Switzerland has a vibrant classical and contemporary dance scene.
Dance as an art form initially became established in Switzerland with classical ballet, when a large number of dancers and choreographers from abroad settled in Switzerland during the First and Second World Wars. Switzerland currently has six institutional ballet companies, in Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Bern, Lucerne and St. Gallen as well as the privately run Béjart Ballet, in Lausanne. Since the 1980s, the arrival of independent companies and individual artists has brought new forms of contemporary dance to Switzerland. The country now has around one hundred dance troupes.
Zurich Ballet, the Béjart Ballet in Lausanne, the Philippe Saire company and the choreographers Heinz Spoerli and Gilles Jobin are renowned worldwide for their work. Switzerland also hosts a number of dance festivals, such as the Berner Tanztage, the Oltener Tanztage, La Bâtie in Geneva, ‘Steps’ (which tours the country), and the Zürcher Theaterspektakel.
The annual Prix de Lausanne, which was created in 1973, recognises up-and-coming young dancers from around the world. Previous winners of the award, which includes scholarships to train at prestigious ballet schools, has gone on to have hugely successful careers.