The competition searching for the best of young British dance talent continues, with the spotlight firmly on contemporary dance. Anita Rani presents.
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The line-up for the Grand Final of BBC Young Dancer 2017
is almost complete.
In week one, Jodelle Douglas dazzled with his individual technique,
to take the street dance title.
He was joined by Rhys Antoni Yeomans
from the English National Ballet School, who won the Ballet Final.
And last week we saw Kathak dancer Shyam Dattani
triumph in the South Asian category.
Tonight it's the turn of contemporary dance.
Five finalists compete for the category title
and the chance to perform on this world-famous stage at Sadler's Wells,
when the competition reaches its finale next Saturday.
Also at the end of the programme,
we'll find out who's been chosen as this year's wild card
from across all four categories.
Two years ago, contemporary dancer Connor Scott
was the selected wild card, and he went on to win the entire thing -
and was crowned the first ever BBC Young Dancer.
The search for the BBC Young Dancer 2017 began last year,
when dancers aged 16-21 entered in the competition's four categories.
After a round of auditions,
15 of the country's best young contemporary dancers were invited
to DanceEast in Ipswich for round two.
MUSIC: Something Just Like This By The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
They had to impress a panel of judges,
all prominent figures in the world of contemporary dance.
Laura Jones, choreographer and dancer with Stopgap Dance.
We were looking for maturity of movement
and a knowledge of their body.
Whether they were able to show different things,
different moods, different qualities of movement.
Fleur Darkin, artistic director of Scottish Dance Theatre.
For me it was really how much emotional commitment
they could make.
And ultimately it's the ability to be able to move the audience.
And Caroline Finn, artistic director of National Dance Company Wales.
There was a lot of freshness, which was great.
And there were some pieces that really moved me emotionally
and gave me a real visceral reaction.
With five places in the category final at stake,
each dancer performed two solos.
The five dancers that we've now chosen to go through
will make a really exciting evening.
There's quite a variety of dancers, so hopefully it will show
a good cross-section of contemporary dance.
I don't envy the jury members for the next rounds at all.
It's going to be a really hard decision.
The finalists are...
21-year-old Nora Monsecour.
She's from Ghent in Belgium, and currently studying at
the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.
Dance is just my passion.
It's communication I adore so much.
Every time I feel the need to let it all out,
I just dance, and then...
It sounds very cheesy, but it's actually like that!
Jacob Lang is 20 and in his second year
at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London.
I've never done a competition before,
so the only thing I know is about performance.
So I'm just going to take what I've done in rehearsal and just perform.
And that's all I... All I can do, really.
18-year-old John-William Watson has recently moved from his hometown
of Leeds to study in Belgium at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp.
For me, dance is about sharing.
I come to share something with the audience,
the audience share something likewise with me as a dancer.
So I view it as that, as opposed to...a show.
Nafisah Baba is a member of Chrysalis -
a postgraduate dance company based in London.
She's 20 years old.
If I'm honest, I'm very nervous.
But as soon as I get into the movement and I see the
audience watching, I'm sort of like, this is what I'm...
This is what I want to do.
And Joshua Attwood, who's 19.
He is currently in his second year of training
at the London Contemporary Dance School.
Something I really enjoy about dance is the opportunity
to collaborate and meet new people.
I'm so happy that I'm doing it now, so that's great.
All of tonight's finalists are working towards careers
in one of the most diverse forms of dance - contemporary.
There's no rules with contemporary dance, really.
It's a very free medium.
It encompasses so many different styles.
Just the nature of contemporary dance means that
nothing is ruled out.
It's a dance form where change is part of its nature.
And I think that's what makes it so interesting.
Contemporary dance is about,
for me, being relevant to who we are, and the world that we live in.
And it gives us that platform to sort of present work that can be
challenging, and challenging's good.
As well as performing,
many contemporary dancers also choreograph their own material.
In this final, all five dancers are presenting work
they've choreographed themselves.
You can't help but be impressed by a dancer who is creating
their own choreography as well.
It's like the singer-songwriter, isn't it? You sort of...
