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The Prix de Lausanne is an International dance competition held annually in Lausannemarker, Switzerlandmarker. The competition is for young dancers seeking to pursue a professional career in classical ballet, and many former prize winners of the competition are now leading stars with major ballet companies around the world. The competition is managed by a non-profit foundation organised by the Fondation en faveur de l'Art chorégraphique and is maintained by various sponsors, patrons and donors.


Théâtre de Beaulieu, where the final selection is usually held.

The Prix de Lausanne was founded in 1973 by the Swiss industrialist Philippe Braunschweig and his wife Elvire. Philippe, although not a dancer, became interested in dance as a young man. His Russian dancer wife developed his interest further.

The Braunschweigs created the competition after noticing the lack of financial support to young dance students, particularly those from small regional schools, wishing to attend professional level programs.

He started by approaching Rosella Hightower and Maurice Bejart who drew up the rules for the competition.

What started as small event has grown into an internationally acclaimed institution that draws candidates from all over the world. Over the past few years the competition has seen a big boom in Asian candidates. Because of the great demand by Japanese students to study abroad, an office was also set up in Japanmarker.

The Braunschweigs announced their resignation at the end of the Prix in 1996. In March 1997, as the competition came to its 25th anniversary, the philantropists handed over the Prix's direction to an executive committee composed of the Swiss Secretary of State, Franz Blankart and an artistic committee headed by Jan Nuyts, who worked with the Prix for many years. Mr Charles Gebhard is in charge of finances and Ms Patricia Leroy heads the actual organization. The Braunschweigs remain available as consultants and have managed to maintain the original mission of the competition.


Entry is reserved for young student-dancers, aged 15 to 18, who have not yet been in professional employment and open to candidates of all nationalities.

Currently, participants are required to submit a 15-20 min DVD recording showing them performing a combination of barre and centre-work exercises in a studio environment and pay a non-refundable registration fee of CHF 100. Those candidates selected to participate in the competition pay a second fee of CHF 100.

Around 120 candidates from 30 or so countries compete each year, in the hope of being selected for the final, reserved for the best 15 among them. The final of the competition is broadcast live on television.

As from 2007 the Prix de Lausanne is part of an exchange program] with the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix, which allows dancers from each competition to benefit from the scholarship opportunities available at both. Thanks to a mutual agreement, finalists who have not received a scholarship at one of the competitions will be eligible to participate in the other without having to pass the selective rounds.

By combining their scholarship-giving capacities, these two of the most important dance competitions in the world help create a wider network of opportunity for young dancers worldwide.


The Prix is held annually over a one-week period in January (when it tends to snow), usually at the Théâtre de Beaulieu in Lausannemarker. The dimensions of the stage of the Théâtre de Beaulieu are: 12m wide x 14m deep with a 3.6% slope.

Occasionally the organization has arranged for the finals to be held in other locations: New York Citymarker in 1985, Tokyomarker in 1989, and Moscowmarker in 1995, in order to accommodate the participants.

During the competition, the theater has its foyers and conference halls converted into dance studios and observation areas. The backstage area houses offices, an infirmary, and a shop that sells dance clothes, books, and videos and a cafeteria on the balcony.

The Competition

The aim of the Prix de Lausanne is to facilitate the young competition prize-winners to embark upon a professional career by providing them with an opportunity to spend a year improving their skills at one of the Prix's partnering schools or to benefit from a year’s apprentice scholarship with one of the international professional dance companies partnering the Prix.

Only one scholarship is available from each partner organization so decisions as to which winner is offered a place are based on their ranking. Although on occasion, they agree to accept more than one laureate.

The Jury

The jury is composed of nine people. Each member of the jury must either have a link with one of the Prix's partner ballet schools or companies or be an ex-winner.The panel is chosen as to fulfill a wide geographical representation and mix of youth and experience.

