Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

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It is that time of year again, where the best of the best in the ballet industry gather to celebrate the 2018-2019 season and honor those who made an impact on audiences, critics and the jury.

On May 21, the best of the best will be honored in a showstopping performance in Russia. This night is the prestigious Benois de la Danse Awards. The jury who will decide the results include: Juri Grigorovich, Dirk Badenhorst, Ted Brandsen, Svetlana Zakharova, Ana Laguna, Angès Letestu, Vladimir Malakhov, and Rachel Moore. This year could be a big year for Septime Webre and Kansas City Ballet, as the production of The Wizard of Oz has been nominated numerous times.

(photo courtesy of Kansas City Ballet’s press release of their new Production)

The Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Jiri Kylian. The Russian-Italian Prize Benois-Massine Award will go to Anna Laudere.

Nominees for the best choreographer are:

Juanjo Arques, for Ignite, Kate Whitley. Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Septime Webre, for The Wizard of Oz, Matthew Pierce, Kansas City Ballet.
Manuel Legris, for Sylvia, Leo Delibers, for Vienna State Ballet.
Justin Peck for Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, music by M83 for the San Francisco Ballet.
Fredrik Benke Rydman for Duet with an Industrial Robot, muisic by Johan Lilje Dal, Karl Johan Rasmusson, for Stockholm City Theatre.
Christian Spuck, for Winterreise, music by Hans Zender and Franz Schubert for the Zurich Ballet.

Best Female Dance Performance Nominees Include:

Amandine Albisson, as Marguerite Gautier in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin and Choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ashley Bouder, as Swanhilda, in Coppelia, music by Delibes, Choreography by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet.
Elisa Carrillo Cabrera, as Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, music by Prokofiev, and choreography by Duato for the State Ballet of Berlin.
Maia Makhateli, for Marguerite Gautier, in La Dame aux Camelias, music by Chopin, Choreographed by Neumeier, for the Dutch National Ballet.
Yuan Yuan Tan, for duet Take a Deep Breath, Bound to, music by Henson, choreographed by Wheeldon for the San Francisco Ballet.
Kaho Yanagisawa, Solo Part in Artifact Suite, music by Crossman-Hecht and Bach, choreographed by Forsythe at the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Best Male Dance Performance Nominees are:

Audric Bezard, as Armand Duval in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin, choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Daniel Camargo is nominated for both his performace as Armand Duval in Lady of the Camelias and as Basilio in Don Quixotte, music by Minkus, Choreography by A Ratmansky afer Petipa at the Dutch National Ballet.
Viacheslav Lopatin, in the Faun, music by Debussy, and Sawhney, choreography by Cherkaoui for Bolshoi Ballet.
Vadim Muntagirov for Prince Siegfried in the Swan Lake. Music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Liam Scarlett for the Royal Ballet.
Andile Ndlovu for his role as Mercrutio in Romeo and Juliet at the Washington Ballet. Music by Prokofiev, choreography by John Cranko.
Abel Rojo for Carying with My Own Floor, music by E Satie. Choreography by A. Rojo for the Malpaso Company.
Daniil Simkin for his role as the Harlequin, in ABT’s new version of Harlequinade. Music by Drigo, choreography by Ratmansky after Petipa.

Composers Nominated for this year’s award are:
Matthew Pierce for the Wizard of Oz, choreography by Septime Weber (also nominated).
Kate Whitley for Ignite. Choreography by Juanjo Aques (also nominated) for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Designers Nominated for Costumes are:

Jerome Kaplan for Staats Berlin’s La Bayadere.
John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Robert Perdziola for ABT’s Harlequinade.
Michael Raiford and Liz Vandal for the Wizard of Oz.

Below is the star studded performance schedule.

21 MAY 2019. P R O G R A M M E

PART I

M. Pierce – Benois-2019 nominee
Excerpt from THE WIZARD OF OZ
Choreography by S.WEBRE – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of theKansas City Ballet
LILIANA HAGERMAN
JEREMY HANSON
LAMIN DOS SANTOS
soloist of Colorado Ballet
CHRISTOPHOR MOULTON
soloist of Royal Winnipeg Ballet
STEPHAN AZULAY
Russian premiere

K.Whitley – Benois-2019 nominee.
Excerpt from IGNITE
Choreography by J.ARQUÉS–Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of Dutch National Ballet
ANNA TSYGANKOVA
YOUNG GUY CHOI
Piano – KATE WHITLEY
Russian premiere

THE MASSAGE
to the music by P.Tchaikovsky
Choreography by F.BENKE RYDMAN –Benois 2019 nominee
soloists of House of Shapes
ELLEN LINDBLAD
DANIEL KOIVUNEN
World premiere

Excerpt from WINTERREISE
to the music by F.Schubert/H.Zender
Choreography by CH.SPUCK – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of the Zurich Ballet
ELENA VOSTROTINA
COHEN AITCHISON-DUGAS
DOMINIK SLAVKOVSKY
Moscow premiere

L.Delibes. Excerpts from SYLVIA
Choreography by M.LEGRIS – laureate of Benois de la Danse, nominee of 2019, after LUIS MÉRANTE
soloists of the Vienna State Ballet
NIKISHA FOGO
DENIS CHEREVICHKO – nominee of Benois de la Danse

CARRING MY OWN STAGE
To the music by E.Satie
Choreography by A. ROJO
soloist of Malpaso Company
ABEL ROJO – Benois-2019 nominee
Piano – VALERIA KACHUROVSKAYA
Russian premiere

Duet from the second act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER– Benois de la Danse laureate
soloists of Dutch National Ballet 
MAIA MAKHATELI– Benois-2019 nominee
JAMES STOUT

L.Delibes. Pas de deux from COPPÉLIA 
Choreography by G.BALANCHINE and A.DANILOVA after M.PETIPA
©The George Balanchine Trust
soloist of the New York City Ballet
ASHLEY BOUDER
soloist of the Passific North-West Ballet
SETH ORZA 

PART II

S.Prokofiev.Duet from ROMEO AND JULIET
Choreography by N. DUATO – laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloist of State Ballet Berlin
ELISA CARRILLO CABRERA -Benois – 2019 nominee
soloist of Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet
IVAN ZAYTSEV

Excerpt from ARTIFACT-SUITE
To the music by I.S.Bach
Choreography, costumes and light concept by W. FORSYTHE– laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloists of the Royal Swedish Ballet
KAHO YANAGISAWA – Benois-2019 nominee
JONATAN DAVIDSSON

I.Demutsky– laureate of Benois de la Danse
THE LETTRE from NUREYEV
Choreography by Y.POSSOKHOV – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
VIATCHESLAV LOPATIN – Benois-2019 nominee

H. Løvenskiold. Pas de deuxfrom LA SYLPHIDE
Choreography by A.BOURNONVILLE
soloists of The Washington Ballet
MAKI ONUKI
ANDILE NDLOVU – Benois-2019 nominee

Duet from the third act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet
AMANDINE ALBISSON – Benois-2019 nominee 
AUDRIC BEZARD – Benois-2019 nominee

THE OTHER YOU
To the music by L.van Beethoven 
Choreography by C.PITE – laureate of Benois de ls Danse
soloists of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
MICHAEL GROSS
ANDREW MURDOCK
Russian premiere

ADAGIETTO, 4TH MOVEMENT from FIFTH SYMPHONYOF GUSTAV MAHLER
Choreography, costumes, light concept by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Hamburg Ballet
ANNA LAUDERE– laureate of Benois–Massine Prize
EDVIN REVAZOV

