Seven Reasons to Compete

From working with a choreographer to life-long friends (and bagpipes!), seven former competitors share their fondest memories of the competition.

The contestants

‘What I enjoyed so much about Genée, was getting the get a chance to know all the contestants. We spent a lot of time together as we all lived in the same quarters. We took classes together, learned choreography together, competed together but then we also ate together, hung out together and it was a big new family. It didn’t feel like a competition at all and I can honestly say it was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my teenage years. I am still friends with so many of the people I met at the Genée that year.’ – Alex Wong, Dancer, singer and actor (Bronze and Audience Choice Award, 2003)

The friends

‘It was my first exposure to other international dancers and I remember being so excited at the idea of meeting others with the same aspirations as I had. I also made a friend at the hotel check-in desk and we are still friends today!’ – Tanya Howard, First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada (Finalist, 1997)

The welcoming ceremony

‘I remember loving the welcoming ceremony in Glasgow. We were welcomed by wonderful bagpipe players wearing kilts and I thought it was such a beautiful way of giving us a glimpse into the culture of the host country. I loved the friendly atmosphere in the studios too; there was such camaraderie among the competitors in the dressing rooms and in the breaks between classes and rehearsals, I made so many new friends!’ –Isabelle Brouwers, First Artist with English National Ballet (Silver, 2013)

The travelling

‘When I travelled to London for the Genée, it was my first time overseas. I remember being quite overwhelmed when the black London cab drove me past Buckingham Palace on the way to the Final. It was so exciting for me as a 15-year-old!’ – Amber Scott, Principal Dancer with The Australian Ballet (Bronze, 1999)

The culture

‘My Genée experience in Hong Kong was truly exceptional. This was my first trip outside of North America and it was such a culture shock. I travelled to with my close friend and fellow competitor Merin Melnyk, and along with our ballet teacher, we made time to explore the city in between classes and rehearsals. Competing in the Genée was a definite milestone in my life and it was made all the more special by exploring a foreign and exotic city alongside wonderful people.’ – Alexandra MacDonald, First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada (Finalist, 2006)

The dreams

‘My fondest memory of the Genée competition was walking through the doors of the RAD headquarters in Battersea, London. I had been doing my RAD exams since the age of 5 and now being in the building, with dancers from all around the world who studied the RAD syllabus just like I did, was very exciting.’ – Céline Gittens, Principal Dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet (Gold and Audience Choice Award, 2005)

The atmosphere

‘My fondest memory of the Genée was performing in the final on the Sydney Opera House Stage in front of my hometown. The atmosphere was electric!’ – Steven McRae, Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet (Gold, 2002)