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Shanghai IBC-2001 reports from Jeannie


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 15 August 2001 - 07:56 PM

Notes from Round One/Day Three (my first day here) -

The new, modernistic and 'intimate' Shanghai Art Theater is the setting for the second Shanghai International Ballet, which began last Sunday with the first of three Round One sessions. I am joining the competition-audience at the 3rd and final day of this initial round, which took place last night.

First off, let me mention that, unlike all other IBC competitions on which I've reported via internet in the past -- such as Vaganova, Jackson, Varna, Moscow -- I am doing this one in a somewhat incognito fashion. In short, I've had to handle making ALL arrangements, including purchasing tickets/hotel, etc myself, as it was very difficult to communicate with the Shanghai IBC organizing committee in a timely manner. [Don't get me wrong - some really nice folks there. :)] Instead of a Journalists Visa, I obtained a simple Tourist Visa...so these reports are coming to you in a - ahum - incognito manner. 'Nuff said about that but wanted all of you to understand that this is quite a different IBC competition experience for me. But lots of fun nonetheless...and probably far more fun than I would have had otherwise! ;)

As Hu Xinxin mentioned in another thread, most of the 107 competitiors at the Shanghai IBC come from the host country. There are 38 Senior-level competitors (16 women & 22 men) and 69 Juniors (a whopping 50 girls and 19 boys...of which America's Danny Tidwell, of DC's Kirov Academy, is the lone non-Chinese lad).

After each round, the number of competitiors will be whittled down. Later today, I expect to see the list of those who passed to Round 2, which commences tonight and continues through tomorrow. Then that group will be trimmed to a few finalists, who compete on Saturday night. Awards will be presented in Sunday night's closing Gala, to be held at the huge -- and also relatively new -- Shanghai Grand Theater.

BEST COMPETITORS SO FAR; this is a blend of my own look at last night's competitiors, about whom I write a few nuggets beside the name, and the thoughts of a couple of journalist-frinds who have been here since Day One.

SENIOR LADIES:

FANG Xiaofeng (China - Shanghai) - No big surprise here. The tall, redheaded Xiaofeng, and her partner SUN Shenyi, nabbed Sr Gold medals at Varna last year; they are better than ever here, as displayed in their DON Q pdd last night. Technically perfect...except for her fouettes in the coda. Their best feature is their artistry, musicality & interplay with each other...they've really loosened up since Varna. The very knowledgeable -- and usually stoic -- audience went crazy cheering for them. Curiosity: Last Saturday night, the official 'Opening' of this competition was a full-length performance of SWAN LAKE (ENB version) by Shanghai Ballet...starring this couple. So perhaps they have been crowned already???? A bit odd - but you can't take it away from them. I really admire this pair.

WU Haiyan (China - Beijing) Also competed last night. A bit shorter than Xiaofeng and markedly stronger in technique...this gal explodes!

WEN Fang (China - Beijing) I missed her round one but am told that it was terrific. She's the 1998 Varna bronze medalist. A bit shorter & more muscular than other Chinese top ladies but supposedly will be fantastic in the contemporary solo in round 2.

SUN Xin (China, Guangzhou-Canton) Also missed but she & her partner are said to be very strong.

...and a note about a pre-competition fave who ran into hard luck last night: MENG Ningning (Beijing). She has gorgeous long line & fine technique but suffered from a too-short & smallist partner, YU Bo (also Beijing). Ningning also had back luck in solo segments, especially the coda, where she came completely off-pointe during the fouettes. Sad. Wonder if the judges will still pass her on to Round 2?

SENIOR MEN:

Anton BOGOV (Slovenia) - Not only the hands-down best-senior-man last night, but of all three rounds, according to friends. Explosive Ali & Basil solos. I haven't seen a dancer obtain so much 'air' in jumps since the young Mukhamedov. Gasps from audience.

SUN Shenyi (China - Shanghai) Local fave...mentioned above. Varna 2000 gold medalist with partner FANG Xiaofeng. And he is wonderful in characterization and good-if-not-spectacular in technique.

LI Jun (China - Beijing) Very strong & zippy.

Albert DAVIDOV (Kazan, Russia) looks a lot like ex-Kirov danseur Serge Berezhnoi. Fine Don Q solo...but those above bested him.

