AYŞEM SUNAL SAVAŞKURT
Administrative and Artistic Director of Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Director. Studied at Ankara State Conservatoire. Robert Denvers noticed her talent at the International Ballet Competition in Osaka and invited her to join the Royal Ballet of Flanders in 1990. Her personal success in “Giselle” was crowned with the praise by international press resulting in her promotion to Principal in 1995. She danced the entire repertoire of classical ballet as a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. As a guest principal dancer, she danced in leading roles with many renowed ballet companies including the Royal Danish Ballet, Dutch National Ballet (HET), the Royal Swedish Ballet, Houston Ballet, Estonian National Ballet, Miami Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.
She worked with many world-renowned choreographers in person including Rudolf Nureyev, Maurice Béjart, Jiří Kylián, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Mats Ek, André Prokovsky, Paolo Bartoluzzi, Joseph Lazzini, Attilio Labis, Nacho Duato, Anna-Marie Holmes, Christopher d’Amboise, Krzysztof Pastor and Mauricio Wainrot. In 2006 she returned to Turkey as a principal dancer and danced with İstanbul and Ankara State Opera and Ballet. She worked as a company teacher and répétiteur at Ankara, İstanbul, Samsun and Antalya State Opera and Ballet.
The ballets, in which she has danced the leading roles including Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, The Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, Cinderella, La Fille mal gardée, Don Quixote, Raymonda, Camelot, The Three Musketeers, Anna Karenina, Dracula, Carmina Burana, Paquita, La Bayadére, Golden Mean, Tango Fiesta, Looking Through Glass, Petite Mort,Еsmeralda, many performances of Balanchin etc.
She won the first prize in the competition “Prix du Luxembourg” and the second prize at the Prix de Houlgate. Dance Magazine picked her as one of the Top 5 ballerinas in the world. In 2001 she was awarded the best dancer of Belgium. She was awarded by Dance Magazine as Best Nikiya in “La Bayadère”. She received “Prix de Benois de la Danse” honor award in Moscow. She was awarded the best dancer in the festival by the Belfast audience for her Aurora role in The Sleeping Beauty at the Grand Opera House of Belfast. She was also awarded the best dancer at the Türkan Kahramankaptan Special Awards by the Lions Club. In 2016 She was invited to the jury of Varna International Ballet Competition. In 2018 she was invited to the jury of “Città di Spoleto” International Dance Competition. Also in 2018, she was invited to serve as Ballet Program Artist for the school at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program in the U.S.A. For Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, she staged “The Sleeping Beauty” (2017 / İzmir, 2023), “Don Quixote” (2018 / Ankara,2023) and “La Bayadère” (2023). In 2019 she choreographed for the opera “Carmen” by Istanbul State Opera and Ballet which was staged as part of the 26th International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival.
In June 2022, she became the Administrative and Artistic Director of Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, of which she is also the Ballet Director since 2015.