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MEDALISTS - Moscow IBC (surprises!!)

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How the ballet world turns! In the final round, the 'shoo-in' Bolshoi soloist, Ekaterina Schipulina, had a disastrous 'Black Swan pdd.' Still, everyone assumed "Yeah...Grigorovich will hand it to her." We went home Sunday night, assuming that the elegant Wan Qimin of China or the demi-caractere virtuosa 'Kitri' from St. Petersburg/Maly, Oksana Kucheruk, would be shafted. MIRACLES HAPPEN IN MOSCOW!!! ( below)

On the other hand...everybody is upset at where the jr. girl from Ukraine, Natalia Domratcheva (she of the Balanchine 'Tarantella' in round 2), ended up...but delighted about the jr Japanese girl, Misa Kuranaga, who will soon go to San Francisco Ballet.

Final Results:

Grand Prix - not awarded this year


GOLD: (2)

Wan Qimin (China) - totally deserving...gorgeous, pure line...saved her best - GISELLE, Act II - for last.

Oksana Kucheruk (Russia - St. Petes/Maly) - lit up the stage with final Don Q pdd.


Roberta Marcues (Brazil) - she & Tiago Soares-Pinto were huge virtuosi-crowd favorites. Nikiya & Solor pdd last night.

Ekaterina Schipulina (Russia - Moscow/Bolshoi) - started as 'shoo-in' gold medalist a few days ago..kinks in the armor during rnd 2...totally unraveled last night as Black Swan. Lucky to salvage a silver.


Anna Sharova (Russia - Novosibirsk) suprise medalist...understated & quiet...OK Swanhilda last night

Kim Dyu-Bon (Korea) - CAME ALIVE in round III...she & her non-competing partner were THE HITS of last night's senior finals with out-of-this-world "Talisman pdd." Man carried her to a medal...not that she wasn't lovely herself...but an example on the power of having a great partner.


GOLD (2)

Leonid Sarafanov (Ukraine) - no doubt here...he's the guy who's on his way to the Royal Danish Ballet. Made me forget Villela & Baryshnikov's 'Tarantellas' two nights ago. Sadly, his partner -- jr. girl Domracheva - not so lucky (see below)

Tiago Soares-Pinto (Brazil) - truly deserving...esp. memorable Acteon in Rnd 2. Awesome Solor last night. Crowd adored him & partner, Roberta Marcues. Viva Brasil!!


Alexei Borsov (Bolshoi) - Nice surprise...beautiful feet & leg beats as James in Sylphide, last night.

Roman Mikahilev (Russia - St. Petes/Maly) Last ngiht's effervescent Basil in DON Q w/ gold medalist Kucheruk. Just as 'fiery' as above 2 gold medalists, Sarafanov & Soares-Pinto, but has a stocky build and shortish legs...probably made difference.


Han Po (China) - I personally wanted a gold for him...elegant, tall, great turn out. But I understand 'problem', when compared to the above virtuosi. Han was an elegant Albrecht last night.

Ruslan Skvortsov (Bolshoi) - Siegried in disastrous 'Black Swan pdd' last night, with Schipulina. Amazed that he made it this far...

Ochi Tomohori (Japan) - Merely "OK" in early rounds but did a great job on his Ali-Corsaire variation last night. Good potential.

Sergei Teglov (Russia - Bolshoi) - wasn't so strong, I thought


GOLD: (2)

Misa Kuranaga (Japan) - IMO, deserved Gold all to hereself. SPECTACULAR in every round of the competition, but left her 'piece de resistance' -- girls solo, Tchaikovsky pdd-Balanchine -- for yesterday. What playful style...taunting audience with her balances!!! This gal CAN balance and weave lace with her beautiful feet. Second variation was a delectable GISELLE Act I solo...that diagonal on pointe was TO DIE FOR!!! San Francisco Ballet, get ready - she's comin'your way very soon!

Polina Semyonova (Moscow) Was wonderful in round one...maybe that's what carried her through to an award here...but gold????? Bizarre. Errors in last night's Odile. Face of Bolshoi principal Nina Semizorova - almost a twin in looks.


Natalia Domracheva (Ukraine) - balletomanes screaming 'bloody murder' to the judges on this one. Almost everyone had her for at least Gold with the Japanese girl...maybe even Grand Prix. No explanations. She was a brilliant PAQUITA last night with her sr partner, who earned Gold.


Milena Sudorova (Ukraine) - the thin little 14-yr-old who drove balletomanes wild with her contemporary 'pillow dance.' Very nice classical 'Esmeralda' tambourine solo yesterday; really 'sold' the number. Not classically pure in positions, though.

Ekaterina Kreisanova (Russia, Moscow) - Diana & Kitri yesterday. So-so, but...

Anastasia Kurkova (Moscow) - Aurora & Kitri yesterday. Again, so-so....

Maria Kochetkova (Moscow) - Nutcracker pdd w/ a sr man last night...again, so-so...these three Russian bronze girls are hard to justify, IMO.

NOTE: The tiny-and-powerful Argentine girl in the finals, Paula Andrea Elizondo, did not win a medal, to the surprise of some. I applaud that decision by the jury, as she was too all-reliant on technique, with minimal grace and artistry. In other competitions, this 'Olympic Gymnast' style would have been rewarded. Not here, thank goodness.




Alexander Butrimovich (Nizhny Novgorod). Million-dollar smile & charisma. Wonderful solo work...and survived having to haul a 'Junoesque' non-competing partner through yesterday's painful DON Q pdd. He deserves something for surviving!

Prize for Non-Competing Partner:

Korea's Bon-Kuk Li - that amazing 'Wind God' in last night's TALISMAN pdd. Truly deserving.

My personal disappointments? Hardly any! Besides Han Po's placement (3rd, not 1st), I was a tad disappointed that Japan's lovely Yuri Higuchi -- the soloist from Perm Ballet -- did not earn a medal. Then again, her Kitri last night was markedly less effective than performances in previous rounds. She earned a Finalists Diploma.

Back to DC tomorrow so I'll miss Tuesday night's gala but, hopefully, it will be telecast and taped by a friend. Next stop on my ballet travels is NYC for ABT 'Tchaikovsky Spectacular' & Michele Wiles' T&V debut this weekend...then on to the Shanghai IBC, later this summer. Ciao!

- Jeannie

[ 06-18-2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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I think that some of those decisions have financial reasons behind them. According to the rules of the competition, all competing ladies are separated into FOUR, not two, categories: Junior Soloists, Junior Duets, Senior Soloists, Senior Duets. The same thing with men. I'm not sure what the distinctions are (soloists perform only variations--?)

Here's what the prizes are. Grand Prix $10K. For each Junior category: gold $4K, silver $3K, bronze $2K, participation in Round 3 $500. For each Senior category: gold $6K, silver $4K, bronze $3K, participation in Round 3 $1K. As far as I understand, if several people win the same medal in the same category, the prize money is divided among them.

This means that, if two Junior Duet girls, say Simeonova and Domracheva, get gold medals, then their prize money will be 4/2=2, which is less than the prize money for the silver.

On the other hand, if Domracheva gets the gold and Simeonova gets the silver, it means that a Ukrainian beat a Russian (not just a Russian, a Muscovite!), which of course should never be allowed to happen. Unless the difference between the Ukrainian and the Muscovite is so ridiculously obvious as it was with the Senior Duet men.

By the way, one may notice that there were lots and lots of prizes simply not given out: the Grand Prix; gold, silver, and bronze for Junior Soloists men; silver for Junior Soloists ladies; gold and silver for Junior Duet men; gold, silver, and bronze for Senior Soloist ladies; gold and silver for Senior Soloist men.

I can't understand what it means when a category doesn't have a first-place winner. It seems to be implying somehow that the quality of the competitors is below the overall quality of the competition. But isn't the quality of any competition determined by the quality of its participants? The only conclusion I can make is that giving considerably fewer prizes than announced, was a way to save money. (Note that in most cases, the prizes not given are the top ones.)

