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Subject: "USA International Ballet Competition 2010 - Jackson"     Previous Topic | Next Topic
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #7735
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Renee Renouf

14-06-10, 06:46 PM (BST)
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"USA International Ballet Competition 2010 - Jackson"
   LAST EDITED ON 23-06-10 AT 10:58 AM (GMT - BST) by Bruce (admin)
I'm pleased to say that Renee Renouf is at the competition for us and aims to regularly report her impressions here. More about the competition itself on their website:

© ibc

Opening Ceremony USA IBC June 12, 2010

The IBC Press office provided me with an extended list about the competitors: 103 of them with Japan contributing 24, United States 23, followed by South Korea with 8. Brasil managed 6 and Cuba sent 4, Colombia 3 and Mexico listing 3. Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela sent one each, completing Latin American representation.

From western Europe Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal each sent one, Austria two, some facilitated by their presence in U.S. companies. (This is scarcely to be sneezed at these days with the
current excessively stringent US visa regulations .) From Eastern Europe Belarus, Finland, Hungary,Lithuania and Moldava each are represented by one while the Ukraine, Russia and Latvia sent two each.

The Republic of China sent two, Kazakistan, Mongolia and Taipei supplied one and South Africa’s candidate currently is affiliated with Washington Ballet. The roster comprises 41 juniors (15-18), 42
seniors (19-26).

All told 31 countries were represented in the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremony, where a member from each country bore their nation’s flag on stage to be placed behind the risers where the dancers stood while the teachers from the International School came on stage,then the international jury before Danny Tidwell, junior silver medalist from the 2002 competition here in Jackson, bore the flame. Jury Chairman Bruce Marks used the torch to light the USA IBC Flame to burn outside Thalia Mara Hall for the duration of the competition. It was impressive enough for my throat to constrict with emotion.

The Parade followed a string of honorific comments by civic and IBC leaders, including Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Harvey Johnson, Jr., Jackson’s Mayor, William D. Mounger, Chair of IBC and IBC’s major fund raiser for nearly three decades, Arthur Mitchell who is this Competition’s Honorary Chairman, all following Sue Lobrano’s introduction as Executive Director and her tribute to the late Karlen Bain, Executive Director, 1982-1986, Volunteer Helen Ludlum, and Jim Ingram, who headed security for the previous eight competitions.

A special tribute was mounted in memory of Thalia Mara, sparked by the National Endowment of the Arts designation of the USA IBC Competition and Thalia Mara as American Masterpieces.

Following Intermission USA IBC presented Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance, including Danny Tidwell and Thomas’ wife Andrienne Canterna; Thomas,of course,was the gold medalist for senior men in 1998; Canterna,the junior women’s medalist for the same year. The title of their piece was Rock You.

Bad Boys of Dance comprises seven men in the peak of physical condition, possessing incredibly strong combinations of classical ballet technique, acrobatics and martial art in service to pop lyrics sung by Michael Jackson, Queen and Prince.

While the audience went bonkers at this phenomenal application to pop music, I was enthralled to see the flexibility of shoulders and torso on muscled male torsos. These attributes, naturally, accompanied hip swivels and thrusts and wonderful stiffened leg steps accompanying prissy content sung in falsetto or sarcasm. Full flips were as frequent as multiple pirouettes and dazzling grand jetes. The sheer quantity of testosterone exhibited reminded me of the unforgettable impact of the Moiseyev’s dance of the Partisan where the men in flowing black cloaks convinced the audience they were reconnoitering on horseback.

The Bad Boys danced openly to the audience, giving and receiving rapturous acceptance for every flick of a bowler hat or doffing of under shirts displaying molded upper arms. I found most of the material expressed in the music far less than the artistic possibilities demonstrated; it was obvious the ensemble can reach to involve a generation weaned on digital and computer technology, as well as other older audience members.

Canterna-Thomas appeared in a sequined-border pink costume, minimal in torso coverage back and front, something of short skirt, and dancing in soft shoes with a small heel. Maternity has
rounded her noticeably; she's a young matron. She attacks her material with undiminished energy, however, which included a flip or two, stroking her legs, kicking them backward, her body moving into her partner suggestively. There were some grand jetes and a dazzling set of two of pirouettes to remind the audience of formidable classical training, but her presence seemed more a paste on to the male ensemble than an integral part of the seven male ensemble. The anomaly deepened when she took her final bow with the young Thomas daughter in her arms in a lighter pink, frilly dress.

This may well reflect a brave new world; for classical dance it certainly is a different one.

Edit: Changed title so this thread can carry all the reports. Also added logo. BM

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  2010 USA IBC,Round 1, Session 1, Sunday, June 13 Bruceadmin 14-06-10 1
     USA IBC Personalities - VI Renee Renouf 27-06-10 26
     USA IBC Personalities - VIII Renee Renouf 28-06-10 30
     RE: 2010 USA IBC Personalities- IX Renee Renouf 29-06-10 32
  USA Round I, Session 2, June 13, 2010 Bruceadmin 16-06-10 2
  USA IBC Round 1, Session 3, June 14, 2010 matinee Bruceadmin 16-06-10 3
     REL USA IBC Round II will have 50 contestants Renee Renouf 17-06-10 4
         Thoughts After Round One, USA IBC, 2010 Renee Renouf 18-06-10 10
     RE: USA IBC Round 1, Session 5, June 14, 2010 matinee Renee Renouf 17-06-10 5
     RE: USA IBC Round 1, Session 4, June 14, 2010 evening Renee Renouf 18-06-10 8
  USA IBC Round 1, Session 6, June 15, 2010 Renee Renouf 17-06-10 6
     RE: USA IBC Round 1, Session 7, June 16, 2010 Renee Renouf 17-06-10 7
         IBC Round 1, Session 8, June 17, 2010 evening Renee Renouf 18-06-10 9
  End of Round 1 Pictures Bruceadmin 19-06-10 11
  USA IBC Round II, Session I, June 18, 2010 Renee Renouf 21-06-10 12
     RE: USA IBC Round II, Session II, June 19, 2010 Renee Renouf 21-06-10 13
     RE: USA IBC Round II, SessionIII, June 20, 2010 Renee Renouf 22-06-10 15
  USA IBC Announces Round III Competitors June 21, 2010 Renee Renouf 21-06-10 14
  More Richard Finkelstein Pictures Bruceadmin 23-06-10 16
     RE: More Richard Finkelstein Pictures DaveM 28-06-10 28
  RE: USA IBC Round III, Session I, June 22, 2010 Renee Renouf 23-06-10 17
     RE: USA IBC Round III, Session II, June 23, 2010 Renee Renouf 27-06-10 23
         RE: USA IBC Round III, Session III, June 24, 2010 Renee Renouf 27-06-10 27
  RE: USA IBC 2010 - Jackson - Personalities Renee Renouf 25-06-10 18
  Medalists and Winners Announced Bruceadmin 25-06-10 19
  RE: USA IBC 2010 Winners Announce Renee Renouf 25-06-10 20
  USA IBC 2010 - Jackson: Personalities-II Renee Renouf 25-06-10 21
  USA IBC 2010 - Personalities - III Renee Renouf 25-06-10 22
  RE: USA BC- Jackson: Personalities - IV Renee Renouf 27-06-10 24
     RE: USA BC- Jackson: Personalities -V Renee Renouf 27-06-10 25
     RE: USA BC- Jackson: Personalities - IV Renee Renouf 29-06-10 31
  USA IBC Personalities – VII Renee Renouf 28-06-10 29
     RE: USA IBC Personalities – VII Jane Sadmin 07-07-10 33

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic

14-06-10, 07:43 PM (BST)
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1. "2010 USA IBC,Round 1, Session 1, Sunday, June 13"
In response to message #0
Reposted to keep all the Jackson coverage together. BM

Round 1 requires two sessions a day for three days to see all the competitors dance the necessary classical assignments before the jurors make the first set of eliminations. If not mentioned in other reports from Jackson, dancers competing as soloists are required to dance two classical variations,if with a partner, only one, maximum length of seven or eight minutes. The appearances are by number, with the juniors first. Session 1 covered six juniors and seven seniors. Three of the numbers were pas de deux, two with non—competing partners.

Junior competitor one, Slim Fukushi of Japan, chose variations from The Flames of Paris and Coppelia as display for his tidy technique and engaging manner. Flames acquired quite the rash of interest since the junior gold utilized it in the 2002 competition with its heroic postures made initially danced by Vakhtung Chabokiani.

Fukushi was followed by USA junior Jeanette Kakareka who opted for two Paquita variations. Tall, slender and elegant, Kakareta was exact but overly solemn, not realizing the demanding variations were choreographed to display feminine charm as well as technical exactness.

Number three competitor, Nanako Hayafuji,danced one of Kakareka’s choices , giving the audience more of the Petipa flavor after her first selection from Coppelia. Her well-rounded positions might benefit from a little rubato.

