Houston dancer takes top honor
It's a great day in Switzerland for Houston Ballet
Houston Ballet student Christian-Emanuel Amuchastegui has won the Prix du Lausanne, marking the first time in Houston Ballet's history a student has taken home the top honors in the prestigious international competition.
And that's not all. Amuchastegui, 18, also won the "audience favorite" award.
Wait, there's more. Houston Ballet students Aaron Sharratt placed fifth and Xiang Liao made the top 20.
Amuchastegui, a native of Argentina, wowed the judges with his jumping and serious air-time in a variation from August Bournonville's La Sylphide and an excerpt from Cathy Marston's The Tempest. The young dancer's long lines and perfect-for-ballet feet, give him an onstage elegance.
"Not only is Christian-Emanuel an outstanding dancer, but he is very generous personally. He impressed us during the week with his constant good humor, his kindness to others, coupled with his remarkable ability to focus on his goal and take advice from the Prix's teachers and coaches," said Patricia Leroy, Secretary General of the Prix. "We look forward to witnessing how his career develops."
Houston Ballet associate director Shelly Power credited Houston Ballet II ballet master Claudio Munoz, along with the help of Sabrina Lenzi and Andrew Murphy for the stellar showing. Power and Munoz were in Lausanne for the competition, along with Amuchastegui's father, Gustavo Adolfo Amuchastegui.
"It was so gratifying to watch Emanuel take the top prize, taking his father's hand and leading him to the stage and watching their embrace," Power said. "His father had not seen him dance in two years."
Sharratt danced solos from The Sleeping Beauty and Christopher Wheeldon's Commedia and Liao also danced an excerpt from The Sleeping Beauty and Marston's Traces.
The Swiss ballet competition for students between 15-18 is largely considered one of the best career jump starters in the ballet world. Winning, placing and making the finals opens doors to a professional career in a major company. It's a unique situation in that the dancers are observed in ballet and contemporary classes and in both a contemporary and classical piece. It's not just about flashy technique. judges are looking for intelligent dancers who take correction well, are willing to learn and excel in their artistry.