The Prix de Lausanne is widely regarded as one of the most elite ballet competitions in the world. Taking place at the end of January/beginning of February each year, it welcomes carefully selected competitors to Théâtre de Beaulieu in Switzerland for a week of technique classes, absorbing repertoire and, eventually, competition.
In addition to the exposure each dancer receives to artistic directors and choreographers from across the globe, there are many prestigious scholarships and company contracts up for grabs.
Get to know six of the 10 Australian dancers selected to compete at the 2017 Prix de Lausanne below. Dance Informa asked them about their background, favourite dancewear and food, and how they’re preparing for the competition.
School: Fulltime at Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, Sydney.
Previous training: The Premier Dance Academy, Brisbane.
Awards and accomplishments thus far: Obtained distinctions in both RAD and Cecchetti Examinations; 2016 RAD Isobel Anderson Awards Finalist in Sydney; invited to the 2017 YAGP New York Finals.
Top dance icon: “There are so many! I can’t choose one! I’d say Sylvie Guillem for her flawless lines and exceptional technique, and Natalia Osipova – she inspires me with her passion and artistry!”
Favourite dancewear accessories: “I love my new Fleecys socks! They are so warm and go well over my pointe shoes.”
What we can find her doing on her off day: “If I wasn’t dancing and lucky enough to be in my hometown of Brisbane, you would probably find me walking my dog in the park!”
Favourite meal to cook: “Definitely grilled salmon, rice and broccoli.”
Something people might not know about her: “Some people may not know that my favourite colour is pink and that I love baking!”
How she is training for the Prix: “In the lead up to the Prix, I am taking ballet class every day and keeping up my Pilates!”
What her Prix goals are: “I aim to do my personal best at the Prix de Lausanne and show my passion for classical ballet. I hope to come out of the Prix a more experienced dancer and, all in all, do what I love!”
Most looking forward to at the Prix: “I am extremely excited to take class and learn from such influential and experienced professionals! I can’t wait to meet new friends and, most of all, perform for the jury!”
School: Queensland Ballet Academy.
Previous training: Premiere Elite in Tuggerah, NSW. (Back there now to train with teacher Kahlia Mehmet.)
Awards and accomplishments thus far: Top 13 Male Dancers at 2014 YAGP Finals; invited to the 2017 YAGP New York Finals.
Top dance icon: “I really find Semyon Chudin so inspirational with such amazing technique and artistry.”
Favourite dancewear: “I have a new favourite thing, and that’s my new MDM ballet shoes. They are the most comfortable, supportive shoe I have ever worn.”
What we can find him doing on his off day: “If not at the studio, I am usually at the gym or swimming.”
Favourite meal to cook: “I love to roast vegetables.”
Something people might not know about him: “I have an addiction… which is watching ballet on YouTube every spare minute I have.”
How he is training for the Prix: “My training was held back, as I had a foot injury and was very limited as to what I could do. I am only now allowed to do everything full out, so I am at the studio daily trying to catch up.”
What his Prix goals are: “To perform the best I can in the hope of receiving offers to further my ballet career.”
Most looking forward to at the Prix: “I am looking forward to working with some great teachers/choreographers, and performing on an amazing stage for an equally amazing panel.”
School: KC’s School of Dance, Warragul, VIC.
Additional training: Classes at the Russian Choreographic Academy associate program, Australian Ballet School invited program and Claudia Dean coaching.
Awards and accomplishments thus far: Alana Haines Australasian Awards Finalist (New Zealand); obtained Victorian Cecchetti Gold Medal and the Cecchetti Advanced 2 Award; YAGP Finals in New York; Third Prize at the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong; Presidents Award for ATOD; runner-up in the Victorian Ballet Teachers Workshop Section D.
Top dance icon: “Marianela Nunez.”
Favourite dancewear accessory: “My Bloch gumby.”
What we can find her doing on her off day: “Relaxing.”
Favourite meal to cook: “Pasta.”
Something people might not know about her: “I also love to tap, and I love watching NCIS LA.”
How she is training for the Prix: “Having a short break at the beach, then getting to as many classes as I can before heading up to Brisbane to train with my coach, Claudia Dean.”
What her Prix goals are: “To be ready to perform at my best so I can enjoy the experience.”
Most looking forward to at the Prix: “To be working with such amazing teachers/coaches alongside such talented dancers.”
School: Classical Coaching Australia.
Previous training: Maria Shanks Dance Centre and En Pointe Dance Centre.
