VARNA, Bulgaria (Kyodo) -- Japan's Haruto Goto received second prize Sunday at an international ballet competition in Bulgaria considered to be the "Ballet Olympiad," while three other Japanese dancers won third place in their respective divisions.
In the latest round of the Varna International Ballet Competition which began July 15, 18-year-old Goto won second place in the junior men's division, followed by compatriot Itsuki Omori, also 18.
For women, 16-year-old Elena Iseki came third in the junior division, while Miyu Takamori, 19, also placed third in the senior division.
"I am just truly happy," said Goto after winning the prize at the oldest and also one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world.
"I thought I should enjoy dancing from the bottom of my heart, so I tried to have fun by having conversations with my partner," said Goto, who paired up with Iseki in the final round of the competition.
The two are both enrolled in Berlin's state ballet school, and they became the first members of the school to win prizes at the competition.
Participants at the two-week competition are divided into groups of juniors and seniors depending on their age and participate either in couples or as soloists.
The biennial competition, which started in 1964, has often given the first international recognition to many well-known dancers, including Japanese ballerina Yoko Morishita, who won a top prize there in 1974.