K.Henson. TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Choreography by CH.WHEELDON
soloists of San Francisco Ballet
YUAN YUAN TAN – Benois-2019 nominee
CARLO DI LANNO 
Moscow premiere

L.Minkus. Pas de deux from DON QUIXOTE
Choreography by A.GORSKY
soloist of the Stuttgart State Ball
ELISA BADENES
DANIEL CAMARGO – Benois -2019 nominee

Masters of the ceremony
KSENIA RAPPOPORT
ANDREY ANDREEV

Direction of the concert
ANDREY MELANYIN

Author of the text
ALEXANDER KOLESNIKOV

Stage-designer
SERGEY TIMONIN 

Light Designer
SERGEY SHEVCHENKO
Light designer assistant – ALEXANDER ROMANOV

Sound
ANDREY VOLKOV

Stage operator
ROMAN SMIRNOV

Stage managers
ANDREY MELANIN, VLADIMIR SCHERBAKOV, IRINA ZIBROVA, MIKHAIL MINEEV

Director of the technical staff 
IGOR SUVOROV

Chairman of the BENOIS DE LA DANSE Program
YURI GRIGOROVICH

President of the Board 
REGINA NIKIFOROVA

Artistic Director
NINA KUDRIAVTSEVA-LOORY

Official photographer 
MIKHAIL LOGVINOV

Video-projections
SERGEY BORISOV

Project coordinator
OLGA GORCHAKOVA

Financial service OOO Auditor Firm “KEMENOV”
ALEXEY NIKITIN

Administrator
VALENTINA DMITRENKO

Press Office
OLGA KULIKOVA

Internet-projects’ manager
NATALIA PUTICHEVA

Group of interpreters’ coordinator
MARIA PODGORNOVA

Printing Products
PUBLISHING HOUSE TEATRALIS

Executive Producer
TATIANA SIDOROVA

David King

David King

The author of a Ballet Education www.DavidJWKing.com

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The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Variations

The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Variations

Have you ever noticed that the first variations you usually learn are all from 1890 Petipa classic: The Sleeping Beauty? You might think they are lame or boring, but these six variations are the key to classical ballet. Sleeping Beauty is by definition the epitome and pinnacle of Classical Ballet. The ballet itself has no affectations and minimal stylistic points from the Romantic Ballet Era. These six variations showcase everything Classical Ballet represents: constraint, placement, beauty, proportion, turnout, legs, feet, musicality and artistry that evokes the essence of ballet.

As promised, I am going to help you find the right variation for you, but first…

Before you even start thinking about picking a variation to work on you should ask yourself, “Have I mastered these variations?” If the answer is no, don’t worry. These variations are going to get your technique stronger, your footwork cleaner, they allow you to find your musicality and phrasing, and have a better understanding of Classical Ballet. For the History of these variations, check out the digital: A Ballet Education’s Guide To Variations.

The first variation is all about the presentation of the foot and the control of turnout. Honestly, this shouldn’t be called candide or the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain. It should be called present your heel from your inner thigh. What is nice about this variation is that it teaches pique arabesque and attitude with both a pas de cheval and a brush, and it also teaches fouetté en dedans from arabesque to effacé and plié relevé arabesque.

Heloise Bourdon of the Paris Opera Ballet in Rudolph Nureyev’s Production of the Sleeping Beauty.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 1

In the first diagonal moving downstage right, make sure you keep all of your croisé lines crossed and turned out. Sometimes we are so focused on the height of the leg, that the actual body line and position become a little sloppy. Keep the heel presented at all times. e.Remember: In croisé devant, you want to see that heel coming over the top of the line. Keep the port de bras moving and relaxed, let the arms float with the music, but make sure the end in a position on the count. Showing a clean line on the count is essential. End the pass with a juicy plié that resists the floor. Don’t just plop down.

In the second pass of the variation moving across the stage, make sure you get the heel as far forward as possible when presenting the foot from the inner thigh. Make sure to keep the thighs tightly crossed in bourrés with BOTH heels forward. Hold that rotation!

In the next phrase of variation, the focus is going en dedans but maintaining the turnout. As each staging is different, I am just going to reference the video above. Notice that from arabesque the heel has to come forward as the knee stays behind, the inner thigh rotates forward through passé into the next step. The port de bras are lovely, but the hand should not be stroking or brushing the arm. It should be extremely delicate with beautifully shaped fingers like you are petting a baby, or wearing expensive jewelry.

In the final pass of the variation, death comes at you with full force. Moving from effacé to effacé while rolling up and down on pointe and as the leg/hip rotation fouettés en dedans… girl bye. The hardest part about that step isn’t even the pointe work, well the pointe work is extremely hard but can be made easier by making sure the entire weight of the upper body is in front of the hips and leg so that the fouetté can come easily, and the femur head can relax into the hip socket. Note how forward the inner thigh has to wrap, and then wrap back even more as you tombé.

Finally, when ending, make sure the heels are completely forward showing the understanding of the footwork, understanding of the turnout, and understanding of the delicate musicality.

If the first variation taught us the quality of delicate, the second variation, the Carelessness Fairy, or the Fairy of Flowing Wheat. teaches us how to move with precision and vigor. It teach us us pique passé, a very large and powerful jeté, attitude front, how to move backwards and forwards, and the start of turns.

Yulia Kasenkova in Sergei Vikharev’s production of the Sleeping Beauty for Mariinsky.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 2

Sometimes this variation has two women dancing (Paris Opera), but most of the time it is done as a solo variation. I think one of the hardest things in this variation is to maintain the turnout and rib placement while move this fast. I think because of the transitions and because of the bending of the upper body, most young dancers have a tendency to splay the ribs to get a better attitude devant line.

The opening jeté, the heels must stay forward. The supporting leg, or the leg that pushes off, has to be fully turned out. Make sure as you brush the working leg, the leg is slightly in front of your hips. Finally, you have to hold the second position in the air for a brief second. Travel big!

In the next pass of the variation make sure you accent the rond de jambe en l’air out, and keep the supporting leg as straight and scooped as possible. Next are the chassés back. Make sure the foot is still slightly shaped to be aesthetically more pleasing. Keep the weight forward and on more on the front foot so that the back foot can shape better.

In the final pass, you have to quickly do step-overs, or lame ducks. Luckily they are only half turns! The hard part is getting the turnout on both legs to fire quickly simultaneously. Remember, to keep pressing the turnout from the hips as your turn and step. Make sure each step the heel is beautifully presented.

Oh, the Fairy of Scattered Breadcrumbs or the Fairy of the Woodland Glades.. the list goes on and on for this one. This is a good one. This variation teaches us how to pas de couru and travel, how to softly move through the steps, how to developpé arabesque and how to be generous with our artistry.

Royal Ballet’s Fumi Kaneko

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 3

Like walking delicately on glass through attitude devant, the first pass in this variation gives us a since of strength in the legs. Doing a plié en pointe without rolling or sickling is crucial. The musicality is so precise, and the legwork reflects the music while the port de bras reflects the calm smooth melody. Turnout! Turnout! Turnout! Don’t sit in your hips as you plié. Don’t be afraid to bend a little further than you actually think you should.

The next pass involves hopping backwards onto pointe. Again, the legs are very reflective of the individual notes while the arms really are generous and light.

This sets us up for the next section or pass involving two hops on pointe in attitude front, followed by a third sustaining the balance on pointe while doing a developpé arabesque. It isn’t easy at all. The pointe work has to be very obvious in the difference of slightly ginched foot and a fully pointed foot on pointe when balanced. This is a mature and subtle difference in a dancer’s ability to articulate the foot on pointe in different positions.

