Queenslanders finalists in grand Prix of ballet

Jenson Blight and Ruby Day Queensland Ballet finalists in the Prix de Lausanne 2024. | Newsreel
Queensland Ballet Academy's Jenson Blight and Ruby Day were finalists in the Prix de Lausanne 2024. | Photo: Supplied by Queensland Ballet

The Queensland Ballet Academy has produced Australia’s only finalists at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne 2024 competition in Switzerland.

The Prix de Lausanne is the world’s most prestigious international ballet competition dedicated to young dancers aged 15-18. Established in 1973, the event aims to discover, promote, and support the most exceptional talents worldwide.

Out of the 88 initially selected candidates, Jenson Blight and Ruby Day represented Australia as the only finalists from the country. Blight was also honoured with the Bourse Astarte Scholarship Award, and Day received the Rudolph Nureyev Foundation’s Best Young Talent Award.

Queensland Ballet Academy Director Christian Tàtchev said he couldn’t be prouder of their remarkable success.

“Their achievements mark their outstanding dedication and passion for the artform, while underscoring our Academy’s commitment to nurturing and fostering world-class ballet talent,” Tàtchev said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the Academy’s teaching facility, and all members of our team for their invaluable contribution to the development of our young dancers.”

Blight has accepted a position with the Dutch National Ballet’s junior company, while Day will stay on home soil and has accepted a Company position with Queensland Ballet, commencing in November 2024.

“I’m very excited to expand my horizons and go out and experience the world, to keep soaking up all the information from amazing teachers and coaches,” Blight said. “I’ll get to tour the Netherlands with the junior company and perform in works with the main company. There’s a lot to look forward too.”

He also reflected on the people he wanted to thank:

“All of my teachers at Queensland Ballet Academy; I’m so lucky to have had your guidance in my training, there’s absolutely nothing like it. Paul Boyd; who gave me such valuable training for much of my time in the Academy – he’s an expert in the field and I really hit the jackpot having the honour to train under him. Premier Dance Academy for getting me into ballet as a little boy. Mr Tàtchev, who spent endless hours with Ruby and I before the Prix, training us up and keeping us calm. All of my friends for their endless support. And of course; to my Mum and Dad for paving the way for this to happen, I’m the luckiest.”

Day said the offer of a position at Queensland Ballet came at a truly special moment.

“I had a little bit of a pinch me moment when I received my letter of offer coincidently on my birthday, you can’t really ask for a better birthday gift,” Day said. “I’m looking forward to many things but some big ones are definitely growing as an artist, as well as working alongside and learning from the inspiring dancers here at the Queensland Ballet. I’m incredibly lucky to have had the support of so many people on my journey so far. I want to say thank a big thank you to Mr Tàtchev and all the Queensland Ballet Academy faculty who have nurtured and supported me over the past few years, entrusting me with many opportunities that have allowed me to grow as a dancer. As well as my past teachers who still offer their ongoing guidance and support, and of course a big thank you to my family for always being there for me and allowing me to chase my dreams.”

The pair will take part in Aspire ’24 – for the Academy’s annual Pre-Professional Program showcase on 24 – 25 May, at the Talbot Theatre, Thomas Dixon Centre.

The program will include excerpts from Ben Stevenson OBE’s popular production The Nutcracker, along with works by Queensland Ballet’s two Resident Choreographers Paul Boyd (Academy Ballet Master) and Louise Deleur (Head of Contemporary Dance), as well as a selection of pieces highlighting the emerging choreographic talent from within the cohort.

Queensland Ballet Academy’s Pre-Professional Program is a full-time, final year training program providing young dancers with the preparation they require before joining a professional ballet or dance company. Based at Queensland Ballet’s home in West End, the next generation of dancers thrive in this studio-to-stage, industry-aligned training program.

See the full list of finalists and winners on the Prix de Lausanne website.

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