Istanbul International Ballet Competition

Istanbul International Ballet Competition | Danza Ballet
Istanbul International Ballet Competition | Danza Ballet

A ballet spectacular takes place at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall during the Istanbul International Ballet Competition. International competitors perform in two categories for the generous top prize of  and the €12,500 Euros Outstanding Young Dancer award.

Yury Grigorovich – Chairman of the Jury

Although the history of the art of classical ballet in Turkey goes back only as far as 60 years, according to the evidence, classical ballet performances in Turkey date from about two centuries before.

As far as established ballet activities were concerned, most noteable efforts were of Guiseppe Donizetti (Donizetti Pasha), who was “The General Superintendant of the Ottoman Military Bands’’ during the respective reigns of Mahmud the Second (1784-1839) and Abdülmecid (1823-1861). Donizetti, who was invited to Istanbul in September 1828; introduced the principles of the classical western music as well as some samples of operas, operettas and ballets, to the Ottoman Palace; thus played the leading role in the adoption of these trends into Turkey.

Lydia Krassa Arzumanova, a ballet teacher who migrated to Turkey with her other fellow White Russians after the 1917 revolution in Soviet Russia, opened a ballet studio in Istanbul in 1921. She realised her first demonstration with the dancers that she had so far trained, in the theatre “Casa d’Italia’’ at Tepebaşı, in 1931.

In 1947, the founder of the British Royal Ballet and also one of the most outstanding figures of contemporary ballet, Dame Ninette de Valois, was officially invited to Turkey aiming at establishing the Turkish Ballet. The results which she attained at the end of her work were concentrated on two facts; the superb ability of the Turkish children for ballet and her deep conviction for the creativity of the Turkish artists. In line with this conviction, she opened the first offical ballet school with an academic basis, on January 6, 1948 at Yeşilköy, Istanbul. At the end of the examination, 11 boys and 18 girls were admitted to the school as its first students and Joy Newton and Audrey Knight of the Saddler’s Wells Ballet were invited from England for their training. The school moved to Ankara in 1950 and became a division of the State Conservatoire.

The State Theatres and the State Opera which so far were directed by one and the same management until 1958 were seperated from each other in this year. Further on, Dame Ninette de Valois sent her assistant Alaine Philips to Turkey. Phillips with Valois, rearranging the choreography of Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti, staged the ballet “Coppelia’’ of Delibes.(1961)

The State Ballet until the year 2009, staged almost all of the great creations of the Classical Ballet Repertoire with the contribution of choreographers who either came from foreign countries or those who were trained in Turkey. Alongside the development of classical ballet, certain advancement was made in the field of modern ballet. The ever-flourishing desire of Dame Ninette de Valois was the promotion of the Turkish Ballet to a professional level; taking its place on the universal ballet platform, making its own productions with all its dancers, instructors, choreographers and administrative staff. Turkish Ballet, now stands in full maturity with a certain contentment of having realised and fullfilled the aspirations of it’s founder Dame Ninette de Valois and swiftly approaches the eventual goal of constituting the Turkish National Ballet.

Related Information

Website Istanbul International Ballet Competition

Istanbul International Ballet Competition | Danza Ballet


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