Prix de Lausanne 46th International Ballet Competition

Théâtre de Beaulieu, Lausanne

Shale Wagman in Don Quixote Credit: Gregory Batardon
Hanna Park in La Bayadère Credit: Gregory Batardon
Backstage at Prix de Lausanne Credit: Gregory Batardon

Each year since 1973, Switzerland’s fourth largest city, Lausanne, also the Olympic Capital, emerges as the Cannes of the ballet world.

The international ballet competition "open to young dancers of all nationalities aged 14 to 19 who are not yet professionals" gives candidates the chance to win a one-year scholarship or apprenticeship (for those aged 17 and above) to one of 72 schools and companies associated with the competition.

Before a sold-out audience and live streamed to viewers across the globe, the finals of the 46th edition returns to the Théâtre de Beaulieu, with two added features for 2018: lowering the entry age, from 15 to 14.6 years (to reflect schools taking students at fifteen) and the launch of the Choreographic Project.

380 candidates (297 girls and 83 boys) from 38 different countries applied to the video selection round and 69 were chosen, along with nine pre-selected candidates from the Youth America Grand Prix 2017 in New York, International Ballet and Choreography Competition 2017 in Beijing and the official South American Pre-Selection in Montevideo, Uruguay—totalling 78. 74 of these candidates from sixteen different countries finally arrived in Lausanne to compete in the four days of classes and coaching of their chosen classical and contemporary solos, all scrupulously observed by a nine-strong jury, presided by Ted Brandsen, Artistic Director of Dutch National Ballet.

Over the course of the week, the jury evaluated each candidate’s potential by considering their "artistry, physical suitability, courage and individuality, imaginative and sensitive response to music, clear grasp in communicating differing movement dynamics, technical facility, control and coordination".

On the fifth day, 21 candidates were chosen to compete in the finals and those not selected invited to the Networking Forum for a chance to be selected by representatives of the partner schools and companies. As the panel deliberated during the interlude, fifty partner school students came together for the world première of 1994 Prize Winner and Principal Choreographer at Staatstheater Nürnberg Ballett, Goyo Montero’s rippling genesis Pulse, the first ever Choreographic Project, created in just eight days. The audience also enjoyed The Mariinsky Theatre’s Principal Xander Parish and First Soloist Kristina Shapran in Balanchine’s expressive and elegant Diamonds pas de deux.

The first of the eight laureates goes to seventeen-year-old Shale Wagman from Canada, student of Académie Princesse Grace, Monaco, also receiving the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Prize. Mesmerizing the audience, the dual winner’s fearless Don Quixote Basilio solo and sophistication in Wayne McGregor’s Chroma are in no doubt that of a versatile champion.

Also performing this gender neutral solo is Carolyne Galvao, 17-year-old Brazilian dancer of Balé do Teatro Escola Basileu França, whose emotive interpretation of the multi-award-winning anamorphic work and exquisite elasticity in her Grand Pas Classique manège, win her both the second apprenticeship and Audience Favourite Prize.

Scholarship goes to Junsu Lee of Yewon School, South Korea for his enchanting and musically sensitive Colas variation from La Fille Mal Gardée. In stylistic contrast, the sixteen-year-old also demonstrates much contemporary flair in Mauro Bigonzetti’s Furia Corporis to Beethoven, earning him the Contemporary Dance Prize.

The youngest scholarship recipient is Hanna Park from Sunhwa Arts Middle School, South Korea. At only fifteen years of age, her exuberant artistry coupled with a harmonious physique in La Bayadère’s 3rd Shade variation is sublime—a winning piece.

The remaining scholarships or apprenticeships are awarded to sixteen-year-olds Aviva Gelfer-Mündl and Wenjin Guo of Orange County's V&T Classical Ballet & Dance Academy and Shanghai Dance School, China, respectively, seventeen-year-old Xinyue Zhao of The Secondary School of Beijing Dance Academy, China and eighteen-year-old Paraguayan Miguel Angel David Aranda Maidana, currently training at the Brussels International Ballet School for his virtuoso Paquita Grand Pas. Eighteen-year-old Lukas Bareman, Belgian student of Ballettschule Theater Basel wins Best Swiss Candidate for his well-projected and technically refined La Bayadère Solor variation.

Finalists not awarded a scholarship or apprenticeship receive 1000 Swiss francs. Eighteen-year-olds: Vaganova Ballet Academy’s Ervin Zagidullin for his buoyant Paquita Grand Pas, Italian Davide Loricchio, also of Vaganova Ballet Academy, for his superb energy, elevation and crowd pleasing Grand Pas Classique, from Japan Aina Oki of John Cranko Schule, Stuttgart for her mature stagecraft and classicism in Raymonda Tableau du Rêve and further celebrating McGregor’s work with Becomings to Max Richter’s score, Minji Nam, of South Korea, student of Académie Princesse Grace—a classical and contemporary etoile in the making.

Two young dancers from the United States also show promise: sixteen-year-old Eric Snyder of Arizona’s Yuma Ballet Academy performing Act 1 solo from Swan Lake and, the youngest Finalist, fifteen-year-old Finnian Carmeci of Oregon Ballet Theatre School as a delightful Colas from La Fille Mal Gardée.

Boasting powerful elongated limbs and theatricality in her Paquita variation is sixteen-year-old Ronger Teng of The Secondary Dance School of Beijing Dance Academy, China and finally fifteen-year-old Irene Yang of Academy of Ballet and Jazz, School of Canadian Ballet Theatre for her expressive abstract solo Touch, Feel, Sense by Louise Deleur. Receiving the second Prix de Lausanne Lifetime Achievement Award for his "devotion to the dance world" is French Choreographer-Director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo and 1977 Prize Winner, Jean-Christophe Maillot.

The competition’s successful use of digital channels continues to reach an ever growing global audience, with live streams watched more than 1.6 million times by viewers online and social media networks including Snapchat and in particular Instagram, growing by 30% this year to over 100,000 followers.

The registration and first warm-up classes were broadcast on Facebook and the competition week live-streamed daily on the digital platform ARTE Concert and for a second year, the Selections and Finals live streamed in China, with 1994 Prize Winner Chi Cao commentating. Next year’s competition will be held a week later, 3 to 10 February 2019.

Reviewer: Naomi Cockshutt

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