Toronto to host one of the world’s most prestigious dance events, the Genée International Ballet Competition

Feb. 11, 2019
Toronto to host one of the world’s most prestigious dance events,
the Genée International Ballet Competition
August 20-29, 2019

Karen Kain to become the first Canadian to be honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, celebrating her 50 years with The National Ballet of Canada

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(Toronto, ON) February 5, 2019 -- The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) brings the Genée International Ballet Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions, back to Toronto for the first time since 2008. From August 20 – 29, the finest young dancers from around the globe working within the RAD syllabus will take part in an intensive week of coaching from world-renowned teachers and choreographers. This year’s Commissioned Choreographer, Montreal-based Gioconda Barbuto will create two variations which will receive their world-premiere at the Final on Thursday, August 29 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
The competition will also mark a special celebration of Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada. The RAD is delighted to announce today that Karen Kain will be the first Canadian to be awarded its highest honour, the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award. The RAD has chosen to recognise Karen Kain in celebration of her 50 years with The National Ballet of Canada, and her incredible contribution to the world of ballet, both as a renowned dancer and one of the most distinguished leaders in dance today. This is the first time this award will be bestowed outside of the UK. She will be honoured on her home stage and home country, as the Genée returns to Canada after more than a decade.
“I am greatly honoured to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award and humbled to join the list of accomplished past recipients who have made great contributions to the art form of ballet. Thank you to the Royal Academy of Dance for this recognition,” said Karen Kain.  “I look forward to welcoming the competitors of the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition to the home stage of The National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. It will be a pleasure to be an adjudicator at this prestigious event and witness the many fine young dancers from across the world.”
Hosted in a different country each year, the Genée is a unique competition that champions teaching and self-development. It is open to dancers aged 15-19 that have passed the RAD Intermediate and Advanced 2 examinations in Classical Ballet with distinction. Each year, over 50 dancers from around the world enter the competition to partake in five days of coaching to perfect three different solos: a 19th or 20th century variation, a piece choreographed specifically for the candidate, either by their teacher, a friend or themselves, and finally a world-premiere by that year’s Commissioned Choreographer. Candidates then compete for the prized gold medal in two days of Semi-Finals and the Final.
“This year’s Genée International Ballet Competition will mark my first as Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Dance, and I cannot wait to work with our talented students from across the globe. The Genée is more than just a competitive platform; it is a chance for young dancers to receive new ideas, participate in the creation of a new work and to share a unique experience with their peers and new friends. I am sure it will be an exciting experience they will never forget,” said Gerard Charles, Artistic Director of the RAD.  “I am thrilled that we will also have the opportunity to celebrate one of Canada’s most inspirational figures in dance in the host city of Toronto, and would like to extend my congratulations to Karen Kain on receiving this esteemed award, on behalf of the Royal Academy of Dance.”

Karen Kain will also sit on the judging panel for the Genée Final. She is joined by Dame Monica Mason, former Director of The Royal Ballet, Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of Boston Ballet and Magdalena Popa, Principal Artistic Coach of The National Ballet of Canada (semi-finals only).  Each year the RAD's Artistic Director commissions a choreographer with a strong link either to the Academy, the competition or the host country.  This year’s Commissioned Choreographer is Gioconda Barbuto, an internationally esteemed Canadian dancer and choreographer, who will create two variations (one male, one female), which the candidates will learn during the coaching period to be premiered at the Final.
“I am honoured to be invited to be this year’s Commissioned Choreographer for the Genée International Ballet Competition. I am really looking forward to meeting the candidates and working with them to create two new pieces. Creative interactions such as this are so valuable for young dancers, and I am very excited to see how they will inspire my choreographic process,” said Gioconda Barbuto, Commissioned Choreographer for the 2019 Genée.
The week-long event will be held at Canada’s National Ballet School and Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
The public are invited to attend elements of the Competition with tickets on sale starting Monday, April 1, 2019 for both the Semi-Finals at Canada’s National Ballet School, and the Final on Thursday, August 29, at Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Applications for candidates open on Monday, June 3, 2019.
To find out more, and to book tickets visit  
RAD has a long-standing association with Canada, and first established an office there in 1956. Today there are more than 1,000 members and over 15,000 candidates taking exams each year in Canada. Canadian candidates have previously enjoyed great success in the competition, with dancers from this region taking home one gold, three silver and two bronze medals between them. The first Canadian medallist was Chan Hon Goh in 1988 (silver). Other notable winners from Canada include: Alex Wong (bronze medallist, 2003), gold medallist Céline Gittens (2005). Current First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada Alexandra Macdonald also competed in 2005 and reached the Final. The last time the Genée was held in Toronto, Canadian dancers were well represented with Nicole Ciapponi (Joffrey Ballet) being awarded a silver medal and Alexandra Bertram, taking home a bronze medal.

About the Genée International Ballet Competition
Known simply as ‘the Genée’, it is one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world, attracting the finest young dancers trained in the RAD syllabus, from around the globe. Candidates receive a unique opportunity to work with renowned choreographers and teachers for five days before performing at the Semi-Finals, and then the final, where they compete for a range of medals. The competition started in 1931, when the Adeline Genée Gold Medal was awarded to Felicity Garratt. Other medals were later added: the silver (1934), bronze (1956), and gold and silver for male dancers (1938). The Genée has taken place almost every year since, and is now a truly global event. In 2002 the RAD took the decision to hold the competition outside London for the first time, taking it to Australia where Sydney Opera House played host to a record number of candidates. Following that success, the Genée is now hosted in a different country each year.  

About the Royal Academy of Dance
With approximately 14,000 members in 84 countries, the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is one of the largest and most influential dance education and training organisations in the world. Established in 1920 to improve standards and re-invigorate dance training, the Academy helps and encourages its teachers to perfect their teaching skills and pass on this knowledge to their students. There are currently over 1,000 students in full-time or part-time teacher training programmes with the Academy and each year the examination syllabus is taught to thousands of young people worldwide, with approaching a quarter of a million pupils per year going on to take RAD exams.
About the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award
The QEII Coronation Award, the Academy’s most prestigious accolade, was instituted in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The first recipient in 1954 was Dame Ninette de Valois. Since then it has been awarded to many of the greatest names in dance, in recognition of outstanding services to the art form. Former recipients include Glen Tetley, Dame Monica Mason and Rudolf Nureyev. It was most recently awarded to Carlos Acosta CBE in 2018.
About the National Ballet of Canada
One of the top international ballet companies, The National Ballet of Canada was founded in 1951 by Celia Franca. A company of 70 dancers with its own orchestra, the National Ballet has been led by Artistic Director Karen Kain, one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation, since 2005. Renowned for its diverse repertoire, the company performs traditional full-length classics, embraces contemporary work and encourages the creation of new ballets as well as the development of Canadian choreographers. The company’s repertoire includes works by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Rudolf Nureyev, John Neumeier, William Forsythe, James Kudelka, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky, Crystal Pite, Christopher Wheeldon, Aszure Barton, Guillaume Côté and Robert Binet. The National Ballet tours in Canada, the US and internationally with appearances in Paris, London, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Hamburg, New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.


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