Luisa del Rio from Brasil chose another Paquita variation in her first number four spot,dancing with correctness, and a youthful touch of sensual but demeure charm. This approach continued in her Flames of Paris variation, marred by an ending fall though she recovered, ending in style.

The competition’s first real excitement arrived with JI Young Chae and Ki-Min Kim, five and twenty respectively, providing a bravura rendition of Flames of Paris. Chae, figuring prominently in prior competitions, 2007-2009, is small, pert and assured; Kim, a lanky, slender was a silver medalist at Moscow in 2009. He displayed the Korean hwarang style to great effect and the audience roared its

With 51 Mai Nagaki of Japan dancing the Don Quixote bridesmaid variation, the senior section commenced, her rendition tidy and meticulous, standard for any Japanese entrant. I had not heard this label for what is one of Kitri’s early variations, complete with run s and grand jete’s. Nagaki chose Kitri’s wedding variation for her second selection, again nicely rendered. I happen to think the choice of two variations from the same work is not a particular asset for a competitor, but it remains to be seen.

Zherlin Ndudi from the Ukraine is short, solidly built, dances with a good jump and presence. He chose Siegfried’s variation from Swan Lake’s Act III for his first appearance and the Don Q variation for his second. Siegfried’s variation is for my money a dismal piece to display male prowess but Ndudi did his best with it. Don Q displayed his jump and ability to travel advantageously.

From Lithuania Kristina Gudziunaite, 55, came with Giselle’s Act I variation and the ubiquitous flirty fan from Don Quixote. Her attention to Loys was delineated and she was the epitome of the shy young village maiden besotted for the first time. In her final pose, she momentarily lost her balance, finishing well.

Regina Palomar Oetling, 56, from Mexico unfortunately never managed to still the sound of her toe shoes in either of her variations, the Flower Festival of Genzano or the Flames of Paris. I was told by an old Capezio hand that it meant the foot was not fully engaged. To her credit, Oetling displayed clear changed in direction in Flower Festival.

Yu Suzuki, 57, danced a brief section from Giselle, Act II, with swiftness and feeling for the music. With the ever-present fan her second choice was Don Quixote.

There were two pas de deux by senior competitors: Angel Laza of Cuba danced the full Don Quixote pas de deux with Katia Carranza, displaying her gallantly and providing the sense that, yes, this is a wedding pas de deux. Small and compact, Laza showed all the requisite training that Cuba affords: good jump and line. Carranza danced with great allure, but fell noticeably in the final series of turns.

Senior Maki Onuki, 54, chose the Act II pas de deux from Giselle with Tamas Krisza as her non-competing partner. It was as poetic a rendition as the Flames of Paris earlier was bravura, absorbing.

Remembering the early competitions and the laborious nature of Round I, 2010 has a clear agenda being executed efficiently.Qualifying videos have helped speed the decisions from Round I.

What has become a constant is the cluster of students watching the prior rounds in the lobby, courtesy of Claudia Shaw’s Video Master recordings. Before curtain and during intermissions, sitting behind the table with its array of order forms, it is fascinating to observe the utter absorption in the screen and the wall projection.

Edit: Reposted by BM to keep all the Jackson coverage together. BM

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Renee Renouf

27-06-10, 11:08 PM (BST)
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26. "USA IBC Personalities - VI"
In response to message #1
   Having relished Alexei Ratmansky’s Le Carnival des Animaux, created for San Francisco Ballet to Camille Saint-Saens’ music , I was thrilled to see his name, representing Russia, on the list of the USA IBC’s 2010 Jurors. I also was intrigued thinking, 'Ah, the choreographer as juror."

At the reception for Brent Funderburk, the 2010 USA IBC artist, provided the chance to play breathless fan; with delight I told him how much joy his ballet brought me. Courteous and grave, Ratmansky
gave me his full attention when I went to say how terrific I thought Muriel Maffre’s jelly fish was, to which he replied, “Muriel is a very special artist, very intelligent.” I told him I wanted to interview him, and the request would go through Media

June 18 before Session I of Round II, we sat down at the Palette Café of the Mississippi Museum of Art following the official Jury photograph on the porch of Thalia Mara Hall. As we walked over to the building, I asked him to elaborate on a comment he made earlier that every five years is a shift or change occurs in the ballet world. “It depends upon talent, an advancement in technique. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, more artistry or more interesting.”

Ratmansky, whose English is fluent with a slight touch of a British accent, attributes his first major ballet influence to the Bolshoi Ballet instructor Pyotr Petrof “He was very strict, extremely demanding, emphasized musicality, allowed no tricks and I was scared to death of him. He now teaches at Stuttgart and is in his 80’s."

During his fifth year, Ratmansky created his first ballet. “No one paid any attention to it. But I found that I could think steps and pictures in my head.”

After graduating , Ratmansky, in the same class as Malakov, joined the ballet company at the Kiev Opera. “To an outsider, the Russian systems may seem all the same, but if you are inside that world, there are distinct differences. The Kirov is very clean, simple and elegant as opposed to the Moscow style; then there is the style in Kiev, in Perm, Kazakhstan and Novosibirsk,” remarking thoughtfully, concentrating as he regarded me.

While in Kiev, Ratmansky studied four years at Gitis. Though he didn’t graduate, he remarked “It gave me a chance to go to Moscow; one teacher there teaching musical theory, Angelina Shapran, old and a little bit crazy, discussed the inner meanings of scores, giving us the lives of the composers, the context of the composition. We need that; we have to know all this before forgetting it and just responding to the music.”

Ratmansky’s first full evening of choreography occurred in Kiev with two works “Stravinsky’s Fairy Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fee) and a series of divertissements. The Stravinsky was later reworked for the Kirov.”

Ratmansky danced five years with the Kiev company as principal dancer before John Meehan, then artistic director at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, “invited me to come to Canada. It was my first exposure outside Russia and I was hungry to expand my knowledge. Every thing made an impression. John Meehan and Evelyn Hart were great influences. I thought Evelyn was Pavlova reincarnated. At Winnipeg I took all their workshops, and three or four of my ballets were presented in full production on the main stage during my three years there.”

Ratmansky returned to Kiev and with his wife free lanced, dancing in Galas. “Nina Anaishaveli saw my work and asked me to create a ballet for her ensemble of four dancers. I chose the Richard Strauss arrangement of Couperin, two suites. The Trust forbade us to use the score and I had to have the Couperin re-orchestrated. That really launched me! She asked for another and another. I received commissions from the Bolshoi and the Kirov all while I was still dancing.”

Maina Gielgud, then artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet, invited Ratmansky to Denmark in 1997. "There I met Helgi Tomasson when San Francisco Ballet’s artistic director came to stage his production of Sleeping Beauty.”

Creating a work for the Danes, Ratmansky informed me,“My work for the Royal Danish was titled Turandot’s Dream, set to Hindemith’s Metamorphoses.”

While in Denmark, Ratmansky danced works by Bournonville, Neumeier, Kylian;during his tenure in Copenhagen that Tomasson asked him to create a work for the San Francisco company. “He gave me a choice, saying he had wanted to create a ballet to Le Carnival des Animaux but graciously gave me the opportunity.”

The offer to head the Bolshoi arrived while Ratmansky was mounting this memorable ballet in San Francisco. I asked Helgi “What should I do? I was 36 and had danced eighteen years and felt pretty good about my career.” He smiled a little reflectively, saying, “I got to partner Plisestkaya In one of the special works she was dancing.”

During his five years at the Bolshoi, Ratmansky set Yuri Possokhov’s Magrittomania there,originally created for San Francisco Ballet; he also commissioned Possokohov’s version of Prokofiev's Cinderella. Ratmansky said a ballet created for the Bolshoi remains under contract for three to five years. “There are an initial four or five performances and then it is brought back several months later.”

Named choreographer in residence for American Ballet Theatre this spring, Ratmansky’s debut production will be a new Nutcracker to debut this December.

Ratmansky said Jackson was his second competition, having served on the New York International Competition jury in 2009. He observed in closing it is a necessity to be aware of change. “Young boys now can dance what once was exclusive with Baryshnikov. The physique, the bodies, the spirit is there. Jackson is a good place to sense the changes.” It was just seven, the prompting time for juror and spectator.

He remarked, “The other day I found a list written while I was still in school of music I wanted to use in choreography. I found I have followed it."

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Renee Renouf

28-06-10, 00:27 AM (BST)
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30. "USA IBC Personalities - VIII"
In response to message #1
   Catching up with Hae Shik Kim means seeing her wearing one of her Issaye Miyaki outfits, “they pack so well and never wrinkle,”. Hae Shik has served as the artistic director of an international ballet competition since 2002. “Seoul is a yearly Competition because it is supported by the South Korean Government. It’s good for the dancers,” and, of course, for recognition for the amazing ballet achievements in South Korea.

“We hold it usually in late July or in August; we follow the Jackson precedent of one juror per country. We don’t have an international school but we do ask the judges to give master classes, and each judge is expected to bring their country’s dancers with them.”

