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Natalia

2006 Benois De La Danse Nominees Incl. Yesina, Kondaurova, Sarafanov

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Some huge - maybe even a bit odd -- surprises here, folks!

According to the following article in the Moscow-based newspaper Gazeta (or 'Newspaper'...very original title)...

http://www.gzt.ru/culture/2006/03/30/210444.html

....the nominees for the 2006 Benois de la Danse -- the 'Oscars of Ballet' -- have been announced by jury chairman Yuri Grigorovich. Awards will be given during the two-day Benois de la Danse Festival at the Bolshoi, on April 25/26.

Best Male Dancer of 2005 Nominees -

Nicholas LeRiche of POB - for his role in 'Caligula'; Grigorovich also commended LeRiche for being the first non-Russian Spartacus...but the nominationis for 'Caligula'

Benjamin Pech of POB - for Romeo in the Nureyev production of Romeo & Juliet

Leonid Sarafanov of the Kirov - Albert in Giselle

Joseph Gatti of Cincinnati Ballet (!!!!) for 'Le Corsaire pdd' as performed at the 2005 Moscow Int'l Ballet Competition

Kim Hen-Un of Korea, also for Le Corsaire (not sure if this is also from the Moscow IBC...odd...

Wan Di of China - soloist of the Guanchou People's Army Ensemble (first time that a 'folk' dancer is so honored)

Best Female Dancer of 2005 Nominees -

Tamako Akiyyama of Japan for the contemporary ballet 'Aluminium"

Kim Chzhu-Wong of Korea - Medora in "Corsair" (???Moscow IBC???)

Janessa Touchet, of Cincinnati Ballet - leading role in Cinderella (a possible Cincinnati sweep???!!!)

Olga Yesina of the Kirov - Odette-Odile in "Swan Lake"

Ekaterina Kondaurova of Kirov - Zarema in "Fountains of Bakhshiserai"

Congrats to all of the nominees. What a huge honor for Cincinnati Ballet, my goodness, its soloists considered on par with Paris Opera Ballet and the Kirov-Mariinsky! Good for Cincinnati & the USA!

p.s. - The article noted that, following the disclosure of the nominations, almost all questions dealt NOT with the Benois Prize, but with the rumors of Vishneva's new contract with the Bolshoi.

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I'm puzzled as to the nomination of Nicholas LeRiche as Caligula as I wasn't aware he actually danced the role. Jérémie Bélingard and Mathieu Ganio were the only two casts announced as far as I am aware (I saw Ganio in the role). LeRiche was actually the choreographer, or am I missing something here?

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Now that you mention it - I am also puzzled as to Yesina's nomination as Odette-Odile. I know that she was scheduled to debut the dual-role in early December, at the Mariinsky, then pulled out. Did she ever dance the role??? Perhaps on tour, in Berlin?

Did Sarafanov really dance Albrecht, for that matter? Sorry - I'm too lazy to pore through my cast lists for 2005.

Maybe Grigorovich saw all of these dancers in those roles, in his dreams? :)

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and speaking of grigorovich, don't miss the STAGE review of the bolshoi in england where a bolshoi SWAN LAKE performance led by alexandrova/filin/belogolovtsev is said to have been choreographed by grigoriev.

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I mean no disrespect, but this seems a very odd mixture of nominees, considering the thousands and thousands of performances that occur around the world in various forms of dance each year.

Comparing apples and oranges (and anchovies, for that matter) would be quite easy compared to voting on this list. Esepcially since several of the dancers may actually have not performed the pieces for which they are nominated!

Natalia has kindly explained many of the procedures of this award on the thread concerning the nomination of the two Cinncinnati dancers. For those who have not read that thread, here's the quote:

QUOTE: "Dancers are nominated by a committee that is headed by Yuri Grigorovich. I have no idea how the committee cast its net, worldwide, to select the ultimate nominees but they are an interesting mix!

"There have been ABT (and maybe NYCB?) dancers nominated recently....Angel Corella & Jose-Manuel Carreno, for example.

"There is no competition after this, as far as I know. Much like the Oscars and Emmys, the nominees assemble in Moscow for a ceremony & somebody says "The envelope, please..." Winners' names are read. Perhaps the nominees will dance excerpts from their nominated role(s)? There is a gala of some sort each year, I know. Last year, it featured Vishneva & Malakhov. Sorry - I've never experienced this event, except for seeing occasional TV reports every April/May!

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Good point, Bart. Like you, I don't mean disrespect. I'm genuinely delighted that some lesser-known dancers, such as the two Cincinnati soloists, have 'snuck in.' However -- I'll speak only for those who I've seen and...ahum....the nomination of Ms. Kondaurova's Zarema raised my eyebrows. Just read my recent review of her Don Q Street Dancer, in the 2006 Maiinsky Festival thread, to get an inkling of my suspicions. (wink-wink)

Had Kondaurova been nominated for her role as the 'tall girl' in 'In the Middle, somewhat Elevated...' (Forsythe), then I'd be the first one placing a gold medal around her neck.