Another good way to save money is to give a medal to more than one person. In the Senior Duet categories for both men and women, EVERY medal was given to two people.

My calculations show that, if all the announced prizes were given out, each to one person, the total prize money would have been about $120K. What the Moscow IBC actually paid out was about $75K, not a bad saving!

I wonder: did they simply not have the extra $45K, or were the $45K spent in some other manner?

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Interesting analysis, Ilya. Well, as we all know, the cash isn't exactly flowing in Russia these days. However, I think that the reason why Gold Medals were not awarded in each category -- esp. Jr. Boys -- is that the quality of dancing was not all there. Butrimovich is the only Jr Boy, IMO, who deserved to go on to the 2nd round fromt he 1st rnd, IMO...let alone pass-on to 3rd round! He was a deserving Bronze more - no less.

Your comments about Moscow, Russia vs. Ukraine have crossed the minds of many of us. :) Then again, to have CHINA (Wan Qimin's gold) share with RUSSIA-St. Petersburg (Oksana Kucheruk...actually born in Kiev!) is quite a diplomatic step in the right direction. The 'Bolshoi sweetheart' Schipulina ranked behind these two ladies? Unheard of!

Quite interesting what you write about the silver medalists taking home more CA$H that the Gold medlists. Kuranaga & Semyonova share Gold; each takes home $2,000 (half of the $4,000 prize); Domratcheva wins a Silver all to herself & takes home $3,000.

[ 06-18-2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Jeannie -- Once again, thank you for such wonderful reviews. I am so thrilled to read the list of the prize winners; it must have been an exciting evening!!

Ilya -- I do agree with your point. I think there are many things that go "behind" the

panel of judges and financial reasons (whether it be lack of money, or perhaps, even bribery -- though I really hope not). In fact, I am absolutely confused as to why Ochi Tomonori won a bronze medal. Although I've never seen Han Po (another bronze medalist) before, could Ochi (whom I have seen in Japan...) really have been at the same level as the Chinese dancer, a gold medalist at Helsinki? Well, I think this partially explains it: Ochi Tomonori's father was the Japanese judge for this competition, and his mother, Ochi Kumiko, won the bronze medal in the 1977 Moscow International Ballet Competition. Still, these are my "assumptions."

Finally, I would like to thank you Jeannie for providing these wonderful reports ALL the way from Moscow. Thank you SO much. Have a safe trip home -- PLEASE take care!!

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Thanks, Jeanne, for all the news and commentary :)

Ilya, while I think conspiracy theories are not out of place regarding competitions and prize fixing, it's not infrequent that a gold medal is not awarded (but no gold and no silver?? I think that's rare.) This happens in piano competitions rather frequently, and they're reported on in the press here (while ballet competitions never are). I don't think it's too much of a leap to assume that the reasons are the same. When it happens in a piano competition, the reason invariably is that although the level of technique was high, the artistry was not, and there is a "standard" in the judges' minds of what a gold medalist is, and that was not reached.

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Dear Jeannie:

Thank you so much for your reports.

Wang Qiming danced Giselle a few months ago in Beijing and she did Swan Lake on graduation from Beijing Dance Academy. She is a lovely girl. Every body here likes her very much. I heard she had been injured before the competition.

Han Po was an excellent Ali a few years ago. He is now one of the most important male dancers in NBC. But actually he is not very tall. He is very thin that why he looks taller. Terry is right. Han Po got a gold medal in Helsinki many years ago, at the junior level though.

[ 06-21-2001: Message edited by: Hu Xinxin ]

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Hu Xinxin -

Thanks so much for the insights! As you can well imagine, I am *very much* looking forward to my first trip to China, very soon. The 'Chinese Miracle' in winning so many competitions in the 1990s has really inspired me to learn more about ballet in China.

Will you be at the Shanghai Competition in mid-August? I'll be in Beijing for one week before traveling on to Shanghai for most of Round I, then all of the other rounds. Let's exchange e-mails. We can continue discussion in private....I'm at

Cheers! - Jeannie

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