Spotlight on ballet at the Prix de Lausanne

The Ballet of the Grand Théâtre de Genève in rehearsal. This year the company's director is back on the Prix de Lausanne jury

The 48th Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition for young dancers started this week, giving teachers to see how ballet teaching has progressed. 

This content was published on February 4, 2020 - 15:14

Ballet has been around for five centuries. It originated in the Italian Renaissance and became an entertainment at the French royal court, with Louis XIV founding the Royal Dance Academy in 1661. It was Pierre Beauchamp, the Sun King’s ballet master, who codified the five classical ballet positions. The Ballet School of the Paris Opera, which showcased his teaching, opened in 1713. 

Over time, ballet has evolved to become an art form of increasing complexity. Not only have the techniques changed, but also the costumes, shoes, stage equipment and music. 

Popular in Asia 

Nowadays there is good dance training in most European countries. France, Russia and the United Kingdom offer nationally-recognised dance teacher diplomas. 

Ballet is popular in Asia, especially among girls, and the number of students is increasing in China, South Korea and Japan. For example, in Japan it is estimated that some 400,000 people take ballet courses. But training in classical ballet is less sound in Asia and varies according to school or private class. In recent years, online ballet courses and academies have also emerged. 

Often young dancers from these countries who want to become professional leave for Europe as young as 13 or 14 years old to complete their training. Many of them are competing at the Prix de Lausanne. External link

A career springboard

This international competition for young dancers has been held since 1973 and is considered a springboard for young people who want to become ballet professionals. 

Winners receive a scholarship to join a prestigious ballet school or complete an apprenticeship at a ballet company. 

The 48th competition takes place from February 2 to 9, 2020. In all, 77 artists from 25 countries, aged 15 to 18, are participating after passing the video selection stage. The finalists will be announced on February 8. 

This year, the competition is being held at the Stravinski Auditorium in Montreux, due to work at Lausanne’s Théâtre de Beaulieu, the prix’s usual home.

Ballet training in Switzerland 

A professional qualification for classical dancers, the Federal Certificate of Proficiency, was introduced in Switzerland in 2009. Only two schools offer it: the Ballettschule Theater Basel and Zurich Dance Academy. Classes are held in classical and contemporary ballet, anatomy, the history of music and dance, and English. There are currently 98 students taking this training.

According to the Swiss association of dance professionals (Swiss DanceExternal link) figures, there are 2,000-3,000 classical ballet dancers in Switzerland and 220 registered ballet teachers.

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