The 2018 Prix de Lausanne finalists. The 2019 competitors have just been announced. Photo Courtesy Prix de Lausanne.

Get to Know the 10 American Dancers Heading to the 2019 Prix de Lausanne

Competition season is just around the corner. Today, The Prix de Lausanne announced the 80 dancers that will head to Switzerland February 3–10 to compete for scholarships and apprenticeships to the Prix's partner schools and companies.

By the numbers, 363 dancers (273 girls and 90 boys) from 40 countries applied. Nine jury members reviewed the video submissions and selected 71 dancers over the course of three days. Add in the nine preselected competitors for a grand total of 80 dancers (44 girls and 36 boys) hailing from 20 countries.

Out of that group, 10 are from the U.S. Get to know them below. There's another reason to follow these Americans: Last year, Aviva Gelfer-Mundl, one of the American Prix de Lausanne competitors, took home a big prize.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Prix in the months to come!


Mackenzie Brown, Académie Princesse Grace 

While Mackenzie Brown is entering as a U.S. competitor, she trains in Monaco at the Académie Princesse Grace. Brown was the 2016–17 Miss World Dance and is a Russian Pointe ambassador. Last year, she participated in Prix de Lausanne's Partner Schools Choreographic Project.

Olivia Daugherty, International Ballet School

Olivia Daugherty, 15, studies at International Ballet School in Littleton, CO. She's no stranger to competitions: Daugherty has placed at the Youth America Grand Prix and the Denver Ballet Guild's Young Dancers Competition. She has also earned scholarships to the Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive and intensives at Académie Princesse Grace and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Parker Garrison, International Ballet Academy 

Parker Garrison is a student at International Ballet Academy in Cary, NC. At age 12, he appeared on "America's Got Talent" and "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation." At the 2018 YAGP New York Finals, Garrison won a scholarship to Boston Ballet's 2019 Summer Intensive and a short-term scholarship to Académie Princesse Grace.

Erik Kim, University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Erik Kim is a high school student at University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. Starting at 1:30 in the above clip, you can see Kim in an UNCSA production of Paquita.

Mackenzie Kirsch, Dance Center of San Antonio 

Mackenzie Kirsch trains at the Dance Center of San Antonio in San Antonio, TX, a Vaganova school run by Vanessa Bessler, a former principal with the National Ballet of Panama. At the 2018 YAGP Finals, Kirsch won a scholarship to the 2018 Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive. She's also a member of the Children's Ballet of San Antonio and competed in the 2018 Vaganova Prix in St. Petersburg.

Soana Madsen, VM Ballet School

Soana Madsen trains abroad at VM Ballet School in Toulouse, France, which is directed by her parents, Matthew Madsen and Vinciane Ghyseens; her father was born in the U.S., while her mother is Belgian. In 2017, Madsen competed on the French classical talent TV show, "Prodiges."

Harold Mendez, Sarasota Cuban Ballet School

Harold Mendez is a student at the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School in Sarasota, FL. He has a long list of competition accolades, including medals from Cuba's Grand Prix, YAGP, World Ballet Competition and, most recently, a bronze medal in the junior male category at the 2018 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS.

Basia Rhoden, Master Ballet Academy 

A student at the Vaganova-based Master Ballet Academy in Scottsdale, AZ, Basia Rhoden took home a bronze medal at the 2018 YAGP Finals as well as placing at the 2018 ADC | IBC.

Rheya Shano, Brookline Ballet School

Rheya Shano trains at Brookline Ballet School outside of Boston. She won a gold medal in the Classical Junior Division at the 2017 Valentina Kozlova IBC and a bronze medal in the junior category of the 2018 USA IBC in Jackson, MS.

Julia Shugart, All American Classical Ballet School

Last but not least is Julia Shugart, a student at All American Classical Ballet School in Tampa, FL. Like the rest of the American contestants, Shugart is a regular on the ballet competition circuit.


Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

How Coming Back to Ballet After Years Away Has Saved Me During the Pandemic Shutdown

I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet lesson. My mom had dressed me in a pink leotard with matching tights, skirt and slippers. She drove me on a Saturday morning to a ballet academy in downtown Caguas, the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up. I don't remember much from the first lesson, but I do recall the reverence. My teacher Mónica asked the class if someone wanted to volunteer to lead. She was surprised I—the new girl—was the one to raise my hand.

I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

This was the same feeling I had when, after years away from dance, I finished my first YouTube ballet class at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks