Five Australian dancers have been selected as finalists in The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition. Previously known as The Genée, this year’s Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) international competition will take place online – the first time this has happened – with the final taking place on 9 September.

The Australian dancers are: Mia Atkinson, trained by RAD Teacher Catherine Edwards; Christian Carlo-Stella, trained by RAD teachers Hilary Kaplan and Archibald McKenzie, and English National Ballet School; Milei Lee, trained by RAD teachers Liane McRae and Janne Blanch; Amber Mitchell-Knight, trained by RAD teacher Susan Sargison and the National Theatre Ballet School; and Amelia Soh, trained by RAD teachers Jasmin Bobyk, Paris Bobyk and Celine Bobyk.

Australian dancer Joshua Green, Genée Gold Medallist, 2018. Photo © Keith Sin, Hiro Graphics

The five Australians are among the 15 young dancers selected as finalists from 97 candidates, representing 16 countries. They were chosen by a judging panel comprising RAD President Dame Darcey Bussell, Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director and CEO of Scottish Ballet, Sir David Bentley, former Artistic of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

British finalist Olivia Chang Clarke, trained by RAD teacher Denise Whiteman, has won the Choreographic Award for her solo Rain of tears.

The competition was founded in 1931. The Academy has adapted the format for 2021 to offer online coaching and judging to ensure the widest possible access, given the challenges around international travel posed by COVID-19.

Announcing the finalists, Dame Darcey Bussell said: “We have been so inspired to see the passion of young dancers across the world, who have continued to work so hard and share their love for ballet, despite such a challenging year. Myself and my fellow judges, Christopher Hampson and Sir David Bintley, hugely enjoyed watching the talent, technique and variety displayed by all 97 candidates who entered the final stage of the first online Fonteyn competition. It gives me enormous pleasure to announce the finalists for The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2021, and I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to everyone who took part.”

The 15 finalists will now learn a commissioned solo choreographed by Ashley Page, former Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, which they will perform with a classical solo at the final, which will be judged by Dame Darcey, Christopher Hampson, Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, and Irek Mukhamedov, Ballet Master, Opera Paris Ballet. Dame Darcey and RAD Artistic Director Gerard Charles will host the special online final, which will also give viewers a look behind the scenes with interviews with dancers including Leanne Benjamin and Dame Monica Mason.

The final of The Fonteyn International Ballet Competition will take place on 9 September at 7.30pm BST. Ticket holders will be able to watch it on demand until 19 September 2021.