It's somehow more personal to them and you appreciate it
that little bit more.
With the opportunity to showcase all their skills,
tonight's final could be a launchpad for a career in dance.
It's quite incredible that this is happening.
And I think if they can realise the opportunity that this can provide
for them, they'll definitely take this as the next stepping stone.
It's early January, and to prepare for their appearance
in the Contemporary Final, the finalists are invited
to a workshop at the Riverfront in Newport.
It's their first meeting with the mentors who'll support them
through the competition.
They know how you dance, so give them something else.
Sade Alleyne is a dancer, teacher and choreographer
who's trained in many different styles of dance.
You've done the hard work already.
-Work hard now. When you're on stage, you enjoy it.
Choreographer and dancer Miguel Altunaga
joined dance company Rambert in 2007, after six years with
the National Contemporary Dance Company of Cuba.
You are humans. We're all humans. We always want to feel the nerves.
But it's how we use it.
You always give yourself a boundary.
That's something normal, everyone does that.
So my job is to hopefully push the boundary a bit further up,
where they can go on stage and be fearless.
'The guys have been through so many moments, like they've been going through right now.
'I can give them a different way of performing,'
and also approaching to the performance.
First to work with Miguel is Nora.
MUSIC: Midnight by Lianne La Havas
I really wanted to be a bit more comfortable in the way I should perform the solos,
and I think Miguel really helped with that, and he really made sure that I found a balance
between really dancing, but also finding relaxing moments,
and finding detail in what I was doing.
Uh, uh... Yeah? Little bit more space in between...the sequence.
I was emphasising in little moments whether she can actually trust
the stillness and do nothing.
Because she's constantly moving on stage.
And then she was kind of taking for granted these little moments,
very important, and very...touchy and...emotional.
Jacob is being mentored by Sade,
and she's keen to draw out the different qualities in his choreography.
There you go.
And also, just for that one, make your hands stronger.
'For him, it's clarity.
'He's really strong, but he can be extremely soft.'
And for me it was to really...separate those two.
So the audience can appreciate both qualities while he's dancing.
Go, go, go...back!
Sade was mainly getting me to really push every movement
and think about every part of the body, right from the fingers,
and, you know, making sure that I really articulate from every part
of my back and head, using my head a lot more.
With John-William, Miguel focuses on the way he uses the space on stage.
I wanted to enhance a little bit more his execution
by asking him to make the movement a little bit larger,
and also, you know, expand himself,
to the point that he looks almost, like, massive onstage.
And really, really open. Yeah!
We've been really focusing and working on making the movement
more expansive, and trying to make every single movement as big
and as full as it could possibly be to really push the boundaries
of what the choreography can go to,
and where my performance can push to as well.
Nafisah is working with Sade,
who focuses on improving her connection with the audience.
With Nafisah, I wanted to work on the power that you can look at the audience,
whether it's actually looking out, or just scanning across,
looking far into the wind, or close up.
If you focus on certain bits, you're already connecting to the audience.
It changes everything.
I get a lot about eye focus,
but it was different to be told what to focus on.
So rather than glaze my eyes around, you know, just look in a direction,
to look at something, and to make eye connection with it.
So I'm not just glazing over.
I see, like, the fire exit.
I see the person in the front of the audience.
With Josh, Miguel spends time looking at the motivation
behind the movement.
Yeah, yeah. Yes.
'With him I was working very much on how to make the execution
'really clean and clear.'
The movement has to be very well executed.
Otherwise it all could become a little bit blurry.
And shum, shum, shum, shum! Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam!
That's cool, that's cool.
He questioned, like, "Oh, so, why are you doing this?"
And then I'd be like, "Oh, actually, I don't know why I'm doing it."
"I'm just doing it for choreography's sake."
And then he kind of changed my way of thinking.
But then it also gives me things to work on now I have time
in between now and the actual category final.
Nice, that's cool.
With just over a week to go until the Contemporary Final,
the dancers return home to work on the notes given by their mentors.
Preparations have been coming on very well.
It's been getting exciting, more and more every day now.
And every little rehearsal I do,
little tweaks to the solos or the duet,
it just really builds that feeling of excitement.
