Barbora Kohoutková, IBC Helsinki, 1995
What did the Helsinki International Ballet Competition mean to you?
The Helsinki International Ballet Competition was a turning point in my life. It has set the direction for my ballet career and created my connection with the Finnish National Ballet that lasts until now.
I took part in the competition when I was 16 years old, and it was already my fifth competition. From my experience, I can say that it was one of the most organized and professional experiences I have had. Also, meeting the great ballet icons who were part of the jury. Meeting Maya Plisetskaya who, later on, invited me to dance in her gala celebrating her 70th birthday in Moscow and St.Petersburg. And meeting Jorma Uotinen, who was at that time the director of the Finnish National Ballet and president of the jury. He offered me immediately after the competition contract to become a principal dancer with the Finnish National Ballet.
Thanks to this offer, I decided to do two last years of my studies at the Dance Conservatory in Prague during one year, finished at the age of 17 and joined the company. My first role as a Juliet in John Cranko's ballet Romeo and Juliet was a dream to come true. Jorma with his artistic visions and great personality was one of the best directors I have had in my life.
Also, the honour to receive the first prize and Grand Prix was a great satisfaction for my hard work and dedication.
How do you see the meaning of ballet competition to young dancers?
It has a tremendous meaning for young dancers to participate in a competition.
Of course, there has to be good work prior to that, but meeting other students, teachers, and dancers from all around the world, with different schools, different styles, also the classes and workshops which are part of the training program during the competition, to be able to use all the great facilities of the Finnish National Ballet.
Those are all great reasons and very important experiences for dancers who want to become professional ballet artists.
Text: Heidi Almi