Another innovation is the age of junior contestants. “We have judging for students 12 to 14; next year we are lowering the age so that it will be 11 to 14. It is important to start early in a field that is very difficult and very tough.”

Another difference in the competition, known as Seoul International Competition, is its ethnic as well as modern competitors. “We have seven jurors for each category, and we are known by the name of Korea’s capital because there is a second competition that has started called the Korea International Dance Competition.”

Twenty-one jurors represents a major logistical feat, along with the scheduling for all the requisite rounds for each category. Hae Shik is understandably proud of the competitors who have come to the competition from The Korea University of Arts, whose Dance Conservatory she started from scratch. She brought international teachers and choreographers to Korea during her tenure as Dean; the rapid advancement of dancers from South Korea is testimony to the foundation she built.

“Most of the leading dancers in the Universal Ballet trained at KNUA. I’m a strong believer that dance is space, it is epaulement. I see a necessity to emphasize muscle over line; I do not like to see bulk. It is important that training lengthens the muscle.”

Hae Shik commented that the Korea National Ballet is performing frequently, “150 performances a year. The artistic director who was my assistant when I was there is very good at raising money, and money is support. It is really hard for the dancers we train to find jobs; most of them have to go abroad.”

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Renee Renouf

29-06-10, 06:24 AM (BST)
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32. "RE: 2010 USA IBC Personalities- IX"
In response to message #1
   He looks as if he has stepped out of some pre Meiji Japan portrait,
for Hideo Fukagawa is a model of Japanese aesthetic behavior, but not
because he apologies for his English. He simply exudes the aura of
a life focused on art, with classical ballet being the form.

"I'm from Nagoya, Japan's third largest city, after Tokyo and Osaka."
He started ballet study when he was fourteen;"My teacher was Ochi, and I studied with him six years. When I was seventeen, I went to Varna, 1965,the second competition. In 1966 I would have been classified as a junior, but I danced as a senior and was awarded a bronze medal."

Four years later, at Moscow's first international competition, the year 1969, Fukugawa competed again. This was the year Baryshnikov won the gold. At 21, along with Helgi Tomasson, Fukagawa won a silver medal, a fact somehow not widely circulated in this country. "The same year Serge Lifar gave me the Nijinsky medal."

Fukagawa joined the Komische Opera in Berlin that fall, then directed by Tomas Schilling. With a touch of the mischievous he remarked, "I didn't know German." Two years later, when the Komische Opera Ballet went on tour to Helsinki, eleven dancers defected from East Germany, known as the DDR. "It was big scandal."

Fukagawa shifted to Stuttgart where he was engaged by John Cranko as
a soloist. "I was there only two years when Cranko died in 1973."

That year Fukagawa joined the Munich National Theatre as a principal
dancer for seven years. "I returned to Japan in 1980; I taught, coached and choreographed until 1998. My mother was then 80 so I
returned to Nagoya where I continue to live."

In August, Mr. Fukagawa will chair the jury at a Competition in Nagoya
limited to Japanese dancers. "We have seven jury members, one a dance
critic. The competition is open to dancers 18-25. Many little awards, but the first and gold medal winner is awarded 300,000 yen, about $3,180 in U.S. dollars."

When asked about ballet companies in Japan, Fukagawa replied, "Every studio has a company and gives performances, but there is only one
big company, and that is the National Company in Tokyo with about
60 dancers. It performs once a month, four to five times during a weekend, eleven months a year. It also tours within Japan." Fukagawa also mentioned David Bintley, Birmingham Royal Ballet's artistic director had recently signed a three year contract as artistic director.

Our chat was cut short by Fukagawa's evening appointment. At the
Gala Performance June 26, when Fukagawa escorted Doris Laine as the twelve judges paraded on stage before the audience, Fukagawa paused, executed a neat pirouette of three turns,then grasped Laine's hand as she inclined as an effective foil,and the two continued across the stage.

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16-06-10, 08:21 PM (BST)
Click to EMail Bruce Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "USA Round I, Session 2, June 13, 2010"
In response to message #0
Reposted again to keep all the Jackson coverage together. The words are by Renee Renouf. BM

With the collective feet wet watching as well as performing, metaphorically, Session II brought some pleasures and some disappointments. I’ll try to enumerate the quantities of Don Quixote renditions served us amongst other trivia. I found myself measuring any attempts at Kitri against my memory of Lorena Feijoo.

The juniors start off with Michaela de Prince, competitor 6, USA, a pint-sized exponent whose extension a la seconde went skyward like a rocket. Marring her stretching and large movements,
LePrince’s toe shoe sound thumped through her presentation. She danced two different variations from Paquita, one emphasizing space, the other allegro and port de bras, demonstrating two necessary
qualities in a dancer. I wonder at the selection, however, from the same ballet.

Kamill Aristron Chudoba, 7, from Austria is a tidy-sized blond whose billowy sleeves tended to obscure the lines of his torso and port de bras as he whipped through Coppelia and, after intermission,
in the Flames of Paris. The male variations from these two ballets were frequent enough in the Junior selections that I think I’m going to make a head count when Round I is completed.

Ayaka Fujii, 9, Japan; Constantine Allen, 14, USA brought us the Coppelia Wedding Pas de deux she rounded and petit, he long of line with remarkable control for someone whose growth still needs
full integration of impulse and integration. Allen still partnered attentively and complete his variation with considerable style.

Risako Ikeda, 10, Japan, and a recent bronze medalist at Youth America Grand Prix, selected Paquita for her first variation and my scribbled notes indicate multiple pirouettes. For Coppelia my
notes record “good, but a bit forced.”

Esteban Hernandez, 11, Mexico is either destined to be the small dynamic dancer or he has yet to reach the height of his brother Isaac, the 2006 USA IBC Junior Gold medalist. He chose the male
variation from Coppelia for his first essay , Flames of Paris for his second choice. For Flames of Paris I read “spectacular, phrasing and ability to pause, plus retrieval” for there was a slight imbalance towards the finish.

Rodrigo Almerales, Cuba comes to USA IBC with distinctions from the Varna and Korean competions; One could see why in his selections: the Don Q variation and dancing Siegfried from Swan Lake, Act III’
My notes read, very good, clear and understated, an El Greco face. Almerales managed a touch of character for the Siegfried variation, and his phrasing and finish were note worthy.

Evelina Godu nova, 59; Arturs Sokolovs, 73, Latvia chose the Don Quixote variation for their Round I selection. The results were disappointing; there seemed little in the way of dynamics in their transitions making otherwise bravura execution look truncated or pasted on. While it was again Don Q for Ayako Kimura, 61, Japan, Giselle, Act I gave opportunity for a goodcharacterization of Giselle, totally, naively in love.

Maurice Zenteno, 62, Bolivia made his Don Q variation one with ease of transitions, though at one brief moment his balance required a hand to the floor. I could believe in his Siegfried in Swan Lake Act

Sandra Muhlbauer, 63, Austria chose the Black Swan variation in Swan Lake, Act III. She is a tall dancer,and there was menace in her phrasing, but her costume seemed to dominate. No notes for the
on Don Q.

Seung-Bog Jung, 65, South Korea started out with the variation from Esmeralda; nice dancing marred by a flop at the finish, though a recovery. His second selection was Don Q.

One entrant, Mark Biocca, 60, Italy, and a Royal Ballet graduate, chose a pas de deux from La Fille Mal Gardee with Victoria Lane Green, hos non-competing partner. La Fille Mal Gardee notes credit the first choreographer as Paul Taglioni. What happened to Dauberval, responsible for the premiere in Bordeaux in July, 1789? Someone’s history notes don’t go back that far. I suggest Beaumont’s Books of the Ballets, long out of print, but still a resource of the first order.

That harangue delivered, Biocca and Green danced a nosegay of a pas de deux, warm and believable for the characters of Colas and Lise, marvelous in its detail and precise in its execution. The humanity of their interpretation of this longest living ballet in ballet's classical repertoire is why we leave refreshed after an evening of balletic artistry.

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16-06-10, 08:21 PM (BST)
Click to EMail Bruce Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "USA IBC Round 1, Session 3, June 14, 2010 matinee"
In response to message #0
Reposted again to keep all the Jackson coverage together. The words are by Renee Renouf. BM

It’s unfortunate matinee audiences are slimmer than the evening ones for Round I; they miss somedefining performances. No where was that truism more evident in the pas de deux I will describe later.

Amanda Gomes, 12, Brazil is small, earnest and accomplished. Her choices were good ones for a promising artist with strong soubrette qualities. In the Peasant pas de deux from Giselle, her arms
with a touch of healthy tension in the line made them lively. For her Coppelia my note is"sparkled.”

Regina Montgomery, 19, USA started with Flames of Paris; my notes read, “except for a fall, otherwise good and clean.” Her Paquita suffered from a floppy tutu.