I think it's about getting the movement down,
so that you don't need to think about it so much.
But being able to experience the music each time that you do it.
I'm feeling quite anxious because I kind of feel a little underprepared.
But it's, like, how can I spin that to be positive?
I've rehearsed a lot, especially with the mentoring.
I made sure that all the notes that the mentor gave me were applied,
and that I did the adjustments I need to make.
I've been going to the studio quite a lot
and just doing my solos back-to-back.
Trying to dance tired.
Because one of the tips my mentor said was to learn
how to dance tired, and to push through it.
So trying to do that,
but also not trying to injure myself at the same time.
It's the end of January, and the day of the Contemporary Final.
With just a few hours to go,
all five dancers have the final rehearsals on stage at the Lowry
in Salford, under the watchful eye of mentors Sade and Miguel.
They're all looking really beautiful and ready to go.
So I'm looking forward to how they're going to
take it to the next level.
I'm really excited to see how they deal with nerves.
Will they crumble?
All of five of them are natural performers.
So I'm very sure they're going to go at it
and hopefully leave with no regrets.
Being in the last five is really exciting.
It's just, we're all so different and we're all giving different tastes.
And I hope for other dancers that we can just show that individuality.
I'm just excited.
I'm nervous, I can feel it building up.
But I think that's a good thing.
That's part of why I perform and why I enjoy performing.
Being down to the last five is a huge honour,
to have where I am and my dance training kind of recognised.
It's quite a humbling feeling that I'm one of the people
that have been chosen to share the work that I've been creating
and the sort of style and the way I dance.
I keep swapping between being nervous and excited.
So one minute I sort of want to cry because I'm so nervous,
then the next minute I'm like, "Actually, no, I'm really looking forward to it."
For the winner, a guaranteed place in next Saturday's Grand Final
at Sadler's Wells awaits.
First they must perform two solos and a duet
in front of a panel of leading dance experts.
Chair for all these category finals, Shobana Jeyasingh,
who's a critically acclaimed choreographer
and the artistic director of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance.
I think the standout candidate always has to have
an element of sparkle.
You need to be a super performer.
And communicate yourself as an artist.
Mark Bruce is an award-winning dancer and choreographer
and the artistic director of the Mark Bruce Company.
It's something you feel when you see people.
It's a kind of magic that we're all looking for,
and that can be a combination of so many different things.
Just the way they do a subtle accent,
or just the way they phrase something.
And completing the line-up, artistic director of
Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre, Sharon Watson.
I'm looking for a lot of variety.
Contemporary has very little boundaries in that area.
When you see that come together,
it's the skill of knitting that, so that it becomes one piece of fabric.
It's a big job, but I think, they've got this far,
they'll be able to achieve that.
First to perform in this BBC Young Dancer Contemporary Final
is 21-year-old Nora Monsecour.
Nora is from Ghent, in Belgium.
She started taking ballet lessons when she was four,
and at nine was studying full-time at ballet school,
where she was first introduced to the freedom of contemporary dance.
It's such a creative way to express myself.
So I started taking a class in that as well,
and then I shifted from ballet school to contemporary school,
and from there, like, a whole new world opened.
Her search for further training brought Nora to the UK,
and she's now in her second year at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.
I never expected myself going to study in England,
but I came here and I just loved the atmosphere,
the building, the people.
There's something magical about it.
Since starting at the school,
Nora has been developing her choreography skills,
and she'll perform two new solos in this final.
In the lead-up, she works on them with teacher Francesca McCarthy.
It's always useful to have feedback, so I asked her a couple of times
to come in and just give me feedback on what I could do differently.
-How does that feel?
It's challenging, but it'll be fine.
We like challenging, though. Well, you like challenging.
I like watching challenging.
'She's kind of like your ideal student. You know, she's humble
'and she's open to everything. She's really curious.'
She wants to kind of know and learn and she's just like a sponge.
If I have three weeks or even summer without dancing
I just get very nervous and stressed up.
So it's really something that I have the urge to dance
in order to fully let everything go that's inside myself.
