Ballet competitions are a way for young dancers to make their presence known in the ballet world, to win prizes and scholarships and be seen by company directors. Among the most prestigious are the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss., and the Varna International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. The Youth America Grand Prix, in New York, is the focus of Brookline native Bess Kargman’s documentary “First Position,” which opened this past May and follows six young dancers as they strive to reach the 2010 finals.
For the past two years, we had our own such event: the Boston International Ballet Competition, the creation of Valentina Kozlova, a former principal with the Bolshoi Ballet and, later, New York City Ballet. Kozlova is the director of the Dance Conservatory of New York in Manhattan, but she chose to bring her competition here because, as she told me last year, “I have a special weakness for Boston, for Massachusetts, for New England. Boston makes my heart very warm; I love the city. It’s very small, very compact; everything is very accessible.