JUNIOR GIRLS:

YAO Wei (China, Shanghai) I missed her rnd 1 performances but she is no surprise. Recent gold medalist at the Helsinki IBC. Said to be the hands-down gold-medal choice here...no contest...especially since POB's Aurore Cordellier dropped out of the competition (did not 'show' - neither did POB's sr lady competitor, Sophie Parczen...quelle mystere... ;) )

YU Fangling (China - Beijing Acad) possible medalist; lovely line in her Lilac Fairy solo last night.

Maria ABASHOVA (Ukraine - lives in Austria) - strongest of 'the non-Chinese.' Majestic Gnd Pas Classique last night...but weaker in 2nd dance, Raymonda. Lovely dancer, though.

Junko OOSUKI (Japan) - I missed her rnd 1 but she is supposedly fabulous. Strong technique. I look forward to seeing her in rnd 2.

...and a word about this year's 'Wilting Lily Prize' for the skinniest contestant: China's SHANGGUAN Yuhing of Shanghai Dance Academy. Somebosdy get an IV to this girl. Down to bone. Painful to watch & her face was 'screaming' pain.

JUNIOR MEN:

POSSLE GRAND PRIX WINNER HERE, FOLKS!!! I refer to China-Shanghai's HUANG Yi. Remember the name of this lad, folks. Picture-perfect Siegfried-Black Swan and Paquita solos last night. Spectacular arched feet - floating leaps - natural ballon - musical & gracious - beautiful line - a Bluebird to die for, judging by extended series of entrechats at the end of Paquita solo last night. Audience went bonkers with 'bravi'! Are we in France or Italy...could this rowdy audience be truly Chinese? ;)

Danny TIDWELL (USA - Kirov Academy) Only US male competitng & the ONLY non-Chinese jr boy. Danny soared graciously through his 2nd solo, Flames of Paris. Overcame missed endings of pirouette sequences in his first solo, Coppelia, which was also very good otherwise. SPARKLES on stage - true charisma! Tidwell is a huge audience favorite among this mostly-Chinese audience. It warms my heart to hear this cheering for the good ole USA.

WU Bin (China - Shanghai) To me, Bin is the only other jr male with a possibility to medal, among those I saw last night. Seems very young & shy...but lovbely natural line &, like HUANG Yi, beautiful feet and a nice on-stage personality.

So there you have it. Let's see who progresses on to Round 2. next report will be on tonight's Round Two/Day One performances, which will include both classical & contemporary pieces.

p.s. - I counted four USA ladies competitng here, going by the souvenir programme. Two danced last night: Jennifer OWEN(sr division - trained in Russia & other places; now principal in Kansas City Ballet) and Suzanne Miriko TAKAHASHI (jrs - lives in Calif of Japanese background). Neither lady had the best of luck last night. Two other Jr ladies - Holly HASELTON and Kathleen HOWARD - competed on earlier evenings...no word on them yet.

- Jeannie

#2 Helen Chen

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Posted 15 August 2001 - 10:56 PM

Hi, Jeannie, many thanks for your detailed sum up. It's quite interesting to read your English version together with our Shanghai friends' Chinese version reports.

The Swan Lake presented in opening ceremony of Shanghai IBC was danced by Sun Shenyi with Ji Pingping as his new partner, instead of Fan Xiaofeng.

Fan and Sun will dance the same Swan Lake after the IBC, say either on 24 or 26 Aug. Hope you can catch that!

#3 Hu Xinxin

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Posted 15 August 2001 - 11:22 PM

Hi, Jeannie, nice to see you in Beijing and many thanks for you report.
I think our friends in Shanghai would give you lots of local help. They repot us in Chinese every day. Please call Wa Wa at 64381100 (ext.) 104(daytime) / 62622591(home) / or 1362 1919 749.
BTW, National Ballet of China will give 3 performances of Giselle from September 6. It a pity that you Can not see it.
Take care in Shanghai.

#4 Kevin Ng

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 12:26 AM

Jeannie, thanks for your detailed report, and wish you a good stay in Shanghai and other Chinese cities.

Originally posted by Hu Xinxin:
BTW, National Ballet of China will give 3 performances of Giselle from September


Xinxin, I thought that the NBC is to tour America in September. Has the tour been postponed?

#5 Helen Chen

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 02:08 AM

Jeannie, the following is posted on behalf of Wa Wa in Shanghai. She just registered here today, could only post messages by herself starting from tomorrow.


