Established by the renowned Danish dancer Erik Bruhn, one of the foremost classical dancers of his time, the competition began in 1988 and showcases young up-and-coming dancers from top companies around the world. During the competition, each of the couples perform a classical pas de deux and variation, as well as a contemporary pas de deux or solo work. While each pair competes together they can also win independently in the Male or Female Outstanding Dancer categories. In addition, a prize is awarded for the evening’s best contemporary choreography and all winners are chosen by a jury of artistic directors from the participating companies.
The 12th International Competition was held on November 15, 2016 and SF Ballet’s very own Natasha Sheehan (corps de ballet member) and Angelo Greco (soloist) won. The duo performed a pas de deux from Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle and a world premiere, Foragers, by SF Ballet Corps de Ballet member Myles Thatcher who was also in the running for best contemporary choreography along with three other choreographers. In addition to Natasha and Angelo, this year’s competition included dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Hamburg Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and National Ballet of Canada.
Over the years, a number of SF Ballet members and alumni have competed and four have won the award including former Principal Dancer Stephen Legate (1989), Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin and SF Ballet Principal Dancer Vanessa Zahorian (1999), and SF Ballet Principal Dancer Carlo Di Lanno (2015).