9-year-old Maltese ballerina makes it to world’s largest ballet competition

Lea Ellul Sullivan will face off with the best young ballerinas in the world during the April’s final of Youth America Grand Prix

Ballerina Lea Ellul Sullivan, 9, is the first Maltese dancer to compete at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP)
Ballerina Lea Ellul Sullivan, 9, is the first Maltese dancer to compete at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP)

For the first time ever, Malta will be represented in the world’s largest ballet and contemporary competition taking place in New York in April 2017.

Lea Ellul Sullivan, the 9-year-old ballerina mentored by Marisha Bonnici, conquered the semi-finals, which were held in Paris, securing her place for the final.

The young ballet dancer has been training at ArtsExcel dance school for the past five years and is the first-ever Maltese dancer to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), an international dance competition with entries from as far afield as Japan, Brazil and Australia.

Lea’s first trial in Paris for the semi-finals, held between 9 and 13 November, was at the Paris Opera Theatre.

The YAGP, which is the world’s largest global dance network, supports and develops world-class dancers aged between 9 and 19 from various economic, ethnic and geographic backgrounds through scholarships and auditions, as well as educational and outreach activities, among others.

“Lea started training at an international level at the School,” Bonnici, the artistic director at ArtsExcel, said.

“She has always shown great potential and she has the will and the artistry to go far. As per our school’s ethos – which is that if you really want it, we will push you to achieve it – we have helped Lea gain invaluable training and exposure abroad, including in San Remo, Prague, Bari, Livorno, and with the Ballettschule Theatre School in Basel.”

In Paris, Lea competed in the pre-competitive category with a classical and contemporary solo against another 100 dancers from Romania, France, the UK, Germany and Italy, among many other nations.

Lea was nominated for the elite competition by ArtsExcel after various international teachers and judges believed she could make the cut.

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