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#16 Natalia


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Posted 29 June 2003 - 10:37 AM

Short report now, as this darn interactive TV gizmo in my hotel is not working easily.

Nutshell - lots of super talent, but...well...

Very quick thoughts on Round III's Bayaderka pas de deux.

* Men - Jonathan Jordan of DC, and Takuma Oshiba of Japan impressed me most among men. Neither was perfect, though, so I see, at best, a sharing of the silver medal among those two. Draw a big line and give a "pewter medal" to all the rest of the men.

* Couples - I loved the adagio of the Georgians the best, among all couples (too bad that their respective solos were not quite as sharp as the initial adagio). I also almired the long lines & charm of the Danish pair, although the lady was shaky; the man has tons of charisma.

* Ladies - I would not bet on a gold -- or a silver -- medal for any of the ladies this year, although each of them has a commendable quality. But no one ballerina quite put it together..except, perhaps, for one of the noncompeting partners, Kathleen Breen Combes of DC. How the HECK did she not make it to round 3..compared to those who did...is beyond logic. (I wasn't the only one in the audience saying this; then again, I missed rounds 1 and 2. )

Alexandra - I've been in the US for two weeks. Just happen to be here :)

GLEBB - I will be in seat E116 for gala. Hope to see you. These three weeks must have been lots of fun for you. This is supposed to be a super-friendly group of competitors...Ilona Copen & Eleanor D'Antuono stressed this in their speeches.

#17 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 June 2003 - 03:26 PM

Jeannie - thanks for the report (I was across the plaza at NYCB). I tried to clean up the glitches in the post above until the bottom where I just wasn't sure what was being typed. I hope I didn't get it wrong - my apologies if I did!

#18 sneds


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Posted 29 June 2003 - 07:48 PM

Well, Kathleen Breen Combs ended up receiving the Lefkowitz (sp?) Award for Achievement.

I don't have the whole list of winners, as it was quite a challenge to write names down in the dark , but the big news is that two gold medals were awarded, as well as a Youskevitch Award.
Only three gold medals have ever been awarded at NYIBC, the only man to receive a gold being Jose Manuel Carreno. This year, both Ogulcan Borova of Turkey (Ballet Internationale) and Cesar Morales of Chile (Ballet de Santiago) were awarded gold medals and Ludmila Pagliero of Argentina received the Youskevitch Award. I saw both men in rehearsals and was very impressed.

The Youskevitch Award is a one year contract at ABT, but the I'm not sure of the terms, as the only previous awardee, Carlos Molina, received the award in 1996, but did not join ABT until 1998. Does anyone know more about the award?

Also, the NYIBC will now take place every other year.

I was very impressed by all the performers tonight-it's not a large stage and sounded as if it wasn't sprung, or at least not the best of sprung stages. Rehearsing in the small studios at Fiorello Laguardia High School was obviously good practice for the Alice Tully Hall stage.


#19 Natalia


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Posted 30 June 2003 - 05:42 AM

Leigh, thanks for the edits. I, too, ventured across the plaza to the final 'Midsummer Dream' of NYCB...which turned out to be the most felicitous offering on my dance card this weekend. (Woah! who is this amazing Teresa Reichlen as Hypolita??? I can't wait to see her again in St Petersburg! :D )

Sneds - i'm happy that you were impressed by the gold medalists and the IBC competitors. Sorry to differ but, in a nutshell, this was -- by far -- the least impressive field of finalists to have ever ventured onto a stage, in my 20-year history of attending competitions of this sort around the world.

What we saw last night, with the awarding of not one, but two, rarely-achieved gold medals to two equally-mediocre young men, is beyond reason and logic. Even the most impressive of the men -- DC's Jonathan Jordan -- was not of gold medal standard. I would have given Jordan -- who achieved a bronze medal, behind FOUR men deemed better-or-equal than he (two golds, one silver & a shared bronze) -- a silver. And I may have tied Jordan with a Japanese dancer who earned no medal whatsoever -- the tall, elegant, lyrical Takuma Oshiba.