When I'm in the wings, I usually just think of...being grounded,
being down to earth. Breathe.
And then I go on stage and then I just perform.
To open this Contemporary Final,
Nora is going to perform one of her self-choreographed pieces
inspired by a song from one of her favourite artists, Lianne La Havas.
MUSIC: Midnight by Lianne La Havas
Nora Monsecour getting this BBC Young Dancer
Contemporary Final underway.
In her duet, Nora was partnered by Cameron Stamper.
To end her programme,
she performs a piece based on her experiences growing up in Belgium.
It's quite nostalgic.
It's about recollecting memories from before, with family,
with friends, but also how I was a child and how I am now.
It's kind of a journey through memories that I wanted to portray.
MUSIC: Ian by Tom Rosenthal
the first of our BBC Young Dancer Contemporary Finalists.
I think what I notice about Nora
is her lovely long lines.
She's blessed with really long limbs
and I think she really put them to good use,
especially her first solo.
I thought it had a very direct
Nora was incredibly graceful.
I think she has a real skill of articulating
a really sophisticated lower half of her body with
a very kind of contrasted movement
to her upper body.
And I thought she delivered that
incredibly well this evening.
I'm really happy.
I'm not going to lie, I was really scared and really stressed,
but it went all fine, I think.
Like, of course, there are little mistakes, but it doesn't matter.
Like, what our mentor said earlier,
you should embrace your mistakes and your flaws within it.
And I tried to do that, so I'm really excited.
I'm still quite nervous
and the adrenaline is, like, kicking in, but... Yeah.
Next to perform, 20-year-old Jacob Lang from London.
Jacob is in his second year of training
at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance.
After taking ballet lessons from the age of three,
he was introduced to a new style of dance when he was still only seven.
I didn't see it as contemporary, it was just a class that I went to.
And it was just very open and very,
"I can do what I want here. I can move how I want to move.
"I can experiment with different movement types."
You know, at that age, I think it's less logical.
It's less like, "Oh, I'm doing this because this."
It's just, "I love this, I'm going to do it!"
Also studying at Rambert
is the winner of the first BBC Young Dancer competition,
Connor Scott, who's been giving Jacob a few pointers.
Connor's a really cool guy and he's been helping me out
a little bit as well, just sort of saying, "Go for it,
"don't get shy or anything," because I have a tendency to do that.
It's a great feeling, you know, to have one of your friends
embark on the same journey that you've kind of been on.
All I can do is be here for him and, you know, just root for him.
I'll be there, like, do you know what I mean, cheering him on.
For his appearance in BBC Young Dancer,
Jacob has taken on a new challenge, to choreograph his own solos.
Also, what if there's a bit more spiral on this one?
So it's this way, spiral and then it stays where it is.
Jacob's made this incredible solo on himself,
which is very personal to him, I think, and the way he moves.
I've been working with him to add a little bit of sharpness to places
or just adding little bits of line here and there.
And basically just shaping it a little bit more.
I've never choreographed a solo in that sense or anything like that,
so I was interested to try that out.
I thought, "This is a great testing ground."
I think, when I'm performing,
it's a sense of I'm speaking and I'm being listened to,
so there's an audience, you know, a whole room full of people
and they're all listening and I can give what I want to give.
To begin his performance in this final,
Jacob is performing a piece he's titled
Frank A Einstein.
It was based on artificial intelligence,
and I think the character is almost alive but not quite.
And I think the character has a conflict going on
and I think its experience of being is quite painful.
MUSIC: This Bitter Earth by Dinah Washington
For his duet, Jacob was joined by Tania Dimbelolo
in a piece called Endeared Strokes.
MUSIC: Que Je Sois Un Ange by Nana Mouskouri
To end his programme, Jacob has created a piece called Labyrinth.
It's quite a different
style of movement.
It's a lot bigger, punchier,
and it's just based on
a kind of landscape, a kind of place
where the air is thick.
And I placed a creature in there.
What kind of creature lives in that environment?
And I choreographed from that basis.
MUSIC: Into the Labyrinth by Kraddy
Jacob's a swift mover.
