The Helsinki International Ballet Competition, founded by Professor Doris Laine-Almi (1931–2018) in 1984, ranks among the world’s biggest and most demanding ballet competitions. The competition’s high standards have attracted global attention, which was reflected in the number of impressive applications this year.
- The standard of the applications was very even, and it was a challenging task for the selection committee to select from the 147 candidates. The candidates had been extremely thorough in preparing their applications and video auditions. We received more than twenty applications from Finland, and a third of these candidates made it through the selection process. The young talents chosen for the competition truly stood out, says the Secretary General of the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, Paula Ranto.
Finnish dancers represented in the junior division
The dancers take part in either the junior division for ages 15 to 19 or the senior division for ages 20 to 25. Only junior division candidates from Finland were selected for the 2020 competition. Of the seven Finnish dancers, Viivi Ahola, Marina Hartikainen, Matilda Kokora, Anni Martinsen and Edith Stenvall are studying at the Ballet School of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Erika Pastel currently dances as part of the youth company of the Norwegian National Ballet, while Pinja Rissanen is studying at the legendary Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg. A number of candidates have already participated in competitions this year, such as Ahola and Rissanen, who both won the Young Dancer award for their age group in the National Ballet Competition in Helsinki in February 2020.
The Finnish National Ballet Youth Company is represented in the junior division by Yuka Masumoto from Japan and Violetta Keller from Germany. The Italian dancer Alfio Drago from the Finnish National Ballet will appear in the senior division partnered with Violetta Keller.
From the first rounds to the finals and gala performance
The competition will begin at Almi Hall with five days dedicated to the first and second rounds, after which the very best dancers will continue to the finals on the Main Stage. During the competition the dancers will interpret both classical ballet and contemporary dance. On 8 June, the event will culminate in a gala performance, which is both an award ceremony and a showcase for the most successful candidates’ talents.
In addition to fame, the best dancers of the Helsinki International Ballet Competition will be rewarded by fortune, with a combined award sum in excess of 100 000 euro. The top prizes of the competition are the 20 000 euro Jane Erkko Grand Prix donated by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, and the 12 000 euro Doris Laine Prize donated by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.
The President of the Jury is the Artistic Director of the Finnish National Ballet Madeleine Onne. The competition is organised by the Helsinki International Ballet Competition Association chaired by Professor Jorma Uotinen, with dancer-choreographer Minna Tervamäki as the deputy chair. The competition was last held in 2016.