Two juniors from Brazil, Pamela Valim, 15; Augusto Cesar, 8, danced the Blue Bird Pas de Deux with remarkable aplomb. I kept comparing the tempo to my memory of Sadlers’ Wells and the Royal, but that did not minimize recognition of their achievement. In Cesar’s opening beats his shoulders tended to hunch; the tempo really worked against Valim, but in the coda magic managed to hover attentively. Oh, for a decent tempo!

Slender, almost reed-like, Mimi Sai, 16, Japan danced a Paquita variation and a small section of Princess Florine of The Blue Bird. She was best at the stroking gestures in the Paquita, but lacked smooth transitions, particularly evident in the Florine variation.

Coming out strong, Gabe Shayer, 17, USA has yet to become completely acquainted with his growth. He came on like gangbusters in Flames of Paris: clean, exuberant and rhythmical,slipping briefly at the end, making a good recovery. The Coppelia variation deepened the impression minus the flub.

Act II of Giselle was the ballet of choice for Melissa Zoebisch, 66, USA with non competing partner Alexandru Glusacov. Oval-faced, long-limbed, she looked the part and knew the style, but the performance displayed these elements than a core conviction coming across the proscenium.

Yet another Don Q variation was Aynsley Inglis, 68, USA’s choice. After intermission Inglis danced the Grigorovitch Black Swan variation with its excessive port de bras, birdlike in imitation.
Aynsley gave the requisite menace, making one aware Siegfried was off stage; he really would have been clued in to the deception.

Before Inglis’ second variation the senior competitor from Belarus, Ekaterina Oleynik, 67, danced the Don Quixote pas de deux with non competing partner Konstantin Kuztniastou. Her supported arabesques were 6 o’clock in position, her balance was decent and she possesses a great pair of legs.

The attack was hard, more tour de force than joyous wedding, but Kuzttniatsou executed some spectacular turns and jetes At the finish the audience provided a spectacular response.

Diana Albrecht, 69, Paraguay chose, Act I Giselle and Don Q for Round I. Her Don Q was sensual and alluring, her Giselle quite atmospheric. She obviously is a romantic dancer.

Denis Vezetin, 70, Moldova, dances very well, his ballon and phrasing evident in Flower Festival and his Don Q variation. Noted were “low elevation, transitions static.”

Hideko Kurasawa, 74, Japan, is another accomplished, pint-sized dancer. She dazzled in red with her Esmeralda hitting every necessary note and elbow with her tambourine, finishing the first part of Session II. Her second selection was Act I Giselle, finished Session III.

Midway in the second half Junna Ige, 71, Japan; Shimon Ito, 64, USA, danced the pas de deux from the Flower Festival of Genzano. Coached by Ramon Moreno and Maykel Solas of Ballet San Jose, their rendition was the best, non-Danish reading of Bournonville I have seen. Ito was tender, solicitous; Ige demure but Mateus-like effervescence in her response. Their characterization blended; spot on finishes by Ito, distinct ballon and the special flat body presentation and finish so notable in Bournonville and in 19th century ballet treatise illustrations. She bubbled her way through the supported work and danced her allegro like a frisky young colt.

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Renee Renouf

17-06-10, 06:37 PM (BST)
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4. "REL USA IBC Round II will have 50 contestants"
In response to message #3
   LAST EDITED ON 17-06-10 AT 06:38 PM (GMT - BST)
At a press conference this morning in the community room of the local Clarion Ledger, 50 competitors will dance in Round II with
choreography created for this competition, or otherwise not stipulated. Round III stipulates choreography created since 2006. Any
choreography created for this competition is eligible for an award.

Twenty six seniors will be competing, thirteen each for the men and
women.In the junior division the division of twenty four slots runs thirteen for the junior males, eleven for the junior women. The roster below represents a range of eighteen countries.

Alphabetically, the senior male semi-finalists are:

Rodrigo Almarales,58, Cuba
Gui Xien Chu,101, Chinese Taipei
Jean Marc Cordero, 72, Philippines
Carlos Hupuy, 98, Cuba
Shimon Ito, 64, USA
Nurlan Konokbayev, 100, Kazakhstan
Balazs Krajczar, 97, Hungary
Angel Laza, 52,Cuba
Miguel Montoya,85, Colombia
Kosuke Okumura, 94, Japan
Andre Pisarev, 110, Ukraine
Zhang Zi,93, PRChina
Kyohei Yoshida, 81, Japan

The senior female semi-finalists are:

Candice Adea, 90, Philippines
Diana Albrecht, 69, Paraguay
Grace Kelly Cobian, 83, Peru
Seo-Hye Han, 87, South Korea
Junna Ige, 70, Japan
Hideko Karasawa, 74, Japan
Eun Won Lee, 88, South Korea
Ekaterina Oleynik, 67, Belarus
Cao Shuci, 75, PR China
Maki Onuki, 54, Japan
Natsuko Oshima, 109,
Miki Wakuta, 91, Japan
Naomi Yuzawa, 103, Japan

For the junior contestants, the males are:

Constantine Allen, 14, USA
Ka'imi Cambern, 21, USa
Augusto Cesar, 8, Brazil
Nathan Chaney, 40, USA
Derek Dunn, 23, USA
Esteban Hernandez, 11, Mexico
Dong-Woo Kim, 33, South Korea
Ki-Min Kim, 20, South Korea
Marcelino Sambe, 38, Portugal
Gabe Shayer, 17, USA
Yukihiro Tamura, 36, Japan
Simon Wexler, 22, USA
Joan Sebastian Zamora, 30, Colombia

The junior females advancing are:

Ji Young Chae, 6, South Korea
Emily Entingh, 34, USA
Ayaka Fujii, 9, Japan
Amanda Gomes, 12, Brasil
Nanako Hayafuji, 3, Japan
Risako Ikeda, 10, Japan
Fumi Kaneko, 26, Japan
Natalie Krakirian, 82, USA
Mariana I. Layun Prado, 29, Mexico
Alys Shee, 25, Canada
Patricia Zhou, 19, Canada.

Statistically, Japanese semi-finalists number thirteen, followed by nine from the USA, and five from South Korea. There will be eight non
competing partners. The remaining numbers are three from Cuba, two each from Brazil, Canada, The People's Republic of china, Columbia and the Philippines. Single contestants come from Belaarus, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Taipei and Ukraine.

At the press conference, Bruce Marks, the Jury Chair, stated that
the jury deliberated only an hour over the choices, and John Meehan,
the juror from Australia, remarked that the cut off numerically was
quite definite.

I hope my remaining five postings for Round I will provide some sense
of the choices not now submitted.

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Renee Renouf

18-06-10, 10:07 PM (BST)
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10. "Thoughts After Round One, USA IBC, 2010"
In response to message #4
   LAST EDITED ON 18-06-10 AT 10:43 PM (GMT - BST)
Several observations arise now that the Competition moves into the contemporary mode.

One is the standard quality of the music. It is my understanding that the contestants are supplied with the same musical recording so the renditions will be standardized in tempo and length. I would swear some contestants request adjustment in tempi, or there are
instances where the selection is short of the mark. But for 90 seconds what can one expect?

I am surprised a) at the number of times I heard the clumping of a brand new pair of toe shoes or feet not fully engaged with their covering.

The b) is there were two or three locations on stage where stumbles or falls tended to occur. One speculated whether it was a new Marley floor, but the production crew has watched and believe it is the dancers’ miscalculations, misstep or nervousness.

Overall, the caliber of the contestants is extremely strong, particularly when one remembers the Competition’s evolution and the changes in selection method. In conversation with Todd Lechtick, a Competition staff photographers, we agreed excellence stood out more easily in prior competitions. This time around caliber is present in abundance, a testimony to the acceptance of the dance form in the United States. Elsewhere, with the perception of the young that classical dancing is something worthy of their energies and devotion. What remains a question, of course, is the opportunity to practice the arduous preparation in a company.

Speaking of acceptance, for USA male representation, there is just one senior, but six junior men,four of whom list The Rock School as the source of their current training.

No USA senior females made the cut and just two junior females, in contrast six senior woman and four junior women from Japan. I noted many USA contestants were more concerned with correctness than the musical impulse, which rarely surfaced making transitions varying degrees of awkward. Frequently epaulement was totally absent, a necessary component for nuanced renditions by either gender, as well as the ability to imply context where variations are intricate parts of a story.

At the press conference announcing the fifty dancers moving to Round II, Sherry Lucas asked the possibility to include more contestants. Bruce Marks explained Brent LeFavor and his production crew outline the constraints to meet the time limits of any one session,plus providing the space necessary for adequate rehearsals for the

There is no one central location for artists to rehease. Downtown Jackson has three rehearsal spaces, including the Thalia Mara stage; four studios are made available at Ballet Magnificat, the ballet school and company operated by Kathy Thibodeaux, the Competition's 1982 Senior silver medalist nine or ten miles east of the Competition's administrative offices across from Thalia Mara Hall; Bellhaven College provides five spaces and Millsaps College two.

