BBC Young Dancer Returns – 2019 category finalists announced

Anaya Bolar BBC Young Dancer 2017

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

BBC Young Dancer 2019: 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)
Danila Marzilli. Photo by Andy Ross
Danila Marzilli. Photo by Andy Ross


  • 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: 21 (Derbyshire)
  • Christian Griffin Age: 20 (Birmingham)
  • Kate Morris Age: 20 (Mid Glamorgan)
  • Max Revell Age: 20 (Cornwall)

BBC Young Dancer 2019: Mentors

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.  

Begoña Cao in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort © Laurent Liotardo
Begoña Cao in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort © Laurent Liotardo

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 a 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.

BBC Young Dancer 2019: Judges

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.

Jonzi D in The Letter. Photo by Jane Hobson
Jonzi D in The Letter. Photo by Jane Hobson

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.

Zenaida Yanowsky. Photo by Rob Moore.
Zenaida Yanowsky. Photo by Rob Moore.

BBC Young Dancer 2019: 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.