After this painstakingly long process the most quick and fluttering pas de couru happen. Again the genius of Tchiakovsky and Petipa shine: as the feet move rapidly with the notes and the upper body stays calm and the articulation of the port de bras is effortless.Then guess what happens. You repeat the previous section to the other side! Again, turnout is everything, and as the variation comes to an end, you don’t want to show you are tired, or that your feet are cramping. There are different ways to end this variation, in the video above she ends in a very nicely crossed attitude front en face. Personally, I don’t think that is flattering for most dancers so I would go croisé slightly. Actually, when I stage this variation I have the dancer end in arabesque and try to balance for a good two counts after the music has ended.

Sometimes I feel like we overlook this variation. I actually think it is rather difficult as one must run and travel on pointe. Not to mention that the hand work is incredibly difficult. It is really easy to look like a crazy spazz of a mess while performing this variation. Angelica Generosa ferociously performed this variation this season for Pacific Northwest Ballet‘s production. And truthfully it is probably the best I have ever seen it done.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 4

The fairy of song or voice, or whatever you want to call it. Mostly it is nicknamed Canary Fairy. I think this variation really tests your turnout and whether or not you have mastered it. First off running on pointe is never easy, yet alone to be turned out and to travel the entire stage. The posture of the run is really important, as you have to be extremely pulled up and slightly inclined. The hands and fingers move ridiculously fast as if you were playing an instrument and all of the notes are flooding from your hands.

When running on pointe in the first diagonal, a lot of young dancers forget to hold the turnout. Remember each run is either in effacé or croisé so the full presentation of the heel must happen. At the end of the running diagonal you have double rond de jambe, in which the accent is out. So if you are ferocious, you would stop and hold the accent out for a split count.

In the bourrées back make sure the foot is fully pointed and shaped in each coupé.The next step varies by staging, but in the version below her couru en avant travel turned out opposed to towards the end when going moving en arriere it is executed in sixth position on pointe.

 

If this first of the Fairy Variations taught us poise and speed, then Fairy 5, most commonly known as the Finger Fairy, teaches us style and power. This variation, because of the length and musicality has a very wide range of stagings. While some end the variation sauté basque, others will end the variation with step over turns, and others will add multiple pique turns. Some have a difficult jeté from a chaîné, while other variations have very fast pas de bourrée. Whatever staging you use, there are some signature style points to note below.

Sabrina Mellum of the Paris Opera in the very classical staging version of the variation.

Milena Sidorova from Dutch National (Het) in a more stylized version of the variation.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 5

While the other variations enter with an ease and elegance, this variation opens with power and style. Whether you do the opening with runs or the most turned out emboîtés of your life, this variation must be executive with a ridiculous amount of energy. From the tension in the arms to the directness and literal energy to the end of the fingertips. The musicality is n the opening steps is very direct, there is not a lot of room for interpretation. It is what it is. It is precise, cutting and most of all exact. Crossing the attitude front is super important as it creates a better line on most dancers.

The next section you either run on pointe or pas de chat en pointe, either way, you need to get your butt into the air and travel like a crazy person. The sous-sus traveling back should equally scoop, and equally hold the turnout.The next section varies on staging, I personally like the turns into the grand jeté, most because I don’t like doing the turning hops en pointe. I personally think it looks clumsy, and less grand. This is the part in the variation most people start to die. The next section is a small developpé at 45°. Make sure that both heels are spiraling forward and presenting the most beautiful turnout.

Finally, in the last section each dancer or choreographer will choose between jumps or turns. Depending on what suits you best, I am indifferent to what a dancer might choose. Personally, I think the sauté basque is always stunning, as I think the step gets a reputation to be a masculine step. I also just think it is more impressive than a stepover, and I think the quick piqués look wild and crazy.

With the exception of Nureyev’s version, most every other version refers to this illustrious musical composition as the music for the Lilac Fairy. She is queen of the fairies and probably the most sought after role after Aurora. Usually assigned to a principal dancer, this variation sets up every ballerina to become a principal dancer.

Maria Iliushkina premiered as the LIlac Fairy this past season for Mariinsky. She is another up and coming star at the former Kirov.

Sanguen Leea principal at Dresden SemperOper in Aaron S. Watkin’s version of the sleeping beauty.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 6

Here is why Lilac Fairy sets you up to become a dancer. The music is so dance able that the interpretation of the music and the steps is unique to each dancer. Additionally, this role demands a lot of acting is is seen in all three acts. From the way the dancer must walk onto the stage and even bow, you have to command a certain sense of presence and authority, while maintaining the ethereal qualities of a fairy.

In the opening of the variation, be generous with the head and preparation.  It is the only fairy that has that principal start. Most of the previous variations do not have preparation music, and if they do, they prepare towards and facing baby Aurora and not the audience. The first pass of the variation includes some crazy developpé and en dedan ronds. By now you should have mastered the turnout from back to front, especially if you drilled that first fairy variation. In the contretemps make sure your heels are forward and you are turned out from your thighs. Present the foot  with fully stretched leg and reach into a massively placed arabesque, don’t whack it.

In the second pass you have piques traveling back in attitude, arabesque and turning. The control of the turnout is crucial, the placement of the hips over the foot is crucial, and the upper body placed in an place that anticipates the actual position you are wanting is crucial. The fluidity comes from the strength behind a dancer’s technique. The grace comes from the musicality, and the comfort and control comes from the port de bras.

The next pass is quite short that involves musicality and port de bras traveling to stage left.

The next pass teaches us how to do sissone fermé with arms in first arabesque and allongé and pirouettes from fifth position. Don’t double prep your jump, keep the heels firmly pressed into the floor. This way as you come off the floor the heel is present fully in the air. Catch the landing and control the heels slowly to the floor. Don’t just plop down. Some dancers will make the jump massive, while others will make it small and quick depending on the tempo. Again, the phrasing of the music is really up to the director, or the dancer. Personally, as much as I care about the jump and the turn, I most care about the port de bras. The pirouette…. For all of you comp dancers out there: STOP WINDING UP YOUR PIROUETTE FROM FIFTH!!! I can not stress this enough. It drives me crazy in general. If you are doing pirouettes from fifth you don’t need to wind up, and frankly if you aren’t doing more than three pirouettes you don’t need to open the working side’s arm. Pirouettes shouldn’t look like effort. They should float on top of the supporting leg, and be so lifted that your upper body looks detached from your hips. They should be full of air and whimsy. They shouldn’t look like you are are winding up a pitch for the world series. Don’t turn in the supporting leg either. Actually… just look at my notes on pirouettes here.

 Finally the variation ends with the presentation of attitude front, usually an assemblé or jump of choice, and an arabesque.

Thanks again for reading! I hope this helps you!

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5 Variations To Stay Away from (2019)

5 Variations To Stay Away from (2019)

Thank the Baby Jesus that the ballet competition season is over. If the 2017-2018 season was the year of “Satanella,” then the 2018-2019 was the year of “Dulcinea.” While I have appreciated that people have listened to the first article, published back in 2015, about
5 Variations to Stay Away From, people have searched high and low for the replacements to these five- and they have found them.

While the original list consisted of:
Kitri ACT I
Esmeralda
Sugar Plum Fairy
Grand Pas Classique
and White/Black Swan

People have found their counterparts… While there will always be the crowd favorites like Esmeralda, how many Esmeralda variations can we watch? Especially, since Madison Penney demolished that variation and turned it into a show-stopping, trick-filled, pirouette perfection. We also have the standards that will never go away: like Aurora Act III (which is probably the textbook perfect definition of classical of ballet), Coppélia, Paquita Etoile Variation, and Giselle ACT I. But somehow we have replaced Kitri ACT I with the Variation from Laurencia.

