Classical ballet competitions tend to be thought of as showy, tutu-filled events, as seen in films like First Position—overflowing auditoriums with the best of the best onstage. Some at the prestigious level, such as Youth America Grand Prix and Switzerland’s Prix de Lausanne, do indeed feature tutus and performances, but many grassroots competitions, where students compete for prize money or scholarships to further their dance dreams, are done in leotards and tights, with participants judged principally on classroom work—barre and centre basics.
When Svetlana Lunkina, one of the world's foremost ballerinas, arrived in Toronto fresh from the Bolshoi Ballet just a few years ago, she was greeted with enthusiasm, and a touch of curiosity. What would Toronto do with a star of her stature? At 18, Lunkina was the youngest dancer to perform the role of Giselle in the history of the Bolshoi, and her debut cast no doubt about her future. She rocketed to principal and danced for fifteen years in the great theatre.
Ballet galas showcasing the world's top dancing talent are in vogue. They have been popping up in cities all around the world from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, and as of February, Toronto courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada's principal dancer Svetlana Lunkina.