Mia Zanardo

The last time the RAD’s Genée competition (now the The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition) was held in-person, in 2019, Australia’s Mia Zanardo took a gold medal. What does she remember of that golden evening – and how has she stayed motivated through the pandemic?

Dance Gazette | RAD Q&A | Issue 2 – Oct 2021

What are your memories of the Genée final?

My strongest memory is feeling an overwhelming privilege to be dancing in such a beautiful theatre in front of Monica Mason, Karen Kain, Magdalena Popa and Mikko Nissinen. The Four Seasons Centre in Toronto is breathtaking and the first time I walked on stage to rehearse, I had goosebumps. I savoured every minute I was in that theatre. I was so thrilled to have made the final and hadn’t given a thought to being a medal winner. I was having the best time and winning the gold was the highlight of my life.

How did you deal with the pressures of the competition?

I was very nervous being in a different country, in a prestigious competition, boarding, meeting talented dancers from all over the world, and my ballet teacher Hilary Kaplan couldn’t accompany me. However, she did call every day to give advice which kept me calm and grounded. I tried to work hard in class and take on all the corrections from the tutors – it was very busy. As the competition progressed, it became easier to deal with the pressure because all the other competitors were so lovely and the teachers, the RAD staff, the chaperones were all so supportive. Gioconda Barbuto, the commissioned choreographer, inspired us to be part of the creative process so we were all motivated to grow as dancers and perform our best.

When did you decide that dance was the path you wanted to follow?

I have always loved dance and can’t imagine any other career path. I do actually have a vivid memory of watching the Genée final at the Sydney Opera House in 2016 and knew I wanted to be in it as soon as I could. I love learning new choreography and was very privileged to have Adrian Burnett, an international choreographer, create my Dancer’s Own solo.

Soon after the Genée, the world went into lockdown. Could you keep dancing during that time?

After the Genée, I was fortunate enough to spend time in international schools in Canada, Germany and England. Unfortunately, my trip was cut short due to Covid and I had to return home. In lockdown, I trained for my Solo Seal at home by Zoom and soon after returning to the studio, I filmed my performance. I was honoured to be awarded my Solo Seal – this was another dream come true, to complete all my RAD exams. To keep motivated during lockdowns, I try to maintain a routine of getting up at the same time, doing class, stretching and enjoy watching ballet videos, as well as trying new things like painting. I was also lucky to do some performances, both virtual and onstage, plus a short film.

What are your hopes for the future when things open up?

Unfortunately, in Sydney, we are currently in our hardest lockdown yet, but I am looking forward to finishing my pre-professional training next year and hopefully then auditioning for a company. Covid has presented some challenges, but my commitment and determination to fulfil my dream remains unwavering.


Advice Bureau post

Didy Veldman

Dance Gazette

Read more

REST OF Issue 2 – Oct 2021


Paint job

From chalk and lard to gold leaf and mascara: Vera Rule reveals the hidden history of ballet make-up.

Inside RAD post

Fonteyn 2021

We report from the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition, held entirely online for the very first time.

Why Dance Matters post

Yami ‘Rowdy’ Lofvenberg

Her school teachers called her stupid, but the hip-hop choreographer and teacher has found a defiant voice through dance. She explains the importance of being rowdy.


Paint job

From chalk and lard to gold leaf and mascara: Vera Rule reveals the hidden history of ballet make-up.

Advice Bureau post

Didy Veldman

The Dutch choreographer shares her best advice: chase your dreams!

Playlist post

Drew McOnie

The choreographer and director is creating a new ballet about the young Merlin. Is his playlist magical too?

Big Picture post

Feel it

The international winning entries from this year’s RAD members’ photo competition. The theme? ‘Dance makes me feel…’


Picture this

As the RAD launches a portrait competition for its new London headquarters, Sarah Crompton asks leading portrait artists how they capture a personality in paint.


Living doll

The RAD’s new portrait competition celebrates its first President, Adeline Genée. But who was she – and how did she rise from the music hall to the peak of British ballet? Carol Martin reveals the woman behind the porcelain princess.


Founding father

The French painter Poussin is often called the father of classicism. He was also fascinated by dance – so Rosemary Waugh asks a choreographer and a curator to delve into his paintings.


Shake it up

As calls for racial equity in dance teaching grow, Isaac Ouro-Gnao asks what tangible action looks like and explores how to bring about change.


Walk tall

A migrant child crossed Europe this summer. What makes Amal unusual is that she is an 11-foot puppet who draws crowds wherever she goes. She began her journey in Turkey, where Altuğ Akin sees her welcomed by Izmir’s folk dancers.