Singapore to stage its first international ballet competition

Ballet students at the Singapore Dance Theatre.
Ballet students at the Singapore Dance Theatre. PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL BALLET GRAND PRIX SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Dance lovers, rejoice. Singapore will soon run its first international ballet competition for young people in a bid to elevate the scene here.

The International Ballet Grand Prix Singapore (IBGPS), which will run from June 12 to 16, is open to ballet dancers aged seven to 18, of all nationalities and skill levels.

The annual event is organised by non-profit organisation Singapore Dance Alliance and supported by the National Arts Council and Singapore Dance Theatre.

IBGPS chairman Lisa Latip says: "In recent years, the standards of dance students locally have improved and the arts scene in Singapore has gained more recognition internationally.

"We hope to create a platform where dancers as young as seven years old can boldly pursue their passion and interest in ballet and be recognised for their dedication and efforts. The IBGPS was birthed as a result of wanting to provide a space for aspiring ballet dancers to thrive and grow."

A Straits Times report in 2018 said that more people in Singapore, including boys, have been taking up ballet, which is being offered at more private dance schools as well as primary and secondary schools.

The actual IBGPS competition runs in Victoria Street from June 14 to 16. It begins with technique class at the Singapore Dance Theatre, followed by the semi-finals and finals at the Drama Centre Theatre in the National Library Building.



Ballet students at the Singapore Dance Theatre. PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL BALLET GRAND PRIX SINGAPORE

Those who perform well will have the chance to bag trophies, medals and certificates - as well as scholarships to various local and international ballet programmes.

The jury members are New Zealand School of Dance's director Garry Trinder, Elmhurst Ballet School's artistic director Robert Parker, and The Australian Ballet School's ballet mistress and level 8 classical teacher Joanne Michel.

On June 12 and 13, there will be conferences, as well as workshops on ballet and contemporary dance. These feature ballet masters and are open to the public, including adults.

Singapore Dance Theatre's artistic director Janek Schergen says the workshops and conferences will give students from different schools the chance to interact. The conferences too, will help dancers and their parents learn more about how they might choose a vocational school and develop a dance career.

“For some reason, with ballet students, when they are going for higher education... They tend to just go anywhere they are selected. (But) each school has a different personality. The best school and best dancer combined does not (necessarily) make the best dancer. Sometimes, you have to look very carefully at what kind of a dancer will succeed in what kind of school, and what the conference wants to do is try to explain that in some detail.”

About 130 people have registered for the competition so far, some 30 per cent of whom are from overseas.

Asked the ballet scene in Singapore, Mr Schergen says: “In the rest of the world – in The Australian Ballet School, or schools in Europe or America – ballet training is very different.” 

“If you want to become a dancer, you start going to a dedicated programme somewhere between the ages of 11 and 13. That doesn’t exist in Singapore. If the rest of the world is training that way, they are training better dancers than Singapore is training... We are still lacking a national school.

"With the company's repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre hopes to spread the beauty, passion and discipline of dance to as many individuals as possible."

Interested participants should register by April 30, although spaces might be filled earlier. For more information and to register, go to www.ibgpsingapore.com/ibgps-competition/information/