Graduates and students present spectacular new ballets at Academy Gala

With performances on Friday 21st and Sunday 23rd June, the Princess Grace Academy Gala was an extraordinary event, a unique stage experience at the mythical Salle Garnier in the Opera of Monte-Carlo that closes the ballet season. 

The highly prestigious dance school, intimately linked to the distinguished Ballets de Monte-Carlo, proudly displays its students’ skills and achievements, corroborating the faculty’s top-level training under the direction of Luca Masala. This year’s program included a variety of performances, from classical ballet to contemporary dance, showcasing the versatility and talent of recent graduates and current students. 

The Academy’s Gala is not just a farewell but a celebration of the Academy’s crucial role in shaping the future of these young dancers. It’s a moment for the new students to interact once more with the academy graduates poised to embark on their journey toward their future companies. After 15 years as Artistic Director of the Princess Grace Academy, Luca Masala proudly shared with Monaco Life in a recent interview, “We have a 100% success rate. All our graduates have secured positions in top companies worldwide”. This is the legacy he continues to build upon, a legacy of dreams realised and futures brimming with promise.  

A program rich in new creations

For the Gala, the Academy invited talented choreographers to create innovative pieces that would be performed exclusively by the Academy students. These choreographers, known for their unique styles and creative choreography, crafted performances that captivated the audience and showcased the students’ versatility and talent. 

The evening started with ‘Serenade’, the well-known classic piece choreographed by George Balanchine, music by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and ballet reassembled by Nanette Glushak. It continued with ‘Fly’, a creation choreographed by Elias Lazaridis in collaboration with Pavillon Bosio students, music by Hania Rani, and scenography by Isaac Elbaz, Maeva Lu-Chi-Vang, Elise Ogier, and Ambre Rougier. Lazaridis had told Monaco Life when his ballet was unveiled during the Imprevus, “Fly is a choreographic work that results from a process of physical and mental malleability. The dancers shift their attention from individual to collective, building a well-refined net of over-layered connections, creating a sense of collectivity and playfulness. We encouraged the dancers to be more adaptable and transformative through guided imagery and various choreographic ideas, requiring significant creativity and resourcefulness.”

Academy dancers performing Andante by Roland Vogel, during Gala Friday, June 21, 2024; Credit: Alice Blangero

Next wasAndante’, a creation choreographed by Roland Vogel and featuring music by Dmitri Chostakovitch. It was followed by ‘Mendelssohn Number 4’, a creation choreographed by Michael Rahn and music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.  

The program culminated with another creation, ‘Sang Mêlé’, choreographed by former dancer Julieta Martinez and featuring music Diablo Rojo by Rodrigo Y Gabriela. It was a stunning and dramatic ballet, where all nine Academy graduates wore black floor-length skirts lined in red, dancing vigorously in unison in a dark, almost sinister setting until one of the dancers was isolated. Monaco Life met Mexican Julieta Martinez, who said, “Sang Mele means sangre revuelta in Spanish (troubled blood). It is a kind of tribal dance where the chosen one is ultimately left alone because he is somewhat different from the others. It is about the paradox of coming together and separation.” 

As is customary during the Gala, the Graduates Video was projected honouring the 2024 graduates, a group of accomplished young dancers who have secured contract engagements in renowned dance companies worldwide. Their achievements, including prestigious awards and global representation, testify to their talent and the Academy’s excellence. At the end of the video, the audience burst into spontaneous applause, a heartfelt recognition of their hard work and dedication.

Meet the graduates and the companies they will join

Sharon Choi and Shunsuke Nakamura will join the Tulsa Ballet, USA.

Juliann Fedele-Malard, Prix de Lausanne 2024, Thomas Ruao & Muu Sakamoto will join the Royal Swedish Ballet in Sweden.

Paloma Livellara Vidart, Prix de Lausanne 2024, will join the ABT Studio Company, USA

Juliette Windey will join the San Francisco Ballet, USA.

Martinho Lima Santos, Prix de Lausanne 2024, will join the English National Ballet, UK

Filippo Mambelli will join the Semperoper Ballet in Dresden, Germany.

After the performance, Luca Masala invited the graduates and their proud families to an intimate cocktail party with teachers in one of the opera salons.

Academy dancers performing Serenade during Gala, Friday, June 21, 2024. Credit: Alice Blangero

Excellence is the Academy’s roadmap

The Princess Grace Academy was founded in 1975 at the initiative of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III. It was established to provide world-class training to aspiring dancers and contribute to Monaco’s cultural heritage. In 2009, the Princess of Hannover appointed Luca Masala as Artistic Director, per Jean-Christophe Maillot’s recommendation, to restore the luster of this dance school. Luca Masala has accomplished this mission, helping the Academy become one of the best dance schools in the world. 

The Academy’s primary goal is to train professional dancers who will, in turn, join major international companies. It is a school of dance and life. To accomplish this, they prepare students to develop the essential qualities needed to perform in this industry: discipline, respect for the profession, empowerment of the choreographic artist, openness to the world of the arts, and passion. The rigorous selection process ensures that only the most talented and dedicated individuals are admitted. The Academy’s success is measured by the number of graduates who join top companies and their continued growth and success in the industry. This commitment to the student’s success is unwavering, providing reassurance and confidence in the Academy’s training and promising a bright future for our students.

The students receive two end-of-term assessment reports that state their level in each discipline. At the end of the year, they sit an exam in front of a jury comprised of the Academy’s Director and teaching staff, the directors of professional dance companies, and professional guest dancers. The students who finish their studies receive a completion diploma (Certificat d’Aptitude de Danseur Professionnel). 

The Academy’s management is committed to helping students find a job at the end of their training. This commitment extends beyond graduation, with the Academy maintaining a strong alumni network and providing ongoing support and guidance to its graduates. This support includes preparing a presentation folder for auditions (photos, videos, and CV) and the Director personally contacting the Directors of Companies to organise auditions. Luca Masala told Monaco Life: “I am delighted and overjoyed, as the young students graduating from the Academy have become professional dancers, they have joined reputable companies, and are having great dancing careers, with a few of them playing leading roles in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s creations. It is a huge honour.” 



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Main photo credit: Alice Blangero