The Prix de Lausanne was founded in 1973 by the Swiss industrialist Philippe Braunschweig and his wife Elvire. Philippe, although not a dancer, became interested in dance as a young man. His Russian dancer wife developed his interest further.
The Braunschweigs created the competition after noticing the lack of financial support to young dance students, particularly those from small regional schools, wishing to attend professional level programs.
He started by approaching Rosella Hightower and Maurice Béjart who drew up the rules for the competition.
What started as small event has grown into an internationally acclaimed institution that draws candidates from all over the world. Over the past few years the competition has seen a big boom in Asian candidates. Because of the great demand by Japanese students to study abroad, an office was also set up in Japan.
The Braunschweigs announced their resignation at the end of the Prix in 1996. In March 1997, as the competition came to its 25th anniversary, the philanthropists handed over the Prix's direction to an executive committee composed of the Swiss Secretary of State, Franz Blankart and an artistic committee headed by Jan Nuyts, who worked with the Prix for many years. Mr Charles Gebhard is in charge of finances and Ms Patricia Leroy heads the actual organization. The Braunschweigs remain available as consultants and have managed to maintain the original mission of the competition.
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