Accomplishments thus far: Dancing at The Paris Opera Ballet Summer School and The English National Ballet Summer School.
Top dance icon: “My favourite ballerina is Alina Cojocaru. Alina is such a strong and graceful dancer, whom I aspire to be like.”
Favourite dancewear accessory: “One of my favourite dancewear accessories is warm-up jumpsuits, as they are comfy and easy to quickly take on and off.”
What we can find her doing on her off day: “When I have a day off, I like to go to the beach, and I also love to shop.”
Favourite meal to cook: “I enjoy making sushi, even though my skills are not the best.”
Something people might not know about her: “When I was eight years old, my very first solo was a song and dance…which was more entertaining than good.”
How she is training for the Prix: “My training has been the same as every other day. I was also training through the Christmas holidays, which I enjoyed.”
What her Prix goals are: “My goals are to stay consistent before and through the competition, and to keep pushing myself so I have no regrets.”
Most looking forward to at the Prix: “I am very excited to be able to take classes at the Prix and to take in the whole experience, and am looking forward to dancing on the raked stage.”
School: Fulltime at Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, Sydney.
Previous training: Samantha Jane School of Ballet in Perth, Western Australia.
Awards and accomplishments thus far: 2015 Alana Haines Australasian Awards Quarter Finalist (New Zealand); 2015 RAD Joan Stacey Scholarship Recipient (Perth); 2015 Senior AICD Awards Winner; 2015 Robert and Elizabeth Albert Sydney Eisteddfod Junior Scholarship Top 8; 2016 RAD Advanced 1 Isobel Anderson Awards 3rd Place; 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Senior Scholarship Top 8; 2016 Genee International Ballet Competition Semi-Finalist; invited to the 2017 YAGP New York Finals.
Top dance icon: “My ballet teacher, Lucinda Dunn, as I’m able to work with her every day and learn from her experiences and invaluable advice as a principal dancer.”
Favourite dancewear: “Probably my trash bag pants and, of course, my many leotards!”
What we can find her doing on her off day: “On days that I’m not training, I love sitting in my hammock outside reading or going for a walk in the bush or by the beach.”
Favourite meal to cook: “I love making a good salmon or chicken salad.”
Something people might not know about her: “Not many people would know that I was born in Zimbabwe, Africa, and I left when I was eight to move to Australia.”
How she is training for the Prix: “Whilst I train fulltime in Sydney, I went back to my family home in Perth for the Christmas holidays, where I was doing conditioning classes before going back to Sydney in early January to start preparing and rehearsing for the Prix de Lausanne.”
What her Prix goals are: “To enjoy myself and soak up the whole experience.”
Most looking forward to at the Prix: “I’m most excited about the experience and exposure that this competition will give me and the opportunity to perform in such a prestigious competition.”
School: Jane Moore Academy of Ballet.
Previous training: Karen Stephens at Melbourne Dance Academy.
Awards and accomplishments thus far: Runner-up of 2016 Australian Ballet School Scholarship Awards; 2016 Phoenix Classical Cup Winner; 2015 Audrey Nicholls Award for Most Potential; invited to the 2017 YAGP New York Finals; offered a short-term scholarship to the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company.
Top dance icon: “There are many beautiful dancers that I admire, but some of my absolute favourites are Marie-Agnès Gillot, Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva and Aurélie Dupont. I admire each of them for a variety of different reasons, but they all have a quality that I just love to watch.”
Favourite dancewear: “I’m a big fan of Wear Moi leotards. They’re really comfortable and flattering.”
What we can find her doing on her off day: “I dance six days a week, so a typical day off for me usually consists of lots of schoolwork and sewing pointe shoes, generally just resting and preparing for the week ahead.”
Favourite meal to cook: “When I have time in the morning, I love pancakes, and being vegan, I make them using a cup of almond milk, a cup of oats (blended into a flour) and a banana. I like to top them with berries and some maple syrup.”
Something people might not know about her: “I love British comedy, especially Miranda Hart.”
How she is training for the Prix: “Over the summer break, I’ve been trying to do as many classes as possible to stay fit, as well as doing some private coaching, Pilates, yoga and strengthening work.”
What her Prix goals are: “Just learn as much as possible over the course of the week and to enjoy myself and hopefully perform to my best.”
Most looking forward to at the Prix: “I am most excited to work with the different teachers and coaches and to meet dancers from all over the world.”
For more information on the 45th Prix de Lausanne, set for January 29-February 5, visit www.prixdelausanne.org.
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.