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Italian tops int'l ballet contest, Japanese fails to win prize

Kaito Matsuoka performs at the Prix de Lausanne. (Kyodo)

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Kyodo) -- Seventeen-year-old Italian Marco Masciari won the top prize in an international ballet competition for young dancers Saturday, with Japan's sole finalist unable to bring home a trophy.

    At the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, American candidate Ava Arbuckle, 15, came second, followed by Brazil's Joao Vitor Santana, 17, in third place.

    "All the finalists are special. Just in the moment, one is better than the other when there are these high levels," said the president of the nine-person jury, Frederic Olivieri.

    Kaito Matsuoka, 15, was the only Japanese candidate to reach the final round, where 21 dancers competed for the prizes of one-year free tuition as a scholarship or apprenticeship at one of the event's renowned partner ballet schools or companies.

    "I think I did what I can," said Matsuoka. "I won't forget how I'm feeling now and will continue striving."

    Thirteen candidates from Japan -- eight girls and five boys -- were originally selected for the weeklong annual competition which had 77 participants from 27 countries between 15 and 18 years old.

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