Add to this spread the shuttle service provided by the Competition, running from the International Village at Millhaven to the Marriott Hotel where the International Jury is housed, out to Jackson State University where the International School holds classes by eleven teachers with pianists. There is a final class location at the Agricultural Museum which is serviced by the same buses on an hourly basis. Vicki Harper Blake gave me a figure of seven miles west to Jackson State University and seven miles east to the Agricultural Museum. Millsaps and Bellhaven are approximately a mile apart three miles from central Jackson. Hopefully, this conveys both the distances experienced and the cooperation represented by the
institutions making space available.

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Renee Renouf

17-06-10, 07:03 PM (BST)
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5. "RE: USA IBC Round 1, Session 5, June 14, 2010 matinee"
In response to message #3
   No International Competition in Jackson would be complete without a thunder storm; June 15 we got our first dose of downpour, complete with lightning and thunder. Sitting inside the Media Center, those at the computer watched the lightning streak drunkenly in front of the windows front Pascagoula Street until,tou guessed it, it struck in front of us. Out went the lights, down went the computers, lost was my immortal report number 4, which I still need to reconstruct. The USB portion remained undamaged, but I lost revisions.

The matinee started thirty-five minutes late, but proved worth it.
Hosts Evelyn Hart and Christopher d’Amboise entered, crossing the stage, meet in the middle with some sudden incident; he supports her arabesque, clasps her in his arms. This time it was a brief soft shoe shuffle after which Hart declared, “It’s the only tap step I know, thanks to Rodeo.” She has also introduced herself as Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. Once, after flubbing contestants’ names and numbers, she came out on stage with several sheets of paper to exclaim, “It’s not in my script.” Another time, she scooted behind the podium in dark glasses, her head wreathed in a white scarf to state, “Evelyn Hart has left the building, but she wants me to announce…” The Audience looks forward to her next shenanigan.

Oliver Oguma, 24, USA chose the junior male standards – Flames of Paris and, Coppelia. He tilted slightly at the end of Flames, but his passé tours were notable and his phrasing in the runs for Coppelia was clean, understated and artistically valid.

Alys Shee, 25 , from Canada with her non competing partner Aaron Smuth, danced the Coppelia Wedding pas de deux with enormous belief; one believed her love, joy, and shyness over being
wedded at last to the errant Frantz. She is slender, mid-height and gifted with large almond eyes; I was convinced she was Hindu until she told me her name was Chinese. The item will remain in my memory as one of the early joys of this competition.

Fumi Kaneko,26, Kosuke Okumura, 94, of Japan followed with a second Coppelia Wedding pas de deux. They were as crystalline and precise as Shee was flowing emotion. Okumura could turn on a dime.

Philip Fedulov, 27, USA , also danced the Coppelia variation; I got the impression that at that age where he needs to ‘get mind and muscle together. He can stretch and reach more than he displayed in Paquita where he finished slightly off balance.

Takeru Anzai, 82, Japan danced a clean, controlled Don Q; in, Flower Festival at Genzano his attitude turns were not well articulated and his ending was off center.

Grace Kelly Cobian, 83 from Peru danced a spot on Esmeralda, smile constant, allure evident. Her choice of the Don Q bridesmaid variation exhibited a desirable contrast, danced with an ease of
movement, a happy difference in her choice and delivery.

Andile Ndlova, 84, South Africa gave a good accounting in La Fille Mal Gardee; nice legs, ease of movement. In his choice of Swan Lake, Act III, his feet seemed a tad flabby.

Miguel Montoya, 85, Columbia was nothing if not neat and controlled in his Don Q variation. His choice of Giselle Act II seemed standard but he also displayed nice feeling for the role.

Tamako Miyazaki, 86, Japan, danced a wonderfully crisp and engaging Esmeralda, only to tumble backwards at the finale. Her Don Q variation carried the day with a fixed grin.

Seo-Hye Han, 87, South Korea, with non competing partner Se Jon Kim danced Act III, Swan Lake with suitable menace in the Grigorovitch variation.

Eun Won Lee, 88, South Korea, chose Act I Giselle to demonstrate a good technique, but abgeneralized portrait of the variation and its emotion. I show no notes on her Don Q selection.

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Renee Renouf

18-06-10, 09:15 PM (BST)
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8. "RE: USA IBC Round 1, Session 4, June 14, 2010 evening"
In response to message #3
   LAST EDITED ON 18-06-10 AT 09:17 PM (GMT - BST)
Round four marked mid-point for 99 competitors, 41 of which are juniors.

Yuki Oyoshi, 18, Japan, gave her Paquita variation a good accounting of jumps, but I noted for her Coppelia choice toe shoe noise.

Patricia Zhou, 19, Canada, danced a well phrased, musical Paquita variation, and despite toe shoe sounds, displayed nice jetes and attitude turns. For her Giselle, Peasant pas de deux the toe shoe sound distracted from a positive impression.

Ka’imi Cambern, 21, USA, like his classmate at The Rock School, Cambern chose the same variations– Flames of Paris, Coppelia. While small in stature, his gestures were strong in Flames. His Coppelia
emphasized a need to work on a longer line.

Simon Wexler, 22, USA, as the juniors before and after his dancing, he traded presentations of Coppelia and Flames of Paris. Dressed in white, his was a musically phrased Frantz and he managed a spectacular finish for The Flames of Paris.

Derek Dunn, 23, USA, electrified the audience with his Flames of Paris variation; there was an appreciable pause in passé as well as exciting height in grand jetes. His Coppelia was a tad less spectacular and he fell slightly in one position.

Alison Burgess, 76, Canada, danced her Don Q version with a totally different phrasing than I found familiar;her Esmeralda variation was not only strong, but aggressive and she neglected to hit her tambourine at required phrases.

Kohhei Kuwana, 77, Japan, fell into some of the poses in his Don Q variation. His Esmeralda reading was slow and controlled, but he stumbled at the ending.

Patrick Van Buren, 78, USA, chose La Fille Mal Gardee for his first variation and danced a clear rendition. Dark haired, he also selected another buoyant variation with Flower Festival of Genzano.

Gantsonj Otgonbyamba, 79, Mongolia, made it clear he was Siegfried for the Swan Lake, Act III Variation. No comments on his Don Q rendition.

Alexandra Meister, 80, USA, hewed to the dramatic context for her Giselle, Act I variation, making it obvious she was dancing for and to someone. No notes on her Don Q variation.

Kyohei Yoshida, 81, Japan, danced a Don Q variation that made me wish he had the short and long swords of the samurai attached to his cummerbund. After all, male technique in the classical canon owes much to fencing, and Yoshida was nothing if not martial in his skill. With his Esmeralda variation, he aced his initial impression.

Cao Shuci, 75, Zhang Xi, 93, PR China, used the same, Giselle Pas de Deux, Act II choreography which supplied gold and silver medals to their compatriots in 2002. This sensitive rendering did not erase that memory for me alas, and perhaps due to the extreme thinness of Cao Shuci’s arms which, for me, detracted from her otherwise beautifully positioned port de bras. The audience held no such

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Renee Renouf

17-06-10, 08:37 PM (BST)
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6. "USA IBC Round 1, Session 6, June 15, 2010"
In response to message #0
   This may have been the session where Evelyn Hart suddenly leaned against Christopher D’Amboise as they greeted each other crossing the stage and she confided to the audience, “I’m practicing a new approach for a pick up.” It also was the evening when she confessed to “tutu envy” and showed up for the next introduction with garnet frills on her shoulders contrasting to her sleek black floor length dress.

Ashley Baszto, 28, USA, started the evening session with Flames of Paris and progressed to a variation from Paquita. Small and blonde, she employed an extra pause here and there but her demeanor seemed to convey she had no knowledge of the plot. I found her Paquita stilted.

Mariana Layun, 29, Mexico, with non-competing partner F. Gabriele Frola elected the Flames of Paris pas de deux, and how winning their dancing proved. Layun’s costume was notable for its bright blue knee-length skirt rippling as she pirouetted,turning like a top, rendering her piques as if their progression was as easy as hop-scotch. Frola, dancing like he understood the plot, had scarlet knee-length tights detracting from his excellent variation and gallant partnering. Happy evening, her fouettes were spot on as if her toe shoe was glued to the Marley. She is an serious candidate for junior gold.

Joan Sebastian Zamora, 30, Columbia, experienced a flub in the Flames of Paris variation; for my money, hemade up for it with a spectacular pause in passé,stylish as they come. For his Coppelia,
my notes read “good, clear, strong, one slight error.”

Another junior electing two Paquita variations was Esmiana Jani, 31, USA; my notes read “dances with her body emgaged, finished with a hesitation” and for the second” spectacular.”

Natalie Krakirian, 32, USA, stuck to the familiar – Coppelia, Flames of Paris. After Coppelia I noted “superior; control, pauses, with a wedding like feeling.” In Flames of Paris she fell but made an excellent recovery.

Emmi Pennanen, 89, Finland,danced a general Giselle, Act I; there was no acknowledgement of Loys/ Albercht in preliminary gestures and she ended with a hop. No comment noted for her Don Q Bridesmaid.