Did Grigorovich et al consider, for example, from among all ballet performances, all over the world, in 2005:

* Part's 'Swan Lake' at ABT?

* H. Cornejo's 'Spectre de la Rose' at ABT?

* Bouder's 'Firebird' or 'Ballo' at NYCB?

* Cojocaru or Kobborg in ANYTHING, with the Royal Ballet...or for their amazing Don Q in the 2005 Mariinsky Festival?

* Gudrun Bojesen or Thomas Lund or Kristoffer Sakurai...or any of the other Royal Danish dancers' performances during the big Bournonville Festival?

* Sonja Rodriguez in the historic reconstruction of Balanchine's 'Don Q' by the Farrell Ballet?

* Obraztsova's Juliet & Kolb's Romeo, with the Kirov at Covent Garden?

* Sarafanov's Ali, at the Kennedy Center?

...to name but a few that instantly come to mind?

How can an isolated solo or pdd in a competition -- no matter how prestigious that competition & deserving that medal -- be deemed worthier than a full performance, in regular repertoire? And if we are to consider competitions -- then how could they name Gatti (wonderful as he was) but ignore Dennis Matvienko, the guy who won top honors at the Moscow IBC?

Sheesh...why didn't they ask me (or you!) to be on the bloody committee??? :)

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Did Sarafanov really dance Albrecht, for that matter? Sorry - I'm too lazy to pore through my cast lists for 2005.

Sarafanov danced Giselle last June with Osmolkina.

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bart quoting Natalia:

Natalia has kindly explained many of the procedures of this award on the thread concerning the nomination of the two Cinncinnati dancers. For those who have not read that thread, here's the quote:

QUOTE: "Dancers are nominated by a committee that is headed by Yuri Grigorovich. I have no idea how the committee cast its net, worldwide, to select the ultimate nominees but they are an interesting mix!

When Nadia Veselova-Tencer (Artistic Director of the Stars of the 21st Century Ballet Galas) was a judge for the Benois Prize a few years ago, she nominated Lucia Lacarra (who went on to win it) for the award. So that might explain some of the seeming randomness of the selected nominees. You have to have someone in your corner!

This reminds me of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" which they run every January. I know that one of this year's gifted "25" was chosen because she happened to dance in the right place at the right time and was seen by the right person who nominated her for the list. Sure, there are many others of like caliber who would have been chosen had the planets lined up right for them. I'm afraid that the Benois is run a bit similarly.

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I know that one of this year's gifted "25" was chosen because she happened to dance in the right place at the right time and was seen by the right person who nominated her for the list. Sure, there are many others of like caliber who would have been chosen had the planets lined up right for them.
It's sad and frustrating when talented dancers are rendered invisible by geography.

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Did Grigorovich et al consider, for example, from among all ballet performances, all over the world, in 2005:

* H. Cornejo's 'Spectre de la Rose' at ABT?

* Cojocaru or Kobborg in ANYTHING, with the Royal Ballet...or for their amazing Don Q in the 2005 Mariinsky Festival?

And if we are to consider competitions -- then how could they name Gatti (wonderful as he was) but ignore Dennis Matvienko, the guy who won top honors at the Moscow IBC?

Cornejo was nominated for Spectre de la Rose for last year's Prize. I suppose he could have been considered again, but it doesn't seem a likely thing to do, and not for the same piece, since the governing rules state that the nominations are for a "first-time" performance in a role.

See:

Herman Cornejo

Alina Cojocaru won the Benois de la Danse Prize as best female dancer in 2004 for "Cinderella". I don't know if a dancer can win the Benois twice. No one has yet.

Actually, Joseph Gatti did not compete at the Moscow IBC. This was a mistake in reporting. He won the gold medal at the NYIBC last June. His performance of Le Corsaire with the Cincinnati Ballet must be the one that is up for the prize. CB's AD Victoria Morgan is on the jury.

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Marga - A huge 'thank you' for all of these explanations. They certainly clarify the situation. I rarely follow Benois de la Danse and was hoping that someone like yourself would enlighten us!

STILL - Regardless of circumstances & who-knows-who, I am very happy for the positive exposure of two talented American dancers. How can anybody quibble with that?

Rita - Thanks for the tidbit on Sarafanov's Albrecht. I completely forgot. Lots was happening last June & that one fell through the cracks of my memory.

Hopefully, someone can enlighten us on Yesina's Odette-Odile. Perhaps she danced it in December in Germany? I know that her originally-scheduled debut at the Mariinsky was postponed.

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I hope I can offer a more lucid explanation of the chain of events leading up to the 2-day Benois Prize gala in Moscow. Because of all the supposings (my own included, though not posted) I phoned Nadia Veselova-Tencer (Benois Prize jury member in 2003) and asked about the procedure.

This is the play-by-play (unfortunately, this is not published anywhere accessible to the general public):

1) Members of the jury present their nominees via videotape to all other jury members through the mail (Nadia nominated Lucia Lacarra (who won), José Martinez and a choreographer in 2003.) Jury members review the tapes in the comfort of their own homes in their own countries.

2) All taped nominees are definite contenders. It remains for the jury to pretty much sequester themselves (it took 2 days in 2003) in Moscow prior to the gala so the individual jury members can present arguments for their choices in person to the other members of the jury.

3) After the hours and hours of deliberations, the winners are decided and proceedings continue to the "envelope, please" stage.

4) Prior to the gala in Moscow, certain nominees and past winners or past nominees have been asked to come to Moscow to perform at the gala.

Those nominated for the year's prize do not have to come to Moscow, but are very welcome if they are able to make the trip. Not all nominees have been invited to perform at the gala. Some of the present nominees may have been asked to perform, but it is up to them whether they go to Moscow. Their presence or non-presence in Moscow will not affect the outcome.

So, after the winners are announced on the first day, the invited-to-perform dancers dance on the second, some of them having just won the Benois Prize the previous night, some who are going home with the honour of having been nominated, some from past years (both winners and past nominees).

5) To sum up, the jury members decide on the winners on the basis of the videos they've seen and the arguments they've heard by the presenters (the jury members) of each nominee.

The Artistic Director of the Benois de la Danse 2006 is Nina Kudriantseva-Loory and the General Manager is Regina Nikiforova.

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Thanks, Marga, for that detailed explanation. It's complicated, but it now makes sense.

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Thanks so much for this explanation, Marga. Sounds like quite a tough job for the jurors!

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You're welcome, bart and Natalia!

Yes, it sounds tough -- like a regular jury trial! What an interesting way to do things in ballet.

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I'd still like to know how the jury came by a video of Nicholas LeRiche dancing Caligula though.

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I'd still like to know how the jury came by a video of Nicholas LeRiche dancing Caligula though.

I would bet that he is nominated in the 'best new choreography' category & not as a dancer.

I'm still wondering when, in 2005, did Yesina debut as Odette/Odile? Her scheduled debut at the Mariinsky, in the first week of December 2005, did not happen. She was subsequently scheduled to dance only the Black Swan pdd at the end-of-year gala in Baden-Baden but was not to have danced the full ballet on that tour (rather, Lopatkina, Nioradze & Tereshkina were listed). I am guessing that Yesina in fact was able debut the full role as a substitute to either Lopatkina or Nioradze or Tereshkina. Can any of our German Kirov-watchers confirm? I can't imagine that the Benois nomination came on the basis of Yesina dancing only the Black Swan pdd at a gala -- but crazier things have happened!

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I'd still like to know how the jury came by a video of Nicholas LeRiche dancing Caligula though.

I would bet that he is nominated in the 'best new choreography' category & not as a dancer.

I'm still wondering when, in 2005, did Yesina debut as Odette/Odile? Her scheduled debut at the Mariinsky, in the first week of December 2005, did not happen. She was subsequently scheduled to dance only the Black Swan pdd at the end-of-year gala in Baden-Baden but was not to have danced the full ballet on that tour (rather, Lopatkina, Nioradze & Tereshkina were listed). I am guessing that Yesina in fact was able debut the full role as a substitute to either Lopatkina or Nioradze or Tereshkina. Can any of our German Kirov-watchers confirm? I can't imagine that the Benois nomination came on the basis of Yesina dancing only the Black Swan pdd at a gala -- but crazier things have happened!

I checked my program from Baden-Baden. Olga (Y)Esina danced Odette/Odile with Danila Korsuntsev on december 27th, 2005 instead of Irma Nioredse.

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I'm sorry, but this whole thing doesn't sound like it's worth the bandwidth being spent to figure it out. It really strikes me as being no different than the various honors that Hollywood types bestow on themselves each year. I'm sure these are all excellent dancers but it's clearly not a true competition and, more likely, is little more than a glorified publicity tool for those involved. Better to spend our time and money helping companies stay afloat in their day-to-day operations.

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I checked my program from Baden-Baden. Olga (Y)Esina danced Odette/Odile with Danila Korsuntsev on december 27th, 2005 instead of Irma Nioredse.

Thanks, KarinR. This certainly explains the nomination. Happy to hear that Yesina actually danced the role. She is one of the loveliest & most elegant of the recent graduates (2004). I was impressed by her Dryad Queen at 2005 Mariinsky Fest and by her Lilac Fairy on the recent Detroit tour. With the possible exception of her 2004 classmate, Yulia Bolshakova, I consider Yesina the most talented lady to come out of the Vaganova Academy since the divine Obraztsova in 2002.

Of course, in a month or so we'll have the graduation of Marina Chugai and Maria Adkhamova, either of which could be the Vishnevas of the next decade, so we'll see... The 'factory' never ceases to produce potential ballerinas or premier danseurs.

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I'm sorry, but this whole thing doesn't sound like it's worth the bandwidth being spent to figure it out. It really strikes me as being no different than the various honors that Hollywood types bestow on themselves each year. I'm sure these are all excellent dancers but it's clearly not a true competition and, more likely, is little more than a glorified publicity tool for those involved. Better to spend our time and money helping companies stay afloat in their day-to-day operations.

The Benois de la Danse is not referred to as the "Ballet Oscars" for nothing! While very different from the usual ballet competition, where the assembled competitors have the added elements of urgency and "can-I-top-the-previous-competitor" angst, the Benois is still a valid award. It concentrates on finding (by having ballet directors present) first-time danced performances of extraordinary merit. The dictionary definition of "extraordinary" is "going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary". On this basis, dancers and choreographers, established or just beginning their careers, are brought forward (nominated) to be considered as prize-worthy. That is just like the Oscars, which bases its awards on the past year's performance achievements.

While many of us may have had enough of the Oscars and the movie industry patting itself on the back in front of the world via television and enormous media attention, I, for one, would be in seventh heaven if the Benois de la Danse was televised worldwide and received more than a jot of North American media attention. :clapping:

Here is some background info on how the Prize came into being:

The idea for the Benois de la Danse was initiated in Moscow and the founders succeeded in obtaining the patronage of UNESCO in the autumn of 1992.

The Benois de la Danse is always held at the end of April, as close to April 29th as possible, since that is the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), already celebrated as International Dance Day.

The Benois de la Danse recognizes with monetary awards exceptional events occurring during the previous year on stages around the world. These include dancing roles of all kinds as well as choreographic accomplishments.

There are three goals to be met:

1) to show the audience the best performances, regardless if they were by famous choreographers, ballerinas, dancers or their younger colleagues

2) to bring the best representatives of different dance styles and schools together and, aided by this event, allow them to continue this creative interaction

3) to support veterans of ballet financially with funds from gala concerts

The Prix Benois de la Danse was named after Alexandre Benois (1870-1960), whose work combined all kinds of art in one: music, theatre, stage design, art sciences. Benois was one of the most prominent figures of the ballet world during the Diaghilev years. His lineage includes a long list of various artists: at least 45 actors, architects, composers, sculptors, and poets. The painter Nicolas Benois (1901-1988) is his son. French sculptor Igor Ustinov (one of the artistic representatives of the younger Benois generation) created the statuette of the Benois de la Danse award in 1992. He is the son of the famous actor/playwright Peter Ustinov (who is the great-nephew of Alexandre Benois).

As for wasted bandwidth, I don't see it. BT is meant for critical discussion of all events in ballet from an audience perspective, which we are engaged in here on this thread. With so few contributors compared to other threads, we make but a mere dent in the bandwidth. The Benois is a spectator event after all, a big deal, full-house show in Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre every spring, complete with gorgeous program books. That alone makes it worthy of our attention and our research in order to comprehend it fully. And, as far as I know, none of our money is being directed to the Benois. The interest of a few BT members in discussing the Benois Prize doesn't take any money away from the day-to-day operations of any ballet company.

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Thanks, Marga, for the history and reasoning behind the Prix Benois.

I didn't know about the Ustinov connection. Anything tied to Peter Ustinov, however indirectly, is great in my book.

I agree that in a fairer, juster world events like this would get huge play in the US. Perhaps an American win (or wins) will jolt some of our mass media to pay a little attention. :clapping:

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Very well stated, Marga! I've learned more about this event from you that I have in 15 years of hearing about it on Russian TV reports, where news is delivered in vague loosy-goosy style....where emphasis is more on VIPs in the audience ("Vishneva has arrived!") than "What's this all about?"

Isn't it nice that the mere nomination to this prize allows us the chance to discuss (mostly) little-known, promising dancers? How else would we focus on some of these dancers, unless one of our forum's members happens to see one of them and write a report?

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Hi!

I am new to BT. I am actually kind of new to ballet. My child dances, not me! Of course, I had never heard of this award. Yes, our media would not likely have informed me. So, thank you Marga for telling me so much about it. I will now, more eagerly, look forward to hearing the results!

mouse

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