Don’t get me wrong; I staged this for ABE COVER GIRL from Master Ballet Academy Tegan Chou last season for her ADC IBC performance. But now it seems that every jazz comp dancer is taking this variation on. And I can see their reasoning, they get to wear a long skirt like Kitri ACT 1, and has the same jeté in attitude. Jazz comp girls think they can get away with their bent knees because of the long skirt, and they can whack everything. In reality, you just look crazy. This is one of the problems with competition and the mindset of, “Well she won with it, so I should do it.” A Ballet Variation is much harder than just the tricks within the variation, and it takes a lot of coaching.

Tegan Chou, age 11, of Master Ballet Academy, ADC IBC.

The very talented Regina Montgomery at her 2012 YAGP Semi-Final from the Rock School for Dance Education. Miss Montgomery is now a demi-soloist at Tulsa Ballet.

We still revisit Esmeralda because we think the tambourine is cool. And now that Masters has modified the variation, we all are modifying the variation and adding as many pirouettes as possible and as many crazy tricks as we can. At this pointe, the variation shouldn’t even have the diagonal of fondu developpés, and we should just do tilt turns on pointe. YAAAAAAAS!

We should take a moment relive Madison Penney’s Amazing win at the Youth American Grand Pri at age 12.

We should also look at Sumina Sasaki’s 2019 Prix win where the commentator rudely says, “Just get on with it.”

Sugar Plum Fairy has somehow been replaced with Dulcinea. While these two variations have the same delicate features, they are both built to be extremely delicate with a coda built into the variation. Mostly it is another ridiculously long variation, and somehow we have slowed down the music even more and made it more painstaking to watch. While I understand we are kids trying to do this variation, so the slower tempo is needed, dear god, it is so painful to sit through… Especially if you are too weak, or too athletic to do this variation. Now that Ava Arbuckle has placed with this variation… let it be.

Elite Classical Coaching’s Ava Arbuckle at her 2019 Semi-Final in Dallas.

San Francisco Ballet’s Natasha Sheehan, age 14, at YAGP Finals in 2014.

Grand Pas Classique has been replaced with Satanella. While we have seen less and less of Grand Pas, thank you. It has been replaced with the two-minute variation from Carnival of Venice- Satanella. While the variation is cute and flirty, it is long; like really, really long. Just like Grand Pas, and people do these variations because they think that the longer it is, the better. Fortunately, that is not true. By the midpoint of Satanella, everyone is ready to jab their eyes out. You would think that it should end before the menage of ballonés, but no, it keeps going… and going… and then just when you think it is done, it still isn’t done. And truth, after Elisabeth Beyer’s performance and Lincoln Center… Can you really follow that up?

We should tall take a moment to relive this magical moment. Elisabeth Beyer of Ellison Ballet at NYC Finals 2018.

Satanella Variation to tempo by Evgenia Obraztsova.

And White/Black Swan has been replaced with Raymonda Dream Variation/Harlequinade. While  White Swan is about style, Raymonda’s Dream Variation is about control and constraint. The quality is similar in both variations, but white swan has more stylistic features like exaggerated port de bras. But, they both have painstaking developpés, and truthfully, the extensions in Raymonda are harder as they are done en dedans and in the middle of the variation instead of the beginning. While the drama of the variation is nice, I am always confused when people do this variation as she is dreaming to “escape” a rape. Not the best variation to be teaching young girls, but then again, what ballet variation sets up a strong good role model for young girls? Anyways, this brings me to the painstakingly long variation of Harlequinade. Originally,  Whitney Jensen, former Principal of Boston Ballet and now Norwegian National Ballet, brought this variation back to popularity at Varna in 2008 where she brilliantly won the highest honor, the Special Distinction. If you don’t know what that is, it is an award that has been rarely given out. In the entire competition it has been given out a total of  6 times (2018 Antonio Casalinho, 2014 Soo Bin Lee, 2012 He Taiyu, 2002 Lu Meng, 1998 Rolando Sarabia and technically in 1964 Vladimir Vasiliev won the Grand Prix, the top prize the first year Varna was established). But, it seems that Remi Goins set the trend a few years ago by pulling off some ridiculously hard turns at a very young age and now, everyone is going for it: juniors, seniors, pre-comp, Everyone. Here is the problem is the variation from Harlequinade. While it is cute, and it seems relatable for young kids, if you want to show off turns why not do the Medora Variation or Odalisque Variation from Le Corsaire?

Remi Goins at YAGP 2017 at age 12 winning the Shelley King Award for Excellence.

Whitney Jensen doing it big at Varna in 2008.

Here are some other mistakes I have seen this season at the YAGP. I get that the YAGP has expanded and more and more kids are coming into the semi-finals… but if you are a jazz comp school… and you are entering your kids into the ballet category, do them a solid… Find them a better ballet teacher. And secondly, don’t buy a costume from Revolution for 15 dollars, attempt to alter it and add rhinestones and glitter. It doesn’t work. Go and find a seamstress and put the work in or optionally buy a blank performance tutu from Grishko for 400 dollars and spiff it up yourself. Or even better, there is a new costume company that is making blank tutus for reasonable pricing. Also, stop going to more than two semi-finals.

I know that a lot of you are going to as many as you can so the talented kids are weeded out, and you finally place and get an invite to NYC. After the second attempt at a semi-final… if you don’t place… you don’t place. There is no reason to go to a third, and fourth, and this year I saw it… a fifth… Just don’t go… This isn’t Nuvo or Break the Floor, and you are trying to prove you have improved, etc, etc, etc… this isn’t that, it isn’t a circuit, this is a ballet competition that is looking for the best of the best. The whole rule of not being able to place twice was put into place to discourage people from doing more than one. So, please… just stop.

Also, you don’t need to enter FOUR contemporary solos. We get it… you can do contemporary. On average most kids bring two classical variations and one contemporary. If you are an overachiever and your parents want to see you on stage more since they are paying the participation fee, then you might have two and two. But really? Do you need more than that… absolutely not.

This year, I am not going to preparing anyone for the YAGP or Lausanne (or at least not to my knowledge), so I am going to do all of you searching a solid and walk you through the variation-selection process. Subscribe and Stay Tuned to get all the competition info you need.

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David King

David King

David King is the founder of A Ballet Education

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ISSUE 11

YAGP COVER 11copy copy
ISSUE 11

Inside the world’s largest ballet competition. This year over 10,000 kids auditioned and competed at the Youth America Grand Prix and tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships were given out to promising young talent across the world. This issue is packed with the enormous talents emerging from the Youth America Grand Prix.

The Cover Features:
Brady Farrar, Misha Broderick, Joel Dichter, Madyson Grobe, Remie Madeline Goins, Jolie Rose Lombardo, Tia Wenkman, Kaeli Ware, Bel Pickering, Kali Kleiman, Lily Turner and Ava Arbuckle.

Reviews of Atlanta Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem & much more in the issue.

The issue comes out on FRIDAY!!! Until then…

Check out these young superstars on Instagram:

A Ballet Education Scholarship

A Ballet Education has committed/pledged to raise $27,000 dollars in scholarship funds for various organizations including the YAGP Korea, Burbank Dance Academy, the Cirio Collective & helping support kids with the financial aid to attend Summer Intensives and the YAGP. This crowdfunding initiative is to help support the art form that I love with all my heart. This year has been a devastating year for many, as ballet companies and schools are losing money and not giving out as many scholarships as usual. The costs of ballet are skyrocketing and the need to support the ballet is more important, now more than ever. 

