Spotlight on IBC Standout Katherine Higgins

Earlier this month, American dancer Katherine Higgins took third place in the junior ladies division at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition. The prize comes with 1,500 euros and a hefty dose of prestige. Now training at the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp in Belgium, Higgins, 15, will soon head off to her next big challenge: Varna.

 

How was the Helsinki IBC different from previous competitions, like YAGP and Prix de Lausanne?

It was the first time I had to prepare six variations: four classical and two contemporary. The long span of two weeks of competition was also new. It was a great exercise of endurance!

 

How much time did you spend preparing?

Each day, I spent about four hours after class working on all the variations. Some days I only worked on details in port de bras or the little in-between steps, other days it was all about run-throughs and stamina.

 

What was Finland like?

Finland is full of the nicest people. And they speak English! I didn't have much time to explore but there was some beautiful architecture in the center of Helsinki that I saw when we got to meet the mayor, who planned this incredible lunch for HIBC participants.

 

How do you deal with nerves before competing?

I take some calm time to myself to review corrections and technical aspects, but also decide what I want to bring to the audience with this particular performance. Then, before I go on, I say a quick prayer, think about my family and tell myself to have fun and to dance: I am about to go do what I love most in the world—that's so exciting!

 

Do you have any competition superstitions?

I used to kiss the center of stage before a show. Now, if I can, I really like to sit onstage all by myself when no one is there. Being all alone there calms me; I feel how it is to be on that particular stage with no pressure at all.

 

What's the one competition you'd love to win?

I'd love to win anywhere! If I had to choose one, it’d be Varna IBC, because of all the talented people who dance there, and all the factors that play into the performance: the heat, dancing outside, late hours. It takes a strong person to dance well there. And I will have the chance soon: Varna is where I’m headed next—I can't wait!