The 2018 Genée International Ballet Competition, held by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), took place in Hong Kong in August with 20 Australians among the chosen 51 participants. Seventeen-year old Australian dancer Joshua Green emerged triumphant winning a prestigious gold award as well as the Choreographic Award in the Dancer’s Own category. He spoke to Limelight about his success.

Joshua Green. Photograph © Keith Sin, courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance

 What does winning a gold medal at the Genée mean to you?

Winning the gold medal was something I’d only ever dreamed of. Going into the Final, I was just so thankful to be there and the other boys are such great people, that I was going to be happy no matter who won, whether it be myself or anyone else. The group of finalists did become a little family and the support within the group was amazing. So winning the gold medal was the single most humbling experience of my life. It’s something that I never imagined I would be able to achieve so for it to actually happen was mind-blowing. It’s been about a week since the Genée and, when I watch back the announcement, it feels like I’m watching someone else but then I look up and there is the medal sitting in front of me. It’s quite surreal really. Just thinking about that night is bringing all the excitement back.

Can you tell us what you experienced from the week’s intensive process?

The week was one of the hardest but definitely the best weeks of my life. It was quite intense. It was physically challenging of course –  ballet always is – but the hardest part was the mental toughness. We would be at the studios from 9am through to 5pm each day. Some days we would have long breaks between classes, which made keeping your focus quite the challenge, or we would have short breaks in between classes, which made changing the way you were dancing fairly difficult. We had four classes a day including classical technique, classical coaching, Dancer’s Own coaching and commissioned choreography. They were each so different in their own way. Each presented its own challenges but it taught us that you have to be quick to pick things up because that’s how this profession will be when you end up dancing in a company. As well as the dance, we got to spend a lot of time with the other candidates. That was for sure one of my favourite parts of the week. Getting to make genuine connections with people from all over the globe was such a good experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Living with those people night and day and then getting to share the stage with them was something special and I hope to never forget it.

Did you really only begin dancing in 2016?  What got you started?

Yes, I did! In 2016, I took my first ballet class. I actually got into it through musical theatre. I had always wanted to be in musical theatre and my old music teacher told me that if I wanted to do it as a profession I needed to be able to dance. Luckily, Karen Ireland Dance Centre was recommended to me and I went in for a trial class. I’m not going to lie, at first I was unsure, being a teenage boy and going into a ballet class of 13-year olds was quite intimidating, especially considering back then I was quite a shy person. It sounds funny to say it out loud actually, but it was. I was very fortunate to have fallen into Karen’s hands though, because she made me feel welcome straight away and I soon became comfortable and started to love it. A year after that I went into the full-time stream of only five students, we come from a very small town in northern New South Wales. Evidently I fell in love with it and never looked back.

Where do you hope your training and career will go now?

So I actually know where my training is going. Recently I was lucky enough to go to the Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York and was selected as one of the top 20 dancers and thanks to this I was awarded a scholarship to The John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany. So I will be there for two years finishing my training, and after that I hope to move on to a company. I’d love to dance with The Australian Ballet. I also love the Dutch National Ballet and at some point I would love to dance in London, either with The Royal Ballet or English National Ballet.