For the 2018-2019 Season
YAGP KOREA through the Hee Seo Foundation $3,000
Burbank Dance Academy $1,000
YAGP FINALS FUNDS $10,000
SUMMER INTENSIVE FUNDS $13,000

How am I going to fundraise $27,000 for all these kids/dancers? Simple. All of the proceeds from my books, artwork, and magazine will now be going towards helping dancers across the world. I have been watching, listening, and hearing kids across the world struggle financially at their home studios and then when they are offered the chance to be seen, or have a career, or attend a summer intensive that could actually make their career… they can’t even afford the chance to go. It was hard to watch kids struggling this year at YAGP finals with the costs of everything. Numerous times, I had let kids hop into my UBER or LYFT because I knew it was going to cost them $15 dollars when we were all going to the same place… 

Why am I always helping YAGP KOREA? Because, for these young men, it is important to place at a ballet competition. If they don’t place, they will have to serve two years to the army at the age of 19. Their training will  stop completely, and the odds of them ever returning to ballet are slim. Read more here.

Why am I helping Burbank Dance Academy? Because I have seen, worked in, and observed the intensities of the Los Angeles Ballet Community, and I believe this school under Jason Coosner is creating a healthy and positive presence in the Los Angeles Ballet Community that is desperately needed. 

Think about it this way… 

If you buy 1 grande Starbucks espresso drink a day, that is $1,825 dollars a year- if you just cut back to 5 coffees a week, and donate the rest you would be donating $520 dollars a year. That is a plane ticket for a kid to attend finals, or attend a summer intensive on scholarship. It might be the last amount needed to attend for a student to attend a year round school. That’s 6 pairs of pointe shoes you could be helping a student receive. If you were to not go out and eat once a month, you would be able to donate $1,200. That is almost a full summer intensive fee. It is 12 pairs of pointe shoes. It is the cost of the hotel for YAGP finals. 

How can you help support? Subscribe to the magazine.
Or if you would like to donate, feel free to by clicking here.

Do you need a scholarship? Applications for scholarships will open in December 2018.

YAGP… the final round…

As the YAGP moves on, the list gets smaller and smaller as tonight is the last night of competition. These 55 females, and 40 males will compete for the two top prizes Youth Grand Prix and Senior Grand Prix awards. Additionally there are other awards, and many of these young men and women will walk away with a scholarship or offer to a major school or company. This list doesn’t include the hundreds of pre competitive dancers that competed this week as well.

 

YAGP 2018 NYC FINALS
Photo Courtesy of VAM PRODUCTIONS // GARY TRINDER, Tirector of the New Zealand School of Dance teaching during the YAGP

 

JUNIOR WOMEN: 31 Contestants 
1-Ella Kolpakov (12), USA
4-Poppy Trettel (12), USA
9-Emma Topalova (12), USA
14-Nina Gagnin (12), AUSTRIA
21-Margarita Fernandes (12), PORTUGAL
22-Nana Oda (12), JAPAN
26-Ava Arbuckle (13), USA
30-Kate Thomas (13), USA
31-Remie Madeleine Goins (13), USA
48-Yo Nakajima (13), JAPAN
52-Gia Polson (13), SOUTH AFRICA
54-Petra Johnson (13), USA
58-Sierra Glasheen (13), USA
61-Dominika Afanasenkov (13), USA
66-Mahalaya Tintiangco-Cubales (13), USA
67-Alexandra Manuel (13), USA
68-Keaton Gillespie (13), USA
76-Emma Spillane (14), USA
77-Aoi Sawano (14), JAPAN
78-Ruth Schultz (14), USA
80-Jessica Phan (14), USA
88-Rebecca Rudolf (14), PORTUGAL
89-Alexandra Hoffmann (14), USA
91-Olivia Tweedy (14), USA
96-Jolie Rose Lombardo (14), USA
101-Tia Wenman (14), USA
114-Lily Turner (14), USA
117-Alice Balboni (14), BRAZIL
118-Suyeon An (14), S KOREA
131-Estrella Birkinshaw (14), USA

JUNIOR MEN: 20 Contestants
151-Toya Hayashi (12), JAPAN
152-Filippo Mambelli (12), ITALY
153-Misha Broderick (12), USA
158-Brady Farrar (12), USA
160-Giuseppe Ventura (13), ITALY
161-Vitor Vaz (13), BRAZIL
164-Jackson Smith-Leishman (13), AUSTRALIA
167-Darrion Sellman (13), USA
170-Dorian Plasse (13), FRANCE
172-Arata Yamamoto (14), JAPAN
174-Soshi Suzuki (14) JAPAN
175-Parker Garrison (14), USA
176-Antonio Casalinho (14), PORTUGAL
177-Masaki Suetsugo (14), JAPAN
178-Francisco Gomes (14), PORTUGAL
179-Joao Vitor Da Silva (14), BRAZIL
180-Aydin Eyikan (14), USA
181-Joel Dichter (14), USA
182-Antonio Ferreira (14), PORTUGAL
186-Enrique Emmanuel Bejarano Vidal (14), Mexico

SENIOR WOMEN: 24 Contestants
205-Florence Joffre (15), FRANCE
213-Basia Rhoden (15), USA
214-Non Tachibana (15), JAPAN
223-Elisabeth Beyer (15), USA
225-Teresa D’Ortone (15), USA
232-Marlena Umland (15), USA
235-Quinn Starner (15), USA
237-Alina Taratorin (15), USA
238-Christiana De Blank (15), USA
241-Nicole Denney (15), USA
250-Bel Pickering (16), USA
251-Lee Mleton (16), USA
265-Guo Wen Jin (16), CHINA
267-Victoria Wardell (16), CANADA
277-Carolyne Freitas Galvao (17), BRAZIL
279-YoonJi Lee (17), S KOREA
282-Kaeli Ware (17), USA
283-Anaelle Mariat (17), FRANCE
290-Heidi Cecilie Christensen (18), NORWAY
293-Emma Guertin (18), USA
294-Seon Mee Park (18), S KOREA
296-Paloma Berjano (18), SPAIN
297-Miu Tanaka (19), JAPAN
301-Nadyne Bispo (19), BRAZIL

SENIOR MEN: 20 Contestants 
357-Clark Eselgroth (15), USA
358-Jonas Malinka-Thompson (15), USA
363-Yuma Matsurra (15), JAPAN
366-Takayuki Moriwaki (15), JAPAN
375-Keita Youssef Bellali (15), CANADA
383-Joseph Markey (16), USA
386-Robert Evin Hyland (17), AUSTRIA
388-Marcio Mota (17), PORTUGAL
390-Joshua Green (17), AUSTRALIA
398-Francesco Fasano (17), SWITZERLAND
399-Lorenzo Collatuzzo (17), ITALY
402-Thomas Rousse-Blatiere (17), FRANCE
403-Stephen Myers (17), USA
405-Edvinas Jakonis (17), LITHUANIA
406-SuNu Lim (18), S KOREA
408-Masanori Takiguchi (18), USA
409-Pau Pujol (18), SPAIN
412-Bela Erlandson (18), USA
421-Vsevolod Maievskyi (19), UKRAINE
422-SangMin Lee (19), S Korea

book cover 1

Time for YAGP FINALS!!!

In less than a week I will be off to the YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX! What does that mean? It’s time to tune into my INSTAGRAM (@aballeteducation) and follow me around. This is an exciting year for the YAGP because it leads up to the Jackson Competition. So, what can we expect on my insta story and live casts? Probably me just being goofy like always. Just kidding… not really. I will be going around interviewing young kids and taking photos of the promising young talent of the Youth America Grand Prix.