Miki Wakuta, 91, Japan, danced a very clean Don Q with “good emphasis” and an exciting Esmeralda.

Sara Gaydash, 95, USA. Her Esmeralda and Swan Lake Act III elicited no notes.

Kevin Gael Thomas, 97, France chose the male variation from La Fille Mal Gardee, danced “with “understatement but a certain chic; clear and clean.” His Giselle, Act II was nicely motivated.

Candice Adea, 90, Jean Marc Cordero, 72, Philippines essayed the Don Quixote Pas de Deux with glorious impact. Adea accented her opening developpe, signaling the coming visual delights. Their Alonso version possessed few real tricks; it was her frank flirtation with the audience, and slight tilt of The head towards us, phrasing and the all out showmanship with sensual allure that made their
interpretation memorable. Given Filipino history, both Adea and Cordero knows the Spanish tradition, exhibiting it in their posture. Both enjoy dancing and shared their pleasure with the audience which practically panted with delight.

Balazs Krajczar, 96, Hungary, with non-competing partner Chiaki Yasukawa danced Giselle, Act II with tenderness.

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Renee Renouf

17-06-10, 10:15 PM (BST)
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7. "RE: USA IBC Round 1, Session 7, June 16, 2010"
In response to message #6
   This was the one round devoid of pas de deux.

Dong-Won Kim, 33, South Korea in Flames of Paris gave his rendition strong phrasing, and chose to stand for the finale, a really good showing. His Coppelia enjoyed multiple turns; I thought “Koreans know rhythm from their changgo.”

Emily Entingh, 34, USA, suffered from the sound of her toe shoes.Her Paquita was “clear, good positions but somewhat static.” Coppelia's variation elicited these notes, “turns well, poses good,but does not sell (read emphasize) developpes or attitude turns.” I recall the Attitude didn’t quite finish fully front.

From Japan, Kei Sekiguchi, 35 delivered exceptional barrel turns for Flames of Paris. A really strong technician, if tiny, tiny, his Paquita variation was very good, a consistent rendition.

Yukihiro Tamura, 36, Japan chose Coppelia for his first variation, finishing with an extra turn, another small, clean dancer. For his Paquita I noted, “ very, very good, a winning presentation.”

For his first variation Carlos Hopuy, 98, Cuba, danced La Fille Mal Gardee with buoyance, well phrased, quite pleasing. Flower Festival in Genzano enjoyed a broad jump and clearly held port de bras.

Elisa Toro Franky, 99, Colombia, dancing Giselle, Act I, elicited this note, “Her arms seem awkward, but provided a sweet, believable attempt at conveying the context of the variation.” The Don Q "Bridesmaid,” was marred by toe shoe noise,and her port de bras remained rudimentary.

Nurlan Konokbayev, 100, Kazakhstan brought presence to his choices, Giselle, Act II, and the Don Q Variation. He attempted portrayal in Giselle, his execution clear and accurate.

Guixian Chu, 101, Taiwan, lent real characterization to his Don Q variation and particularly to Giselle, Act II. His technique is solid, he clearly prefers aesthetics and characterization, good at
both. His Don Q preened and postured at the right spots.

Ibrahim Antonio Perez, 102, Venezuela essayed Giselle, Act II and Don Q. The latter variation was the stronger of two choices, though his final ménage was simplified.

Naomi Yuzawa, 103, Japan’s, Esmeralda provoked “the old razz-me-taz” in my notes. Swan Lake Act III, arms up and eloquent, very

Olga Gromakova, 104, from Russia withdrew from the competition.

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Renee Renouf

18-06-10, 09:36 PM (BST)
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9. "IBC Round 1, Session 8, June 17, 2010 evening"
In response to message #7
   Raquel Rampazzo, 37, Brasil, chose the Giselle peasant pas de deux; the notes read “nice arms, confident, correct, good phrasing, Paquita, balance good, fouette attitude not fully en face.”

For Marceliino Sambe, 38, Portugal, his Flames of Paris selection I noted as “flawless, heroic, confident.” For his Coppelia variation, this lithe, medium- sized young man, I noted he traveled in his pirouettes and made a slight adjustment when finishing.

Ariella Martin, 39, USA, danced a very stylish, though studied Paquita; for her Flames of Paris variation I found her torso stiff, if correct; with her glistening white classical tutu, she was no child of Parisian commoners in the early Revolution.

Nathan Chaney, 40, USA, strongly, almost heavily built, made a mid-way slip in Flames of Paris and exhibited little heroics. In Paquita, he demonstrated good timing, but needed to use his backward hand to finish.

Jovani Furlan, Jr., 41, Brazil, is slender, tallish and probably still growing. This physical transition showed in his variations from Coppelia and Flames of Paris where his elevation and turns demonstrated need for refining excellent raw talent.

Naoki Makimura, 106, Japan, exhibted phenomenal elevation. He is correct but small; both variations, Don Q and Swan Lake, were technically very, very good.

Cara Marie Gary, 107, USA, gave a spot-on Esmeralda variation with an extra twist in the shoulders. She elected the Grigorovitch version of Swan Lake, Act III, requiring a small recovery from a slight imbalance, but the menace in the choreography was clear.

Nathalie Fernandez, 108, Belgium, is small and compact. Her Giselle, Act I variation was clear and she indicated who she was dancing for. In one or two places she hopped as adjustment. After a slight slip at the beginning her Don Q rendition was crisp.

Natsuko Oshima, 109, Japan, danced her variations with spirit. She bubbled with more than accuracy in La Fille Mal Gardee and her Don Q variation was swift and clear, joyous and minus fan.

Andrei Pisarev, 110, Ukraine, danced his first variation, the Don Q, after some unattended opening Musical phrases. It enjoyed all the requisite excitement expected of the name Pisarev. For the introduction to Giselle, Act II, Evelyn Hart remarked, “Oh, good, he’s here, I only know the girll’s part.”

Alexander Akulov, 105, Russia with his non competing partner Lauren Kennedy danced a traditional Petipa Swan Lake, Act III, notable for his restrained, but definite characterization. One could see his growing interest in this dark creature, and, despite aristocratic restraint, the testosterone rising.

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19-06-10, 11:33 AM (BST)
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11. "End of Round 1 Pictures"
In response to message #0
Some of the dancers Renee has been following are shown here - sadly these are the dancers eliminated at the end of Round 1. Many and great thanks to photographer Richard Finkelstein for them.

Ji-Young Chae and Ki-Min Kim of South Korea dancing Flames of Paris at the 2010 USA-IBC, Round 1, Session 1
© Richard Finkelstein

Ayaka Fujii of Japan, dancing with her partner, Constantine Allen of the USA in Coppelia at the 2010 USA-IBC
© Richard Finkelstein

Mark Biocca of Italy dancing in a Pas de Deux from La Fille Mal Gardee at the 2010 USA-IBC
© Richard Finkelstein

Augusto Cezar dancing as the Blue Bird in Sleeping Beauty at the 2010 USA-IBC
© Richard Finkelstein

Hideko Karasawa of Japan, dancing Esmeralda at the 2010 USA-IBC
© Richard Finkelstein

Junna Ige of Japan dancing with Shimon Ito of the USA in Flower Festival of Genzano at the 2010 USA-IBC
© Richard Finkelstein

You can also see Richard Finkelstein's shots at the end of Round 1 on the IBC site:

Richard Finkelstein's IBC Picasa album

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Renee Renouf

21-06-10, 05:41 PM (BST)
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12. "USA IBC Round II, Session I, June 18, 2010"
In response to message #0
   June 18 marked the 31st anniversary of the opening session of the 1979 Competition in Jackson and its first, just about two months following a major flood by the Pearl River, buckling the floor of the auditorium and requiring its replacement and the studios at Ballet Mississippi across the Street just west of the Competition site. It was an extraordinary example of front and center, the show must go on, which has occurred, without fail, for thirty-one years.

Mercifully, Round II sessions happen only once a day, three of them, giving everyone a breather and allowing persons like me either to complete prior session comments or interview some individuals making this international competition so enjoyable The degrees of separation felt keenly in larger cities and organizations, melt appreciably under Jackson’s steamy heat and slower tempo; I find adolescent enthusiasms rising along with Mississippi thunderstorms and cloudbursts.

If Session I of Round II is any indication of musical taste for contemporary works, a gratifying sea change in choreographer’s choices is evident, for competitors displaying their creativity.
The competition regulations stipulate 20th century choreography with a mamimum length of four minutes, in itself a major challenge for a soloist.

Nanako Hayafuji, 3, Japan, danced Grazing Comet to Antonio Vivaldi. Evelyn Teri choreographed floor work, stretches, jazz-inflected grand jetes (straight forward instead of profile), and wonderful arm stretches, Whether it reflected the title with a coherent message, remains a question, but Hayafuji danced full out every movement asked of her.

