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!
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.
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.
2018 Special Distinction Award: Antonio Gameiro Casalinho (Portugal)
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)
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)
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