BBC Young Dancer 2019 Contemporary Dance winner announced

19 year old Matthew Rawcliffe from Manchester has been announced as the winner of the Contemporary Final of BBC Young Dancer 2019, and will go on to represent the category at the Grand Final next month.

Published: 26 April 2019
I’m over the moon to have won the contemporary final and am very overwhelmed, but I feel really lucky and excited to be carrying on for a little bit longer in the competition.
— Matthew Rawcliffe

Matthew will perform a brand new work in the Grand Final choreographed especially for him by Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre for broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday 18 May.

The Contemporary finalists of BBC Young Dancer 2019 were: Max Cookward, 19 (Leeds), Adanna Lawrence, 20 (London), Hannah Connor, 21 (Leicester), Matthew Rawcliffe, 19 (Manchester) and Hana Kato, 19 (London).

Highlights from the Contemporary Final were broadcast on BBC Four this evening and are available to watch again on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

All five category finalists performed in front of a judging panel comprised of leading experts from the dance sector. The Contemporary Final was judged by Choreographer and former Artistic Director of Scottish Dance Theatre Fleur Darkin, performer, choreographer and Artistic Co-Director of Candoco Dance Company Ben Wright, as well as Jonzi D - Artistic Director of Jonzi D Projects and Breakin’ Convention, who is chair of the judging panel across all four category finals.

Matthew will join South Asian Dance category finalist Shree Savani and the winners from the upcoming Ballet and Street Dance Categories in the Grand Final at Birmingham Hippodrome. The Grand Final will see each finalist perform three works; these include the premiere of a brand new solo created for each of them for the final by a leading choreographer, along with a solo from their repertoire and a duet. They will perform in front of a panel of judges made up of leading figures from the UK dance sector. Further details on the Grand Final including the panel of judges will be announced following the broadcast of the Street Dance Final on the 10 May.

Matthew Rawcliffe, Winner of the Contemporary Final says: “The whole process so far of BBC Young Dancer has been so valuable; I feel like I’ve been so inspired and developed so much. I’m over the moon to have won the contemporary final and am very overwhelmed, but I feel really lucky and excited to be carrying on for a little bit longer in the competition.”


Matthew Rawcliffe biography

Matthew started dancing by accidentally going to an open audition for a local pantomime in Manchester. He discovered contemporary dance in his last year of high school when he joined The Lowry CAT programme. Now in his second year at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, Matthew is very interested in choreography and hopes to pursue this alongside his career as a performer. He is currently rehearsing for Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet at Sadler’s Wells as part of the Young Cast.

TV broadcast dates

  • South Asian Category Final
    Friday 19 April, BBC Four
  • Contemporary Category Final
    Friday 26 April, BBC Four
  • Ballet Category Final
    Friday 3 May, BBC Four
  • Street Dance Category Final
    Friday 10 May, BBC Four
  • Live Grand Final
    Saturday 18 May, BBC Two

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.

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 provided for the previous two BBC Young Dancer competitions.