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Teenager specialising in Indian dance claims BBC Young Dancer award

Adhya Shastry competes for the BBC Young Dancer award (BBC/PA)
Adhya Shastry competes for the BBC Young Dancer award (BBC/PA)

A 17-year-old from Reading specialising in classical Indian dance has been crowned the winner of the BBC Young Dancer award.

Adhya Shastry impressed the judges with her take on Bharatanatyam, a style originating in the south of the country that is considered to be one of its oldest traditional forms.

The final saw Shastry, who started dancing Bharatanatyam aged nine, fend off competition from nine other dancers between the ages of 17 and 24 at London’s Roundhouse venue.

Artistic director Emma Gladstone and host Clara Amfo (BBC/PA)

As well as her traditional training, the young performer has also trained in contemporary and ballet at The Place CAT scheme since 2019 and is a member of the 2021-22 National Youth Dance Company.

Shastry, who is also studying for her A Levels, said: “I am honoured to have won BBC Young Dancer 2022. I have learnt so much from (artistic director) Emma Gladstone and the choreographers and mentors, and I now have a better understanding of who I am, what I stand for and how I like to dance.

“I now want to be more involved and immersed in the creative world – I feel like it’s only just the beginning and there are endless possibilities and things I want to learn and do!

“Also, through this experience I have met the most incredible dancers who have become friends and have inspired and pushed me to be a better version of myself; people who have really shaped me into the person and dancer that I am today, so there truly has been a domino effect on my life because of the BBC.”

Adhya Shastry with the other finalists (BBC/PA)

The final, which aired on BBC Two on Saturday night, also featured a performance from 2019 winner Max Revell, who is currently dancing for the Akram Khan Company in its new production, Jungle Book Reimagined.

The dancers performed solos and premiered duets and trios choreographed by Kristina and Sade Alleyne, Gianna Gi, Dickson Mbi, and Seeta Patel, as well as a group performance created by dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Ivan Blackstock.

Presented by Clara Amfo, the main prize was judged by an independent panel of figures from the UK dance industry.

Artistic director Emma Gladstone said: “Our goal for BBC Young Dancer this year was to open creative doors for the dancers, and support their artistic growth. It has been joyous to see how they stepped through those doors with such ownership.

“Adhya Shastry was noticeable from the start for her commanding presence on stage, as well as her versatility across different styles.

“As the judges all commented, she is mesmerising to watch, and a most worthy winner.”

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