Varna IBC competitor Antonio Gameiro Casalinho. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

Varna International Ballet Competition Winners Include Some Familiar Faces

Every two years, dancers from all over the world head to the Bulgarian coastal city of Varna to try their luck at the Varna International Ballet competition. Established in 1964, the competition famously takes place at a leafy outdoor theater near the Black Sea, and its roster of past winners (Sylvie Guillem, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova) reads like a who's who of dance history.

This year's IBC, which took place July 15–30, brought together 120 dancers from 34 countries. After the third and final round, the winners were announced over the weekend. Yuan Zhe Zi (Jessica) Xuan, a grand sujet at Dutch National Ballet, won first place in the senior women's category. Sinuo Chang of China took first in the senior men's, while his partner, Siyi Li, placed first in the junior women's category. A few familiar faces from the competition circuit also made the list. Antonio Casolinho, a student at the Academy of Ballet and Dance in Portugal and this year's Junior Grand Prix winner at Youth America Grand Prix, took home the Special Distinction Award, Varna's top prize for juniors. Katherine Barkman, a principal guest artist with Ballet Manila, placed second in the senior women's category, fresh off her silver medal win at June's USA IBC in Jackson.

Read on to see the full list of prizewinners, then head to Varna IBC's Facebook page to catch videos of the competition. Congratulations to all!


Senior Women

First Prize, Gold Medal and Diploma: Yuan Zhe Zi (Jessica) Xuan (Canada)

Yuan Zhe Zi Xuan with her partner, Christiano Principato. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.


Second Prize, Silver Medal and Diploma: Katherine Barkman (USA)

Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC


Third Prize (of 2), Bronze Medal and Diploma: Miyu Takamori (Hungary)

Miyu Takamori and Andras Ronai. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

Third Prize (of 2), Bronze Medal and Diploma: Sofia Evgenieva Tsutsakova (Bulgaria)

Sofia Evgeieva Tsutsakova and John Michael Abenanty. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

Senior Men

First Prize, Gold Medal and Diploma: Sinuo Chang (China)

Sinuo Chang with Siyi Li. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

Second Prize: Not awarded.

Third Prize, Bronze Medal and Diploma: Francesco Mura (France)

Francesco Mura partnering Bianca Scudamore. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

Juniors

2018 Special Distinction Award: Antonio Gameiro Casalinho (Portugal)

Junior Women

Siyi Li with Sinuo Chang. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

First Class Distinction: Siyi Li (China)

Second Class Distinction: Bianca Elise Scudamore (France)

Third Class Distinction: Elena Iseki (Germany)

Junior Men

Third place winner Itsuki Omori. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

First Class Distinction: Not awarded

Second Class Distinction: Haruto Goto (Germany)

Third Class Distinction: Itsuki Omori (Portugal)

Additional Prizes

Emil Dimitrov Prize for Young Talent: Antonio Gameiro Casalinho (Portugal)

Artistic Presentation: Chun Wing Lam (France)

Leading Role in a Performance at State Opera and Ballet Theatre - Varna: András József Rónai

Nina Kiradjeva Fund Prize: John Michael Abenanty (Bulgaria)

Promising Young Dancer, Awarded by Sylvia Co., Japan: Siyi Li (China) and Antonio Gameiro Casalinho (Portugal)

Bounty Awards for the youngest Round III competitors: Antonio Gameiro Casalinho (Portugal) and Elena Iseki (Germany)

Bounty Awards for Round III competitors who have not received any other prize or distinction: Georgi Kapitanski (Bulgaria), Miguel Angel David Aranda Maidana (Belgium), Anne Jullieth Dos Santos Pinheiro (Brazil), Lucia Alejandra Rios (Argentina), Tomoha Terada (Japan)

Choreography: Yuanyuan Wang (First Class Distinction), Angelina Gavrilova (Second Class Distinction)

Choreography on music from a Bulgarian composer: Nadezhda Dicheva

Latest Posts


Vikki Sloviter

Sydney Dolan Takes Center Stage at Pennsylvania Ballet

This is Pointe's Summer 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Just days before the world shuttered under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, and the curtain came down indefinitely on dance companies everywhere, Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Sydney Dolan debuted Gamzatti in La Bayadère with captivating ease. Her jumps soared, her technique was sound, and her cheeky smile paired with exquisite port de bras was beguiling. Though she didn't know the company would soon cancel the remainder of its season, her beautiful performance acted as a kind of send-off into the unknown.

Dolan's career could be described in one word: charmed. At just 19 years old, she's flown through the ranks at PAB, debuted a long list of roles, won a Princess Grace Award and been named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." Yet it's her challenges that have shaped not only her training but her outlook, giving her a solid foundation for becoming one of Pennsylvania Ballet's rising stars.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Ask Amy: How to Efficiently Improve Stamina

I'm consistently out of breath when I do petit allégro. Any suggestions on how to efficiently improve my stamina? —Kristin

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks