Like everything in 2020, the Emerging Dancer from the English National Ballets was a little different. From the mask-wearing orchestra to the live streaming of the event by Ore Oduba of Strictly Come Dancing fame, there were things that were very different from previous years.
But there were other things that were the same. Top of the list was the outstanding quality of the dancing on show with the six finalists showing a range of the most exquisite dancing skills. So who came out on top and what made them stand out from the others?
The six finalists danced two duets each, one being a classical style while another was a contemporary dance. The three pairs were:
- Miguel Angel Maidana and Carolyne Galvao
- Victor Prigent and Emily Suzuki
- William Yamada and Ivana Bueno
There were two awards available on the night. The first is the main one, the Emerging Dancer 2020 which is in its 11th year. The other award is the People’s Choice Award which is voted for by the people watching the event on TV during the night itself. So the combination of panel judges for one award and public viewers for the other makes for an interesting competition.
Normally, the competition will see three classical pas de deux performances followed by a contemporary solo. But due to restrictions for this year, three duets were performed for the second half of the competition, each featuring original choreography.
Victor Prigent and Emily Suzuki started the night with their pas de deux Satanella. This very technical piece was handled well by the pair and Suzuki was notable for her elegance and almost regal qualities. In their second dance, they performed a piece by Stina Quagebuer. Called ‘Hollow’ it allowed Prigent the chance to showcase his talents well.
The classical dance by Miguel Angel Maidana and Carolyne Galvao was particularly memorable, dancing a pas de deux from Diana and Actaeon. Their contemporary piece was very fluid and interesting, called ‘Both of Two’ and was created by Jeffrey Ciro.
The third pair, William Yamada and Ivana Bueno danced The Talisman as their classical piece. Bueno caught the eye for her stage presence and ease of completing some of the more complex sequences. Their contemporary dance was a very intricate piece called Full Out by Mthuthuzeli November. The sharpness and lines, dancing on pointe shoes, made for a visually fascinating dance.
The judges praised all of the contestants and admitted it was a very difficult task to pick the winner. But they did and the Emerging Dancer 2020 was Ivana Bueno. The second award, the People’s Choice Award, was awarded to Victor Prigent.
Despite the restrictions and strangeness of 2020, the competition was a great success. There was a final performance from last year’s winners. And everyone enjoyed seeing the English National Ballet Philharmonic orchestra back in action after such a long period of inactivity during lockdown and subsequent restrictions. As one of the choreographers said, ballet should have live music.