He's very pliable, and has a lovely
feeling of using the floor.
It's a lovely quality to see.
He has an incredibly powerful
way of moving.
He really kind of got over
an image of this robotic entity.
Yeah, I feel that went well.
I felt invigorated onstage and that's why I perform.
And so, yeah, I'm good.
If you'd like to see tonight's performances in full,
you can find them on our website...
Still to come,
20-year-old Nafisah Baba,
and Joshua Attwood, who's 19.
But first, it's 18-year-old John-William Watson.
John-William has been dancing since he was 11.
After trying a few styles,
he decided that contemporary dance was his future.
His training has now taken him from his hometown of Leeds
to Antwerp in Belgium.
I moved to Antwerp last September. And being 18, it was a big move.
It's the first time I'd moved out of my house,
let alone moved country or gone abroad by myself.
And now, looking back,
it's so strange because I feel so at home here.
Now at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, John-William was attracted
by the style of contemporary training on offer.
I heard of this school through artists I worked with within
the National Youth Dance Company and something really inspired me
by the style of movement that was taught here.
Four, five, six and one, two, three, four.
It's as much as an art form, an artistic practice,
as it is an athletic one.
As well as conditioning our minds and our creativity,
we condition our bodies also.
It's a lot of hard work, it's a lot of grind.
It's just so incredibly physical.
It does have, like, a sport element to it and their bodies have to be
so resilient to this.
It's just a wonderful thing,
when you're moving in a space with other people that are
as passionate about the art form as you are, and are as driven.
And it's that real passion that stirs up inside when I dance,
whether it be myself,
with one person or with a whole class of people.
It's an incredible experience
and one that's very hard to put into words, I think.
It's a really special feeling, being able to work on something
in a studio and really put your heart and soul into it,
and then be able to share it with people,
you know, whether it be friends, family, strangers.
It's a nice experience.
John-William's first solo is performed to
Max Richter's recomposed version of Vivaldi's Winter.
It really sort of is about
the vulnerability and exposure
that comes at putting myself out to the world
and meeting new people, experiencing different things,
auditioning for schools, for example.
It's really sort of a labour of love, I think.
It's very personal to me, this solo.
For his second solo,
John-William has created a piece called If Not Now Then When?
MUSIC: If I Didn't Care by The Ink Spots
I really sort of explored
the feeling of nostalgia and the two
things that come with that.
The reminiscing and the lovely feeling,
but also the feeling of sort of loss and sadness that can come with
being nostalgic about things
or people that you don't have any more.
For his duet, John-William is joined by Beth Emmerson,
a friend from back home in Leeds.
I wanted to explore the idea of
proximity and closeness,
whether that be emotional
or geographical and the sort of tension that comes between
stretching that distance and that closeness.
MUSIC: Ne Me Quitte Pas by Nina Simone
I really enjoyed his duet.
He uses gesture a lot, which I found really interesting, and I think,
you know, it takes a particular kind of imagination to deploy
gesture to such an extent as he did.
He's a storyteller.
So, in order to do that, you have to really connect with an
audience in a way that is
a little bit further than just the physicality.
It's about getting into the mind and I think he took us there.
Overall, I feel happy. It's been a great process.
A lot of build-up, you know, a lot of blood, sweat, tears.
But yeah, it's really nice that it's over now,
so I'm just excited now and whatever happens, happens, you know?
Next is 20-year-old Nafisah Baba from London.
Nafisah started dancing when she was very little,
inspired by some colourful television characters.
I used to watch the Teletubbies when I was about three,
like one-year-old, two, three, so I started...
I think there was an episode when there was
a little girl tap-dancing and my mum saw me doing the movements,
so, I think, from there,
she was like, "Oh, wow, I'll take you to your first ballet class."
After graduating with a national diploma in professional dance,
she is now with Chrysalis London.
A company that helps contemporary dancers who have completed
their training prepare for a career in the industry.
The biggest thing is my confidence because, for me,
my eye line was just here, like, I never looked up
and Jodie has just...
He's brought out, like, a completely different person.
