Miami International Ballet Competition returns to theater venue

Written By Josie Gulliksen
January 24, 2023 at 2:44 PM

A Masterclass with Co-Founder Vladimir Issaev leads dancers from divisions 3 and 4. Photo by Patricia Laine Romero.

Finally in 2023 the Miami International Ballet Competition returns to the Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater in North Miami Beach Jan. 25-29 and Co-Founders Vladimir Issaev and Yanis Pikieris, two iconic pioneers in the dance community, couldn’t be happier.

“This is our sixth consecutive year we have returned to our normal event at the theater and as always, it is free and open to the public. Last year due to the impending pandemic restrictions and keeping people distanced, we held it at the Arts Ballet Theatre Florida studios so we could not open to the public because we didn’t have the space,” said Issaev.

2022 Div 3 First place winner Kylie Dyson. Patricia Laine Romero

The pandemic also affected this year’s attendance which is a bit lower and didn’t grow as it did between the first and third years but Pikieris is optimistic saying “we understand and now it will still be really nice.”

Pikieris and Vladimir met many years ago and have coincided on many juried competitions “so we both thought, with Miami being such an ideal vacation destination for vacation in January, especially for South American families, we would offer this competition and while the ballerinas participated their families could enjoy the ideal winter weather here.”

The competition is also open to local dancers to participate in the masterclasses even if they’re not in the competition. The value and the learning is in the classes and the benefit is in the dancers’ training before they attend.

2022 Top dancers receive accolades from the organization. Photo by Patricia Laine Romero

“When I talk to the kids I tell them ‘just by being here you all won already, here you should be learning from and observing each other because just the effort you made and all those rehearsals before getting here, that’s where the benefit is, you’ve already improved. Once you’ve already committed to participate you’ve made that improvement’ “ said Pikieris.

Because the masterclasses are taught by top-notch teachers, Yanis and Vladimir merely walk around and give constructive criticism and whatever feedback they can. The renowned ballet masters and directors are from France, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and Malaysia.

2022 Div 2 First Place Winner Fatima Bodden. Photo by Patricia Laine Romero.

“We have several countries competing with very high quality judges attending this year’s competition as well as very high quality participants this year. I hope we find one new star in the bunch, and hopefully it can be homegrown, local talent,” said Issaev.

In all there are about 80 individual competitors as well as several duets to which Pikieris says “there are more than 100 people for sure.” Participants are divided into four age divisions between nine and 24 year olds and three categories Individual, Pas de Deux and Ensemble and hail from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, Panama, Ukraine, Colombia, El Salvador, Japan and the U.S.

“It’s very nice to see the kids in that environment and learn from each other, especially so many different countries,” said Pikieris

There will be nearly $90,000 in scholarships awarded and participants who face obstacles in attending the competition receive assistance via support letters to ensure they receive the visas necessary to attend. “We offer this for students and guests to ensure all can attend the event,” said Issaev.

Another highlight will be the closing day Gala, which is also free and open to the public and will feature an appearance by Karina Gonzalez and Connor Welsh, principal dancers with Houston Ballet.

WHAT: Miami International Ballet Competition
WHERE: The Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater, 17011 NE 19 Ave., North Miami Beach
WHEN: Jan. 25 5 p.m. opening ceremony; Jan. 26 2:55, 4:55 and 7:20 p.m.; Jan. 27 4 and 6 p.m.; Jan. 28 12:20, 2:55 and 4:25 p.m.; Jan. 29 noon and 1 p.m., 3 p.m. Awards Ceremony and 3:30 p.m. Ballet Gala
COST: Free
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