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A look back at the first edition of the Young Creation Award

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22 Jun 2021

Amid the second wave of the Covid19 pandemic in Switzerland, the Fondation en faveur de l’Art Chorégraphique’s (Foundation) new 2021 Partner school and company project, the Young Creation Award, like its main competition, happened entirely via video submission.

“When I saw the talent and richness of the candidates’ choreographies, I knew that this new choreographic competition had to take place even if it was by video!”
– Artistic & Executive Director of the Prix de Lausanne, Kathryn Bradney.

Indeed, the Video Edition has shown to be very promising with 54 applicants from North America to Europe, and countries such as China, Cuba as well as down under with Australia and New Zealand. All participants showed beautiful choreographic talent with distinct styles.

It was really moving to see the inspiration and the diversity in the choreographies especially during these difficult times for dancers and artists. It has given me hope for a better future! (Kathryn Bradney)

The aims of this new competition are to seek and nurture young choreographic talent coming from Partner schools and companies of the Prix de Lausanne. In addition to earning the title, the two winning choreographers see their contemporary solo variations become part of the Prix de Lausanne contemporary variation repertoire. The choreographers are then invited the following year to the Prix de Lausanne competition to coach candidates who have chosen their variations. This is a complete programme. It not only offers the creative space to explore one’s choreographic potential and language, but also provides the opportunity to develop coaching skills, while transmitting one’s creative vision to a dancer. Creating and communicating are separate but equal aspects essential to the role of the choreographer.

The process and focal point of the Young Creation Award align perfectly with a primary focus of our school. Led by a choreographer, John Neumeier, the School of the Hamburg Ballet strives to develop technically secure, classically trained dancers, who can utilize their instrument and its abilities to advance and further their own creativity. The time spent in the studio for our young choreographers and their dancers was certainly abounding with most valuable moments. Gigi Hyatt, Pedagogical Principal and Deputy Director of the School of Hamburg Ballet

After the first round of the Video Selections which took place last fall 2020, a jury was invited to narrow down the list to 5 Finalists. Then it was the Prix de Lausanne 2021 Jury’s turn to mark the Finalists’ videos during the competition week in February 2021 to finally reveal this year’s Young Creation Award 2021 winners: Maya Smallwood of Canada’s National Ballet School with her dancer Ewan Hartman and Samuel Winkler of the School of Hamburg Ballet with his dancer Gabriel Barbosa.

From the first time I was passionately moved by Vincent Isler’s Euphoria to making the final choreographic elements of the solo come together, I am so grateful to have seen the process conclude with my solo on the Prix de Lausanne’s global platform. This journey has helped me push myself to discover innovative movements that convey the deeper meaning of the solo. I am so thankful for the support I have had at Canada’s National Ballet School and proud to be one of the first winners of the Young Creation Award. I will always cherish the opportunity I have had to expand the depth and breadth of my choreography with Ewan and look forward to taking on new choreographic challenges in the future.” Maya Smallwood

“I really enjoyed being able to work on my choreographic skills while developing the solo and found it very gratifying as it began to take shape towards the end of the process. I would not be able to speak on my experience participating in the Young Creation Award, without mentioning one incredibly talented individual, Gabriel Barbosa… [We] were able to share a wonderful working relationship which made rehearsing and the whole creative process productive, exciting, and inspiring for me as the choreographer…The first challenge I faced, was to create movement for one person that both filled and did justice to the full three minutes of Vincent Isler’s beautiful composition “Aurora”. Keeping our key concept in mind, I always tried to use the music as a springboard for creating new movement. Although the skill of creating new and interesting choreography is a journey rather than a destination, I do feel that the Young Creation Award helped me greatly in my progression down this path” Samuel Winkler. Both Samuel Winkler and Gabriel Barbosa also competed in the Prix de Lausanne in previous years then joined the School of Hamburg Ballet through the Networking Forum.

As a result of the pandemic, just about the entire performing arts world was on hold and many are still concerned. Dancers are eager to get back on stage and choreographers are patiently waiting to see their works performed. Therefore, it felt crucial for the Fondation to persist in its mission of providing opportunities to young talents with the hope that the Young Creation Award sparked creativity in these young artists when it was most needed.

We knew that being an artist, especially a dancer, in times of corona, meant more than just performing and learning steps, it meant that our generation had a future, our generation was not lost in an era of uncertainty and lost hope. We learned to surpass ourselves and any struggle we had. (Gabriel Barbosa)

One thing is certain, the bar is high for the next edition of the Young Creation Award and the Fondation looks forward to seeing what the future brings in choreographic talent.

As a Prix de Lausanne international partner school, Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) was proud to participate in this celebration of young talent and global collaboration. The innovative addition of the Young Creation Award, focused on choreographic talent, reflects the Prix’s commitment to constantly evolve how the competition supports future dance artists. Mavis Staines, Artistic and CEO of Canada’s National Ballet School.