The Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Edvard Fazer Prize has been awarded to danseuse étoile Eun-Ji Ha of the Finnish National Ballet. Ha received the cup and accompanying cheque for EUR 10,000 during the première of Giselle on the stage of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet on Friday 23 February 2018.
According to the jury’s reasoning, Eun-Ji Ha has for over a decade successfully fulfilled principal roles in almost all of the classical ballet pieces included in the National Ballet’s programme, as well as demonstrating masterly skill as a brilliant interpreter of several contemporary dance roles. She has also contributed to the Finnish National Ballet’s renown domestically and around the world by attending numerous international galas as a visiting soloist and taking part in Finnish tours. Among her co-dancers, Eun-Ji is a treasured and well-liked colleague who is always supportive and prepared to help her younger peers.
Eun-Ji Ha was signed on by the Finnish National Ballet in 2007, and named as a principal dancer in 2009 and an étoile in 2013.
The prize was presented by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Jari Sokka, and two members of the jury: Kenneth Greve, Artistic Director of the National Ballet, and Leena Niemistö, Chair of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Besides Greve and Niemistö, the jury includes Päivi Kärkkäinen, who was General Director of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet until mid-2017.
This is the 17th instalment of the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Edvard Fazer Prize, which has been awarded within the Finnish National Opera and Ballet since 1984. Previous winners are the dancers Aku Ahjolinna, Ulrika Hallberg, Maija Hänninen, Tommi Kitti, Jarkko Niininen, Juha Kirjonen, Barbora Kohoutková, Minna Tervamäki, Jaakko Eerola, Carolina Agüero, Timo Kokkonen, Nicholas Ziegler, Salla Eerola, Tiina Myllymäki, Samuli Poutanen and Michal Krčmář. All the dancers of the National Ballet received the Prize as an ensemble in 1994.
The Edvard Fazer Prize is a rotating trophy awarded biennially by the Finnish Cultural Foundation within the Finnish National Ballet for merits in promoting dance. The Edvard Fazer Prize was created during the Finnish National Ballet’s sixtieth anniversary year in 1982, and was first awarded in 1984. The trophy is a silver cup donated by the Titular Commercial Counsellor and Mrs Roger Lindberg and gifted by the staff of the Finnish National Opera to their then Director, Edvard Fazer, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday in 1931. In 1996, the Fazer Music Foundation transferred its assets to the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and the Fazer Music Fund was established. At that point the award was renamed the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Edvard Fazer Prize. Today the Fazer Music Fund is known as the Roger Lindberg Music Fund, and its purpose is to support Finnish musical arts and to continue awarding the prize that carries Edvard Fazer’s name.