About the Author:
NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION - Round I (Two Nights)
JUNE 25 AND JUNE 26, 2003
ALICE TULLY HALL
Publicity: Audrey Ross
ILONA COPEN: Founder/Director of NYIBC
ELEANOR D'ANTUONO: Artistic Director
The 2003 Jury:
NATALIA MAKAROVA (USA) President of the Jury
FRANK ANDERSEN (Denmark)
Artistic Director, Royal Danish Ballet
BORIS EIFMAN (Russia) Artistic Director, Eifman Ballet
KAREN KAIN (Canada) Associate Artistic Director,
National Ballet of Canada
ELISABETH PLATEL (France) Paris Opera Ballet
GUSTAVO MOLLAJOLI (Argentina)
Artistic Director, Ballet do Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro
DAME MERLE PARK (England) Former Director,
Royal Ballet School
RUDI VAN DANTZIG (The Netherlands),
Former Artistic Director, Dutch National Ballet
Competition Piece: KERMESSE IN BRUGES
Choreography by August Bournonville
Music by H. S. Paulli
Taught and Coached by Thomas Lund and Eva Kloborg
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 25 and June 26, 2003
I am an inveterate balletomane. I remember Natalia Makarova, as she danced Bayadère with American Ballet Theatre. In fact, I remember when she left the old Soviet Union, requesting asylum in London, and then traveled to the US to dance and choreograph. I remember Cynthia Gregory, so beautiful, with an exquisite neckline, dancing Odette-Odile, as well, at ABT. I remember Karen Kain from the National Ballet of Canada, when she frequently partnered Rudolf Nureyev, Dame Merle Park, from London's Royal Ballet, and Elisabeth Platel, from the Paris Opera Ballet. In addition, I recently reviewed Boris Eifman's Who's Who? (See Eifman Review) and Rudi Van Dantzig's Romeo and Juliet in Boston (See Boston Van Dantzig Review). But, my most relevant memory, regarding the New York International Ballet Competition is that I actually attended several performances in 1984 of the first event, with Igor Youskevitch onstage, and I remember adoring the performance of the Gold Medal Winner, Victoria Mazzarelli, of the USA, I believe from Connecticut. I remember listening to the same musical passages, over and over, I believe from Coppélia, as the partnered competitors, from around the globe, competed with effervescence and energy. In subsequent years, I have attended several additional Competitions, also at Alice Tully Hall.
On June 25 and June 26, two nights of Round I, eleven and then twelve couples competed in the performing of a pas de deux from Kermesse in Bruges, choreography by Bournonville. By Thursday night, I knew the music by heart. I also felt I knew some of the dancers, as they so classically warmed up in the wings of the Tully stage, and as they looked so proud and unconquerable, even as some tripped onstage or missed a landing here or there. One could tell immediately that Cesar Morales of Chile and Ogulcan Borova of Turkey, muscular and dynamic male dancers, would at least make the finals, and perhaps the Gold. The young dancers, from additional countries: Puerto Rico, Armenia, Sweden, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Belarus, Brazil, Korea, Estonia, Philippines, USA, Japan, Denmark, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Georgia, Israel, Cuba, Russia, and Bulgaria, were ages 17-24.
The Bournonville piece provided many opportunities for athletic leaps and spins, as well as theatricality, with the awarding by the male to the female of a perfect rose, which she discreetly places inside her dress, against her heart. There's flirtation and required affect by the dancers, as well as technicality and virtuosity. Some dancers had chemistry together and related as partners, and some did not. As it happens, the competitors were either traveling with their own partners or were assigned partners at the Competition. The choreographed works for the competition were first presented to them, just two weeks before the staged Competition, which includes Rounds I (two nights), II, and III, four nights in a row. This Competition takes place every three years in New York, but, from now on, will occur every other year, due to its popularity.
This Competition was decidedly a showcase for upcoming Premier Danseurs, that is, male Principals. There were few females with outstanding technique, which was also combined with passion and charisma. Yet, several male performers from Japan, Denmark, Turkey, Chile, and the USA had obvious star quality, and I expect to see them in major ballet or contemporary roles in the near future. They will be immediately approached by major companies, as it is so rare to see this level of perfection and presence in male dancers this young. There were also some promising female dancers from the USA, Argentina, Georgia, Japan, and Australia. However, the females did not exemplify outstanding stage presence, perhaps due to partnering, or perhaps due to personal readiness. Yet, this was a wonderful pair of evenings at the ballet, being introduced to the international stars of the future. This Competition required an amazing amount of organization and detail, and I congratulate Ilona Copen and Eleanor D'Antuono for their professional expertise.
Rounds II and III, in which fewer and fewer dancers remain to compete, include choreography by Jose Limón and Marius Petipa, and the Gala Final Performance of winners and special guests takes place on the fourth consecutive night, with Tony Randall as Host.