A 12-year-old female Japanese ballet dancer has won the top prize for her age group for classical dance at a major international ballet competition for young dancers.

Yuna Yamada, a junior high school student from Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Saturday topped the category for girls aged 9 to 11 in classical dance at the Youth America Grand Prix, known as the world's largest student ballet scholarship competition.

Undated photo shows Japanese ballet dancer Yuna Yamada performing at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York. (Photo courtesy of LK Studio)(Kyodo)

"I am very happy because I was able to demonstrate the results of my hard work," Yamada said, adding that she hopes to become a ballet dancer who can bring joy and smiles to audiences.

Other young Japanese dancers excelled on the big stage as well, with 12-year-old Kohaku Kihara from Kyoto finishing second in the contemporary dance category for boys and Yuto Teranishi, a 10-year-old from Nagoya, coming in third for boys in classical dance.

Anne Takahashi, a 12-year-old from Saitama who was competing in the ages 9-11 division, finished third in both those categories for girls. Contestants are classified by their ages as of Jan. 1.

Japanese ballet dancers (from L) -- Eita Akita, Anne Takahashi, Yuna Yamada, Yuto Teranishi and Kohaku Kihara -- pose with certificates after competing in the Youth America Grand Prix on April 20, 2024, in New York. (Kyodo)

For the 12-14 age group, where no distinctions are made between the two dance categories, Eita Akita, a 14-year-old from Osaka Prefecture claimed the third place among boy contestants.

The Youth America Grand Prix was established in 1999 by former members of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet. It provides scholarships to young talents with diverse backgrounds to study at top ballet schools around the world.

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