What does this all mean… well actually, I will have a lot of down time at the YAGP because I don’t coach at finals. I will be getting everything ready and hopefully taking very epic photos of some of the most talented kids in the world. One will be the next cover of A Ballet Magazine.

a ballet education pictures

follow the hashtag: #ABEdoesYAGP

please don’t forget to help kids get to the YAGP finals by donating … It is so expensive to go each year, and TRUST me… I had to super budget for this year.

 

 

Notes on Cupid

Whether you are twelve or twenty, this variation is one of the most recognizable variations for those who have danced. For a lot, this variation was the first variation they learned in variations class (that or Florine from Sleeping Beauty). This is the variation known as Cupid from Don Quixote. This extremely fast petit allegro variation actually doesn’t have that many petit allegro steps, but the music is extremely fast. From this God awful blonde wig, to the flowy tunic, everything about this variation says, “Hello, I’m Cute.”

Notes on Cupid

Usually reserved for a short girl, this variation opens up with the a series of tombé relevés into attitude plié relevé effacé positions. You need to remember a couple things in this opening sequence:

  1. Turn out the supporting leg in the tombé.
  2. Don’t overshoot the corner, and stay square.
  3. Never whack your leg into the positions, place them nicely. If you are going to do a low effacé leg, lean over the leg to help the line. If you are going to do a high attitude back, don’t pinch your neck back to help make the line.
  4. Keep the arms exstremely soft, and keep the eyeline in all the positions.

Hold the attititude to be with the music, and change the head.

The next sequence of the variations requires a back diagonal of plié relevé pirouettes to the inside. When you are doing the chassé/tombé, TURNOUT… Hold the working knee back to give you the most turn out and longest line. Make sure you get that knee all the way straight.

The next sequence requires fast foot work, and involves you to be extremely turned out. Focus on hitting all of the positions before the music so you can hold the positions. This is important because you have to be MUSICAL.

Below is Evgenia Obraztsova doing cupid. Personally it is too slow for my taste… but the technique is spot on, and the performance is ideal. It is about being cheerful and constantly changing your facial expressions of happiness and excited. Her eyes play to the audience very well.

Mélanie Hurel of Paris Opera does another stunning version. The Nureyev version. It is more dainty, more french, faster, and done in a full tutu.

Below is Riverbank Dance Company’s young girl (2017) doing the variation on flat. While there are turn out issues, the technique is clean, and the young dancer is polished. She is probably 10? Notice in the upstage diagonal that she hits coup de pied, fifth and fourth.

YAGP KOREA NEEDS OUR HELP

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Photos Courtesy of YAGP KOREA

When American Ballet Theatre Principal, Hee Seo calls, you answer…

It is that time of year again, dancers from around the world are getting ready for the internationally acclaimed Youth America Grand Prix. But, the YAGP Korea is funded by the Hee Seo Foundation. The Hee Seo foundation was established in 2015 to discover and trained talented dancers to increase exposure and participants of ballet through international exchanges, and to implement various culture and arts related projects. YAGP Korea is the first project by the Hee Seo Foundation, providing various opportunities to students. As we all know the YAGP brings prominent teachers from the best ballet schools together for a chance for young students to win scholarships to study abroad and deepen their dance education. Additionally, the Hee Seo Foundation also introduced the Hee Seo Foundation Ballet, a master class series for all age groups interested in ballet.  If you don’t remember, ballet in Korea is not easy, especially for young men. If they don’t finish first or second at an international competition, they are required to serve time to the army, basically derailing their ballet career. So, with a month or so to go, the foundation is short $8,000. If you are in a position to financially help the Hee Seo Foundation please do. You can donate via paypal by clicking here.

A Note From Hee Seo:

“Greetings. I am ballerina Seo Hee, President of the Hee Seo foundation. Establishing an incorporated association was an uneasy yet slow task for me as a professional dancer. However, the opportunity of a contribution was a noble privilege for me which enriched my life and made me even happier than before. I ask for your kind support in achieving the grand dream of one major foundation. Thank you very much.”

Follow their story on Instagram @YAGP_KOREA

 

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AND THE CROWD GOES CRAZY…

The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow:
Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ the David H. Koch Theater @ Lincoln Center

curtain
Any evening at Lincoln Center always promises to be a success and enjoyable for the mature ballet goer. But, tonight was different as hundreds of young ballet dancers flocked to the fountain with the anticipation of what was to come. Tonight, the Youth America Grand Prix hosted a beautiful gala honoring their lifetime achievement honoree Bruce Marks, the pure talent of top performers from the Prix, and professionals from all around the world. Dozens of professional dance icons glided across the marble floors at Lincoln Center to support their colleagues, young dancers, and the talented and forever a part of ballet history Bruce Marks. By the time the audience sat and the house lights dimmed, the sold-out house was ready for ballet.The energy was different from other nights at theater. It was young, it was hopeful, it was exciting. As the lights dimmed, dozens of screams from the third and fourth ring poured into Lincoln Center, the anticipation was bursting, and it led to a spectacular evening of ballet.

 

Brady Farrar_YAGP2017STMST_GALA_VAM Photo 1.jpg
Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

It opened with a male pre-competitor, Brady Farrar doing the variation from Talisman that was pretty awesome. Followed by the pas de deux from Coppellia from Master’s Juniors featuring Avery Gay. Classical Dance Academy performed a competitive ensemble piece titled Existence that involved a glowing pink parachute. Junior division’s Takumi Miyaki performed the male variation from Swan Lake. This was followed by a contemporary solo from Jan Spunda titled “Swan” which was a male take on Dying Swan. A senior from Korea redid her variation from Raymonda. Tara from Portugal performed a contemporary solo in a skirt. Maddison Penny blew the audience away with her variation of Esmeralda and Taro Kurachi blew everyone over again with his Don Q variation. This was followed by the Grand Défilé with choreography by YAGP resident choreographer Carlos do Santos, Jr that included 300 YAGP participants from 30 countries. It rivaled many corps de ballets from major companies. It was just legs for days and clean technique. Arms that are too short for their bodies because of their ages, but beautifully proportioned bodies.
YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

The night then honored Bruce Marks. The talented and beautiful Nina Ananiashvili presented the award. His acceptance speech was funny, heartfelt and inspiring. Then it just got long a political, but he is Bruce Marks and 80, so let the man do his thing.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

ACT II brought the roaring applause. The second half of the program opened with Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro performing Wheeldon’s Pas De Deux from Carousel. It was a very cute pas de deux but completely out of text from the Carousel Suite… Without the entire ballet the pas de deux is kind of boring. They were not boring, as I adore Tiler Peck. He was nice, but

James Whiteside then performed in place of Xander Parish in a solo by Marcelo Gomes. James Whiteside is beyond beautiful, the problem with this solo was that it was not thought out well. It seemed very disjointed and lacked the interesting factor.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of TomorrowBrittany O’Connor and Paul Barris performed a very sexy ballroom number involving one pointe shoe and a backless sequin dress with a live music ensemble. She had legs and body for days… Like for days. So between ballroom steps and ballet steps, the sexy duo performed with intricate lifts and spiraling whip arounds. Photo courtesy of the YAGP by VAM.

 

Skyler Brandt and Gabe Stone Sayer performed the always crowd pleasing pas de deux from Spring Waters. Both are now at ABT and both former YAGP finalists. He was charismatic, and she as full of energy like always. Skyler Brandt is truly turning into ballet’s sweat heart, and there is a clear reason: she is adorable. Her big eyes, all American body type, a smile that’s worth a million dollars and she’s clean.

