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Cincinnati Ballet Soloists Nominated For Prize In Russia

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I'm reposting this from the 'Kirov Forum' news here, as it contains interesting news about American ballet dancers.

Cincinnati soloists Joseph Gatti and Janessa Touchet have been nominated for the 2006 Benois de la Danse prize. Their competition will include top dancers from Paris Opera Ballet & the Kirov, among others. The nominations were read by Chairman Yuri Grigorovich, ex-Bolshoi Director. The golden Benois trophies will be awarded on April 25.

Congratulations to Gatti & Touchet - a huge, rare honor for American dancers!

Janessa Touchet's bio & photo in the Cinci Ballet website:


Joseph Gatti's bio & photo:


Verrry impressive.

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Thanks for posting this, Natalia. Joseph Gatti won the Gold Medal at the 2005 N Y International Ballet Competition. I saw Janessa Touchet and Gatti dancing a very joyful pas de deux from Victoria Morgan's version of Midsummer's Night Dream this past summer at the International Ballet Festival of Miami.

I have a couple of questions: How does one get "nominated" for this competition? Why is this a "rare" honor for an American couple? How is the competition conducted?

P.S. Since posting this, I found at least one of my questions answered on Natalia's Kirov thread:


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I have a couple of questions: How does one get "nominated" for this competition? Why is this a "rare" honor for an American couple? How is the competition conducted?

Dancers are nominated by a committee that is headed by Yuri Grigorovich. I have no idea how the committee cast its net, worldwide, to select the ultimate nominees but they are an interesting mix!

There have been ABT (and maybe NYCB?) dancers nominated recently....Angel Corella & Jose-Manuel Carreno, for example.

There is no competition after this, as far as I know. Much like the Oscars and Emmys, the nominees assemble in Moscow for a ceremony & somebody says "The envelope, please..." Winners' names are read. Perhaps the nominees will dance excerpts from their nominated role(s)? There is a gala of some sort each year, I know. Last year, it featured Vishneva & Malakhov. Sorry - I've never experienced this event, except for seeing occasional TV reports every April/May!

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So, are you saying that the winners have already been determined? I don't think that this is the case. :clapping: According to the press release on the Cincy Ballet website, there is indeed a competition held in Moscow. Here is an excerpt:

This year five Cincinnati Ballet dancers will travel to the Benois de la Danse competition in Moscow and compete on April 25, 2006, for these awards at the Bolshoi Theatre before an international jury, says

Morgan. She will serve on the jury along with seven other esteemed judges from all over the world.

The glittering awards ceremony that evening will also feature performances from all the international

nominees for the 2006 Benois de la Danse, including (for choreography) the famous Boris Eifman and

dancers from prestigious companies like The Paris Opera Ballet, The Mariinski Theatre Ballet, Korean

National Ballet and Vienna State Opera Ballet, among others.

Here is a link to the CB website and the complete article:


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Thanks for the link, Balletbooster.

They have to be joking! This award never used to be an on-the-spot competition! It was like the Oscars - a gathering of the nominees & 'the envelope please..." Then, on Day Two, all nominees + a few other guests would perform in the grand gala.

Perhaps that explains the relative youth of this year's nominees? Nonetheless, I am amazed that established stars like Sarafanov, LeRiche & even Pech would put their necks on the line in a 'let's-prove-ourselves' contest, at this stage in their careers! Yeah - even if they are dancing a certain role for the first time in their careers. [Gee, if Uliana Lopatkina ever decides to dance Lilac Fairy in 'Sleeping Beauty 1890 version' maybe she will compete? Maybe Evgenia Obratsova will be nominated in 2007 for her 2006 debut as Aurora in Melbourne, FL with Space Ballet Company...but she won't be eligible next year, if she debuts as Aurora with the Kirov.] No - no - no; something is wrong.

This is becoming more & more bizarre by the minute.

p.s. 2005 saw Diana Vishneva's debut as Odette-Odile (first in Berlin, then with ABT). I guess that she didn't quite make the grade. :dry:

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Thanks, balletbooster. The story becomes clearer, sort of.

According to the Cincinnati Ballet release, the following 5 members of the Cincinnati company will be "competing" for the award. They possibly mean "performing" at the ceremony. I guess.

-- Tricia Sundbeck and Jay Goodlett, in an excerpt from Sarah Slipper's "A Fine Balance" (created for Cincinnati Ballet and premiered in 2005), up for the choreography award;

-- Janessa Touchet, pas de deux and variations from Victoria Morgan's full-length Cinderella (Cincinnati Ballet), partnered by Dmitri Trubchanov;

-- Joseph Gatti, nominated for Corsaire pas de deux for Cincinnati Ballet, but dancing the slave solo variations and coda.

According to her Cincinnati Balllet biography, Victoria Morgan "will be judiciating for the Benois de la Dance Awards Gala in Moscow, Russia, in April." Morgan is the Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Ballet.

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Oh, fiddlesticks, Bart -- Let's be happy, as Americans, that a fine regional American company will get this rare exposure! It's not their fault that the rules & procedures are a bit wacky.

I should clarify, for all concerned: my questioning of the procedures & 'rules' is in no way intended to demean the artists who were nominated. Actually, I'm pretty thrilled and looking forward to a copy of the gala telecast.....I've already requested my Russian relatives to please fire-up the VCR! :dry:

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You're absolutely right, Natalia. I also did not intend any criticism of any of the artists participating -- far from it !

This is an important achievement for the dancers and choreographer. It's great to think of them giving the Moscow and international audience a window on the world of what young American dancers can do. Having been thrilled by both Gatti and Touchet at the Miami International Festival, I know that they will do American ballet proud. Let's hope they return home with the gold! :dry:

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Just to close the loop on this topic - Sarafanov & Kondaurova of the Kirov won the male & female trophies, respectively.

Nonetheless, the Cincinnati dancers still deserve our heartiest 'Congratulations' for having made it to the finalists group and to the big ceremonies in Moscow. Hip, Hip, Hurray!

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Just to close the loop on this topic - Sarafanov & Kondaurova of the Kirov won the male & female trophies, respectively.

I believe you, but very strange, as a Korean publication reported in yesterday's Links that a Korean dancer won the female prize:

Kim Ju-won (28), the principal dancer of the Korea National Ballet Company, received the best female dancer award in the 14th Benois de la Dance held in Moscow, Russia at 7:00 p.m. yesterday (local time). The Benois de la Dance award is often called “the Academy Award of the dance world.” The former awardees of the prize include the best dancers of our time, like the biggest star of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Sylvia Guillem and the main ballerina of the American Ballet Theater Julio Boca.


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Another strange thing about the article is the mention of ballet companies which were not represented and the omission of those that were:

Five dancers from the world’s greatest ballet companies were nominated for the Benois de la Dance award, including Kim, and four others from Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theater and Bolshoi Theater

The actual companies represented by the male and the female dancers (in addition to Korea National Ballet) were Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Guanchou People's Army Ensemble, and the Compañía Nacional de Danza.

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I'm copying this from my announcement (solution of the mystery) in the Kirov thread:

OK, folks - I think this press-announcement from the Russian-language ITAR-TASS news agency solves the mystery:


In fact, dancers TIED in both the male and female categories:

Best Male: Sarafanov ties with Wan Di, soloist of the Guanchou People's Army Folk Ensemble (China)

Best Female: Kondaurova ties with Kim Ju-Won of Korea

The communique also names the remaining prizes --

Best Choreographer - Boris Eifman for 'Anna Karenina'

"Special Prize" - Mats Ek

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