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On Wednesday evening, the list of finalists were finalised and the programme ended at 10pm. The Budapest Ballet Grand Prix continues with the final. On Thursday afternoon, the finalists in the junior category will perform a classical solo, the finalists in the senior category will perform a classical and a modern solo, while in the pas de deux category the finalists will perform a classical and a modern duet.

The Budapest Ballet Grand Prix is in full swing at the National Dance Theatre. In the run-up to the results announcement, we asked the three members of the jury what they thought of the event, what their experiences were like on the first two days and even asked them if they had been to Budapest before. There were some surprising answers to this question.

During the afternoon break, all three judges said they thought the event was of high quality, praising the venue and the way it was run. Several of the judges mentioned during the day that they had the impression as if this was not the first BBGP, an exceptionally well-organised event run by the Hungarian University of Dance.

Daria Klimentová, a member of the jury of Czech origin, was very direct, talking about the participants and pointing out that the BBGP is not only a great opportunity for young dancers professionally, but also a chance to make lifelong friendships during the week. We then asked the former principal dancer of the English National Ballet, teacher of the Royal Ballet Upper School about her own competition experiences.

“My first ballet competition was in Prague, where I came second. I was very disappointed because I had practised a lot and I was aiming for first place. So the following year I tried again, I wanted to win so much, but I hurt my ankle and I couldn’t go on stage. Unfortunately I never won that competition, but those encounters proved to be decisive later on.”

Jan Broeckx, artistic director of the Munich Ballet Academy, spoke with admiration of the Hungarian capital. It was not his first time in Hungary, he said, having performed at a gala in Budapest 30 years ago, making this his second visit to the country for BBGP. The Belgian-born ballet dancer said of the Hungarian capital, “It’s full of life!” and added that he found both the university and the National Dance Theatre wondrous.

“The standard is very high, we are dealing with a strong field, and we don’t even know which country or institution they come from”. As we have written before, at BBGP, dancers are called to the stage not by name but by number. The rule is that the names, schools and even nationalities of the competitors are hidden from the judges until the final. Jan Broeckx added, “I often wonder who is from which school!”

Former principal dancer of the English National Ballet, Thomas Edur one of the three jury members who spoke, revealed that this was not his first visit to Hungary, as he first came in 1992, when Diana, Princess of Wales, visited the country. The former Estonian ballet artist then expressed his appreciation for the spirit of the Hungarian Dance University, the organisers:

“The students who have the opportunity to study here are very lucky. It is a pleasure to see the support that the students receive.”

So Thursday is the final at the National Dance Theatre, while the closing ceremony, the Gala, will take place on Friday evening at Müpa Budapest.