BBC Young Dancer returns as 2019 category finalists announced

BBC Young Dancer 2019 today unveils the 20 talented young dancers who have made it through to the Category Finals of the prestigious competition.

Published: 25 March 2019
We’re thrilled to be returning with a third series of BBC Young Dancer and once more showcasing the very best young dance talent from across the UK.
— Paul Bullock, Executive Editor
  • BBC Young Dancer returns for 2019 with 20 Category Finalists from around the UK announced today across Ballet, Contemporary, South Asian Dance and Street Dance
  • All Category Finalists mentored by leading dance professionals in preparation for the BBC Young Dancer 2019 Finals
  • Anita Rani and Ore Oduba return as presenters
  • Category Finals judging panel announced featuring foremost figures from across the world of dance, spearheaded by cross-category judge and dance pioneer Jonzi D
  • Category Finals to be broadcast on BBC Four from 19 April with Grand Final broadcast live on BBC Two on 18 May from Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Title of BBC Young Dancer previously awarded to Nafisah Baba (2017) and Connor Scott (2015)

Dancers aged 16-21 from across the UK were selected through two preliminary rounds to compete in four Category Finals: Ballet, Contemporary, South Asian Dance and Street Dance.

Presented by Ore Oduba and Anita Rani, the Category Finals will be broadcast on BBC Four throughout April and May in the lead up to the Grand Final, which will be broadcast live for the first time from Birmingham Hippodrome on BBC Two on 18 May.

One winner from each category will be selected to receive a specially commissioned trophy, £1,000 towards furthering their dance studies and a place in the Grand Final - together with one ‘wild card’ from across the Category Finals who impressed the judges with their potential, despite not winning their category.

As well as being a contest and showcase, BBC Young Dancer 2019 is committed to providing all the finalists with a rich experience that stands them in good stead for the future as they continue their dance education. This year’s BBC Young Dancer has once again been working in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells to provide expert advice and support across the competition’s four categories.

Emma Cahusac, Commissioning Editor, Arts and Music Television, says: “BBC Young Dancer 2019 has taken the search for the next generation of dance talent to new heights. We are genuinely excited for audiences to see for themselves the stellar standard reached by all our incredible finalists this year.

"BBC Arts provides a platform for new talent and previous Young Dancer winners Connor Scott and Nafisah Baba’s dance careers continue to go from strength to strength. The BBC Young Dancer 2019 trophy awaits what will be another exceptional winner.”

Paul Bullock, Executive Editor, BBC Young Dancer, says: “We’re thrilled to be returning with a third series of BBC Young Dancer and once more showcasing the very best young dance talent from across the UK.

"Since launching BBC Young Dancer back in 2015, we’ve been committed to providing a platform for these dedicated and talented young people, whilst also providing an environment in which they can develop and thrive. The creativity and passion that all the dancers bring to the competition is always inspiring and it’s exciting to see them working with some of the UK’s leading dance professionals and going from strength to strength.

"The talent this year has been extremely high and we can’t wait to provide a platform for them to be seen in the coming weeks.”

Jonzi D (Cross Category Judge) adds: “It’s been a joy to witness the future of UK dance! The finalists performed with great skill, purpose and imagination. All the dancers were focused and worked diligently on their solos and duets. They expressed a deep understanding of their chosen technique, and proudly represented it on stage.”

Presenter Ore Oduba says: “I can’t wait to take to the stage again for BBC Young Dancer, and reunite with my friend Anita to present this amazing competition. Dance has become such a huge part of my life, and for our finalists this is an opportunity that could change theirs. To watch the best young talent in the country competing for the top prize... well, it’s going to be both exhilarating and inspiring at the same time!”

Presenter Anita Rani says: "I’m so excited to be returning to host BBC Young Dancer and I feel honoured to be able to witness first-hand the amazing young dancing talent we have in this country. Ore and I are big fans of dance and I can’t wait to see what this year’s BBC Young Dancer competition has in store for us. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion we’re going to be blown away! It’s a privilege to watch talented young people who are dedicated to their art form.”


Category Finalists


  • Chloe Keneally - age 18 (London)
  • Hollie Smith - age 18 (West Yorkshire)
  • Louis Fukuhara - age 20 (Glasgow)
  • Danila Marzilli - age 19 (Glasgow)
  • Keiko Tsuchiya - age 17 (London)


  • Max Cookward - age 19 (Leeds)
  • Adanna Lawrence - age 20 (London)
  • Hannah Connor - age 21 (Leicester)
  • Matthew Rawcliffe - age 19 (Manchester)
  • Hana Kato - age 19 (London)

South Asian:

  • Aishani Ghosh - age 18 (Birmingham)
  • Mahika Gautam - age 18 (London)
  • Sundaresan Ramesh - age 19 (London)
  • Tulani Kayani-Skeef - age 19 (London)
  • Shree Savani - age 20 (Loughborough)

Street Dance:

  • Thomas Carsley - age 22 (Neath)
  • Louie Juster Age - age 21 (Derbyshire)
  • Christian Griffin - age 20 (Birmingham)
  • Kate Morris - age 20 (Mid Glamorgan)
  • Max Revell - age 20 (Cornwall)


Once again, some of the UK’s leading names across dance have come together to provide mentorship to the category finalists, highlights of which will be included as part of the BBC Four programmes.

