In a Gala ceremony at the Summer Theatre of the sea capital of Bulgaria on 15 July was opened the XXVI edition of the International Ballet Competition – Varna. In his welcoming speech to the guests, jury and participants, Dimitar Dimitrov, Chairman of the “International Ballet Competition – Varna” Foundation, said: “The first international ballet competition in the world – the Varna one, marks its 50th anniversary. Since its first edition, it has been an authoritative and high scene that has launched a multitude of the most significant ballet artists in the world today. This has happened thanks to dozens of remarkable names in dance who comprise our jury, teach and bring their students as competitors, are devote Maecenas and sponsors, ballet admirers, enthusiastic collaborators and supporters. We, at the organizing Foundation, are grateful to all of you who, with your work, efforts and love for ballet, are writing the history of the Ballet Olympiad.”
On the legendary scene of the Summer Theatre young ballerinas welcomed with flowers the members of the International Jury led by icon of dance Vladimir Vasiliev who shared from the rostrum that “at present there are many ballet competitions worldwide, yet the Varna Competition is still the most significant one among them”.
Varna’s Mayor, Ivan Portnih, emphasized the contribution of Maestro Emile Dimitrov – creator and driving force of the competition until 2011. He highlighted the significance of the Ballet Olympiad for the candidacy of Varna for European Capital of Culture in 2019.
As a representative of the General sponsor of the forum, Antoine Toussaint, Chief Executive Officer of the Societe Generalе Expressbank, pointed out: “We, at the Societe Generalе Expressbank, have always believed that the development of art is one of the most important values in every society, therefore, the support of the ballet competition, for 8 years now, is part of our policy of corporate social responsibility. We are happy of the fact that this internationally significant event which keeps discovering young talents on the ballet scene, is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, and that we are a partner of theirs. As part of the SG Group, which this year also celebrates its 150th anniversary, we know all too well that it takes great synergy and flair for innovation – qualities the ballet competition possesses.”
The members of the Managing Board, and founders of the “International Ballet Competition – Varna” Foundation, Gilles Fuchs and Ilia Raev, recalled memories from the history of the competition, and highlighted the contribution of Maestro Emile Dimitrov. On behalf of the Minister of Culture Peter Stoyanovich, on the occasion the 50th anniversary, Ralitsa Bazaytova handed honorary diplomas for contribution to the development of Bulgarian culture to Professor Vladimir Vasiliev, Professor Petar Lukanov, the Societe Generalе Expressbank, Gilles Fuchs, Ilia Raev, and the “International Ballet Competition – Varna” Foundation.
Margarita Popova, Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, who is the patron of the jubilee edition, handed an honorary plaque to the “International Ballet Competition – Varna” Foundation. In her speech she proclaimed: “Let this be a bright event throughout all fifteen days in beautiful Varna! We, the audience, the numerous viewers of the competition, will experience the most wonderful sensation ballet art provides – the illusion of flying. Let’s wish to ourselves dreams, so that each one of us be closer to their sensation of flying.”
Mrs. Popova wished an inspiring competition and success to the participants, and the youngest competitors, Seo Hoo Yun from Korea, and Ekin Can Yilmaz from Turkey, raised the flag and lit the fire of the Ballet Olympiad. Hellium balloons flew in the sky over Varna, and the competition was launched. Mykola Gorodiskii from Ukraine was the first contestant to perform.
Until 19 July, the young talents – 127 contestants from 30 countries, among which there are five Bulgarian dancers – will compete in the first round of classical choreography, the best among them will continue in the second round that will begin on 21 July. The Competition is organized by the “International Ballet Competition – Varna” Foundation, the Varna Municipality is a co-organizer.
The forum is held with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria. Patron of the jubilee edition is Margarita Popova, Vice President of Republic of Bulgaria. The Ballet Olympiad is under the patronage of the UNESCO, and Irina Bokova, Director General of the world organization. The Competition is held in support of the candidacy of Varna for European Capital of Culture 2019. General sponsor of the competition is Societe Generalе Expressbank.