What were these judges thinking? [Whatever they thought...I couldn't help but notice how "P-O'd" Jury Chairman Natalia Makarova looked while slouching down in her seat on the stage, during the naming of the prize winners...if looks could talk (or "kill")...]

Instead, here were the prizes for the men:

GOLD - shared by Turkey's agressively-in-your-face Ogulcan Borova and Chile's lightweight modernist Cesar Morales.

Borova's Bayadere solo in the finals (repeated at last night's gala) earned him my sobriquet "Mr. Chop-Chop" because, during the cabrioles and brises, he does not lightly beat his feet together butm rather, "scissors" his legs far apart and CLAP-CLAPS them like a machine. Maybe he impressed some in the audience -- including, undoubtedly some judges -- by the agressive dynamo style but, in my book, Solor is a role of elegance and classical purity, not an all-guns display performed with the countenance of a World Wrestling Federation fighter.

As for Morales, I can forgive an earth-bound Solor solo, when balanced off with a truly stylish, slinky, sexy modern solo to a techno beat (repeated last night, from round 2), "Rock Your Body," by choreographer Bernard Courtot. But GOLD??? [To put this into context, the last time that the NY-IBC awarded any man a gold medal was in 1989 -- Jose Manuel Carreno. 'Nuf said.]

SILVER - Denmark's dark-haired, personable Kristoffer Sakurai. A nice surprise...after a mediocre Solor in Friday's Round III (due to his lack of expension in splits and less-than-pliant torso). Last night's gala showed me why he won a medal - dazzling footwork in 'Kermesse in Bruges pas de deux" (repeated from Round I) and lots of personality in his modern solo (from Round II) "When Without" by Chor. Louise Midjort.

BRONZE - another tie - USA/Washington Ballet's Jonathan Jordan -- the overwhelming crowd favorite -- and Russia's Alexei Agoudine.

OK, so Jordan's placement disappointed many people...just as his partner, Kathleen Breen Combes (also of Wash Ballet), failed to make the finals, although many knowledgeable attendees crowned her their unofficial Ladies Gold Medalist after her stunning Nikiya in Round III. Jordan was, to me, the only man to perform Solor with brilliance last Friday - steps, personality/cool classical demeanor (not World Wrestling Federation style), and partnering of Ms Combes. So he is a bit more demi-caractere in his heigth, perhaps? Even I wouldn't have quite given him a gold medal...but he was the best among all the finalist men...and to deem him FIFTH among a pack of mediocre gents is a huge slap, IMO. But Jordan's talent is now known...and he will soar above it all, in the end. [It's a shame that, in tonight's gala, Jordan could not show off his forte - his virtuosic classical style but, rather, danced an impersonation of an Alvin Ailey Dancer in an afro-beat solo from Round II, "Possession," by Ire Macintire.

I cannot quibble with the honor accorded Russia's Agoudine...as I originally had him pegged for the bronze (with only Jordan and, possibly, Japan's Oshiba above him, in my book). Agoudine has a crisp, sharp -- yet gently classical -- style. Alas, the gala crowd did not get to enjoy the classicism tonight, as Agoudine danced, instead, his Round II self-choreographed sinewy solo, "Time".

Last night's gala featured one more amazing male dancer - Mikhail Ilyn of Miami City Ballet, an alumnus of the 2000 competition (silver medalist), who danced Glen Miller's "St. Louis Blues March" chor'd by Edward Vilella. Too bad that this year's competition has no Mikhail Ilyns.

As for the ladies...

They were, on the whole, weaker than the men. Of the six ladies who made the finals, I would have given a medal -- and only a bronze, at that -- to Argentina's Ludmila Pagliero, a long-limbed, perfectly proportioned beauty with the feet of a Paris Opera Ballet danseuse. [Remember -- Washington Ballet's Kathleen Combes did not make the finals...so, among the remaining six, Pagliero was tops.] I will never forget the impact of her "singing" line and phrasing in Friday's Round III 'Bayadere pdd' adagio section. Gorgeous! [It's too bad that, on Friday, she botched every one of her pirouettes in the 'scraft solo'...and elected to do only 'clean singles' tonight...and even THEY were not truly clean...but her poses and adagio technique are gorgeous.]

