Alysa Pires Competes for the Choreographic Prize
March 18, 2019

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On March 23, 2019, The National Ballet of Canada will host The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize, bringing together some of the best young talent in the world. Erik Bruhn held the Artistic Directorship of the National Ballet from 1983 until his death in 1986. The competition is a respected part of his legacy, established to celebrate the high level of artistry that Bruhn pursued in his lifetime.

First held in 1988, the Bruhn Prize is open to young dancers aged 18 to 23 from top ballet companies worldwide. This year, one male and one female dancer from each of The Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Hamburg Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada will compete by performing a classical pas de deux and a new contemporary pas de deux or solo work. An award will also be given for the best new choreographic commission. Representing the National Ballet are Corps de Ballet members Jeannine Haller and Siphesihle November, and Toronto-based Choreographer Alysa Pires. This will be Alysa’s second collaboration with the National Ballet, following her presentation of In Between at the 2018 Choreographic Workshop and MAD HOT BALLET Gala.

“Even though I have worked primarily in the contemporary world, I am a huge fan of ballet and I have a deep love and appreciation for classical technique,” said Alysa. “There can be a sort of segregation between the contemporary and classical worlds, and the workshop gave me a lot of confidence to move between them more readily and to know that there is a place for me in both.”

Alysa, who is a graduate of The Ryerson School of Performance, has created works for such companies as Ballet Kelowna, Ballet Edmonton, and Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, among others. Her own company, Alysa Pires Dance Projects, made its critically acclaimed debut with Exterminating Angel at the 2016 Fringe Festival. Throughout her time in Toronto, she has attended the National Ballet’s performances as a member of DanceBreak.

“I remember seeing the world premiere of Emergence and being blown away by the work and the dancers’ total command of a more contemporary movement style,” she says. “I was so inspired by Crystal Pite’s ability to transfer her signature aesthetic onto more classical bodies, a process I would begin myself with the same company just a few years later.”

For the Bruhn Prize, Alysa is working closely with Jeannine and Siphe to showcase and even reframe their unique strengths and talents for the audience.

“I think a great deal about the audience when I’m choreographing, not in an effort to please, but to understand how I can engage people authentically. Jeannine and Siphe are phenomenal dancers and I want to reveal a side of their physicality that audiences may not have seen before. I’ve set this new work to an Aphex Twin remix of David Bowie’s Heroes and the Philip Glass symphony it inspired. It’s an absolutely gorgeous piece of music, and I can’t wait to see these two brilliant dancers flying through the space with this soaring music filling the theatre!”


The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize takes place March 23, 2019.

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