I've got a lot of work to do but, I feel
now I'm starting to develop as an artist.
Control. Down, down, up, up, drop.
'When she was training, she had such low confidence.'
When she was speaking to you,
she was stuttering and I just wanted to relax her and just by
giving her some confidence, she's just flown over the last two years.
The improvement is incredible.
The athleticism behind her jumps and her floor work and attack,
and Nafisah brings that strength but also with control,
and you just can't keep your eyes off her when she's onstage.
Nafisah's confidence may have grown since joining Chrysalis
but stepping out onto the stage remains a challenge.
It's about a minute before the performance and I'm thinking,
"Is it too late to do a runner?" But once I get onstage and...
Seeing the audience and knowing they're there for a reason,
you know, they're not there because they don't want to be,
and for me, it's coming offstage, you have that feeling of...
That adrenaline rush. It's like, "I want to do it again."
I'm excited but also nervous to share my piece with the audience.
The judges especially, but also my friends, family.
They said they were going to bring a banner, so I'm sort of hoping
they leave that outside the theatre.
Nafisah's first solo is called Inescapable.
In it, she reflects on a difficult choice she had to
make when she was younger - to play netball or to become a dancer.
It was quite a difficult decision and I chose dance so,
you see me sort of with an invisible ball.
I'm showing the quick, strong focus that you need
in netball but also forcing myself into first position and being
torn between which one to do.
CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS
For her duet, Nafisah is joined by
fellow dancer from Chrysalis London - Lois Wong.
CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS
MUSIC: Clown by Emeli Sande
Nafisah's second solo is to a song by one of her favourite artists.
It's called Clown.
I just really love the track by Emeli Sande and I just wanted to do
a beautiful dance and replicate that movement to the song, to show
what I can do.
She had the courage at the beginning to just be incredibly still
because, often, when you're dancing,
you want to move fast because you want to impress the audience
with your technique and your speed, but I think it takes
a particular kind of dancer to actually not do that.
To have stillness and know that you are still engaged is unbelievable.
That's a quality that I think takes a lot of professionals a long
time to capture.
I was freaking out a little bit but it went
so much better than I expected, and, just at the end,
seeing the audience and just looking around and being like, "Wow."
Being in this theatre and just being watched, it's amazing.
Bringing this BBC Young Dancer Contemporary Final to a close,
Joshua Attwood from Nottingham.
19-year-old Josh is a second-year student at
London Contemporary Dance School.
I first got into dancing through primary school.
Me and my mum would just go to the odd evening class - like salsa -
and it was just really nice to spend some time with my mum.
It was also, like, validation that it was OK to do what I want to
do in the future.
Josh is keen to develop his own choreography and has created
all three pieces for this competition, taking
inspiration from his recent travels.
This I like, this is nice, yeah.
In the summer,
he went for a workshop in Israel and worked with the choreographer of
the company where I danced before and so this solo
is based on material from some repertoire that he learnt.
It's only based on it but he's taken some of the characteristics.
Yeah, so no rebound, Josh. Not this way, but...
The tuck is coming in the pelvis.
He is very striking in his long limbs and
his clarity but you can work with it,
so he has a very strong sense of self but he still is
malleable and you want to be someone who can be like a material,
you're malleable as a dancer,
because that can give you many opportunities.
I really like being sassy and I just kind of have this drive to
challenge what people know as contemporary dance.
They might have other ideas about what contemporary dance is,
and then, maybe, I can shift it a little, be a little bit sassy,
a little bit cheeky, like, "It's just a bit of fun, we all love dancing."
Josh has choreographed his first piece
to Rockaway Beach by the Ramones.
He has titled it 169 Bar.
This piece is kind of me just having fun in kind of like
a bar or club setting.
That's kind of all I want to say because I think it kind of
speaks for itself when you see it.
MUSIC: Rockaway Beach by the Ramones
Josh's second solo is another self-choreographed piece,
called Not Too Much.
ELECTRONIC MUSIC PLAYS
For his duet, We Won't Be Us,
Josh is joined by his friend Donna Ashery.
