Japan’s Sumina Sasaki won third prize Saturday at this year’s Prix de Lausanne, a prestigious international competition for young ballet dancers.

Two other Japanese, Yu Wakizuka and Mio Sumiyama, took fourth and eighth, respectively, at the 47th annual competition in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Sasaki, 18, from Higashiosaka in Osaka Prefecture, started to attend a ballet school run by her grandmother at the age of 3. She now studies ballet in Zurich.

“I didn’t expect to win a prize. It’s just like a dream,” Sasaki told reporters.

“With the award, I’ve taken a step to become a professional ballet dancer,” said Sasaki, who aims to perform with a European ballet troupe. “This is my starting point.”

“I could dance comfortably,” said Wakizuka, 17, from the city of Osaka.

“Although I made a mistake, I don’t regret it. I had a good experience,” he added.

“I could dance without becoming nervous,” Sumiyama, 18, from Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, said. “I’m really happy to win a prize.”

This year’s top winners were Brown Mackenzie of the United States, followed by Figueredo Gabriel of Brazil.

A total of 74 dancers from 19 countries competed in this year’s Prix de Lausanne. Of the total, 21, including four Japanese, were selected as finalists.

Prize winners are each awarded a scholarship and one year of free tuition at one of the Prix de Lausanne’s partner ballet schools.

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