Kathryn Bradney, former principal dancer and ballet master of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, has interpreted the main roles of the Béjart repertoire all over the world and created in Lausanne the dance company and school Igokat with her husband Igor Piovano. In November 2017, she was appointed Associate Director of the Prix de Lausanne. While the countdown for the 46th edition of the Prix de Lausanne has begun, she shares with us her passion for dance as well as her perception of Lausanne.
What does the Prix de Lausanne represent for you?
The Prix de Lausanne is above all a unique springboard for talented young dancers. Its mission is to offer scholarships and apprenticeships to budding stars in a major dance school so they can then integrate an international company, such as London’s Royal Ballet or the American Ballet Theatre in New York. It’s also a unique week-long experience, often far away from home for young dancers, mentored by eminent teachers and coaches. It’s the first time they leave their country, and everything is organised to welcome and look after them well.
Lausanne is an iconic town in the domain of dance in Switzerland, as it is home to the Ballet Béjart, the Prix de Lausanne, as well as no less than 200 dance companies, the Dance Festival and a guided tour on the theme of dance. From your point of view, how is the City of Lausanne perceived in the world of dance?
For all promising young dancers, it’s a dream to come to Lausanne. I come from the United States, and when I was aged eight, the Prix de Lausanne already evoked a unique opportunity to dance in front of great professionals from the world of dance.
The name of Lausanne is also linked to that of Maurice Béjart, who moved his company to this town in 1987. Besides, if you take the metro, you’ll hear dance steps at the Riponne – Maurice Béjart station, as a tribute to the great choreographer. And with the Prix de Lausanne, dance strikes a chord for the whole town.
What would you tell Lausanne citizens to tempt them to come and discover the Prix de Lausanne rehearsals, open to the public?
It’s not only the opportunity to admire future great dancers, but also to see behind the scenes what the work of a dancer is really like, and the level of passion and perseverance that is needed to take part in the selections.
It is possible to watch the coaching sessions, to which some Lausanne dance schools will also have the chance to take part.
Your professional career involved a great deal of travelling. In what circumstances did you arrive in Lausanne?
I belonged to Maurice Béjart’s dance company in Brussels when he decided to move it to Lausanne. I followed. In the beginning, we were located in the August Picard College before finally settling at Beaulieu.
I remember well my first views of Lausanne: that incredible landscape with its majestic mountains, as well as its flowers and that cleanliness. I was very impressed by all that beauty.
We were warmly welcomed by the local population and I appreciated all those small things that make up Lausanne: the melodious accent, the absence of stress, the town’s slopes. And I remember clearly the visit to the Olympic Museum and tasting my first fondue at the Chalet Suisse. A new life was beginning!
As an American, do certain spots in Lausanne remind you of your country of origin?
The Flon District reminds me strongly of the United States: its architecture, its succession of cafés, the mix of shops, offices and pedestrian walkways. It’s a living space that blends activities and people, a modern and original meeting place.
I particularly appreciate the Nomade, where I go to savour a glass of wine in a cosy atmosphere.
If you were to name Lausanne’s signature spots, what would they be?
Firstly, Lake Geneva with the arrival in Ouchy by metro, the Olympic Museum, the charming Place de la Palud and the climb to the Cité by the Escaliers du Marché (a wooden and covered stairway), then the Hermitage and that walk that leads back down to the town centre. They are all very different places and yet geographically so concentrated.
What are your favourite addresses in Lausanne?
The department stores such as Bon Génie where I sometimes go to eat, as there is a beautiful view over the Place Saint-François, or Métropole 2000. But I also like the small boutiques at the Rue de l’Ale or the Rue du Bourg.
If Lausanne was a dance, which would it be?
It would be the Nutcracker ballet, as it’s a festive and international ballet with Chinese, Spanish, Russian, etc. dancers. It’s a beautiful blend and that’s also what Lausanne is about!