Meet the 18 Americans Competing at the 2024 Prix de Lausanne

January 29, 2024

Dancers around the world have, once again, traveled to Switzerland to compete at the Prix de Lausanne. The 2024 competition, which runs January 28 through February 4 at Lausanne’s Beaulieu Theatre, is packed with classes, rehearsals, and performances as dancers vie for awards and scholarships. This year’s Prix also offers an exciting Rising Stars performance that showcases guest stars, past winners, freshly named awardees, and more.

Out of the 425 international applicants who submitted video audition materials this year, 81 dancers were selected to compete. Seven candidates were preselected, for a grand total of 88 competitors in 2024—44 girls and 44 boys, hailing from 19 countries. Eighteen of those dancers will represent the U.S.

Get to know the 2024 American Prix de Lausanne competitors below:

Cypress Schaff

Age: 15

Hometown: Cary, NC

School: International Ballet Academy (Cary, NC)

Cypress Schaff is one of the youngest dancers headed to Lausanne from the U.S. Already, she’s had extensive experience dancing abroad; she trained at the John Cranko Ballet School in Stuttgart, Germany, for the 2021–22 school year and performed a solo at the 2021 Youth American Grand Prix Nervi festival. An Angel Shine Foundation scholar, Schaff loves the ballet Giselle and will perform a variation from The Talisman at the Prix.

Grace Woodbury

Age: 15

Hometown: Cary, NC

School: International Ballet Academy (Cary, NC)

Grace Woodbury began taking dance classes at age 3. Most recently, Woodbury—who was named after the actress Grace Kelly—won first place in the YAGP semifinals’ senior category in Winston-Salem, NC. A travel enthusiast, Woodbury is thrilled to be competing at Prix. “It is a dream to have the privilege to be one of the contestants this year among so many talented dancers worldwide,” she tells Pointe over email.

Isabella Keesee

Age: 15

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

School: Elite Classical Coaching (Frisco, TX)

Isabella Keesee was the 2024 senior division grand prix winner at the YAGP semifinals held in Austin, TX, this past November, the same month in which she learned she’d been selected for the 2024 Prix. In an Instagram post, Keesee shares that she feels “shocked, honored, and humbled” to have been selected. “This has been a dream of mine for so long, and I can’t believe that it’s actually going to happen,” she writes.

Crystal Huang

Age: 15

Hometown: Fremont, CA

School: Bayer Ballet Academy (Mountain View, CA) and The Rock Center for Dance (Las Vegas, NV)

Crystal Huang travels between Las Vegas and Mountain View each week. A versatile dancer, Huang is strong in contemporary dance; she was named a 2023 New York City Dance Alliance Outstanding Dancer and is a three-time The Dance Awards Best Dancer. Huang is also a 2024 Young Arts Award winner for ballet and appeared as Clara in the 2021 Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Mia Staulo

Age: 15

Hometown: Mountain View, CA

School: Bayer Ballet Academy (Mountain View, CA)

Mia Staulo began dancing at the age of 4 and has gone on to compete at YAGP and ADC | IBC. No stranger to travel, Staulo, who is half Japanese, enjoys yearly trips to Japan each summer. She’ll perform a variation from The Awakening of Flora at the Prix; she looks forward to meeting other talented dancers and learning from the competition’s lauded teachers and coaches, she tells Pointe.

Madison Bevilacqua

Age: 16

Hometown: Rochester, NY

School: Draper Center for Dance Education (Rochester, NY)

Madison Bevilacqua began dancing at age 3, and this will be her second time competing at the Prix. She is excited to return, as last year’s competition was “an amazing and life-changing experience,” she says. Bevilacqua has also competed at ADC | IBC and YAGP and will be performing a variation from The Talisman at the 2024 Prix. She has two older sisters who also trained in ballet; “I look up to them, and they support me and inspire me to keep working hard doing what I love,” she says.

Natalie Steele

Age: 17

Hometown: Dana Point, CA

School: American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (New York, NY)

Natalie Steele started dancing at the age of 2 after her mother enrolled her in a program alongside day care. “I loved it so much I never wanted to stop!” she says. She went on to train at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy before joining the JKO School last spring and has participated in a variety of competitions and galas. “I am so excited to live out one of my dreams since I was 10,” she tells Pointe. “It’s an experience I have dreamt about. I have so many people in my life to thank for helping me get to the Prix.”

Melanie McIntire

Age: 17

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

School: Master Ballet Academy (Scottsdale, AZ)

You may recognize Melanie McIntire from her viral pirouette videos on Instagram. McIntire has been dancing since age 6, and she has competed at USA IBC and YAGP finals. She also regularly guests with Phoenix Ballet in their Nutcracker and performed as the Sugar Plum Fairy with Twin City Ballet in 2023. McIntire will perform the Esmeralda variation at the Prix and is excited to visit Switzerland for her first time traveling internationally.