The members of the Jury for the 2009 competition were:

  • President of the jury:
Karen Kain - Artistic Director, National Ballet of Canada, Torontomarker

  • Members of the jury:
Amanda Bennett - Director, Ballettschule Theater, Baselmarker, Switzerlandmarker
Marianne Krusse - Educational Director and teacher, the School of The Hamburg Ballet, Germanymarker
Francia Russell - Founding Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet, USA, Freelance Balanchine teacher and stager
Miyako Yoshida - Guest Principal, Royal Ballet, Londonmarker and K-Ballet Company, Japanmarker, Prix de Lausanne prizewinner in 1983
David McAllister - Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet, Australia
Patrick Armand - Ballet Master, Teatro alla Scalamarker, Milanmarker, Italymarker, Prix de Lausanne prizewinner in 1980
Ted Brandsen - Artistic Director and resident choreographer, Dutch National Ballet, Amsterdammarker
Bruce Sansom - Director, Central School of Ballet, Londonmarker, Englandmarker

The members of the Jury for the 2007 competition were:

  • President of the jury:
Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux - Artistic Director, North Carolina Dance Theatre, USA

  • Members of the jury:
Ms Ramona de Saa, Director, National Ballet School, La Habana, Cubamarker
Ms Aki Saito, Principal, Royal Ballet of Flanders and Prix de Lausanne prizewinner(1991)
Ms Cathy Sharp Director, Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble, Baselmarker, Switzerlandmarker
Ms Irina Sitnikova, Professor, Vaganova Academy, Saint-Petersburg, Russiamarker
Ms Monica Zamora, Former Principal, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Englandmarker and Prix de Lausanne prizewinner (1989)
Mr Wim Broeckx, Director, Royal Conservatory, The Hague, Netherlandsmarker and Prix de Lausanne finalist (1980)


The jury evaluates candidates' potential throughout the competition considering their level of:

  • Artistry
  • Physical suitability
  • Courage and individuality
  • An imaginative and sensitive response to the music
  • A clear grasp in communicating differing movement dynamics
  • Technical facility, control, and coordination.


After the DVD selection, participants go through the second phase of selection rounds, which consists of ballet and modern classes on stage and is the hardest and the most unforgiving.

After each round, the dancers which are not selected for the finals have a one-on-one meeting with a designated juror to discuss their performance problems and level of training. Suggestions range from pointers on petit allegro to weight and hair styling. All participants can keep taking daily classes and participate in the final class, called "The Job Exchange", in which attending directors can see them in ballet class and which result in many entrants usually receiving offers to study at various companies around the world.

For the finals, dancers must prepare a classical and contemporary variation as well as a "variation libre" or free variation of their own choice. The Prix has lately been producing a very helpful DVD in which the dances required to be performed are demonstrated by former winners, like Darcey Bussell from The Royal Ballet and Marcelo Gomes from ABT. In the past, participants learned the variations from any available source, coming up with a multitude of interpretations, varying in musicality and style. The DVD has been a helpful tool in improving the uniformity of the performances.

Only the most successful dancers actually perform these pieces in front of an audience. Tickets are sold for the public semi-final and final which are attended by some of the big names in dance.

The semi-final takes place on the final Saturday of the contest and lasts most of the afternoon. Clapping is strictly forbidden so as not to disturb the candidates. In reality, the audience's murmurs can be heard in the auditorium after each variation with a fair gauge of success.

The Sunday final culminates in the award of generous bursaries, where up to six Prix de Lausanne winners are selected.

The next Prix de Lausanne will take place from January 26 to January 31 2010


  • Prix de Lausanne Scholarship - a scholarship of one year's free tuition and the sum of CHF 16,000 in ten monthly installments for living expenses during the prize winner's year of studies.

  • Prix de Lausanne Apprentice Scholarship - consist of a one-year apprentice scholarship for awardees over 17 and the sum of CHF 16,000 in ten monthly installments for living expenses.

  • Contemporary Dance Price - consists of contemporary dance course at one of the partnering institutions and covers both travel and living expenses.

  • Best Swiss Candidate Price - consists of a cash price of CHF 2,500 awarded to the best finalist residing in Switzerlandmarker and having trained in Switzerlandmarker for at least 3 years before the competition.

All finalists are offered free summer courses (travel and accommodation costs not covered) and receive a diploma and a medal. Finalists not winning a prize receive a consolation cashprize of CHF 1,000.




  • Hannah O'Neill (Australia)
  • Peng Zhaoqian (China)
  • Miki Mizutani (Japan)
  • Edo Wijnen (Belgium)
  • Telmo Moreira (Portugal)
  • Rina Nemoto (Japan)
  • Sebastian Concha (Chile)

other prizes

  • Edo Wijnen - Contemporary Dance Prize
  • Telmo Moreira - Audience Favorite

since 1973


  1. 25 years of the Prix de Lausanne.(1997 dance competition)
  2. Inside the Prix de Lausanne: where you don't have to win
  3. - Swiss films on DVD - Prix de Lausanne 2005
  4. Prix de Lausanne, the international dance competition in Switzerland

External links

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