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6th Int'l "Vaganova Prix" winners announced

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The 6th international ballet competition for 'older junior' dancers -- ages 15 - 18 -- is now history. Some 64 students & recent graduates from Europe, Asia & America competed for medals and one-year scholarships at the Vaganova Academy (in the case of non-grads). Past winners of the sporadic (ev. 3 or 4 yrs)competition have included: 1988 - Igor Markov and Anna Polikarpova; 1991 - Uliana Lopatkina; 1995 - Maya dumchenko & Adrian Fadev; 1998 - Mikhail Ilyn; and, most recently, 2003, Yevgenia Obraztsova & Polina Semionova. Natalia Makarova headed the jury that announced the following winners at the St. Petersburg Mussorgsky (Maly) Theater:


Men: Vadim Muntagirov of Perm, Russia (spectacular, says my source; he wowed the audience with his Tchai pdd by Balanchine, garnering multiple curtain calls)

Ladies: no gold awarded


Men: Richard Szabo of Hungary (especially magnificent pirouettes)

Ladies: TIE:

Maria Chugai of St.P. Russia (the top star of this year's Vaganova graduation class - lots of finesse & NOT a hyper-extension queen; great Grand Pas Classique with Kirov soloist Sergei Popov; Chugai will begin with the Kirov-Mariinsky in September)


Anastasia Nikitina of St P., Russia, still at the Vaganova Academy


Men: Masahiro Nakaya of Japan

Ladies: TIE:

Elizaveta Cheprasova of St P, Russia, still at Vaganova Acad


Olga Golitska of Ukraine

Dudinskaya-Sergeyev Prize for elegance: Viktoria Krasnokutskaya of Russia, who danced 'Flames of Paris'

Many in the audience were perplexed at the omission of Maria Adzhamova from the prizes, although she made the final round. Adzhamova is, along with Chugai, a top 2006 Vaganova Academy graduate; she & Chugai are reportedly the only two classical girls to have made it into the Kirov-Mariinsky troupe next year. According to my source, perhaps the jury was trying to make a statement about the over-extensions, as Adzhamova seems to be the 'Alina Somova' of her class, whereas Chugai is more of a 'shorter & neater' dancer? In her opening speech, Makarova said that this year the jury was looking for not only talent for 'finesse & musicality.'

CONGRATS to all the winners & finalists. Remember those names. They will surely be headlining Kirov-Mariinsky tours in the not-too-distant future!

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I've learned a bit more about the top winner, Vadim Muntagirov of Perm, Russia. He is only 16 years young and won medals at two other competitions this year: bronze at Prix de Lausanne & silver at the "Arabesk - Perm" concours. Along with the Lausanne medal, he was offered a one-year scholarship to the Royal Ballet Academy in London, for the 06/07 academic year. So, in the end, this young man's career may be in the U.K. and not in Russia. Maybe he'll be dancing Bluebird or Florestan the next time that the Royal Ballet visits the U.S.?

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