Northern Ballet School students compete in Fonteyn International Ballet Competition

2 November, 2023

Eight students from the Northern Ballet School competed last week in the semi-finals of the prestigious Fonteyn International Ballet Competition in London. 

The week-long event included 79 dancers from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cyprus, Canada and the UK. Held at the Royal Academy of Dance headquarters in London, the competition culminated in a performance at His Majesty’s Theatre on Sunday 29 October. The dancers also performed a specially commissioned piece choreographed by Valentino Zucchetti, First Soloist with The Royal Ballet. 

Participants at the 2023 Fonteyn International Ballet Competition on stage

Founded in 1931 as the Genée International Ballet Competition, it was renamed in May 2019 after Dame Margot Fonteyn, the Royal Academy of Dance’s longest-serving president. They continue to honour their first president by awarding the Adeline Genee Gold Medal to the best dancer of the competition. 

Third Year Classical lecturer, Sarah Dickinson, offered her thoughts on Northern Ballet School students participating in this illustrious event: 

I was exceptionally proud to see the culmination of the students’ dedication and hard work as I watched them perform ‘Jeunesse’ on the stage of His Majesty’s Theatre alongside some of the most talented young dancers from around the globe and in front of so many esteemed luminaries from the ballet world.  

After such an incredibly special week of learning, inspiration, and experiences, I feel certain that the memories made this week will be with them for life. 

Alongside some of the world’s most talented dance students, our students took part in a range of workshops and performances led by world-leading choreographers, including President of the Royal Academy of Dance, Dame Darcey Bussell. 

Northern Ballet School participants in the 2023 Fonteyn International Ballet Competition pose together out of costume with Dame Darcey Bussell

Reflecting on her participation, Northern Ballet School student, Eleanor Copping, said: 

This was an experience I will remember forever! Taking part in The Fonteyn International Ballet Competition encouraged me to push my technical and performance boundaries. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the coaching by inspiring teachers and feel that I have made friends for life from all over the world.

I am also excited to be able to say that I have had my West End debut alongside my friends from Northern Ballet School!

Head of School for the Institute for Contemporary Theatre Manchester, Dr John Harrison, added: 

The Fonteyn International Ballet Competition is the Royal Academy of Dance’s flagship event; to even compete is an achievement in itself. We are incredibly proud of our students’ participation in the competition, and grateful for the time and hard work they have invested over the last few months. We are already looking forward to seeing our students perform at next year’s competition! 

Huge congratulations to all the students who took part. What an experience, and what an achievement! 

headshots of the students taking part

To discover more about joining Northern Ballet School & Institute for Contemporary Theatre, including auditions and how to apply, contact us at or book an Open Day on our Events page.

© 2024 Institute for Contemporary Theatre
All Rights Reserved