The category mentors for Ballet are ballerina Begoña Cao, who has twice been nominated for the prestigious Critics' Circle National Dance Awards; Bethany Kingsley-Garner, a Principal dancer with Scottish Ballet; and Iain Mackay, former principal of Birmingham Royal Ballet and current Director of Yorkshire Ballet Summer School.

For Contemporary, Artistic Director and choreographer of Ava Dance Company, Avatâra Ayuso; and choreographer, dancer, founder and Director of N’da Dance Company, Mbulelo Ndabeni.

South Asian mentors are professional dancer, performer, tutor and choreographer Geetha Sridhar and one of the UK’s leading Kathak dancers, Urja Desai Thakore.

For Street Dance, choreographer, innovator and Artistic Director of CRXSS PLATFXRM Ivan Blackstock and Julia Cheng, creative director and founder of House of Absolute, an all-female collective of multidisciplinary dancers.


Judging the Category Finals is a distinguished jury spearheaded by cross category judge Jonzi D. Spoken word artist, director and foremost advocate for hip hop theatre, Jonzi is founder and Artistic Director of Jonzi D Projects and Breakin’ Convention and an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells. Since graduating from the London Contemporary Dance School, Jonzi has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip-hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades.

  • Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet and former Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Japan, David Bintley; and former Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky, judge the Ballet category.
  • Choreographer and former Artistic Director of Scottish Dance Theatre, Fleur Darkin; and performer, choreographer and Artistic Co-Director of Candoco Dance Company, Ben Wright, judge Contemporary.
  • Award winning Bharatanatyam dancer and performer Seeta Patel and Kathak performer and teacher Gauri Sharma Tripathi judge South Asian.
  • Choreographer, performer and founder of The Artist Hub and CEO for social enterprise I M Power, Rhimes Lecointe; and award-winning choreographer, Olivier award-nominee and guest artistic director of National Youth Dance Company for 2019 Botis Seva, judge the Street Dance category.

TV Broadcast Dates

  • Friday 19 April, BBC Four - South Asian Category Final
  • Friday 26 April, BBC Four - Contemporary Category Final
  • Friday 3 May, BBC Four - Ballet Category Final
  • Friday 10 May, BBC Four - Street Dance Category Final
  • Saturday 18 May, BBC Two – LIVE GRAND FINAL

Each of the four BBC Four programmes will focus on the individual Category Final, going behind the scenes as the young dancers prepare for their performances with the help of teachers and mentors. The programmes will also feature highlights of the dancers’ performances and thoughts from some of Britain’s foremost dance experts, providing an insight into what it takes to succeed in such a competitive and pressurised discipline with viewers given a unique opportunity to get under the skin of each dance style.

Notes to Editors

About BBC Young Dancer
Since its launch in 2015, BBC Young Dancer has established its place in the dance calendar as a highly valued talent search showcasing exceptional dancers in four categories: Ballet, Contemporary, South Asian Dance and Street Dance. BBC Young Dancer provides a platform for non-professional UK resident dancers aged 16-21 to demonstrate their dancing abilities through four competitive rounds designed to highlight their technical command, creative ability and expressive capability. Their competition journey, from the early stages through to preparing for the Grand Final, will be documented in four programmes (each focusing on one of the dance forms) to be shown on BBC Four in the weeks running up to the Grand Final, which will be broadcast live on BBC Two.

BBC Young Dancer entrants were required to submit a video of two solo pieces by 28 September 2018. Each genre was judged separately by judges with style-specific knowledge, who narrowed the video submissions down to a maximum of 80 successful entrants (20 from each category). The selected dancers were invited to perform in front of an audience and an expert panel of judges at the second round held at Sadler’s Wells in December 2018. 20 were selected to compete in the category finals which were held at The Lowry, Salford in March 2019.

The BBC Young Dancer 2019 overall winner will receive a specially commissioned trophy and a £3,000 cash prize to help further their dance studies.

BBC Young Dancer is managed and produced by BBC Studios, Entertainment & Music Wales.

The series executive editor is Paul Bullock, the competition manager is Kerry Clark, the series was ordered by Emma Cahusac, BBC Commissioning Editor, Arts and Music Television. Dance Consultants are Sadler’s Wells.

After care
The BBC has partnered with Dancers’ Career Development to provide confidential, bespoke career transition support to the finalists of the BBC Young Dancer Competition. This continues from the aftercare support package Dancers’ Career Development provided for the previous two BBC Young Dancer competitions.