BBC Young Dancer 2019


This year, Sadler’s Wells has once again been working in collaboration with BBC Young Dancer to provide expert advice and support across the biennial competition’s four categories: Ballet, Contemporary, South Asian and Street Dance.

With one day to go until the overall winner of BBC Young Dancer 2019 is unveiled at the grand final at Birmingham Hippodrome this Saturday, we ask judge and Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Jonzi D for the top five things he is looking for in the winning dancer.

1. Originality

This year’s winning candidate will have something powerful, and importantly something new to say. They will be a risk-taker with a fresh take on their style; one that transports us outside of the box and brings us closer to something truly special.

We were blown away by this year’s performance by our former NYDC member Adanna Lawrence in the contemporary final of BBC Young Dancer.

2. Assurance

I’m looking for someone who inspires confidence – someone who puts me at ease through their movement. I’m not worried when I watch them perform, because neither are they.

Here’s the perfect throwback to Archie Sullivan performing the wonderfully playful Les Bourgeois for the Ballet Final of BBC Young Dancer 2015.

3. Technical Dexterity

Alongside a strong passion for dance, our 2019 winner will have the full package of technique and talent that speaks for itself – letting us know loud and clear that they have what it takes to get to the next level.

Contemporary dancer Connor Scott became the first ever BBC Young Dancer winner in 2015, and you can definitely see why in his first solo, Get Up, which he choreographed himself.

4. Musicality

The winner will have a rhythmic ear. They will be adept at interpreting music, repeating that music, and transmit that through their body language in ways that defy our expectations. It’s a skill of extreme precision, knowing not only how to hit the beat, but also when.

Take for instance Jodelle Douglas and Matthew ‘MindTrick’ Holt’s body-popping duet ‘Canvas’, performed at the BBC Young Dancer 2017 Street Dance Final.

Of course, we couldn’t forget Keiran Lai’s Transformer-esque first solo ‘Tinman’, which he performed for the Hip Hop Final in 2015.

5. Engagement

…and not the marriage kind! We’re looking for a connection with the audience that runs deeper than the eye can see. It’s that special je ne sais quoi about a performance that can make our hair stand on end, something spectacular that grips us and leaves us wanting more.

We still get chills remembering the stunning kathak duet from South Asian category winner Vidya Patel and Jaina Modasia in the 2015 finals.

The Grand Final for BBC Young Dancer will be broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday 18 May at 8pm and be available on BBC iPlayer.