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UPDATE: BBC Young Dancer 2015

Posted on October 2, 2014

BBC Young Dancer, a search for the UK’s most talented young dancers, has announced a starry line-up of judges, including Matthew Bourne, Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor, Tamara Rojo, Kenrick Sandy and Alistair Spalding. Carlos Acosta will be ambassador for the new talent competition, whose final rounds will be broadcast on BBC Two and BBC Four.

UPDATE: the entry deadline has been extended to NOVEMBER 17

Tony Hall, the BBC’s director-general, said: “There are many tremendously talented young people in our country just looking for a chance – and a platform – to show what they can do.

“That’ s why the BBC is working with top names in dance to develop a programme that will not only find the young dance performers of the future, but give them a real break at the very start of their professional careers, and the opportunity to perform in front of the leading experts in their field.”

The nationwide award invites young dancers aged 16 to 20 to show their skill through three competitive rounds, designed to highlight their technical command, creative and expressive ability. Dancers can enter in one of four categories: ballet, contemporary dance, hip hop and South Asian dance.

Dancers are asked to submit a video of two solo pieces by November 17, 2014. Specialist judges will choose 80 entrants (20 from each category), who will be invited to perform in the second round, held at the Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham and Northern Ballet, Leeds in December 2014.

In the Category Finals, scheduled to be held at the Riverfront, Newport in March 2015, five dancers from each category will perform two solos and a pas de deux or duet. Hip hop dancers will perform two solos and a battle against an unknown opponent. The winner of each category will have a place in the grand final,. Two “wildcard” places will be awarded to the best dancers who did not win their category.

The category finals will be broadcast on BBC Four, following the five semi-finalists as they prepare for the contest. All of the category finalists will receive one-to-one mentoring from some of the UK’s leading dance figures. Judges for this stage will include David Nixon, director of Northern Ballet, Sharon Watson, director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, DJ Renegade, a regular DJ at hip hop competitions around the world and the Indian classical dancer Seeta Patel.

The grand final, held at Sadler’s Wells on May 9, 2015, will be televised live on BBC Two, with complementary programming from BBC Radio1Xtra, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Asian Network. Each of the six finalists will work with a young choreographer, who will create a new solo for them, to be performed alongside a solo from their repertoire and a pas de deux or duet. The final will also include a new ensemble work, featuring all of the finalists.

Judges for the final will be the choreographers Matthew Bourne, Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor and Kenrick Sandy, English National Ballet director Tamara Rojo and Alistair Spalding, chief executive of Sadler’s Wells. The winner will receive a specially-designed trophy and a £3,000 cash prize to support their dance studies. Category winners will receive a £1,000 prize to support their studies.

“BBC Young Dancer will be a wonderful chance to celebrate the many good things that young people bring with them as they approach the professional dance world: drive, talent, hard work, perseverance and, most of all, a fresh and enquiring approach to dance,” said Akram Khan, one of the grand final judges. “I am really looking forward to seeing the young dancers in competition – they are our future.”

Produced by BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Young Dancer 2015 is part of the BBC’s continuing commitment to the arts. It is also part of BBC Four’s Year of Song and Dance, a year of programming which explores the power of singing and dancing across eras and styles.

See www.bbc.co.uk/youngdancer for more information.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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