Toronto to host one of the world’s most prestigious dance events, the Genée International Ballet Competition

Genée International Ballet Competition 2019 in Toronto

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) brings the Genée International Ballet Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions, back to Toronto for the first time since 2008. From August 20 – 29, the finest young dancers from around the globe working within the RAD syllabus will take part in an intensive week of coaching from world-renowned teachers and choreographers. This year’s Commissioned Choreographer, Montreal-based Gioconda Barbuto will create two variations which will receive their world-premiere at the Final on Thursday, August 29 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

The competition will also mark a special celebration of Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada. The RAD is delighted to announce today that Karen Kain will be the first Canadian to be awarded its highest honour, the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award. The RAD has chosen to recognise Karen Kain in celebration of her 50 years with The National Ballet of Canada, and her incredible contribution to the world of ballet, both as a renowned dancer and one of the most distinguished leaders in dance today. This is the first time this award will be bestowed outside of the UK. She will be honoured on her home stage and home country, as the Genée returns to Canada in more than a decade.

I am greatly honoured to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award and humbled to join the list of accomplished past recipients who have made great contributions to the art form of ballet. Thank you to the Royal Academy of Dance for this recognition,” said Karen Kain. “I look forward to welcoming the competitors of the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition to the home stage of The National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. It will be a pleasure to be an adjudicator at this prestigious event and witness the many fine young dancers from across the world.”

Hosted in a different country each year, the Genée is a unique competition that champions teaching and self-development. It is open to dancers aged 15-19 that have passed the RAD Intermediate and Advanced 2 examinations in Classical Ballet with distinction. Each year, over 50 dancers from around the world enter the competition to partake in five days of coaching to perfect three different solos: a 19th or 20th century variation, a piece choreographed specifically for the candidate, either by their teacher, a friend or themselves, and finally a world-premiere by that year’s Commissioned Choreographer. Candidates then compete for the prized gold medal in two days of Semi-Finals, and the Final.

Karen Kain will also sit on the judging panel for the Genée Final. She is joined by Dame Monica Mason, former Director of The Royal Ballet, Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of Boston Ballet and Magdalena Popa, Principal Artistic Coach of The National Ballet of Canada (Semi-Finals only).  Each year the RAD’s Artistic Director commissions a choreographer with a strong link either to the Academy, the competition or the host country.  This year’s Commissioned Choreographer is Gioconda Barbuto , an internationally esteemed Canadian dancer and choreographer, who will create two variations (one male, one female), which the candidates will learn during the coaching period to be premiered at the Final.

I am honoured to be invited to be this year’s Commissioned Choreographer for the Genée International Ballet Competition. I am really looking forward to meeting the candidates and working with them to create two new pieces. Creative interactions such as this are so valuable for young dancers, and I am very excited to see how they will inspire my choreographic process,” said Gioconda Barbuto, Commissioned Choreographer for the 2019 Genée.

The week-long event will be held at Canada’s National Ballet School and Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

The public are invited to attend elements of the Competition with tickets on sale starting Monday, April 1, 2019 for both the Semi-Finals at Canada’s National Ballet School, and the Final on Thursday, August 29, at Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Applications for candidates open on Monday, June 3, 2019.

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RAD has a long-standing association with Canada, and first established an office there in 1956. Today there are more than 1,000 members and over 15,000 candidates taking exams each year in Canada. Canadian candidates have previously enjoyed great success in the competition, with dancers from this region taking home one gold, three silver and two bronze medals between them. The first Canadian medallist was Chan Hon Goh in 1988 (silver). Other notable winners from Canada include: Alex Wong (bronze medallist, 2003), gold medallist Céline Gittens (2005). Current First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada Alexandra Macdonald also competed in 2005 and reached the Final. The last time the Genée was held in Toronto, Canadian dancers were well represented with Nicole Ciapponi (Joffrey Ballet) being awarded a silver medal and Alexandra Bertram, taking home a bronze medal.