Svetlana Lukina and Evan McKie performed David Dawson’s new Swan Lake Pas De Deux. In this minimal costuming, and contemporary take, the White Swan has total control and is almost enticing. She is mesmerizing and this was probably the most interesting piece of the night. For the mature balletomane, this probably was the jewel of the evening, but for the kids and this young audience, it wasn’t enough… But what came at the end truly was what the audience craved…

Ian Spring performed the always popular David Parson’s Caught. If you haven’t seen it, it involves a very cool strobe hiding the in-between steps and only what Mr. Parson’s wants you to see. Like a series of photographs. I have now seen Angel Corella do it and it was awful but the audience liked him and Glen Simmons from Ailey which was spectacular. Ian Spring brought a very fun and very lively take to it which I enjoyed a lot. Plus, the kids were going crazy over it.

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

 

 

 

Goddess Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino performed Light Rain by Gerald Arpino. The choreography was dated, but it showcased Ms. Lacarra’s impeccable legs and feet and the fact that she has no hips. It was purely all about flexibility.

The night was then stolen by Tamara Rojo and Cesar Corrales (baby daddy status) from English National Ballet. They performed the pas de deux from Le Corsaire which ENB just did. It was so impressive. He was so impressive. From his ENB’s emerging artist performance to skyrocketing through the company, Cesar Corrales might just be ballet next Roberto Bolle. With the exception that he turns with his shoulders up. Tamara Rojo was beyond marvelous. Her technique was spotless and her triple fouettes were quite impressive as they came with ease. The audience adored them. Ovations galore, as they deserved it.

It was a great and exciting night as the young ballet bunheads of tomorrow screamed with admiration. It was a great, beautiful and crazy night. A night where young ballet hopefuls became even more inspired by ballet legends and royalty.

 


Thank you to all of my sponsors who helped me go cover the YAGP FINALS in NYC.

And the winner is… YAGP 2017

Thank you to my list of donors who have helped make this trip possible. This afternoon, at Lincoln Center at the David H. Koch Theater hundreds of young potential ballet dancers, flooded the audience. These young hopeful students sat around in anticipation as the winners of the 2017 YAGP were announced.

From the pre-competitive division, the Hope award went to Brady Farrar from Stars Dance Studio.

The winner of the Junior Grand Prix was Madison Penney from Master Ballet Academy, AZ for her variation from Esmeralda.

From the senior category, no one won the grand prix.

The Shelley King Award for Excellence went to Remie Madeleine Goins. The Outstanding Artistry Award went to Jan Spunda from English National Ballet School. The Natalia Makarova Award went to my favorite, Elisabeth Beyer.

Senior Women Top 3:
1.Gloria Benaglia, Ellison USA
2.Chloe Misseldine, Orlando Ballet School USA
3.Lauren Hunter, Marat Daukayev School USA
Senior Men Top 3:
1.Taro Kurachi, Don Q, Ellison, USA
2.Jun Young Yang, Paquita, National University of Arts, Korea
3. Jan Spunda, English National Ballet School, Czech Republic
3. Yuedong Sun, Secondary School of Bejing Dance Academy, P.R. of China.

The most important part of this afternoon was the endless amounts scholarships given out. Hundreds of scholarships were given out to all age groups, most receiving multiple offers to the best schools in the world. Now, these young potential dancers will have their choice of going to a school who wants them. Register now for the 2018 YAGP.

Catching up with Robbie Downey (BalletBabble // BalletFreak)

Robbie Downey YAGP 2017
Catching up with social media sensation, entrepreneur, and ballet dancer Robbie Downey. And, if you don’t know who she is, she is the eighteen-year-old who everyone has grown up with online. Catching the first wave of youtube channels five years back, Robbie Downey has documented her ballet journey through various social media platforms. So, this cool kid took some time in between sessions at the YAGP FINALS to meet up with a Ballet Education. Between social media accounts with a huge following, and dealing with her own personal ballet journey, Robbie Downey is the voice of positivity. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it to the final round, but she has hopes for scholarships. That is the great thing at the YAGP, you don’t have to make it to the final round to still get a scholarship spot. So, if you don’t follow her, this San Diego native has spent a year at Ellison and now is at Masters in Scottsdale, AZ. She has battled injuries and documents her journey all over social media. Agreeing that in ballet, exposure these days can make or break a career, and with her half a million followers, she has it.

So, how does she juggle it all? With the help of her mom. 
Robbie Downey Youtube

How do you take your coffee? Prefers Green Tea
Last movie you watched? Don’t Breathe
Current Song/Playlist: anything by Muse
What does she want out of her dancing? To inspire others and to balance it with dancing for herself.
Favorite thing to do when not doing ballet? Eating good vegan food.
Where to next for ballet? Possibly Spain.
robbie downey ballet life copy
Follow this cool kid on instagram:
@balletfreak / @balletbabble @its_robbie_
Follow her on Youtube: MydanceTV
Shop her brand: Farina.
Like on Facebook: Facebook.
—-

Photos by me 🙂

FINALS @ the YAGP

YAGP FINAL ROUND // Elisabeth Beyer in Stantinella, photographed by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP.

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Sorry, the internet at the hotel is horrible… and they charge you… not to mention this crazy fiasco at the hotel over a pair of my shoes… Anyways…

Yesterday was the craziest day. Yesterday, Wednesday, I woke up and did my interview with Larissa Saveliev, founder and former Bolshoi ballerina. I then moved on to teach at PeriDance Capezio with Kat Wildish. I then photographed LAB SESSIONS/ ARTS ON SITE’s Roya Carreras. Following running back to the hotel, and then running into Tamara Rojo, director of English National Ballet. Last night’s finals were intense and on fire. My favorite dancer of the evening was Elisabeth Beyer. Her variation from Satanella was close to perfect. Though the audience went googoo ga-ga over a boy from the US’s DON Q… literally five-minute ovation. I was trying to upload all these videos from the live stream on instgram… buuuuuut the internet here is sucky. Tonight is the Stars of Tomorrow… and have ran into dozens of professional dancers who would blow your mind away.

I promise to update tonight with the winner!! Follow in instagram for live streams @aballeteducation

David wants to go Blog the YAGP… via VLOG

Haha…. soooo this is random but kind of true!

GOAL: To go to the YAGP for the week leading up to it and blog… via video, photo, snapchat, insta and of course the blog….

Cost:
Hotel and Airfare: $4,200 April 20th-30th
Food: $400
Misc Expenses: camera, cab rides, metro card and all that good stuff $500

PLEASE…. and thank you.
you can donate via PayPal to aballeteducation@gmail.com

The Next Superstars of Ballet

hang yu prix de lausanne

and the next superstars of ballet are…. (winners of the 2016 Prix De Lausanne)

126. Hang YU, 16 years old, China (Shanghai Dance School)
307. Madison YOUNG, 17 years old, USA (Houston Ballet Academy)
417. Vincenzo DI PRIMO, 18 years old, Italy (Vienna State Opera)
206. Leroy MOKGATLE, 16 years old, South Africa (Art of Motion South Africa)
314. Laura FERNANDEZ, 18 years old, Switzerland (TAZ Tanzakademie Zurich and Vaganova Ballet Academy St Petersburg)
205. Junnosuke NAKAMURA, 16 years old, Japan (Acri-Horimoto Ballet Academy)
211. Dingkai BAI, 16 years old, China (Shanghai Dance School)

Contemporary Dance Prize
314. Laura Fernandez and Vincenzo Di Primo

Best Swiss Candidate
Laura Fernandez

Audience Favorite
Leroy Mokgatle

Prix Jeune Espoir
Danbi Kim, 15 years old, South Korea (LeeWon-A Dance Academy)

READY SET GO

Get Ready. Set. Go!

