The fourth annual Emerging Dancer Award was a spectacular showcase for English National Ballet’s rising stars. The evening included performances from six members of the company, as well as a magnificent interlude from previous winners Yonah Acosta and Shiori Kase. Prizes on offer were Emerging Dancer and the People’s Choice, voted for by the public. The renowned judging panel included Darcey Bussel CBE, Tommy Franzen, Luke Jennings, Jude Kelly and English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo.

The show began with an introduction from the two founding BalletBoyz, William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, followed by the dancers performing a pas de deux and their solo pieces. Nancy Osbaldeston and Ken Saruhashi began with an extract from Don Quixote, with music by Ludwig Minkus. They danced with confidence and precision as they moved together across the stage. Saruhashi supported his partner well and showed his agility during a sequence of turning leaps. Osbaldeston exuded an air of regalness as she bouréed on stage, and one could not help but be in awe of her skilful movements as she performed a grand jeté while playfully flicking a fan.

The audience was then transported to a romantic scene with Alison McWhinney and Nathan Young’s Giselle. McWhinney’s dress fluttered as she glided elegantly from one glissade to another, plumes of taffeta rising as she did so. Her slow and delicate arm movements added to the lilting atmosphere. A memorable image was Young spinning McWhinney round with ease as her body and arms hung like a rag doll and her leg was extended in the air.

In her introductory video, performer Laurretta Summerscales spoke of the challenges faced in dancing the famous Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake, but Summerscales and Guilherme Menezes did not disappoint. They maintained the theatricality of the dance throughout, while the swan was lifted into a straddle split leap. The pas de deux was finished with a flawless fouetté en tournant: a series of pirouettes from both dancers that earned them rapturous applause.

The solos gave the performers a chance to really show off their dancing ability, as well as their character. Ken Saruhashi’s version of Patrice Bart’s Verdiana was fast and lively, Nathan Young’s Napoli (choreographed by August Bournonville) energetic and powerful. Menezes showed a humorous, lighthearted side with A Simple Joy (Nicky Ellis) that brought in elements of contemporary dance. Summerscales performed a sultry yet playful solo, while Osbaldeston had fun with John Neumeier’s Bach Suite no. 2, bringing a smile to my face. McWhinney showed herself a true dancer, combining strength and grace in Victor Gsovsky’s Grand Pas Classique.

As the judges deliberated, we were treated to the Diana and Acteon pas de deux by former winners Yonah Acosta and Shiori Kase. After a mesmerising few minutes, one could be in no doubt as to why the two dancers had won acclaim. A stand-out moment has to be Yonah Acosta’s awe-inspiring “540” leap (a variation of a barrel turn).

Nancy Osbaldeston went home with the 2013 Emerging Dancer Award and Laurretta Summerscales took the People’s Choice Award. The audience left assured that English National Ballet were fostering dancers that would fill at least a decade more of Emerging Dancer finals.