Don Mills ballerina competing at national competition

Jacqueline Sugianto is among 19 Canadians participating in prestigious event

Dance has been a part of Jacqueline Sugianto’s family for three generations.

The 15-year-old Don Mills resident is taking her ballet skills to the next level as she takes part in the Genée International Ballet Competition from Aug. 20 to 29. It’s the first time since 2008 the event has been hosted on Canadian soil.

The Genée, a prestigious ballet competition, brings candidates from 13 different countries — Australia, Brazil, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the U.S.A. — to Toronto.

Sugianto’s sisters, Stella Leowinata and Emily Sugianto, as well as their mother Linda Leowinata, and their maternal grandparents all took part in dance, grandma in traditional Chinese dance and grandpa ballroom.

But Jacqueline is the first to compete at the Genée. In addition to the familial feat, she’s also the youngest member of the 19 Canadians competing.

“I guess it’s a little nerve-racking because I’m going to be in class with all of these older candidates, but I don’t plan on putting any additional pressure on myself,” Sugianto said in a mid-August phone conversation.

The process for Sugianto to get to the Genée was to finish the Intermediate, Advanced and Advanced 2 tests at the Royal Academy of Dance. The latter of the three, Sugianto completed with distinction.

Once she was finished, she found out the Genée was coming to Toronto and she applied.

“That was a win-win situation. I wanted to enroll,” she said. “So, I chose my classical variation and I started to choreograph my other variation.”

Dancers will fine-tune three solo performances — a 19th- or 20th-century classical variation, a personal piece and a world-premiere piece, which will be choreographed by renowned Canadian-Italian dancer Gioconda Barbuto.

Judges for the semi-finals and finals include Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada; Dame Monica Mason, former Director of The Royal Ballet; Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of Boston Ballet and Magdalena Popa, Principal Artistic Coach of The National Ballet of Canada.

Sugianto has performed in the National Ballet of Canada’s presentation of The Nutcracker, in addition to the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Pan American Games.

Her mom, who owns the Poise Dance Academy in Don Mills, is happy for her daughter.

“I’m very proud of Jacqueline and for her effort that she can come this far with her dance performance,” she said.

The Genée will have events at the National Ballet School, Betty Oliphant Theatre, and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available for the semi-finals Aug. 26 to 27 and the finals on Aug. 29.

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