Quote

“Hello, Jeannie.” it is my first greeting to you. I hope everything is smoothing your hand when you are in Shanghai. If you need any help, do not hesitate to call me. Hu xin xin has posted my connect number above.
As you missed the first and the second days, I would like to add something. On the first day, there was a quite competitive danseur—KE Da from Shanghai ballet tour. He was extremely perfect with his La Esneralda solo. He was FLYING in the air. His marvelous piouette won everybody’s clapps.

On the second day, YAO Wei did not perform as good as FANG Zhong Jing (another winner of last Helsinki IBC).But anyway, both of them will definitely dance on the last session. And one of them will win the gold-medal for Junior,just the problem that who get better luck on 18th’s competition.

I notice you metioned LI Jun(China-Beijing) in your report. I was told by HOU Qing Feng that LI got a trouble last night. Something was wrong with his toes. So when he dance the solo, we could see he did his bet despite feet-ache. It is no double that he will enter 2nd round. but I wish him good luck.

WA WA
Unquote

#6 Gallica

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 02:17 AM

Than you Jeannie for your always-so-delightful reviews!

As Hu Xinxin mentioned in another thread, most of the 107 competitiors at the Shanghai IBC come from the host country.


JUNIOR GIRLS:

YAO Wei (China, Shanghai) I missed her rnd 1 performances but she is no surprise. Recent gold medalist at the Helsinki IBC. Said to be the hands-down gold-medal choice here...no contest...especially since POB's Aurore Cordellier dropped out of the competition (did not 'show' - neither did POB's sr lady competitor, Sophie Parczen...quelle mystere... ;) )

Well , it seems like it's becoming the LBC(L for local) rather than the IBC!

Do you think that they want a chinese winner and it could "explain" why the POB competitors dropped out?

Is this the mystere? :)

#7 Terry

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 02:30 AM

Hello Jeannie!!

Once again, your reports are invaluable. :)
Jeannie, out of all those participants, how many non-Chinese competitors are there, do you know? I am interested to hear more about the competition, and do you think you can provide a little comparison (in terms of the level of the participants) with the recent Moscow IBC? Many thanks. :)

Enjoy the competition!!

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 06:05 AM

Sophie Parcen POB competitor (senior) danced on the first day of Shanghai IBC. She will dance in the Round 2 today evening. She to feel well, the audience is lovely.

#9 Gallica

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 07:09 AM

QB]Sophie Parcen POB competitor (senior) danced on the first day of Shanghai IBC. She will dance in the Round 2 today evening. She to feel well, the audience is lovely.[/QB][/QUOTE]

Joseph , do you know what variations she presented?

#10 Guest_JosephCEurope_*

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 07:37 AM

Yes,
in the first round: Swan Lake Odette var. and Clemence var. from the Raymonda,
in the second round: Grand pas classique female variation and a contemporary work from Susan Alexander (POB teacher).

#11 Gallica

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 10:02 AM

. and Clemence var. from the Raymonda,

Is it from act 2?

I didn't know Susan Alexander was a POB teacher.Does she teach classical or contemporary?I thought all the teachers were french!

#12 Françoise

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 01:57 PM

I think it's Clemence variation from act 1 "Valse fantastique", if it's the same she passed on internal POB competition last march. She was absolutely perfect in her arabesque "penchée".

Susan Alexander is contemporary professor. I hope sincerely Sofia will have a prize because she merits it how she merits to pass up grade in POB

#13 Natalia

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 09:29 PM

Quick answers to the above, before my second report -

Huge 'thanks' for filling in the gaps, Wa Wa. It was nice meeting all of you (Lili, WaWa, et al) last night, during the contemporary round intermission. Let's talk tonight.

Yes, Wa Wa, I agree about Sr Male competitor KE Da...he was wonderful in the modern -- those shuffling steps in 2nd-position demi-plie really got the crowd going -- but he must have been off in his classical variation. On the other hand, the new name that really impressed me among Sr Men was HAO Be of Beijing...wonderful high 'Acteon' plus the modern piece 'Revolving' (and, my, does he know how to revolve with those quick, well-centered pirouettes!).


Terry - I give numbers of Chinese-vs-non in report that follows. We are all calling this the Chinese National Championships...although the Chinese are, on the whole, fantastic dancers, so this is a delight regardless. However, note that not one Japanese competitor made it to round 2. Only one American (the boy - Danny Tidwell...none of the four girls), etc, etc.

