These Eight competition Alumni are #Winning!

Shock, disbelief and pure joy – eight competition Alumni recount the moment they realised they would be competing in the Final and even won a medal.

Mum and dad

‘I will never forget calling my mum and dad and telling them I made it to the Final. I was really so excited and couldn’t believe this little girl from Canberra was up on the world stage! I couldn’t believe it when I won a silver medal – I was thrilled to even make it to the Final!’ – Lana Jones, Principal Dancer with The Australian Ballet (Silver, 1999)

One in 80

‘Winning the gold medal was pretty special, firstly because it was the first time I got a gold medal for a competition but also, I found out later, I was the only Italian Genée gold medallist, or any medal for that matter, in the 80 years of the competition history, so that made me really proud, it felt more special.’ – Valentino Zucchetti, First Soloist with The Royal Ballet (Gold, 2006)

The very first

‘Making it to the Final wasn’t even something I considered would happen. I just wanted the experience to an end on an international stage. But I’m still very proud of being the first South African to make the Final, at the time.’ – Tanya Howard, First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada (Finalist, 1997)

Sharing the stage

‘Performing in the Final was an incredible feeling; the energy from the audience was unbelievable and I felt such positive support from the fellow Finalists. Winning the silver medal was an incredible honour. The most special thing for me was being able to share the stage on the night with one of my best friends John Rhys (who was awarded the bronze medal) and there’s a lovely photo of us squeezing each other hugging as soon as the curtain dropped!’ – Isabelle Brouwers, First Artist with English National Ballet (Silver, 2013)


‘The Genée was my first international ballet competition and it was really exciting to be awarded a medal. Our particular year, nobody won the gold medal, but the Finalists basically all became Principals in companies, which I find amazing!’ – Alex Wong, Dancer, singer and actor (Bronze and Audience Choice Award, 2003)

No one expects to win

‘Honestly, I didn’t expect to win a medal. The standard was incredibly high and I didn’t see myself as a ‘competition dancer’ although I knew I’d have loved to win. I was mainly shocked at the announcement but mostly grateful to the judges for their appreciation of my dancing.’ – Sean Bates, Junior Soloist with Northern Ballet (Silver, 2010)

My number called out

‘It was such an amazing feeling to make it to the Final, and then to win a bronze medal – I couldn’t quite believe it. I was in such shock and I will never forget that feeling on stage when my number was called out.’ – Tierney Heap, Soloist with The Royal Ballet (Bronze, 2010)

Icing on the cake

‘When the medallists were announced, I was extremely happy. Months of preparation and hard work were rewarded. The icing on the cake was when Luke Rittner announced that I also received the Audience Choice Award. I was honoured to be the first Canadian to receive the gold medal and I was thrilled at having such an impact on the audience.’ – Céline Gittens, Principal Dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet (Gold and Audience Choice Award, 2005)