South Korea Competitors 5 and 20, Jo Young Chae and Ki-Min Kim moved with spiky, virtuosic splendor to Nicolo Paganini’s Caprice in A Minor, created by Juhyun Jo. Silhouetted in profile, dressed in deep turquoise Milliskin at the start, the dancers' assignment emphasized long, slender lines with broad jumps, spectacular lifts and stretches. A workout worthy of any skilled dancer, the two young Koreans danced with a command worthy of practicing professionals.

Choosing Hector Villa Lobos’ haunting music, Eduardo Menezes fashioned Cobarde to Melodia Sentimental for Augusto Cezar, 8, of Brazil and his non-competing partner Pamela Valim. Very earthy,it was somewhat disjointed, with alternate postures of oppressed peasants and circling jumps or leaps. Both dressed in black Cezar, in trunks, ended up in fetal position over which Valim spread her black skirt.

The second junior couple, Ayaka Fujii,9, Japan, and Constantine Allen, 14, USA, danced a Victor Plotnikov pas de deux titled Yukkuri to Camille Saint-Saen’s Swan music. Kimiko Sugano, mother of Arleen Sugano, teaching at the International School for the first time, said the word translates as “slow.” Dressed in black trunks and tunics, the pair could perhaps be birds, with the close partnering suggesting fidelity.

Risako Ikeda, 10, Japan, chose Emiko Hibara’s setting to Morricone’s music sung by Nella Fantasia. Titled, In My Imagination, clearly suggesting the lyrical, fluid quality of Ikeda’s nearly gossamer white dress,featuring excellent transitions. Ikeda gave a liquid performance of a work suggesting the Imagination wasn’t very focused choreographically.

Esteban Hernandez, 11, presented Servy Gallardo’s concept of Journey to the music of Philip Glass, a tough assignment because of Glass’ minimalist qualities. Wearing only sky-blue Milliskin capris, Hernandez had a strong pattern to dance which he executed well, if perhaps lacking a full comprehension. He seemed concentrated on familiar steps or jumps, though torso and arm positions suggested the unusual.

Amanda Gomes, 12, brought the junior offerings to a close. The young Brasilian danced to the a Bobby-McFerrini-Chick Corea piece, Andante 2, which choreographer Amarildo Cassiano titled Aurora. McFerrin-Corea’s music was both sung words and syllable, falsetto in spots; with its syncopations, Gomes did a charming job of reaches, stretches, floor work and covering space with jetes and arabesques.

Angel Laza, 52, and his non-competing partner, Katia Carranzo danced Luis Serrano’s setting of tango music. Laza sported wide silver-hued suspenders and a slouch hat flung off after starting to partner Katia Carranza, dressed in a bare-backed,long-sleeved black dress with a full skirt, framing supported grand jetes and arabesques, swirling with pirouettes and adding to the general panache. Music and theme were refreshing pauses in the terribly earnest essays and musical choices.

Maki Onuki, 54, Japan, with non-competing partner Tamas Krizsa,chose Edwaard Liang's choreography to Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 3, titled Wunderland. What amazed in this pas de deux was the near boneless impression the dancers conveyed as Onuki slithered down Krisza’s leg, or was swung to his shoulder before a plunge to be wrapped around his waist.

Rodrige Almarales, 58, from Cuba, danced Luis Delejo’s setting to the George Friedrich Handel’s Aria titled Ombre Mai Fu. Almarales executed the sculptural positions, turns and jetes with great belief for the strongest exposition of aesthetics of the evening.

The pretty contestant from Belarus, Ekaterina Oleynik, 67, appeared in a black bra and trunks With her non competing partner Konstantin Kuztniatsou, in black trunks. Their pas de deux was created by Dmitriy Karakulov to Black Box Music, the composition titled Fragile Eternal Paradise. As an exposition of every possible posture, skillfully presented, it was for me anything but fragile with an overall impression of being an empty exercise.

Diana Albrecht, 69, from Paraguay, let her blonde tresses loose over white shorts, jacket and bras in an apparent barefooted study by Andile Ndlovu titled Of Theft and Gift. Danced to Marcus Fuereder’s Chambermaid Swing, I have expected a tongue-in-cheek little plot of some hotel chambermaid making off with an eleven carat diamond ring. Not on your sweet life! We got some terrific turns and wide turning passes to a swinging jazzy piece of music ending Session I on an off note and almost minor key.

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Renee Renouf

21-06-10, 06:40 PM (BST)
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13. "RE: USA IBC Round II, Session II, June 19, 2010"
In response to message #12
   The musical selections tend to continue their impressive array. Tonight there was more Phillip Glass, an Igor Stravinsky, Henry Cowell, Joan Jeanrenaud, Diego Ortiz and an impressive fusion of
Asian percussive music.

While on the subject of music, let me give you a run down on some statistic trivia. Ahead of reviewing Round III, all of Round II featured six works of minmalist composer Phillip Glass; two selections each by Vivaldi and Paganini, and two by Zoe Keating.

And did I give you statistics on Round I? Here goes

Don Quixote pas de deux: we watched two complete renderings, 9 male solos, 11 female solos.
Coppelia pas de deux: Three pas de deux, 13 male soloes; 5 female solos.
Flames of Paris: Two pas de deux, 14 male soloes, 6 female solos.
Giselle: Four Act II Pas de deux; 6 Act II male solos; 3 female peasant pas de deux; nine
Act I female solos, two Act II.
Swan Lake, Act III rated two pas de deux, five male solos, three female solos and three of the Grgiorovich version.
When it came to Paquita and its divertissements, I counted 17 female solos, variation not specified in the head count. Four boys utilized the male variation.
Four men and one woman chose the Flower Festival at Genzano for solo variations and one couple, Junna Ige and Shimon Ito, both from Ballet San Jose.

Back to Session II, starting off with Gabe Shayer, 17, USA, dancing Vocussion, presumably referring to the time-honored sounds of Indian syllables with tabla, and the inclusion of the Korean tango. A refreshing choice and indicative of current musical fusions, it suited young Shayer, managing high extensions a la seconde, jumps non-tradiional arm movements and floor work, the solo created by Servy Gallardo.

Patricia Zhou, 19, Canada, danced Switch, choreographed by Viktor Plotnikov set to Joan Jeanrenaud’s skill with the cello. Zhou, wearing a minimal black band on her chest and skimpy black shorts danced in demi-pointe with thorough control a variety of swings and extensions.

Ka’imi Cambern’s selection was titled Empty, for which Elizabeth Reid Simmons selected Olafur Arnalds Music. There were good cross stage and torso usage, but Cambern concentrated more on execution than conveying the title emotion, for the choreography implied a
frantic awareness of the word.

Elizabeth Gillaspy created an exhibition piece to Zoe Keating’s Tick Tok for Simon Wexler, 22, USA, seriously underplaying the and fro except a few movements towards the end. Wexler’s strong forte is legato quality and she exploited this quality more than stretching interpretive qualities in the title.

The third in a series of Rock School junior contestants, Derek Dunn, 23, danced to another Olafur Arnald’s piece titled Brotsjor, set for him by Ashley Canterna, a 2006 USA IBC finalist.
Canterna certainly knows her movement vocabulary, contemporary and classical, and what would display Dunn's remarkable talent. I have no idea what the title means, but Dunn did a splendid job. I know arm swings are used to fill phrases, but I wish those meaningless repetitions could be replaced everywhere by something imaginative.

Dunn was followed by Alys Shee, 25, Canada, dancing Crossfade, with her non competing partner Aaron Smyth Roberto Campanella’s Crossface to Phillip Glass’ Glass Works. Like its music, the pas de deux was spare, initial movements appreciably apart before Shee was grasped by Smyth. Their partnering used supported arabesques and pirouettes, but with wary cooperation by Shee, demanding coercion by Smyth. They ended, walking off in different directions.

Rhys was followed by the junior-senior couple from Japan, Fumi Kaneko, 26 and Kosuke Okumura, 94, dancing Konstantin Semenov’s Zarabanda to Diego Ortiz’ Passamezzo antico: Zarabanda.The couple wore black shorts and white tunics with scattered black lines, Kaneko’s open in the back. The essay had some good jetes, and allowed each competitor equal time and space. Ending on a tender note with Okumura held Kaneko’s head, touching her outstretched hands.

Junne Ige 71, Japan, and Shimon Ito, 54, USA, were both announced as representing Japan before beginng Karen Gabay’s Playful Persuasions to Lev Polyakin’s The Other Side of Road. Gabay’s light touch on a boy meets girl theme was a polar opposite to prior and subsequent dances, a perfect ending note just before intermission. Ige attracted the attention of Ito angling across the floor on his stomach to encounter her, flexing his biceps enough to provoke several chuckles. A cute touch was a lateral progression of unchanging petit jetes executed by both. Ito has facial contours mirroring consternation with telling effect,here and in the finale where Ige wagged her finger at him; the results to roused warm approval.

