LAUSANNE, Switzerland--Two Japanese high school students won the top two prizes in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, a competition for young ballet dancers, on Feb. 1.
Seventeen-year-old Haruo Niyama of Nagano Prefecture earned the highest marks among the 20 finalists who participated in the 42nd Prix de Lausanne. Sae Maeda, 15, of Yokohama, captured second place. In addition, Mikio Kato, 18, who now lives in Monte Carlo, placed sixth.
"I don't know what to say," an excited Niyama said after winning first prize. "I was so nervous (when I was performing). I want to thank my family who has supported me so far."
Niyama is the first Japanese since Madoka Sugai in 2012 to win first prize in the competition. He belongs to the Hakucho Ballet Academy in the city of Nagano and is in his second year at Matsumoto Daiichi High School in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.
Runner-up Maeda said, "It is like a dream and I still can't believe it, but I am happy." Kato also expressed satisfaction, saying, "I think my performance was so-so, but I enjoyed dancing and that's nice."
The Prix de Lausanne is a competition for ballet dancers between the ages of 15 and 18. This year, 70 individuals participated from 15 nations. The top six finalists are awarded scholarships paying for tuition in a world-renowned dance school or dance company for a year. Niyama said he wants to attend a dance school in San Francisco.
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