Joszef - You cannot imagine my surprise last night, when I entered the theater & saw Sophie Parczen's coach, Mme. Erzsebet Dvorsky!!! On Wednesday, I asked an IBC official point-blank if Sophie had already performed her Round One, and he told me 'She's not here. No Hungarians.' You can't imagine how my husband & my hearts sank, as we actually carried a Hungarian flag with us to cheer her. Then. last night, I see her coach as I enter the theater , who tells me that Sophie made it to Round 2 & would be performing. So much for asking the IBC officials for information... :) You can read my detailed report shortly (separate post) but Sophie -- who is one of only 10 senior women to survive to Round 2 and the ONLY non-Chinese woman to do so!! -- was brilliant in Gnd Pas Classique and in her peppy modern solo, 'Holding Your Own.' She definitely held her own...

Again, my deep apologies to Joszef and all others for the initial misinformation...but such has been the nature of information (or, rather, LACK of information) available not only to the press (my credentialed friends) and to the public at large. No nightly programs available - no lists of who-made-round-2 posted - no names of choreographers of the modern pieces cited - no press room - you get the picture. My Japanese friends among the press have received zero - zip - nada. Thank God for a couple of unamed 'angels' among the junior-lelvel IBC staff who literally 'snuck' us into the backstage area last night to allow us TWO MINUTES to write down the names of the round 2 competitors.

My report of Day One of Round Two (last night) follows.

[ 08-16-2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

#14 Natalia

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 10:16 PM

Report on Round Two/Day One -

Fifty-four out of 107 competitors made it on to Round Two, which commenced tonight:

Sr Ladies - 10 of 16 (1 non-Chinese, Hungary/POB's Sophie Parczen)

Sr men - 12 of 22 (3 non-Chinese: one Russian, one Slovenian & one Vietnamese)

Jr Girls - 19 of 50 (4 non-Chinese...one Korean, one French & 2 Ukraineans)

Jr Boys - 13 of 19; only 1 non-Chinese, Danny Tidwell of USA, who dances on Friday night

Approximately half of the above performed their Round 2 pieces last night...and a LONG night it was, due to the mostly-very-long contemporary pieces, which comprised the second half of the evening. Earlier, all Rnd 2 competitors appeared in a classical variation (or a classical pdd, in the case of the few contestants who are competing as pairs).

HIGHLIGHTS OF CONTEMPORARY PIECES, as there is a separate choreography prize to be given to the best...although the names of choreographers were never announced; neither were programmes of the evening supplied to audience...so it was a big guess as to who choregraphed each work. Noteworthey pieces were few & far between. My faves (judging only the choreography & not the dancer...some wonderful dancers performed some of the least effective pieces):

* Among juniors, I liked only two pieces performed by men...and both happened to be dancers from the little-known Liaoning Ballet troupe in Shenyang Province. LV Meng in 'Joy' (a short, upbeat & crisp rendition of a baroque - Bach? - tune) and JIAO Yang in 'Jumping Over' (a short 'muscle man - body beautiful show-off' piece reminiscent of Nijinska's athletes in 'Les Biches' of the lead bather in 'Train Bleu.'

* Among seniors, I thoroughly enjoyed four pieces...which happen to be the SHORTEST and least angst-ridden works on view:

- Beijing couple JIN Yao and ZHANG Yao in a moving pdd involving the exchange of a loose white shirt between the two of them...he wears it & puts it on her a certain way, she then takes it off & puts it on him a different way...clever manipulation of a prop.

- Beijing's Mr. KE Da in a work that (I swear!) was announced as titled 'Constipation'....must be a mis-translation! Anyhow, there was nothing constipating about it. It's danced to an Afro-percussive beat & the leitmotif is a shuffling-forward step performed in demi-plie, 2nd position. Audience loved it. Nice & shot & effective.

- Mr. LI Jun of Beijing in 'Broken Heart' - in which he portrays a 'company man' who gets fed up with sitting in his office & the daily routine. In the end, he takes off his tie & pulls out a gun & shoots himself. Oddly, the audience laughed & cheered when this happened...I guess that it took us all by surprise.

- Hungary/POB's Sophie Parczen as a delightfully flirty mademoiselle in black miniskirt & stockings and flower-print top, in 'Holding Your Own.'

BEST OF LAST NIGHT's DANCERS, BY CATEGORY:

Junior Girls - 10 girls danced last night. To me, the real stand-outs were:

YUAN Wenqi (Shanghai) - gracious Giselle Act I solo, with spot-on turns

XING Dongting (Liaoning...I think that's the name of this girl...hard to understand!) - wonderful ballon in both the classical & modern. Special surprise to see her commendable job in Ashton's version of Lise's solo, in FILLE!

