• Kyodo, JIJI

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Japan’s Haruto Goto won second prize Sunday at an international ballet competition in Bulgaria considered to be the “Ballet Olympiad,” while three other Japanese dancers took third place in their divisions.

In the latest round of the Varna International Ballet Competition that began on July 15, 18-year-old Goto took second place in the junior men’s division, followed by compatriot Itsuki Omori, also 18.

Among the women, 16-year-old Elena Iseki came in third in the junior division, as did Miyu Takamori, 19, in the senior division.

“I am just truly happy,” said Goto after winning the prize at the world’s oldest ballet competition.

“I thought I should enjoy dancing from the bottom of my heart, so I tried to have fun by having conversations with my partner,” said Goto, who paired up with Iseki in the final round of the prestigious competition.

The two are both enrolled in Berlin’s state ballet school and became the first members to win a prize at the competition.

Goto started ballet from a young age at a school in his hometown of Kikuyo, Kumamoto Prefecture, in Kyushu.

Participants at the two-week competition are divided into groups of juniors and seniors depending on age and participate either in couples or as soloists.

The biennial competition, which started in 1964, has often given many well-known dancers their first international exposure, including Japanese ballerina Yoko Morishita, who won a top prize there in 1974.

The names of the prize winners in the competition were announced on Saturday and their rankings on Sunday.

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