Kathak dancer Shyam Dattani is one of the five finalists shortlisted for the BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2017 to be screened live on BBC Two on Saturday 22nd April 2017. Finalists to compete for the title in the Grand Final at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, with Anita Rani, Ore Oduba and Darcey Bussell confirmed as presenters for the BBC Two programme. Each dancer to premiere a new work created in collaboration with a leading young choreographer. Top dance industry figures Marc Brew, Kevin O’Hare, Kate Prince, Nahid Siddiqui, Kenneth Tharp and Jasmin Vardimon are on the Grand Final judging panel.
Nafisah Baba has been announced as the winner of the BBC Young Dancer Contemporary Final, with fellow contemporary contestant John-William Watson given a ‘wild card’ place in the Grand Final by the judges. They will join category winners Jodelle Douglas (Street), Rhys Antoni Yeomans (Ballet) and Shyam Dattani (South Asian) at the Grand Final on 22 April 2017.
Presented on BBC Two by Anita Rani and Ore Oduba, together with expert insight from dance legend Darcey Bussell, the Grand Final will see the five finalists perform two solos and a duet or pas de deux in front of a sell-out audience at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Their programmes will also each include a brand new, specially commissioned piece which the dancers have worked on with a leading young choreographer from their dance genre. The choreographers are Laila Diallo (Bristol-based Dance Maker and former Royal Opera House Associate Artist), Caroline Finn (Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales), Nicholas Marvel (street dancer and popping specialist), Morgann Runacre-Temple (Ballet Choreographer) and Sonia Sabri (Kathak Choreographer and Artistic Director of Sonia Sabri Company).
Throughout the BBC Two programme, Darcey Bussell will be on hand to offer insight and commentary on the performances, joined by some top dance names including Choreographer and Artistic Director of New Adventures Sir Matthew Bourne, Choreographer and Artistic Director of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance (and Chair of all the BBC Young Dancer category finals judging panels) Shobana Jeyasingh, and Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Artistic Director of Boy Blue Entertainment.
BBC Young Dancer 2015 winner Connor Scott will return for a special performance in the Grand Final. A contemporary dancer who was the judges’ ‘wild card’ choice in the last competition, Connor has enjoyed fantastic success since winning the competition, and is currently studying at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Several of the previous finalists have gone on to have flourishing dance careers – including South Asian category winner Vidya Patel, who was nominated for two National Dance Awards and has been touring with the Richard Alston Dance Company, and Contemporary category winner Jacob O’Connell, who was selected to be an apprentice at Rambert.
Anita Rani says: “I’m thrilled to be part of BBC Young Dancer. I loved watching the first show last year – the level of talent was incredible. I’m in awe of dancers, inspired by their commitment to the artform, their power, strength and creative ability to move their bodies to music and often move me to tears.”
Judging the final is a star-studded roster of top dance industry figures: Marc Brew, Choreographer and Artistic Director of Marc Brew Company; Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet; Kate Prince, Founder and Artistic Director of ZooNation Dance Company; Nahid Siddiqui, a Kathak Dancer and Choreographer; Kenneth Tharp, a Dancer, Choreographer and Former Chief Executive of The Place, and Jasmin Vardimon, a Choreographer, Dancer and Artistic Director of Jasmin Vardimon Company.
The Grand Final marks the final stage of a journey which started over six months ago, with 20 dancers aged 16-21 selected as category finalists for the competition. These talented young performers received coaching and mentoring from a host of dance industry greats, ranging from, former Royal Ballet Principal Ballerina Viviana Durante, to Hip Hop DJ and Dancer DJ Renegade. Their behind-the-scenes preparations for the four category finals, and subsequent performances, were documented in four episodes on BBC Four in March and April, providing an insight into what it takes to succeed in such a competitive and pressurised discipline.