Fifty professional and amateur dancers will compete in the third Cape Town International Ballet Competition, the third since its inception in 2008.

Twenty-two of the entrants are South African with six from Cape Town: Junior category: Nicola Lubbe and Claire Barrett (teacher Karen Jooste), Gabriella Ghiaroni (teacher Liane Penny), Mthuthuzeli November (teachers Denise Schultz and Louis Godfrey); Kelly Mobey (teacher Martin Schonberg); Senior: Sara-Lee Chapman (teacher Martin Schonberg).

The standard of the competition has been enhanced by its association with similar events such as the Youth America Grand Prix, the South Korea International Dance Competition and the Genee International Ballet Competition.

For the first time male and female participants will be judged sepa-rately in both the classical and contemporary sections.

In the junior divisions, dancers aged 15 to 18, and the senior division dancers, aged 19 to 28, appear as soloists and couples and gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as cash prizes totalling R300 000, will be awarded.

The jury assessing the entrants includes Kevin O’Hare, director-designate of the Royal Ballet; Ramona da Sáa, director and professor, National Ballet School of Cuba; Leticia Müller, former ballerina of Birmingham Royal Ballet, UK and Pact Ballet, SA; and Lynn Wallis, artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance, London.

Returning judges are Septime Webre, artistic director of The Washington Ballet, Washington DC; Hae Shik Kim, professor emeritus, Korea National University of Arts, chairman of the Korea Ballet Festival and chairman of the Korea World Dance Day; Mario Galizzi, artistic director, Ballet de la Plata, Argentina; and SA-born Charla Genn, faculty member, Julliard School, New York.

Dancing at the finals and the two gala performances between March 2 and 4 will be ballerina Angela Malan, from Mzansi Productions, and Iain McDonald, the artistic director of the SA Ballet Theatre, dancing a pas de deux from The Merry Widow, choreographed by Ronald Hynd.

Jazzart Dance Theatre as well as Dance for All’s young InSPIRAtions will also perform.

The Cape Dance Company will present two acclaimed works by Christopher Huggins – the award-winning Enemy Behind the Gates and the lyrical When Dawn Comes.

The elimination rounds take place today, tomorrow and Thursday at 7pm, with tickets costing R40 per person.

The final is on Friday at 8pm, with tickets ranging from R65 to R225.

Winners will be announced at the Gala performance on Saturday at 8pm.

A second Gala has been added for Sunday at 3pm, at which the winners and distinguished international and local ballet stars will perform.

In addition, the SA candidate to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix will be announced.

Tickets for both Galas cost from R190 to R300.

– Theresa Smith

• All events take place at the Artscape Opera House.