At age 17, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School student Elenora Morris can count herself among only six females in the United States – and 84 dancers from around the world – who will compete in Switzerland’s 41st Annual Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition from Jan. 27, to Feb. 3, this year.
Founded in 1973 to discover, promote and support the world’s finest young talents, the Prix de Lausanne is an international competition and educational workshop for young pre-professional dancers, ages 15 to 18, of all nationalities. From a total of 250 dancers who auditioned by video, Morris is among only 84 candidates and 43 females, representing 20 countries, selected to participate in the competition in Lausanne.
“I feel really honored, because it’s such a prestigious competition. It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Elenora, a PBT School Pre-Professional student who has trained exclusively with PBT School since beginning her dance education at age 8.
In addition to her full-time training with PBT School, Elenora has spent the last two months working with PBT faculty to hone two performance pieces for the competition: Don Quixote’s classical Queen of the Dryads and the contemporary Saraband from Vasos Comunicantes.
“Elenora has grown up training with PBT School, and it is very exciting to see her hard work and dedication gain her a place among a very select group of young dancers from around the world,” said PBT School Director Marjorie Grundvig. “We are extremely proud to have her represent Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School to the international ballet community.”
Morris will be the third female PBT School student to compete in the exclusive competition in the last two years, following PBT School Pre-Professional students Aviana Adams and former student Anwen David, who competed in the 2012 Prix de Lausanne.
“I have strong relationships with the teachers. I feel very supported,” Morris said of her training with PBT School. “All the performance opportunities we get here, it gets you comfortable onstage. We get a wide range (of repertoire)…I feel very well-rounded and comfortable performing lots of styles.”
Throughout the five-day selection process in Lausanne, Morris will participate in classical and contemporary ballet classes with leading dance professionals, and receive coaching from Goyo Montero, the choreographer of her contemporary performance piece. Finally, the candidates will perform their classical and contemporary variations for the Prix’s nine-member judging panel. At the close of the selection period, a select number of candidates will receive invitations to compete in the finals on Feb. 3.
“(The Jury’s feedback) will be really helpful to hear what I need to work on and what strengths I have,” Morris said. “I think what I learn will be very useful for my ballet career…more knowledge of myself as a dancer and knowledge of the ballet world. I think it will be amazing to be around so many accomplished dancers and amazing teachers. I think I’ll learn more about technique, artistry, and what the entire ballet world looks like.”
Accompanying Elenora on the trip are her mother, Karen, and PBT School faculty member Pollyana Ribeiro. In addition to trying some Swiss chocolate and yogurt, Elenora and her mother plan to bring along the six-volume BBC Pride and Prejudice series to unwind in the evenings after a full day of dance.
“I’ve been practicing for months. I know it’s in my body…I just have to trust myself and have fun with it.”
About the Prix de Lausanne
Through scholarships, exposure to the world’s leading dance personalities, schools and companies, the Prix de Lausanne was created to discover the best young talents in the world and open the doors of the most prestigious dance schools and companies to help them realize their potential and become high-level professional dancers. The Prix has launched the careers of some of ballet’s leading performers, such as Carlos Acosta, Julie Kent, Darcey Bussell and Christopher Wheeldon. For more information, please visit www.prixdelausanne.org.
About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School is the official training institution of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and has an enrollment of more than 900 students, including the Children’s, Student, Pre-Professional and Open Divisions. The Children’s Division gives young students an introduction to ballet and prepares them for advancement to the Student Division. Dancers in the Student Division work to refine their technique and dancers in the Pre- Professional Program prepare for professional ballet careers. Many students perform in an annual School Spring Performance at the Byham Theater, and some students are chosen by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr to perform with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre at the Benedum Center.