The Kid Should See This

João Vitor Santana, Prix de Lausanne 2020 Prize Winner

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A prize-winning accomplishment at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, 17-year-old João Vitor Santana performs his classical variation from Ludwig Minkus‘ 19th century ballet Paquita. The choreography is by Marius Petipa. Established in 1973, the international ballet competition for 15- to 18-year-old dancers was held in February of 2020.

Santana won an apprenticeship with the National Youth Ballet Hamburg. Hailing from Brazil, he has practiced his craft for four years. His story, translated from RFI:

João Vitor told RFI that he started doing ballet at the age of 13, in Barra Bonita, in the interior of São Paulo. One day, when he was going to play ball with his brother, he went to a dance academy and fell in love with what he saw through the windows:

“I was having class. I stayed there watching and the teacher asked me to do ballet, only I was ashamed and didn’t want to go. So my brother came back, picked me up and we left. He commented to my mother, to my parents, that I was attending ballet class and my mother asked if I wanted to dance. But I said no, because I was afraid of their reaction. Only I used to dance around the house ”, remembers João Vitor.

What happened next looks like a movie. His mother, Nilce Elaine de Melo, who works as a maid, took him to the gym, saying she wanted to do pilates.

“But when I arrived, my mother asked about the ballet, what was the cost. I went in to attend class. The other day, I was already doing it. My mom made this big surprise for me ”, she says. “I am very grateful to her for putting me in the ballet because today I look back and see that little boy looking out the window, seeing the ballet with his eyes shining, with that classical music entering his ears”, he says.

João Vitor Santana

João Vitor, who was bullied at school because of his height, found himself in the dance. “When I entered the ballet, it really changed my life. It took away the bullying that I suffered, made me be someone else, brought more security in myself ”, he explained.

Here’s Santana’s contemporary performance from the competition, a piece from choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Chroma by British composer Joby Talbot.


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