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Varna 2008


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#46 drb

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 07:01 PM

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.



#47 drb

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 06:53 PM

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-b...ArticleID=13887

#48 vipa

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 07:49 PM

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.

#49 Brice

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:38 PM

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.....

#50 leonid

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 04:02 PM

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?

#51 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 06:27 PM

Who knows for sure WHY SAB forms any sort of policy about anything? As a general sort of rule, I would imagine that they don't want their students frittering away valuable time preparing competition material. Varna would be a highly prestigious venue, but the woods are full of lesser lights in the competition field, and a student could potentially waste a great deal of time and effort (which would better be used for classes) on work which would not serve a useful purpose in their education. Rather than try to keep the aspirations lofty, and still cut out the Miss Euphrosyne Whipsnade Memorial Theatrical Dancing Grand Prix and Boiler Works, best to discourage them all. At least, I think that might be what's on their minds. :)

#52 Fraildove

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 04:07 AM

Who knows for sure WHY SAB forms any sort of policy about anything? As a general sort of rule, I would imagine that they don't want their students frittering away valuable time preparing competition material. Varna would be a highly prestigious venue, but the woods are full of lesser lights in the competition field, and a student could potentially waste a great deal of time and effort (which would better be used for classes) on work which would not serve a useful purpose in their education. Rather than try to keep the aspirations lofty, and still cut out the Miss Euphrosyne Whipsnade Memorial Theatrical Dancing Grand Prix and Boiler Works, best to discourage them all. At least, I think that might be what's on their minds. :dunno:



Here, Here!!!!! :) :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

#53 leonid

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 08:30 AM

"...and a student could potentially waste a great deal of time and effort (which would better be used for classes) on work which would not serve a useful purpose in their education. Rather than try to keep the aspirations lofty, ...best to discourage them all. At least, I think that might be what's on their minds. :)


Mel, I wonder how many of the winners of medals who have gone on to make distinguished or famous careers would agree with your above posit in this discussion? I am sure it was their lofty aspirations that separated them from other students and I feel sorry for students who are not encouraged to succeed at highest level. Surely teaching ballet at the higher level should not just be about numbers in classes to fund the employment of teachers or used as some elegant finishing school for young ladies? (Not your suggestion)
SAB has its reasons as you say, but so I would think, does the heart of some aspiring young dancers.

#54 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 12:23 PM

I don't know what happens in the UK with regard to competitions, but in the US, you can spend the entire school year, and sometimes well into the summer, going from this competition to that competition, all across the country. When you're dealing with Varna or Lausanne, that's one thing. When you're dealing with Bumpass, Virginia, (and yes, there is such a place) that's another. Competitors who enter Varna and Lausanne are usually already gainfully employed with a ballet company, or perhaps as apprentices, which count as employed, but not gainful. The benefits of the first-rank competitions are real and valuable, the other ranks, less so.

Let me tell you, as a teacher, what happens when students come back from a student solo competition: Some other competitor will have a stock trick that looks astonishing, got a lot of applause, and all the kids want to imitate it. What they've seen is usually in Bad Taste (yes, so bad it deserves capitalization), took up all of this other whiz kid's time to perfect, and is Academically Incorrect in any system of classical ballet in the world. When the kids from that competition get back to the home studio, they've been trying to reproduce this slam-bang razzmatazz for at least 48 hours before a teacher can get a moderating hand on them. Then starts about six months of rehabilitation as you try to train what they've seen somebody else get praised for out of them, and it doesn't always work. Ballet has a sort of entropy built into it; absolute rubbish drives out ordinary rubbish. There is a contagion at work, too. As soon as it's stamped out of one student, somebody else will have started trying to learn how to do it.

Most of this tricksterism and gymnastic excess results not only in defiled tastes, but very often in damage and injury to the student. I'm with Artur Rubinstein, who said "Competitions are for horses."