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The prestigious Prix de Lausanne has started. Every time this year the ballet community comes together to celebrate the next generation of budding superstars. There is no question that winners of the Prix are destined to be principal dancers of major companies, but there is never enough the guarantee. And, those who didn’t win at the Prix, but make the top twelve, will most likely rise to fame as well. Just because you don’t win a ballet competition doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be principal dancers. Look at the Principals of NYCB or even Misty Copeland. Though Misty did win the Spotlight Awards in Los Angeles. Apparently not as prestigious, but it was a competition under her belt. So, what attracts kids to compete in Lausanne? Like every ballet competition, they are there for one reason, and one reason only. To get a scholarship to a top school, or to join the ranks of a company.

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The Prix de Lausanne started in 1973 by Philippe Braunschweig, his wife Elvire, and Rosella Hightower. But in 1984, the Prix began to be something bigger than just a competition. It became a power house for schools to recruit talented young students. There are almost thirty schools tied to the Prix, and now the Prix serves as a platform for the world’s finest young talents. Of the ballet competitions, the Prix is arguably the hardest.

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This year the Prix will have 74 candidates compete from today till February 7, 2016. They will be going through numerous classes in both ballet and contemporary in hopes to compete in the finals to win one of the Prix prizes. Now, last year we went over the racial profiles of the Prix, so I thought I would touch on that really fast. Of the 74 competing, South Korea has the most competing this year with 13 candidates. Originally, there were 21, so more than half made it into the competition. The United States entered with 27 but was narrowed down to 4; all women. Japan will have 12 candidates competing, with Australia also have 12 competing of the 37 that originally submitted for the competition. There are 3 candidates competing who are most likely favorited to win, two from Brazil and one from Argentina. These candidates were selected during the preselections.

May The Odds be Ever in your Favor… Winners of the prix 2015

Really, the odds are never in your favor

So, as we watch the live feed February 1-6, which you can find by clicking here, we wish all of the competing candidates, “Merde!”

Photos from www.Prixdelausanne.org MULTIMEDIA PRESS, photo by Gregory Batardon, concept and photo montage by loupdesign.com

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5 Variations To Stay Away From…

The Academy Awards have the craziest rules… It judges an entire acting performance for excellence, achievement and the craft. Unfortunately, in ballet we don’t really have that… We have the Prix Benois de la Danse and the Princess Grace awards for achievements within the art form, but nothing on the scale that judges a single performance. Ironically, as a student, we have the YAGP, Prix de Lausanne, and IBC. Granted, every competition has the disclaimer of judging for potential and excellence, but it isn’t really the same. And as we are all scrolling through Facebook watching the results for the YAGP come in… I thought I would take the time out of my drive to talk about variations… Variations are real stuff. 

What is a variation you may ask? It is actually pretty funny. Originally in music, a variation was part of a score where the the score was altered in harmony, melody, rhythm, or counterpoints… Hence why Balanchine’s Theme and Variations is so brilliant, I think. So, when composers create a score for a ballet, they leave room for Primas, Soloists and such. A prime example is the Sleeping Beauty… SOOOO MANY MANY VARIATIONS. The scores are broken down like:

Pas De Sixs: Entrance
Adagio
1. Variation 1
2. Variation 2

Or for Grand Pas De Deuxs (the super classics):

1. Entrance
2. Adage
3. Male Variation
4. Female Variation
5. Coda

Within the score, the variation of music is usually reserved as a solo. For some ballets, the entire ballet revolves around that one solo. Example: NUTCRACKER’s Sugar Plum Fairy Variation.

Now, at ballet competitions you are asked to prepare two classical variations. There are tons of ballet variations out there, and at each competition the rules may vary in what can be performed, what choreography can slightly change, or what can be altered to fit the dancer’s strengths (tempo, turns, jumps etc). So, as everyone at the YAGP is stressing over their 1 minute chance of becoming a ballet somebody, the rest of the ballet world is like…. UMMMM no. This is because a variation doesn’t grade an artist, even if you are Ashley Boulder… A ballet dancer, a real ballet dancer must be able to carry an entire ballet. A principal, must be able to carry an entire ballet in a single performance. For some, this is quite impossible… For others, it is extremely easy: Yuan Yuan Tan from SFB… she knows how to carry a ballet, is extremely musical, and every step, breath and movement is carefully thought out with intention, emotion, and musicality…

You see, ballet competitions have created this subculture of ballet tricks and ridiculous turns. Which has now translated into “star quality”… *side eye* At these competitions kids are expected to turn, jump and have leg up, as markers to grade potential. Because of this… young dancers have defaulted to specific variations… Here are 5 variations to stay away from… and the reasons why…

5 FEMALE VARIATIONS TO STAY AWAY FROM:

1. Kitri, ACT I: In the ballet DON Q, Kitri has a three variations, and each variation is spectacular for different reasons. ACT 1 though is known for two things: The sissones en attitude, which if you aren’t Natalia Osipova, you shouldn’t do to begin with… and the pirouettes in fifth traveling on the diagonal. Dancers now who are overly flexible with no ballon can make the sissones look crazy cool without getting height… And for those girls who are on their legs or wear Gaynors can add doubles, triples a crazy lame duck at the end… It’s old. Even if you add the castanets to be more musical… It doesn’t make up for the tricks… Also, it is the easier character to pull off in Don Q as you are just a playful Spanish girl running a muck, against her father’s wishes… and teenagers can relate.
1 and a half. Kitri, ACT 3: Again, from DON Q, the third act variation is usually performed by girls with banging turn out and beautiful feet… aka Paloma Herrera in ABT’s Variety and Virtuosity. The hops on pointe, and echeppes in the variation allow for everyone to see how great your feet are. The fun part? You get to dance with a fan, be flirty and coy, and have a HAH I outsmarted my parents and got to marry the poor guitar player!
2. Esmeralda: From La Esmerlada/ The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a ballet that I think only Paris Opera might perform, is a variation in which is laid out for the girls who are extremely whacked out. Plus side? Tamborine… Downside… Natalia Osipova at 17 did it, Yuan Yuan Tan did it, and now Mikko Fogarty won the IBC with it. All three women, around the same age nailed the variation to perfection. Most females who take this on are really in it for the tambourine or they are whacked out.


3. Sugar Plum Fairy: from ACT 2 of the Nutcracker… Just don’t. (I shouldn’t even have to list it… but here it is) It is bad enough we have to hear it from August to January… Do yourself the favor, and the rest of the world and just don’t do it. Professional dancers cringe at the music, despite it being one of the most unique scores of music for a ballet variation.
4. Grand Pas Classique… So, I recently was watching a bazillion variations, and I think that Grand Pas Classique is probably one of the hardest female variations… ever. Reason number one why you shouldn’t do it? Sylvie Guilliem. Done. Okay just kidding, so grand pas classic is a variation in which you can’t hide anything because of the moving on the angles the variation requires. There are no big jumps, but instead it requires perfect technique, perfect turnout and it helps if you have beautifully arched feet. Below is Patricia Zhou at YAGP Paris in 2010 (First Place in Classical Category in Senior Division). Coached by Mr. Anton Korsakov, Mme. Ludmila Morkovina, and Mr. Viktor Kabaniaev

5. Black Swan/ White Swan… From Swan Lake. So many dancers, or their parents take on Swan Lake for one reason… It’s Swan Lake. The problem? White swan you have to be ridiculously mature, and can take a really long time to develop the emotion behind the extension, and even just the face expression. Black swan you have to have really experienced life. It requires a since of maturity that comes from flirting at a bar, deceiving someone, and a sensuality no 14 year old should possess…

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