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Ilona Copen RIP

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The following was just posted to the NYIBC Facebook page:

The board, staff and volunteers of the New York International Ballet Competition mourn the death of our inspirational founding Executive Director Ilona Copen. Over the past 25 years, Ms. Copen profoundly changed the lives of young ballet dancers from all over the world. Her guiding principle was to develop each dancer's potential through education and coaching. Ms. Copen's approach to the advancement of dance as an art form combined with her generous nature made her a moving force in the creation and operation of the World Dance Alliance and the International Dance Committee of the International Theater Institute-UNESCO. Always reaching out with an open heart and a helping hand she built life-long relationships in and out of the dance world.

We celebrate her immense talent and capacity to galvanize people into action. Her passion, leadership, and warmth will be deeply missed.

The funeral services will be held Monday, February 22, at 11:45 am, at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan.

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The New York Times obituary, includes a photo of a woman with a marvelous warm and wry smile. I was impressed by the way that Ms Copen and her cofounder, Igor Youskevitch, set out to create a competition with a difference:

Although there have long been worldwide ballet competitions, the New York one was unusual from the outset because of the way Ms. Copen and Mr. Youskevitch sought to make its young participants, between 17 and 24, feel like colleagues, rather than cut-throat rivals. They also introduced an unusual system. Whereas at some competitions, participants can dance what they wish in whatever choreographic version they choose, the New York competition repertory is never announced until after the dancers have arrived in New York. Then they are taught the same three pas de deux, which they must perform in exactly the same versions, thereby allowing a panel of judges to appraise them without having to take into account any personal or choreographic idiosyncrasies.


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