BWW Interview: Hamish Scott, Bronze Medallist at the GENEE INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION
Following the recent Royal Academy of Dance's Genée International Ballet Competition, Emma Cann catches up with young British dancer Hamish Scott, who was awarded a bronze medal at the hotly contested final in Sydney.
Tell us about you - where you're from, why you started dancing and where you're training now
I'm 19 years old and from Harlow in Essex. I have studied at Elmhurst Ballet School since Year 8 and this final graduate year is my seventh year. I started dancing because my sister went to ballet lessons and I always wanted to join in. I've always been exposed to dance, as my father works in The Royal Ballet Sinfonia and I was fortunate enough to have seen many performances.
For those who don't know, tell us what the Genée International Ballet Competition is and why it's so important in the world of ballet
The Genée is one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world and it's held by the Royal Academy of Dance. To compete in the competition you need to have obtained a distinction at RAD Advanced 2 Ballet - this is a feat in itself, so the competitors in the competition are all a very high standard. I was lucky enough to receive 96/100 in my Advanced 2 (Distinction is 75+).
The competition is solo based. You present three solos: one from set classical repertoire; another choreographed by the competitor/a peer/teacher; and the final solo is a commissioned piece taught to the 86 candidates over the week of coaching before the competition is held.
I chose to dance Prince Siegfried's solo from Swan Lake - a solo that didn't challenge my virtuosity but required me to use my artistry more. (In previous competitions I had always gone for the virtuosity solos, showing off and pushing myself physically - this time I wanted to show that I can dance with artistry.)
The majority of competitors commissioned choreographers or had teachers choreograph the second variation. I choreographed my own variation and I chose the music, a tango by Astor Piazzola, which dictated the style of my choreography.
For me, the Genée is an opportunity to gain exposure on an international level. To be seen by directors of companies and choreographers that wouldn't have seen me otherwise - if you're seen by the right person, it might lead to other opportunities. The competition is a goal that encourages me to raise my own technical standard. I feel that having goals gives me something to work towards and something to focus on.
It's also good to see a culmination of international talent, to see the high standard of other dancers, my age and from across the world.
Describe your preparations for Genée
I had to choreograph my own solo - this required me to find music and spend time in the studio creating movement to it. I considered three pieces of music before I decided on "Tango" by Astor Piazzola. I had been listening to the tango for three years and had always wanted to dance to it, and the Genée finally gave me this opportunity.
It took me about one week to choreograph my solo. I used the studios at school in the evenings and once I had choreographed "Tango Nuevo", Denise Whiteman (a teacher at Elmhurst) coached me and gave me stylistic ideas and corrections. My classical solo was coached by Errol Pickford, my ballet teacher at Elmhurst. He coached me for about six weeks on my solo. I was able to prepare for the commissioned variation.
You must have been really busy over the past few months! Have you managed to fit in schoolwork, training and additional Genée prep?
This term has been extremely busy as I was working with Birmingham Royal Ballet from August to the end of October. I had to be very disciplined, as I didn't have much time to prepare for the Genée. I had to work late into the evenings in the studio to prepare my solos as I still had to participate in all my lessons at school. I had to be really efficient with my time!
Did you suffer from any pre-competition nerves?
I really try and stay calm and relaxed before a performance or competition. For instance, there was a pool table in the Sydney Opera House green room, so before the final, I had a couple of games to relax.
What are your best memories from Genée?
Dancing on the Sydney Opera House stage was amazing. It's such a big theatre and I'll always remember looking out from the stage and seeing all of the red seats staring back at me!
So what's next for Hamish Scott?
I graduate from Elmhurst Ballet School in July 2017. This year I will be auditioning for companies around the world in the hope to achieve my dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. I have always wanted to dance one of the three seminarians from David Bintley's Carmina Burana.