#55 Brice

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 02:36 PM

SAB students indeed are encouraged to succeed at the highest level, but winning a competition is not viewed as that. Indeed, I believe Mel have hit the nail on the head...preparing for a competition involves the relentless pursuit of practicing and refining the same 2 minute bit of choreography over and over and over....that's not to say it doesn't have value in terms of training and technique, but if SAB believes its curriculum and training program is rigorous and comprehensive (I didn't say perfect, yes we are all aware from this board of what they do very well and what they do not so well), then where oh where would a dancer get the extra hours in the day to train for competition? And would this be the best most efficient use of training time and resources? I can tell you that my DD, after 8-9 classes per week at SAB, an academic school schedule, and the additional rehearsal schedule she has for performance with NYCB, could not possibly fit in another minute to train for any competition, yet she is being inspired to succeed at the highest level on a consistent basis, and has no lack of wonderful scholarship offers and training opportunities despite the fact that she has never entered a ballet competition. There are many roads that lead to Rome.....

#56 drb

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 02:42 PM

Getting back to the dancer in question, Whitney Jensen, it seems that competition as such was her motivation to study ballet. From a September 7th interview in Utah's Deseret News she explains why--as a little girl studying tap, jazz, and ballet--ballet took over:

"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 bit of googling shows she has entered YAGP in '05 (Junior Gold at age 12), '06, and '07 (Junior Silver); WBC Orlando '07 (Junior Gold); Seoul '07 (Gold); Varna '06, '08 (Special Distinction, above Junior Gold). She has surely been active! Yet there are Vladimir Vasiliev's words:

I never expected from an American student such mastery of the Russian school, even more such beautiful hands and posture-- she danced so purely!

Surely this will be an interesting career (if she choses to have one) to follow...

#57 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 04:57 PM

As far as Miss Jensen, bully for her, say I, but for the vast majority of students, intensive solo competition is not a good route to achieving technical perfection, or as near to it as we may expect our students to come. The competition tradition as practiced in Europe and Asia is not the same in the US. Free speech is a wonderful thing, but under its aegis, all sorts of inferior competitions have sprung up, and lots and lots of kids and their parents drop exorbitant sums of money in order to compete for prizes of little value, often a potmetal trophy with yellow lacquer on it to make it look as if it were gilded. No, in America, the majority of competitions are vulgar craters for the mixing of all sorts of unwholesome mischief. And no, I will not be specific.

#58 Helene

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 08:10 PM

Since Jensen wanted to compete and perform in Europe, she took a path of competitions that built very much like athletic competition, from junior to senior, building up to one of the most prestigious, with an influential jury. Varna is highly regarded in Europe, and I'm sure she got the exposure she wanted from it. From Vasiliev's description, she wasn't trying to show big tricks, but dancing.

#59 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 10:05 AM

Yes, for her to pursue a career on a European model is fine for her, but as a teacher I must reiterate my many misgivings about young dancers (particularly those not yet employed) basing a curriculum to the goal of competition! Since competitions in the US have become such a high-frequency occurence, I have noted more than a few, and I hope that they aren't the tip of some iceberg, "competition dancers" who are only suited to solo work. They do not fit into ensembles, they do not become team players in a company, and seem to go from one to another like Broadway Gypsies because they never have had to be a part of an "us". They are all highly proficient dancers, but they do not seem to establish a company "home" when their talents can mature in a group setting, enriching both them and it. Young professionals who are already in a company do receive on-the-job training in how to be a company member. The Continental model has not yet successfully adapted to the realities of the American market, or if it has, it has sought to address it at a very low level. Again, there are exceptions, and again, I'm not going to be specific.

#60 Natalia

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 11:19 AM

Isn't Whitney Jensen the "American Somova"? I am thinking about a tall, hyper-extended, somewhat-vulgar (my opinion) blonde teen-ager who butchered Lacotte's choreography for Pharaoh's Daughter at the 2007 YAGP finals? Tricks over substance and style.

Sorry but she totally made me think about Somova while watching her in the finals.

Varna used to have higher standards...if I'm thinking about the same person.


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