Salavisa European Dance Award

The Salavisa European Dance Award (SEDA) aims to pay tribute to Jorge Salavisa, artistic director of Ballet Gulbenkian between 1977 and 1996, and to recognize talented dancers from all around the world.

Created in 2023 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to honour the legacy of the Portuguese dancer, teacher and artistic director Jorge Salavisa (1939–2020), the Salavisa European Dance Award (SEDA) will be attributed to artists from all around the world who demonstrate talent or special qualities that deserve to be better known beyond their national borders.

This award, which provides a sum of €150,000 in prize money, hopes to establish itself as an incentive for young artists who do not fall within a strict age category and are still little known on the European circuit due to their artistic discourse or their social and cultural background.

Since its creation in 1956, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has played a central role in the development of culture and the arts in Portugal.

The Ballet Gulbenkian (1965–2005), a repertory company which staged the classics of modern and contemporary dance, was decisive in the development of this art form. The ACARTE Encounters (1987–2000), an international performing arts festival which hosted and co-produced emblematic works of so-called new European dance, also had a crucial impact in establishing independent dance in Portugal.  

However, Gulbenkian Foundation’s role in developing dance extends to other important areas such as the regular awarding of scolarships and the provision of grants for projects, research and the internationalisation of artists and their work.

The creation of a European dance award is therefore another Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation initiative that furthers its mission to promote dance in Portugal and the rest of the world.


Accompanying the Gulbenkian Foundation in setting up this award are six European cultural institutions which will play an active role in nominating candidates and presenting their work to the public:

Founded in 1984 by Ismael Ivo and Karl Regensburger, ImPulsTanz has evolved into one of the largest contemporary dance and performance festivals worldwide. Every summer, the festival showcases a distinctive array of more than 50 productions, 220 workshops and research projects, a daily music programme, as well as films, music videos, installations, and book presentations to more than 150,000 visitors.

In addition, ImPulsTanz hosts various educational and training programmes for dance students and young artists with a variety of mentors and coaches.

KVS is Brussels’ city theatre. It reinterprets repertoire in relation to the city, which has a growing global influence. The theatre fosters an open ensemble of creators, performers, choreographers, and authors who, collaboratively, develop both individual works and shared projects through cross-pollination. Based on an inclusive perspective of the potential of art, KVS aims to be an intercultural, inter-generational and open-gender city theatre with a resonance that reaches far beyond Brussels.

Dansehallerne is a national centre for dance and choreography in Copenhagen.

Co-producing and presenting a diverse range of national and international performances, while also facilitating professional training and industry events.

Dansehallerne has a strong focus on cultivating an efficient and sustainable ecosystem for dance and choreography in Denmark nurtured by, and in dynamic valued exchange with, the organisation’s local and global associations.

Maison de la Danse is a distinctive hub for dance in Europe. For the past 44 years, it has consistently pursued a singular artistic policy of embracing dance in all its diverse forms and techniques, inviting both major choreographers and young creators, blending creation and repertoire, nurturing the interest of young people, and championing aesthetic diversity.

Currently, a new additional location is being developed in Lyon – les Ateliers de la Danse. This new location, which will be dedicated to creating, producing, and presenting amateur works, should be completed by 2026.

The Biennale de la danse de Lyon is one of the world’s foremost dance festivals. For 40 years, the Biennale has been promoting dance through dedicated support for creation and performance and cultivating a rich dialogue between various strands of choreographic expression and other art forms.

The Biennale attracts a large and diverse audience, as well as professionals from France and around the world. Its influence extends across nearly 40 towns and cities in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, in multiple locations ranging from theatres to disused industrial sites – and even the street with the Défilé, a grand parade celebrating diversity and community togetherness.

Based in Munich, Joint Adventures is a nationally and internationally recognised organiser that has been active in the field of contemporary dance at the intersection of various art disciplines since 1990. Through close collaboration with national and international partners, Joint Adventures curates and organises festivals such as Tanzwerkstatt Europa, guest performance series like Access to Dance depARTures, residency programmes, workshops, and discursive formats.

As a facilitator of the National Performance Network, Joint Adventures successfully promotes structural support and exchange between artists and organisers in order to strengthen the presence of dance creators based in Germany throughout the country and around the world.

Sadler's Wells is a world-leading dance organisation. It strives to make and share dance that inspires. Its acclaimed year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance and tango to tap.  

Sadler's Wells commissions, produces and presents more dance than any other organisation in the world. Since 2005, it has helped to bring more than 200 new dance works to the stage, embracing both the popular and the unknown.

Another partner is the Kees Eijrond Foundation. Kees Eijrond was a great friend of Jorge Salavisa and a driving force behind SEDA.

Associated experts

Every two years, each partner institution associates with an organization or individual expert, broadening the horizons of the SEDA network in terms of policy content, background and geography. Together with the partner institutions, the associated experts propose candidates from any continent.

In 2024, the associate experts are:
Andreea Capitanescu – WASP – Working Art Space and Production (Bucharest, Romania);
Faustin Linyekula – Studios Kabako (Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo);
Gintarė Masteikaitė – LDIC – Lithuanian Dance Information Centre (Vilnius, Lithuania);
Helly Minarti (Munique) – koreografi (Lingkaran, Indonesia);
Hsin-Yuan ShihNational Theater & Concert Hall (Taipei, Taiwan);
Ice Hot Nordic Dance Partners (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland);
María José Cifuentes – Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Centro GAM (Santiago de Chile, Chile);
Quito Tembé – Kinani – Festival Internacional de Dança Contemporânea (Maputo, Mozambique);
Talita Rebizzi – SESC São Paulo / Bienal de Dança de São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil).

Attribution of the award

The Salavisa European Dance Award will be attributed every two years. From a long list of 21 nominees proposed by the partner institutions – three each – five will be shortlisted for the award. These five nominees will be announced publicly and evaluated by an independent jury comprising three members of different nationalities who will be responsible for choosing the winner.

As part of the award, which has a prize of €150,000, the winner will also be presented on the stages of cultural institutions from the partners’ network.

The award ceremony – which will be held for the first time on 27 November 2024 – will take place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

Jorge Salavisa (Lisbon, 13 November 1939 – 28 September 2020) began studying dance under Anna Mascolo before furthering his training and career in Paris and London. He worked with some of the greatest names in world ballet, such as Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

Before returning to Portugal in 1977, at the invitation of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Jorge Salavisa worked with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Ballet National Populaire, Ballet de Paris and London Festival Ballet (where he was the first non-Briton to take up a position).

In addition to being artistic director of Ballet Gulbenkian (a position he occupied from 1977 to 1996), he also taught in various cities in the US, at the Portuguese National Conservatory School of Dance (EDCN) and at P.A.R.T.S. – Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Belgium, of which he was also a founder.

One of the country’s most influential cultural programmers, Salavisa was responsible for the dance events during Lisbon’s period as European Capital of Culture in 1994. He was also Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Ballet of Portugal (CNB) and Director of the São Luiz Teatro Municipal.


Updated on 11 december 2023

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