26 August 2021 11:58

“Guess who the judges were?”

Leanne Benjamin AM OBE, had a hugely distinguished 30-year career that saw her performing with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet), the London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin, and finally, The Royal Ballet where she was principal dancer until her retirement. She also worked with some of the most pre-eminent names in ballet, such as Kenneth MacMillan, Frederick Ashton and Ninette de Valois.

Recently, however, Leanne took some time to look back at where things really started for her. In 1981, she won the Adeline Genée gold medal at what would become the Genée International Ballet Competition. Dame Margot Fonteyn was one of the judges, marking the competition’s 50th year – a milestone in the competitions history.

The competition was renamed to The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition in May 2019 – a week after Margot Fonteyn would have turned 100. Margot Fonteyn is regarded as the greatest ballet dancer of her generation, and was instrumental in shaping the RAD’s international expansion. The Fonteyn (formerly known as the Genée) is celebrating its 90th year as one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions. This year’s final will take place on 9 September.

Indeed, Leanne’s relationship with the competition has come full circle as, this year, she was one of the coaches for the event named after the judge that presented her gold medal all those years ago. After finding her diary entry from the day of her winning final, she found her 16 year-old self exclaiming: “Guess who the judges were? One, Dame Margot Fonteyn. Two, David Wall. Three, Pamela May. And four, Phyllis Bedells!”

Watch more of Leanne reading from her Genée diary below.

Leanne is also featured reading her diary entry from the day she won her gold medal in Pointe Magazine this week.

Interested in booking your place for the first-ever online final of The Fonteyn? Book your tickets

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