So how did Pagliero actually fare? On top of the 'best-after-Kathleen Combes' group, thank goodness. Pagliero earned the top ladies medal, a silver, as well as a special honor -- the Igor Youkevich Prize, including a one-year stint with ABT.

As with the men, two dancers shared bronze medals: Georgia's long-limbed beauty (with a bit of a Nina Ananiashvili countenance), Victoria Jaiani, and the USA's brunette dynamo, Caitlin Valentine.

I admired Jaiani and partner Temur Suluashvili's pliant romanticism in the Round II modern 'Duet' to Chopin, from Jose Limon's 'Mazurkas.' Last Friday, I considered their 'Bayadere' adagio to have the most beutiful lines -- a 'best couple' of sorts. This is a couple with true artistry and charisma although, based just on Friday night's solo work, I would not have given either one a medal. yet, they are lovely as a pair.

The Lefkowitz Award "for a dance or dancers with special attributes" went to one dancer this year -- Kathleen Breen Combes of the Washington Ballet...and the audience cheered like crazy when her name was announced...as if to yell "Thank Goodness"! In tonight's gala, Ms Combes was every bit as impressive as she had been in Friday's Round III 'Bayadere,' this time displaying her ballet-perfect proportions and pliancy in a purple unitard, dancing Septime Webre's "And So It Goes."

The gala featured many other dancers -- other non-prize-winning competitors from this year PLUS four alumni-medalists from previous years. Time & space does not allow me to mention all but, among the 2003 competitors, I loved Takuma Oshiba's humorous-yet-suave personality in "Smoking"; on the other hand, alumnus Venti Petrov's literal characterization of a typewriter -- to the clicking music "The Typewriter" -- struck a typo.


The best moments of the gala, however, took place at the very start, in Part I, when the curtain was raised to reveal a galaxy of former and present luminaries from the world of ballet -- from judges Makarova, Kain, Eifman, Platel, Van Dantzig, Andersen. Merle Park, to competition officials/faculty Martine Van Hamel, Eva Kloborg, Eleanor D'Antuono -- who made me think of Manhattnik's words about her...I couln't stop laughing...Manhattnik, you devil, you have forever 'tainted' my thoughts of this poor woman!!!

But, best of all, a special Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement was presented to one of my all-time grandest-of-grand ballerinas -- Cynthia Gregory. I had goosebumps as she got up to claim her medal from the presentor, her long-time friend and colleague Roni Mahler. All in the audience at Alice Tully Hall stood up and cheered this icon of American ballet. So, in the end, it is this positive impression that I will keep in my heart.

#20 Alexandra


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Posted 30 June 2003 - 12:02 PM

Thank you for that, Jeannie! I've heard reports from several people who were also disappointed in the dancers -- too many competitions so that the talent is spread too thin?

This won't add anything, I fear, but here's the official press release announcing the winners, just for the record.

June 30, 2003
For Immediate Release


The 2003 NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION came to an exciting conclusion Sunday June 29th with the announcement of the winners and a performance at Alice Tully Hall/Lincoln Center.

Medalists this year are:



CYNTHIA GREGORY also received an honorary Gold Medal for her participation,e ither as teacher, coach, member of the Jury, or President of the Jury, in every NYIBC since its inception 20 years ago. Her Medal was awarded by Roni Mahler.

TONY RANDALL was host for the Awards Ceremony; ILONA COPEN is founder/director of NYIBC; ELEANOR D'ANTUONO is Artistic Director.

The 2003 Jury consisted of:
NATALIA MAKAROVA (USA) President of the Jury
FRANK ANDERSEN (Denmark), Artistic Director, Royal Danish Ballet
BORIS EIFMAN (Russia), Artistic Director, Eifman Ballet
KAREN KAIN (Canada), Associate Artistic Director, National Ballet of Canada
ELISABETH PLATEL (France), Paris Opera Ballet
GUSTAVO MOLLAJOLI (Argentina), Artistic Director, Ballet do theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro
DAME MERLE PARK (England), former Director, Royal Ballet School
RUDI VAN DANTZIG (The Netherlands), former Artistic Director, Dutch National Ballet.

