Niyama wins Swiss ballet contest

JIJI

Japan’s Haruo Niyama won top prize Saturday in this year’s Prix de Lausanne, a prestigious competition for young ballet dancers.

Niyama, a 17-year-old from Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, is the first male Japanese dancer to snatch the top prize since 1989, when Tetsuya Kumakawa won the gold medal. Female dancer Madoka Sugai won the top prize in 2012.

“I was surprised to hear my name read out. I was able to dance with joy and confidence,” he told reporters after the award ceremony. “I want to become a dancer who can impress an audience.”

Many jurors were impressed by Niyama’s powerful jumps as well as his potential, according to juror Christopher Powney.

Sae Maeda, 15, of Yokohama won the second prize while Mikio Kato, 18, from Tokyo, placed sixth. Each prize winner received a one-year scholarship to a top ballet school and 16,000 Swiss francs to cover living expenses at the contest, held in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A total of 73 dancers from 15 countries were selected from the initial 295 applicants for the contest. Of them, 20, including six Japanese, were selected for the final. Six of the 20 were given prizes.