YAO Wei (Shanghai) This incredibly beautiful girl is a huge fave...winner of Gold Medal in the recent Helsinki IBC...and she did not let down her hometown fans last night. Wonderful PAQUITA Harp variation - except that I could not detect the entrechats at the start; she simply leaped up & didn't cross he feet in entrechat, an BOTH instances wehen it occurs in the choreography. other than that, she was perfection, especially the tough middle section of pirouettes into 'back chugs'...no switch of feet, like many women do. Sexy & effective in an otherwise banal modern work.

ZHANG Mingqiang...again, I was straining for the name...(Beijing). The word for thistall beauty is 'dreamy.' She folated in both her classical (Raymonda dream solo) and modern (a sleepwalker in a beige negligee) solos.

...now the surprise...as for the highly-praised FANG Zhongyang (2000 Prix lausanne gand prix winner, etc. from Shanghai), I was quite disappointed with her Raymonda pizzicatto solo...faulty finish to all her pirouettes...blah presentation, etc. Cute modern solo in a long red-silk nightgown with gold bodice to Gorshwin's 'It Aint Necessarily So.'

Junior Men - Many boys who were great in the modern piece had major problems with the classical. Hence, I give my personal endorsement to only one jr boy from last night, who gave two fine performances:

LI Ye (Guangzhou/Canton) - AMAZING James in Bournonville's SYLPHIDE! WOW-WOW-WOW!!!! High leaps, neat beats, and - best of all - he was actually connecting with the audience and seemed to be enjoying himself! Bravo! He's the dancer mentioned earlier in the effective 'Broken heart' modern solo in which he shoots himself and causes chuckles among audience...

Senior Women - Two standouts and one 'so-so's' among the five sr women of tonight:

JIN Yao (Beijing - danced as a pair) - sultry dark looks and beautifully-chiselled 'Vaganova-curve legs.' She survived horrendous partnering by her male counterpart in 'Gnd Pas Classique' and was spot on in the solo of that pdd. Audience cheered her for having overcome the obstacle of the partner. Both she & partner were nice in that duet with the white shirt, described above.

Zsofia Dora Parczen...a.k.a. Sophie Parczen of the POB corps (representing her native Hungary here) - Another magnificent Grand Pas Classique female solo...probably better than the Chinese girl because Sophie added a calm-grace and charm, engaging the audience with flirty looks and such.

So-so among sr women was a highly touted fave, WEN Fang (Beijing - 98 Varna bronze medal as a junior) - too wide ribcage and shortish legs; however, rock-solid technique in Corsaire pdd solo YET traveled half-way to Hong Kong in her fouettes in the coda. Alas, this was, all in all, another Beijing couple with shoddy male partner, last night. Another fine female soloist not best served by the male...Too bad.

and finally....

Senior Men - for me, only one standout among six sr men performing last night:

HAO Bo (Beijing) - good high leaps in 'Acteon' solo...wish he would 'connect' with audience a bit more, though. On the other hand, he was magnificent in his modern piece, 'Revolving' which featured his zippy, crist, centered pirouettes.

Tonight come the final group of Round Two competitors, including the USA/Kirov Academy's Danny Tidwell. Ciao!

- Jeannie

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Posted 16 August 2001 - 10:45 PM

RE: How many non-chinese competitors in Shanghai IBC?

There used to be 28 non-chinese competitors. 3 from France,2 from Japan,3fom Karea,4 from Ukraine, 5 from American( one of the girl is Japanese-American), 2 from Rassia, 1 from Hungary.1 from Czech,1 from kazakstan, 2 from Moldova, 1 from Mongolia,1 from Slovenia , 1 from Austria,
3 from Vietnam. But for some reason, the exact number of non-chinese competitors who attend the competition is 20. (the player from Czech, Kazakstan,Moldova, Mongolia and Austria quit the competition before the Round One.

On the other hand, most of those 20 non-chinese competitors are not the best ballet dancers in their country while some Chinese competitors are the best dancers in their tours. And tell the truth, the Japanese and Korea and Hongkongnese did not do a job in the competition. Therefore, in the 2nd Round, it trends to be a "local" competition.

I believe, in the final round. the non-Chinese competitors will only be Maria Abashova --Ukraine, Daniel Tidwell--USA (Jinior) and Anton Bogov--Slovenia, Zsofia Dora--Hungary(Senior). By that time, it looks more like a "local" competition,esp. b/t Shanghai and Beijing


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