International ballet competitions have become a somewhat necessary evil in the ballet world. Brought to popular culture’s attention by movies such as First Position, they are, by all accounts, high impact events. Artistic directors from world-famous ballet companies line the judging panels to the watch ballet’s rising stars train, perform and compete. The competitors, usually between 15-18 years of age, are devoted individuals, likely type-A personalities, who have already put in years of training. But the exposure of such competitions is priceless. Best case, these young men and women will secure a scholarship to a company school or generous cash prizes to further their training. Worst case, they’ll make a lasting impression in an artistic director’s sub-conscious, ready for audition season.
Genée gold medalist Maeve Nolan. Photograph by Winkipop Media, courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance