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Varna 2008

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I'm a bit confused. In another site, it says that there was NO GRAND PRIX for JUNIORS (as well as seniors) this year.

Does the SPECIAL Prix/Distinction stand in between the Junior GRAND PRIX and the Junior Woman's GOLD MEDAL (received by Fumi Kaneko)?

(That is, in terms of points achieved, highest is Grand Prix, 2nd is Special Prix, and 3rd is Gold?)

The prize won by Ms. Jensen stands above Junior Gold. From Varna site, it is the same Special Distinction won by Mr. Vasiliev at Varna two years ago. Not only is Varna's wording the same for the two dancers, but major forums in France and in Russia are announcing it as such for Ms. Jensen.

So both won Special Distinction. However,looking back to 2006 results at Varna's site you are right in that in full 2006:

The title "22ndt INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION - VARNA 2006 LAUREATE" shall be awarded, as well as the following distinctions:

"SPECIAL DISTINCTION - VARNA 2006" - Diploma and Medal - IVAN VASILEV - BELARUS

But for Ms. Jensen Google translator gives:

In II-ra group B - Minor age again was not served prizat "Laureate of the XXIII International Ballet Competition - Varna 2008"

Special honors - Varna 2008 - diploma and a medal in devoykite Witney Jenson received from the United States.

Hi! Love reading the board, always so much fabulous info. Just wondering in reference to the above: I have seen that just today, it was announced on the Kozlova school website that Whitney Jensen was awarded the Grand Prix. It can be found at www.vkdcny.com. According to the posts here on Ballet Talk, Ms. Jensen did not receive the grand prix, but according to the vkdcny website she did. I got confused again. If I read the list of awards, I would take it to mean that she received the lower award of Special Prix and that the Laureate/Grand Prix was not actually awarded to anyone. But perhaps I am just confused or didn't understand right. They have announced it in two separate places on their website: on the banner running across the top and on the link for Awards and Honors. Maybe someone over here can clear this up!

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The highest of all awards (Grand Prix) has been awarded just twice. At the Senior level to Vladimir Vasiliev at the first Varna competition and then at the Junior level to Ivan Vasiliev (no relation) at 22nd (the one before the current competition). However Ms. Jensen's award is still very special, above a Junior Gold, and her significance was made very obvious at the Awards Ceremony (see photos above).

Varna is notorious for its lack of information. But in addition to their official site (in Bulgarian, so with help of translator), reports in the Bulgarian press as well as from France and Russia (of course nothing in her own country's media) that I have read all agree.

Added for (hopefully) clarification at 12:39 AM: The history of the Varna IBC is covered in great detail in "Varna Ballet Olympiad" by John Gregory, even acknowledged on the competition's site. This book covers the years 1964-1980. Terminology seems to have varied during that time, as well as since. They have always considered Juniors and Seniors separately. At the Senior level there have always been Gold, Silver, and Bronz awards. But early on a high percentage of competitors received medals: at the first 5 Gold, 9 Silver, 7 Bronz (plus Mr. Vasiliev's "Grand Prix and Gold"). Over time this dilution has faded away. At the Junior level technically (although we in the west have identified these in terms of metal as well) the corresponding awards have been First, Second, and Third Class Distinctions. At least through the years covered by the book no Junior had received "Special Distinction", the still higher award given to Ivan Vasiliev in 2006 and to Whitney Jensen in 2008 (I do not know about the other years since 1980). In current Varna terminology "Laureate of (number) IBC" appears to be their term for Grand Prix, and two years ago it was reported that Ivan Vasiliev was the first ever to win this at the Junior level (and even their current site says Vladimir Vasiliev is still the only such winner at the Senior level).

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WARNING: I tried to open the website of Ms. Kozlova's school, http://vkdcny.com , and it caused two of my browsers to malfunction. Thunderbird closed twice and AOL froze twice.

If others have had better luck opening the website, please let us know.

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WARNING: I tried to open the website of Ms. Kozlova's school, http://vkdcny.com , and it caused two of my browsers to malfunction. Thunderbird closed twice and AOL froze twice.

If others have had better luck opening the website, please let us know.

I went again to see if it still opened or made me freeze and it worked. I used internet explorer, which is pretty much what I use for everything. If you google her school or Mme Kozlova herself, that link comes up as the school website.

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The highest of all awards (Grand Prix) has been awarded just twice. At the Senior level to Vladimir Vasiliev at the first Varna competition and then at the Junior level to Ivan Vasiliev (no relation) at 22nd (the one before the current competition). However Ms. Jensen's award is still very special, above a Junior Gold, and her significance was made very obvious at the Awards Ceremony (see photos above).

Varna is notorious for its lack of information. But in addition to their official site (in Bulgarian, so with help of translator), reports in the Bulgarian press as well as from France and Russia (of course nothing in her own country's media) that I have read all agree.

Added for (hopefully) clarification at 12:39 AM: The history of the Varna IBC is covered in great detail in "Varna Ballet Olympiad" by John Gregory, even acknowledged on the competition's site. This book covers the years 1964-1980. Terminology seems to have varied during that time, as well as since. They have always considered Juniors and Seniors separately. At the Senior level there have always been Gold, Silver, and Bronz awards. But early on a high percentage of competitors received medals: at the first 5 Gold, 9 Silver, 7 Bronz (plus Mr. Vasiliev's "Grand Prix and Gold"). Over time this dilution has faded away. At the Junior level technically (although we in the west have identified these in terms of metal as well) the corresponding awards have been First, Second, and Third Class Distinctions. At least through the years covered by the book no Junior had received "Special Distinction", the still higher award given to Ivan Vasiliev in 2006 and to Whitney Jensen in 2008 (I do not know about the other years since 1980). In current Varna terminology "Laureate of (number) IBC" appears to be their term for Grand Prix, and two years ago it was reported that Ivan Vasiliev was the first ever to win this at the Junior level (and even their current site says Vladimir Vasiliev is still the only such winner at the Senior level).

Golly, that is as good as a ballet history lesson. Thank you! Will go to the Dance Library to look up that book next time I can visit NYC. Much thanks again.

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WARNING: I tried to open the website of Ms. Kozlova's school, http://vkdcny.com , and it caused two of my browsers to malfunction. Thunderbird closed twice and AOL froze twice.

If others have had better luck opening the website, please let us know.

The actual address is http://www.vkdcny.com. I don't know if the omission of www makes any difference? I just saw that you didn't have the www, maybe that has something to do with it. I took note of the address in the address bar when I went a second time since I saw your post about the freezing.

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Thanks, toasteroven, but the "www." didn't fix it for me. :FIREdevil: Even with Internet Explorer. It just took a few seconds longer to close IE. :wink:

Welcome to Ballet Talk.

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I'm able to reach the site using toasteroven's link.

Ms. Kozlova is quite glam.

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Thanks, toasteroven, but the "www." didn't fix it for me. :rofl: Even with Internet Explorer. It just took a few seconds longer to close IE. :ermm:

Welcome to Ballet Talk.

Thank you, glad to be here! I saw that Helene got to the website and said that Mme Kozlova is "quite glam." That's true! Very nice pic/headshot of her on the home page and she looked pretty chic in the Awards page picture also. She was always a very beautiful and striking lady, whenever I saw her dancing in past years. A lot of presence and charisma.

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Many more photos are being added to the official photo site:

http://sportnitanci.com/webga/index-757.html

Included are American dancers (with number of photos posted so far in parens):

Erica Wong (19)

Tarasina Masi (25)

Douglas Home (12)

Shea Johnson (52)

Brooklyn Mack (23)

Rebecca King (15)

I would not be surprised to find more to come.

Special Distinction and trophy winner Whitney Jensen appears in 43 photos (so far) from Esmeralda, with partner Albert Davydov, here:

http://sportnitanci.com/webga/thumbnails-1924.html

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Is it me or do Whitney Jensen's legs and feet never seem to straighten? That's a special distinction winner?? wow

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If you check out Whitney's YouTube clips (there are three), you may realize how much a good photograph depends on the photographer's timing. I think this photographer needs to sharpen his, at least for ballet.

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I don't know in my opinion if you can only look ok in about 1 out of 43 photos, then there is something wrong....you can even see it in the videos

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YAGP has given an official winners list for Varna 2008, including the "non-medal" prizes:

http://www.yagp.org/eng/news.asp

From this it seems that the photos-list of Americans above is complete.

Am I right in assuming that "promising" Alexandra Mukhamedov is daughter of THE Mukhamedov?

Also "HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CLASSICAL WORK" for Ms. Jensen.

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Am I right in assuming that "promising" Alexandra Mukhamedov is daughter of THE Mukhamedov?

Yes

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FINALLY! An American newspaper becomes aware of Whitney Jensen's Varna achievement. Her home state newspaper offers a feature on the dancer (they make the "Grand Prix" error for the "Special Distinction" award, we've been through all that earlier on this thread, but at least they knew!):

http://www.sltrib.com/arts/ci_10284858

Now living in New York City by herself - chaperoned by her sister and brother-in-law who live just five minutes away - Whitney plans to finish her last year at Kozlova's Dance Conservatory of New York and then possibly move to Budapest, where she has been offered a first soloist position with the Hungarian National Ballet.

ABT, should we blame the negligence of the NY Times for your missing this one???

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An article* in today's Deseret News offers more information on Junior Special Distinction winner Whitney Jensen. While lumping the terms Special Distinction and Grand Prix (as seen earlier in this thread, both applied in 2006 to Ivan Vasliev, but just the former to Ms. Jensen), the article does give information on the rarity of the Special Distinction award:

The Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria has only given out four Special Distinction Grand Prix awards in its 44-year history.

Those winners are Vladimir Vasiliev, Rolondo Sarabia, Ivan Vasilev and Whitney Jensen.

Out of all those, Jensen is the only female and the only dancer from the United States to be awarded that honor, which was presented to her last month.

For the competition she was prepared by her teacher Valentina Koslova:

"I danced variations from 'Diane and Acteon,' 'Harlequinade,' 'Le Corsaire' and the 'Black Swan,"' Jensen said. "I also danced two contemporary works by Igal Perry and Chantelle Collier, which my sister Bryn helped me restage."

Jensen's goal was to complete the first round and get into the second, she said.

"I really had no expectations, though," she said. "But after the second round things happened so fast. My heart was beating so fast, and when they called my name, I was so overwhelmed and shocked. I couldn't believe that I got it."

She has entered and won prizes in a number of competitions:

"I began moving towards ballet because I developed a goal to do ballet competitions," Jensen said during an interview at the Deseret News. "I wanted to compete and live in Europe."

A few years ago, Jensen performed as Clara in the "Christmas Spectacular" at the Radio City Music Hall. While in New York, she and her mother searched for a ballet school.

They found Valentina Kozlova's Dance Conservatory in New York, run by Kozlova, a former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer.

"We looked at all the big schools and weren't impressed," Lausanne Jensen said. "But when we met Valentina, I knew she was the one for Whitney."

There is a nice four photo set of the dancer included in the article.

* http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,700256501,00.html

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I found it interesting that according to the article, "her mother, Lausanne, directed Dance Corp Esprit. Her two sisters, Sarah Jayne Jensen and Bryn Dowling, are Broadway veterans." That plus Jensen's goal of dancing in Europe makes a lot of sense of Lausanne Jensen's comment, "We looked at all the big schools and weren't impressed...But when we met Valentina, I knew she was the one for Whitney".

I would think that a family that has its own tradition of other types of dance, and a child with a goal to join a European company, would be particularly open to finding a teacher with European/Russian training outside the US company "feeder" schools, someone who would be a mentor to their daughter. It looks like this strategy worked!

Very smart of Hungarian National Ballet to make an offer which has not yet been accepted, according to the official news we've seen so far. Other European companies could try to steal Budapest's thunder.

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Special Distinction and trophy winner Whitney Jensen appears in 43 photos (so far) from Esmeralda, with partner Albert Davydov, here:

http://sportnitanci.com/webga/thumbnails-1924.html

sorry for being off topic a bit - Albert Davydov dances with NJ Ballet, and the NJ ballet-mistress, Luba Gulyaeva assisted Valentina Kozlova in "molding" Whitney.

To some other poster - i did hear "not-possitive" remarks of Whitney's legs, but her artistry and properly picked choreography managed to "mask/ make-up" for it (and don't start the list of Dancers with "imperfect" legs who have the DIVA/STAR lapel on their sholder ;_))

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The English language version is now on Varna's website and contradicts the original Bulgarian release reported earlier on this thread and also Russian and French reports at the time. It appears Ms. Jensen's awards are the SAME as Ivan Vasiliev's two years before! She also received the "Varna 2008 Laureate," that had been previously reported as not given. Brava!!!

Group "B" - Juniors

The title "23 INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION - VARNA 2008 LAUREATE" shall be awarded, as well as the following distinctions:

"SPECIAL DISTINCTION - VARNA 2008" - Diploma and Medal WHITNEY JENSEN - USA

http://www.varna-ibc.org/

In the original Bulgarian release (July 31 above) Mr. Vasiliev's had differed from Ms. Jensen's:

The title "22ndt INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION - VARNA 2006 LAUREATE" shall be awarded, as well as the following distinctions:

"SPECIAL DISTINCTION - VARNA 2006" - Diploma and Medal - IVAN VASILEV - BELARUS

But for Ms. Jensen Google translator gave:

In II-ra group B - Minor age again was not served prizat "Laureate of the XXIII International Ballet Competition - Varna 2008"

Special honors - Varna 2008 - diploma and a medal in devoykite Witney Jenson received from the United States.

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Further information on Whitney Jensen's win was given by Nina Alovert* in last week's issue of Brooklyn's Russian language weekly, Russian Bazar. Included was an interview with Ms. Jensen's teacher Valentina Kozlova that included a quote from Varna's judge Vladimir Vasiliev. Referring to Ms. Jensen as Grand Prix winner, the first American to do so in the competition's 44 year history, Ms. Alovert quotes former Bolshoi and NYCB ballerina Kozlova:

"I am very proud: To think that in New York there are such schools as the School of American Ballet, ABT's school, the Joffrey's, yet we have achieved this success in my small private school."

At the competition in Varna already during the second round, some members of the jury congratulated her for having such a talented and well-trained pupil. The famous Vladimir Vasiliev congratulated her and said "I never expected from an American student such mastery of the Russian school, even more such beautiful hands and posture-- she danced so purely! ... I hope that your students, Valya, will not forget that it is from you they have learned". After finishing the second round Jensen received an offer from the director of the ballet troupe of the Budapest Opera House of a permanent job, immediately at the level of first soloist. And when she won the Grand Prix, other proposals of this kind followed.

But why didn't she try for ABT?, I asked.

Kozlova responded, "ABT prefers to take those who first dance with their second company. But Whitney does not find that company's repertoire interesting. And in Budapest she can work on the main roles of the classical repertoire. She is only 16 years old."

The rest of the article goes into great detail about Ms. Kozlova's school, and also alerts readers that Whitney Jensen will be dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy in Valentina Kozlova's production of the Nutcracker this coming Saturday at NYC's Symphony Space.

* http://www.russian-bazaar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=13887

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Ms. Alovert quotes former Bolshoi and NYCB ballerina Kozlova:

"I am very proud: To think that in New York there are such schools as the School of American Ballet, ABT's school, the Joffrey's, yet we have achieved this success in my small private school."

But why didn't she try for ABT?, I asked.

Kozlova responded, "ABT prefers to take those who first dance with their second company. But Whitney does not find that company's repertoire interesting. And in Budapest she can work on the main roles of the classical repertoire. She is only 16 years old."

I have a few comments/questions - first of all congrats to Whitney

Do students from the schools like SAB, ABT etc. tend not to enter these competitions because they see a different career path?

As far as company hiring goes, how many competition winners does a company need? How does winning a competition reflect upon fitting into a company? If you need some wonderful corps people who can develop into soloists or dramatic dancers do you need competition winners who are eager to do Don Q ppd?

Maybe I am going off to a new topic, but I am curious about the competition winner vs valuable company member thing. Thank you all.

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As the parent of an SAB dancer, I can tell you that participation in any competition, is, and has been for as long as I know "strongly discouraged"(notice posted on student bulletin boards) and viewed as so unacceptable that even though it"s not forbidden it may as well be.....

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As the parent of an SAB dancer, I can tell you that participation in any competition, is, and has been for as long as I know "strongly discouraged"(notice posted on student bulletin boards) and viewed as so unacceptable that even though it"s not forbidden it may as well be.....

I have attended the Varna Competition a long time ago(1968) with a group that I had organised and I can say it was a balletgoers perfect summer holiday. Classes (Bregvadze/ Alonso etc)and rehearsals during the day and competition performances in the evening. The Royal Ballet who you would expect to be snooty about Varna sent/allowed Lauren Cuthbertson to take part and as a result was awarded a silver medal after receiving careful preparatory coaching from Galina Panova a former gold medal winner(1968).

There seems to be no snobbishness about operatic competitions or youthful endeavours in musical instrument competitions. Why the SAB apparently disapproves is their choice, but it would be interesting to know why?

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