Posted 03 January 2002 - 01:39 PM
According to Horst Koegler's Oxford Dictionary of Ballet (odd, I keep reaching for this old one rather than the new, improved version which has half the information in it of the old, but I digress), the International Ballet competition at Varna began in 1964 and was started by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. I don't know if that is the first, though. The Moscow competition may predate it.
Jeannie? Do you know this one?
Posted 11 January 2002 - 03:06 PM
Posted 11 January 2002 - 04:09 PM
Posted 11 January 2002 - 04:26 PM
[ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 11 January 2002 - 04:26 PM
You could almost begin a new topic on your 2nd question -- that of people's feelings about whether or not competitions push young dancers too far or in the wrong direction. In fact...I now see that Alexandra has addressed this. I agree - we can discuss the 'Are competitions good or bad?' stuff over in Aesthetics.
Now for your initial question, re. history:
Alexandra is right, in the the 'grand-daddy' of all UNESCO-endorsed competitions falling within the "IBC" (International Ballet Competition) heading is the one in Varna, Bulgaria, which is flourishing to this day & will celebrate its 20th edition this July.
There have, of course, been 'ballet competitions' of sort at the Paris opera Ballet, as part of their annual promotions process. I'm not sure when those began but I would guess in the 20s or 30s...Estelle or Francoise or jean-Luc, can you shed light?
There were several 'All-Soviet' Ballet Competitions among young dancers of the former Soviet Union, commencing at least in the 1950s. For example, the Kirov's Alla Sizova & Rudolf Nureyev won the 1958 All-Soviet Competition, held in Moscow. That's the competition that truly brought Nureyev to the eyes of the ballet world, dancing 'Le Corsaire pdd' in his panther-like manner. The b&w film of that competition made its way to the west & he (& Sizova) became quite well known even before Nureyev defected to the West in 1961/62. Portions of that pdd, in the All-Soviet competition, are available in one of the Kultur compendium videos, by the way.
By the time that Varna 1964 occurred, dancers of the Eastern blok were quite familiar with and comfortable with such competitions. The French, too, fared quite well at such competitions, perhaps due to their familiarity with the rigorous internal POB competitions.
[ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]
Posted 11 January 2002 - 04:49 PM
Thank you. I was wondering what if any is the feeling about these competitions and does it feed the feeling that we're pushing dancers.
I think one can make the case that competitions push dancers smile.gif I'm also wary of them because they have become a way for dancers who are not always well-schooled, but who can dance two or three variations that especially suit them, or can be coached and overcoached technically so that they can "deliver" in a competition, enter competitions as a way to get noticed, to boost a career.
I don't blame them for doing this, if any "blame" it's to the teachers for pushing them and the companies for taking them in as soloists, or into the corps, but with soloist roles. It's not unusual for medal winners (and I'm not going to name names smile.gif ) to get into a company, do their two or three specialty pas de deux, and then fall not be able to hold the same level in regular repertory.
I think there are other ways to build dancers without pushing them.
Posted 11 January 2002 - 05:00 PM
My initial reaction, was how can an art form be competitive? It seems to me, based on just advertising in some dance magazines that there's almost a split between ballet dancers, some go way of the competition circuit and others into companies.
I never realized that POB used them as part of their promotions!
Posted 11 January 2002 - 06:08 PM
and each competitor dances a second variation, chosen freely in the company's repertory.
I've posted the result of this year's competition in another thread, in the "news and views" section.
There have always been some debates about the usefulness of such a competition, the honesty of the results, etc. However, one point about which nearly everyone agrees is that at least it enables the dancers of the corps de ballet to show a variation alone on stage, which doesn't happen often to some of them, and so perhaps to get noticed.
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