strong performances on stage.
The competition allows English National Ballet to recognise and nurture talent and encourage excellence in the Company. The other finalists for 2015 were Anjuli Hudson, Jeanette Kakareka, Katja Khaniukova, Vitor Menezes and Max Westwell, all of whom performed admirably. The finalists are voted for by English National Ballet’s dancers, Artistic team, orchestra and administrative staff, and then perform in front of a panel of eminent judges. The Emerging Dancer Award winner is announced together with the recipient of the People’s Choice Award, which is voted for by members of the public throughout the year.
Before the winners were announced, last year’s joint Emerging Dancer Award winners, Junor Souza and Alison McWhinney, performed a pas de deux from Liam Scarlett’s No Man’s Land: Junor, who also won the 2014 People’s Choice Award, has since been promoted to First Soloist and performed Principal roles in Swan Lake and Nutcracker. Alison has since been promoted to First Artist.