Kailin Kratz

Age: 17

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

School: City Ballet School (San Francisco, CA)

Kailin Kratz trains under CBSF artistic director Galina Alexandrova. This will not be Kratz’s first time dancing abroad, as she attended the 2022 Helsinki International Ballet Competition. During the COVID pandemic, Kratz founded her own nonprofit, Clothing 4 Claras, which donates lightly used clothing from dancers in San Francisco and donates them to schools in need. ​

Katie Cerny

Age: 17

Hometown: Cary, NC

School: Philadelphia Ballet School (Philadelphia, PA)

Katie Cerny started dancing at the age of 2 and is a new member of Philadelphia Ballet II. She recently performed in 31 shows of Philadelphia Ballet’s run of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Cerny’s favorite ballets are Giselle and Coppélia, and she’ll perform the Aurora wedding variation at the Prix. She looks forward to learning from the diverse array of students and faculty in Lausanne.

Huscia Waldman

Age: 17

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

School: School of American Ballet and Aika Ballet School (New York, NY)

Huscia Waldman has also trained at BalletTech and Manhattan Youth Ballet in New York. His favorite ballets are Swan Lake, Giselle, and Études, and for the Prix he’ll perform the Prince Desire Act III variation from Sleeping Beauty. Aside from a few nerves about jet lag, Waldman is excited to dance in Lausanne and looks forward to meeting new people.

Max Berg

Age: 17

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

School: Elite Classical Coaching (Frisco, TX)

Max Berg looks forward to celebrating his birthday in Lausanne this year. “I am so incredibly honored to be participating in the Prix de Lausanne 2024,” he says. “It has been a long-time dream of mine.” Berg was also a member of the inaugural YAGP International contemporary ensemble in 2022, and his favorite ballet is Don Quixote.

Garrett Paul Lucero

Age: 17

Hometown: Cary, NC

School: International Ballet Academy (Cary, NC)

Garrett Paul Lucero has impressive contemporary chops; in December, he placed first in the male contemporary solo category at the ADC | IBC regionals in Raleigh, NC. (Check out this clip of his self-choreographed variation on the competition’s social media pages.) Lucero has also competed at YAGP and is a repeat attendee of the Boys Ballet Summer Intensive.

Carson Willey

Age: 17

Hometown: Pocatello, ID

School: The Rock School for Dance Education (Philadelphia, PA)

Carson Willey says a highlight of his dance journey so far is when he was invited to perform at YAGP’s 20th-anniversary gala at Lincoln Center. He looks forward to performing the Prince Desire variation from Sleeping Beauty at the Prix. “I am so excited to make so many memories and to see where this adventure takes me next!” he says.

Ethan Maas

Age: 18

Hometown: Lexington, KY

School: Cary Ballet Conservatory (Cary, NC)

As one of 11 siblings, Ethan Maas (who returns to the Prix for the second time) has a lot of fans cheering him on from home. Maas began dancing at age 13 and has since gone on to travel and train with master teachers across the globe. He is also a regular competitor and was selected as a semifinalist in the 2023 USA IBC in Jackson, MS. He’ll be performing the male “Grand Pas Classique” variation at this year’s Prix.

Rowan Lindamood

Age: 18

Hometown: Belfast, NY

School: Neglia Conservatory of Ballet (Buffalo, NY)

Rowan Lindamood is the youngest of five brothers and commutes 142 miles to attend classes in Buffalo six days a week; he recently spoke with the city’s 7 News WKBW channel about dancing the titular role in Neglia Ballet’s The Nutcracker last December. Lindamood has competed in USA IBC and YAGP and will be performing the Albrecht variation from Giselle at the Prix.

Sebastian Bondar

Age: 18

Hometown: Jupiter, FL

School: Elite Classical Coaching (Frisco, TX)

Sebastian Bondar is a former football and lacrosse player who began dancing at age 12. Bondar later moved to Texas to attend Houston Ballet Academy before joining ECC. He also comes from a dancing family—his father was a competitive ballroom dancer in Ukraine, and his mother studied at The Washington School of Ballet. “Competing in the Prix de Lausanne has been a dream of mine ever since I started dancing, and I am so honored to have been chosen,” he tells Pointe.

Young Creation Competitor: Quinn Bates

Age: 19

Hometown: Oakland, CA

School: School of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier (Hamburg, Germany)

This year, the Prix celebrates the fourth edition of its annual Young Creation Award. Fifty-five young choreographers from 19 of the competition’s partner schools submitted video materials of an original solo, and five were selected as finalists. Quinn Bates’ submission, Groovin’, features his Brazilian classmate Miguel Artur Alves Oliveira and will be evaluated on January 31 for one of two winning variations.

Other Familiar Faces

You may also recognize Viktoria Papakalodouka of New York City’s Ellison Ballet, who is representing Greece at the Prix, and Dominic Abiel Godoy Martinez of Mexico, who trains at the Joffrey Ballet Academy in Chicago, Illinois.