Meet the Talented Young Artists Competing for The Erik Bruhn Prize
by Caroline Dickie
March 23, 2023

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Emerson Dayton and Noah Parets in rehearsal for The Erik Bruhn Prize. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

When The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize returns to Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on March 25, 2023, two young dancers will have their opportunity to shine on behalf of The National Ballet of Canada: Second Soloist Noah Parets and Corps de Ballet member Emerson Dayton. Canada’s Ethan Colangelo will compete for the Choreographic Prize.

Former Artistic Director Erik Bruhn established the competition to recognize extraordinary young talent in top ballet companies internationally and the event was first held in 1988. In today’s iteration, dancers aged 18 to 23 perform a classical pas de deux and a contemporary piece commissioned for the occasion by choreographers who are also competing. This year, the National Ballet will host artists from American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet, with the directors of each company forming the panel of judges.

The National Ballet has selected an exciting pair in Parets and Dayton, who will perform together but compete as individuals in male and female categories. While their partnership is new, they have known one another since their training days when they both attended Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program.

“I have a lot of respect for Noah and I’m really looking forward to working with him,” says Dayton. “I prefer dancing with a partner to dancing alone, so I’m always eager to build the bond of trust and support that’s required for a pas de deux. Communication and adaptation are key to building a strong foundation to work from.”

Parets shares this sentiment, saying “Emerson and I are friends outside of the studio, so I think our dancing partnership will grow naturally as we spend more time working together. It’s going to be an incredible evening and I’m so excited to be part of it.”

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Emerson Dayton and Noah Parets in rehearsal for The Erik Bruhn Prize. Photo by Aidan Tooth.

Parets is no stranger to competition. Born in Boston, he competed frequently during his early dance training, which included classes in jazz, tap and contemporary. He completed a successful turn as Billy Elliot in the North American tour of Billy Elliot the Musical and is a standout in both classical works and contemporary pieces, such as Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, which triggered his official start with the National Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet in 2020. He was promoted to Second Soloist the following year.

Dayton is likewise a talent to watch, with repertoire spanning classical and contemporary styles. Born in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, she trained with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and was a member of Charlotte Ballet from 2020 to 2022, performing lead roles such as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

Along with a classical pas de deux, Parets and Dayton will dance a new work by Ethan Colangelo, an emerging voice in contemporary choreography. Trained at Canada’s National Ballet School and The Julliard School, Colangelo has a string of prestigious collaborations to his credit and won the Audience Choice Award at the Copenhagen International Choreography Competition in 2021.

“The number one thing is to work with the dancers in front of you and make them look their best,” Colangelo says of his creative process. “I can’t focus solely on the product. I have to create an environment where we can take risks and be vulnerable together. The work is a vessel for the dancers and I want to share their unique signatures with as much complexity as possible.” Colangelo was recently appointed to the role of Choreographic Associate by Hope Muir, Joan and Jerry Lozinski Artistic Director.

The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize has flourished over the years thanks to the longstanding support of John and Claudine Bailey, who have sponsored the event since 2006. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Baileys and wish all the competitors the very best of luck!

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Emerson Dayton with Ayano Haneishi and Ethan Colangelo in rehearsal for The Erik Bruhn Prize. Photo by Aidan Tooth.

The Erik Bruhn Prize is onstage March 25. Learn more

The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize is sponsored by John and Claudine Bailey.

Noah Parets is sponsored through Dancers First by John Covington Jr & Robert Lukey.

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