We had just hooked into this idea that we need to show that we
have a great connection with each other,
even if we are not, like, staring at each other and creating this
intense kind of intention that we can be connected.
UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS
Joshua is a genuinely interesting performer.
He uses dance to be witty, to be humorous, and within his pieces,
he made some really interesting choreographic decisions.
Joshua is definitely on a trip about something and I think he's
discovering what it is and I think that he's finding
a way to express that and that's really good to see.
I feel I managed to show some artistry as well as, like,
technique and personality and, yeah, it's just great.
Josh Attwood bringing this BBC Young Dancer Contemporary Final
to a close.
You can see all the performances in full on our website...
Before the result,
some thoughts from the judges on tonight's finalists.
I thought the standard was incredibly high
and a lot of the dancers actually did their own choreography.
I thought they all made interesting choices, and each
one of them was a joy to watch.
There is so much going on in contemporary dance because
everyone is exploring all kinds of things and I think they're
really on a good journey and I think that that journey never stops.
It's encouraging for me as an artistic director to be in this
environment and to see the talent that's coming through.
To announce the winner, Sharon Watson.
I have to say, before I actually announce the winner,
that this is an absolute wonderful opportunity that we've been provided
to see all these dancers delivering such incredible work
and I hope it continues.
And now, the winner of
the BBC Young Dancer 2017 Contemporary Category is...
Nafisah's presentation was really quite breathtaking.
I think what she was able to do was to show a range of her talent.
She had a very, very good stage presence. You had to look at her.
It was the maturity, the moments of stillness, the strength
in the legs and that she really dropped her weight into the floor.
I think she is quite an exceptional performer and
has an incredibly bright future.
I sort of stalled. I just sort of looked at the floor and then, I think,
someone gave me a nudge as in, like, "That's you."
And I was like, "Oh, my gosh, it is me." I couldn't believe it.
Yeah, I just couldn't believe it.
Congratulations to Nafisah Baba,
winner of the 2017 Contemporary Final.
And some good news for another of tonight's dancers,
He goes through to the Grand Final as the wild card selected
from across all four categories. Congratulations to him.
They will both be joining the winners of all the other
categories, Street, Ballet and South Asian Dance,
for the Grand Final of BBC Young Dancer 2017.
This magnificent stage here at Sadler's Wells awaits them.
I'll be here, together with my co-host for the evening,
reigning Strictly Come Dancing champion Ore Oduba
and ballet legend, the wonderful Darcey Bussell.
Do join us next Saturday from eight o'clock on BBC Two.
It promises to be quite a night. I'll see you then.
I think it will be brilliant for these young dancers to dance
on Sadler's Wells. What an iconic stage it is, the history of it.
The showcase element of it for these dancers is amazing.
It's a huge buzz just to step onto a stage,
you know, hundreds of thousands of people watching this on television.
I think, mostly, I'm looking for a dancer that feels like they're free.
If someone has the talent, it shines through whatever form they take.
In the end, I think it's going to be that person that
really just smashes it on the night.
With the grand final of BBC Young Dancer just a week away, Anita Rani presents the last of the category finals, with the spotlight firmly on contemporary dance. Connor Scott, the first ever winner of this biennial competition, won through this category two years ago as a wildcard and the line-up promises to be just as strong this year.
BBC Young Dancer is for dancers aged 16-21 across four categories - ballet, contemporary, street dance and South Asian dance. In this contemporary final we follow five dancers as they progress through the competition with highlights of their performances at The Lowry, Salford, in front of a judging panel boasting three of the country's top dance experts: Sharon Watson, artistic director of Leeds-based Phoenix Dance; Mark Bruce, award-winning dancer and choreographer and artistic director of the Mark Bruce Company; and judging across all four BBC Young Dancer categories, the critically acclaimed choreographer and dance producer, Shobana Jeyasingh.
For one dancer a guaranteed place in the final at Sadler's Wells awaits. And at the end of the programme the name of the wildcard or wildcards who will join the four category winners in the series finale will also be announced.
Finalists are: Nora Monsecour, Jacob Lang, John-William Watson, Nafisah Baba and Joshua Attwood.