Image: Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta performing the Esmeralda pas de deux © Laurent Liotardo

Last night, Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta became joint winners of our 2017 Emerging Dancer Award.

Along with their fellow finalists, Rina and Aitor performed a pas de deux and contemporary solo in front of a live audience at Sadler’s Wells: Rina danced Raimondo Rebeck’s Blind Dreams set to music by Philip Glass while Aitor performed SelF, a new piece by Aleix Mañe. The pair had performed together in the Esmeralda pas de deux, making the result even more special for them:

“I’m so pleased to win this award. Performing with Aitor has been amazing, we are great friends and have had lots of fun working on this together. I’m thrilled to be sharing this award with him.”
Rina Kanehara
“I am so honoured to have won this award. This was the first time I have danced Esmeralda and I really enjoyed performing it with my friend Rina to the audience at Sadler’s Wells and viewers online.”
Aitor Arrieta
Rina Kanehara and Aitor Arrieta performing the Esmeralda pas de deux © Laurent Liotardo

A few audience comments of their performances:

“Well Rina & Aitor just smashed it! best classical pdd.”
Sharon Keogh (on Facebook)

Aitor Arrieta performing SelF © Laurent Liotardo

The evening was live streamed from Sadler’s Wells, receiving over 89,000 views worldwide, and also saw Sarah Kundi receive the Corps de Ballet Award, acknowledging her exceptional work on and off-stage over the last year, while Georgia Bould was awarded the People’s Choice Award, as voted by you, our audience.

Rina and Aitor were selected as this year’s winners by an eminent judging panel: our Artistic Director Tamara Rojo along with Laura Connor, Dmitri Gruzdyev, Marguerite Porter MBE, Alfreda Thorogood and Graham Watts OBE. On the decision, Tamara Rojo said:

“Emerging Dancer is one of my favourite evenings in the season. I am so pleased that we have this opportunity to celebrate the young dancers of English National Ballet. Having this platform allows us to continue our commitment to nurture the stars of the future, and develop them artistically.

“I am incredibly proud and absolutely thrilled with all the performances, the standard this year was so high that making a decision was very difficult. Rina and Aitor are two very charismatic and extremely gifted dancers who both have great careers ahead of them.”

Rina Kanehara performing in the Esmeralda pas de deux © Laurent Liotardo

The other Emerging Dancer finalists Isabelle Brouwers, Madison Keesler, Guilherme Menezes and Emilio Pavan also gave exceptional performances. Congratulations to them for all their hard work.

Audiences were rooting for them all:

“Gorgeous Isabelle!”
Jorele Jorele (on Facebook)

“Rooting for Guilherme. Great solo and in the pas de deux.”
Rosalind Lai (on Facebook)
“So much talent Emilio. Absolutely loved this contemporary piece.”
Kim Hucherko Daughtrey (on Facebook)
Emerging Dancer 2017 winners, finalists, judges and host Arlene Phillips © Laurent Liotardo

Thanks goes out to Barry Drummond, Senri Kou, Daniel Kraus and Pedro Lapetra for mentoring this year’s finalists on their classical pas de deux.

The evening also saw last year’s winner of the Emerging Dancer and People’s Choice Award, Cesar Corrales perform the pas de deux from Don Quixote with Katja Khaniukova.

“Admiration for these great dancers, Cesar and Katja”
Eva Perez (on Facebook)

Emerging Dancer 2017