During the 2-week preparation period that preceded the public Competition, June 25-29 at Alice Tully Hall, the dancers learned which three pas de deux had been chosen.for this year. They each came with a solo of not more than 3 minutes, which some were invited to dance on Friday night and at the Gala on Sunday night.

The three pas de deux were:
KERMESSE IN BRUGES by Bournonville, taught and coached by Thomas Lund and Eva Kloborg of the Royal Danish Ballet
MAZURKAS by Jose Limon, taught and coached by Roxane D'Orleans Juste of the Limon Company
SHADES PAS DE DEUX FROM LA BAYADERE, taught and coached by Martine van Hamel.

As always, the Competition was attended by directors of ballet companies all around the country. Even Broadway's "Movin' Out' moved in on NYIBC - the show sent representatives to watch the dancers in class and rehearsal, and offered private auditions to two of the entrants.

#21 glebb


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Posted 01 July 2003 - 05:59 AM

Since plenty has been written on the competition already, I'll just give some brief comments.

The Limon pas de deux - Duet (Opus 41, No.1) from "Mazurkas" was exquisite, soulful and incredibly musical. It was choreographed in 1958 and to me looked like it could have been the inspiration for 'Dances at a Gathering".

Deborah Wingert's classes were excellent and the dancers seemed to enjoy them very much. Ms. Wingert is very musical and though trained in the Balanchine style/technique she also incorporated other styles/techniques for a well rounded class.

Hyek Chen (Korea), Katie Pivarnik (USA), Christopher Rickert (Australia), Laura Kleinke (USA, who looks facially like a very young Makarova), Yuki Sento (Japan), Vitali Krauchenka (Belarus) were all fine and interesting dancers.

Especially worthy of mention is Eddy Tovar (Cuba) who was in my opinion the best in "La Bayadere". I'm not sure why he received nothing. He seemed to have it all and he even showed genuine concern when his partner slipped in "Kermesse." I didn't love his comtemporary solo, but he performed it amazingly.

I also have to mention that Caitlin Valentine (USA) performed the difficult pointe work of the "La Bayadere" scarf pas best of all the women.

These young people deserve kudos for how well they did. No sprung floor was installed at Alice Tulley Hall and they rehearsed and performed on that stage for a full week. It must have been quite difficult for young artists who are used to only working on sprung floors

#22 Natalia


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Posted 01 July 2003 - 08:30 AM

Thanks, Glebb. I'm sure that seeing all dancers in class, in addition to the three competition-performances, adds so much to the overall evaluation. At the quadrennial Vaganova Competitions, round I is a class. (Same thing at Lausanne?) I remember spotting Igor Kolb in round I, in 1995, by just watching the placement of his legs and beautifully pointed feet...he ended up winning a medal...went back to Belarus for a year...is now a star with Kirov-Marrinsky.

I wish that we could 'talk'.

re. Eddy Tovar - very personable performer and, indeed, the Round III audience really cheered him and his partner, Caitlin Valentine, to the rafters. My applause was a bit more subdued but, yes, they were likeable.

I have my notes made during the dances & can share with you. I had one major concern about Tovar &, I'm sure, that is what judges caught onto...then again, our tastes (and eyes?) really diverged on the male medalists, so maybe my concern was not the same as theirs!! ??

(In case anyone wonders, I make notes 'in the dark' & have developed a system, though the years, of jotting down just-what-I-need-to-know to recall plusses/minuses on each competitor, as I review notes. I keep individual pieces of paper on each dancer with 'plus' and 'minus' columns...trying to keep the minus column as clear as possible, of course. ;) )

#23 Guest_plies to jetes_*

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Posted 08 July 2003 - 08:20 PM

I saw the whole competition... Very interesting I must say. I'd love to hear your notes from the shows! I can't believe 2 golds were given out to men!!!!

#24 Alexandra


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Posted 08 July 2003 - 08:50 PM

Hi, plies to jetes -- welcome! What did YOU think? Was that two golds too many? :)

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