First after intermission, Hideko Karasawa, 74, impressed with Steven McMahon’s setting of Phillip Glass’ The Poet Acts. Titled Little Voice, starting center stage back with small gestures, Karasawa expanded gesture and body movement, mostly to stage left, though one run brought her to arabesque towards the middle of stage right. An expected grand jete never happened; Karasawa finished at her starting position and gestures to complete the understated exposition. Given the busy conglomeration of steps assigned to juniors to demonstrate versatility, the restraint was refreshing.

The competitors from China, Cao Shuci, 75, and Zhang Xi, 93, danced Ghost Drama, Fei Bo's setting for Tan Dun's unusual composition
using water sounds and varying shrill voices. Shuci was draped
in minimal black over flesh leotards with a length set of black
strands at the back of her neck. Xi's costume comprised full white
trousers overlain with black. White is the color of mourning and death in traditional China. The choreographic aim was to exorcise the Ghost, presumably Shuci. This gave choreographer and dancers some surprising movements of struggle and an equally impressive ending.

Kyohei Yoshida, 80, Japan, in Igo Holobacik's Shaman to the pounding rhythms of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was earth bound and intense. Yoshida pulled the spirits from the earth, rather than evoking the heavens, a departure for second sight source.

Grace Kelly Cobian, 83, Peru, interpreted Jimmmy Gamonet de los Heros' setting of Henry Cowell. Titld Les Echanges, the solo was symmemtrical in its use of left and right repetitions. My notes mention "battements and ending on the floor."

Miguel Montoya, 85, Columbia, selected Servy Gallardo's Into the Heart with a Phillip Glass score. I show no notes.

Seo-Hye Han, 87, South Korea, danced Moonlight, choreographed by
Adirenne Dellas. Se Jong Kim, her non-competing partner, wore a
Yi Dynasty costume, wonderfully hued, seeming irrelevant to an expertly rendered pas de deux, while atmospheric, was insipid.

The evening ended with Eun Won Lee, 88, of South Korea, whose orange
costume echoed the energy of appreciable sounds of the Korea changgo.

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Renee Renouf

22-06-10, 06:29 PM (BST)
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15. "RE: USA IBC Round II, SessionIII, June 20, 2010"
In response to message #12
   I’m sure readers by now know that with so much to cover I’m using ncp for non-competing partner.

Marian Layun 29, Mexico, with ncp F. Gabriela Fola chose a multi-striped, apparently strapless one piece tunic for Georges Cespedes Impulse to music of the same name by Trance Mission. Impulse it was, very like contact improvisation, gestures, arm contact, leg twinings, body shifts and twists, and, of course, some floor rolls and lifts. Far too long, it was none the less clever and certainly displayed Layun’s ability range. She is definitely prize eligible.

Joan Sebastian Zamora, 30, Columbia,black trunks and white shirted, went Searching to Servy Gallardo’s setting of Phillip Glass’s Temple of the Golden Pavilion. I see a strong asterisk in the margin of my notes and the word “evident” after the title.

Natalie Krakirian, 32, USA was given Nightmare by Amy Hutchings to Sleep Clinic/Zombie Stomp, a work to the trio of composers C. Bernstein, J. Osbourne and Z. Wylie. Dressed in a white-bordered black teddie, past shoulder length tresses loose, Krakirian’s solo possessed early stretches a la seconde and some grand jetes with the registration of dismay and horror coming rather late in the piece.

Dong-Won Kim 33, South Korea, danced an off-kilter solo titled Into Oblivion, Viktor Plotnikov’s setting to Rumba to Georgei, composed by the trio DJSpooky, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Fanfare Sayle. Kim’s assignment was continually off balance, staggering, and turning in a regulation black suit, white shirt and tie. The word “interesting” appears in my notes.

Emily Entingh, 34, USA, danced a slow essay by Viktor Kabaniaev to John Williams’ Chairman’s Waltz under the title Tempo de Valse. She was dressed in a knee-length blue dress, and my main impression was that she moved almost exclusively laterally across the stage during her solo.

Yoshiko Tamura, 36, Japan, suffered elegantly, strongly in Yaqshaan Medan’s Restriction, danced to Clint Mansell’s Marion Barfs. Every thing seemed in multiples – turns,and the sense of spinning.

Marcelino Sambe, 38, Portugal was dressed in tights, accomplishing a lot of floor work in Porto que Sinto, Catarina Moreira’s study to Carlos Paredes’ music of the same title. Notes remark “good arm tension.”

Nathan Chaney, 40, USA appeared much slimmer in black tights and bare chest for Elapsed Time, music titled Sir by various artists too complicated to mention, set by 2006 junior bronze medalist Jeffrey Curio. My notes read “quick motions, great arms.”

Candice Idea, 90, Jean Mark Cordero, 72, Philippines danced Evacuation to Mike Oldfeld’s music of the same name, choreographed by Augustus Damian III. It was one of the most interesting pas de deux for the contemporary rounds, flawlessly executed. In a central section Adea rocked left and right em pointe, her body against Cordero’s back who gradually lowered himself face down to the floor. Adea rose from his back, turned into profile, rolling upright over his legs. Cordero then grasped her in an unbelievably skillful vise. There were moments of divergence and Adea pushed Cordero at one point, all movements understandable in a chaotic situation rife with high emotion. Their final posture was sideways, twisting to the front, both making the gesture of sssh with one finger.

Miki Wakuta, 91, Japan, performed seven dances to Paganini’s Caprice, choreographed by Saito Makoto. In a black tunic, her virtuosic exposition was determined by the demands of the music, a good way to display technique with some degree of meaning.

Balazs Krajezar, 96, Hungary, ncp Chiaki Yasukawa, dressed in white, had Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Major to demonstrate Iforcho Kirov’s On the Edge. The piece involved the usual gender struggle, expertly displayed.

Carlos Hopuy, 98, Cuba enjoyed Dmitri Shastokovitch to demonstrate his prowess in Gabriel Zertuche’s Energia Libre. This naturally involved tours, jumps, grand jetes, but not particularly transforming.

Nurlan Konokhayev, 100, Kazakhstan, danced to Uly-Tau’s pounding folk music, which Mik Gostevskii titled Berkutchi. My notes read "great arms and head, wild, the rest standard technique.”

Guizien Chu, 101, Taiwan had a solo titled, like the music Trio Per Uno of Nebojsa Iovan Zivkovic,which choreographer Igal Perry set requiring Chu to move against the percussive sounds.

Zoe Keating’s We Insist gave Naomi Yuzawa, 103, Japan an assignment of the same name created by Chiaki Yasukawa. Yuzawa was dressed with a freely moving skirt and tunic and moved around in loping turns and lunges making demanding gestures.

Tatiana Berenova gave Natsuko Oshima, 109, Japan the task of being a Little Pirate to Katchaturyan’s Sabre Dance, and what a marathon it proved to be. Women’s lib had nothing on Oshima dashing around the stage with two knives, twirling en pointe, raised knives en haut or thrust in front of her in grand jetes. Wearing tight jeans and a barely bandana like chest covering, the solo seemed almost macabre. A Japanese spectator remarked to me, “kitchen knives.”

Andrei Pisarev, 110, Ukraine, chose Viktor Plotnikov for his choreography to the title Zingaro. White shirt, bloused over tight trousers, with a string tie, Pisaerv's solo had a distinct country blue grass quality, Pisarev making gestures approximating guitar or banjo strumming. He looked handsome, self-contained, a tad sardonic.

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Renee Renouf

21-06-10, 10:29 PM (BST)
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14. "USA IBC Announces Round III Competitors June 21, 2010"
In response to message #0
   When the thirty-four competitors commence their final offerings Tuesday evening, June 22, at Thalia Mara Hall, classical and contemporary choices will be required. Soloists will dance two
Selections from a list to be enumerated further on in this article and one contemporary solo created since 2006. For the couples, of course, the classical selection need only be one.

Bruce Marks, the USA IBC Jury Chair, made the announcement stating there are seven non-competing partners, bringing the total dancers appearing in Round III to forty-one. Ten are senior men, eight are senior women, nine junior males and 7 senior females.

The finalists listed are:

Senior Men:

Rodrigo Almarales, 58, Cuba
Guixien Chu, 101, Taipei
Carlos Hopuy, 98, Cuba
Shimon Ito, 54, USA
Nurlan Konokbayev, 100, Kazakhstan
Balazs Krajczar, 96, Hungary
Kosuke Okumura,94, Japan
Andre Pisarev, 110, Ukraine
Zhang Xi, 93, China
Kyohei Yoshida, 81, Japan

Senior Women:

Candice Adea, 90, Philippines
Seo-Hye Han, 87, South Korea
Junna Ige, 71, Japan
Eun Won Lee, 88, South Korea
Ekaterine Oleynik, 67, Belarus
Maki Onuka, 54, Japan
Cao Shuci, 75, China
Miki Wakuta, 91, Japan

Junior Men:

Constantine Allen, 14, USA
Nathan Chaney, 40, USA
Derek Dunn, 23, USA
Esteban Hernandez, 11, Mexico
Ki-Min Kim, 20, South Korea
Marcellino Sambe, 38, Portugal
Gabe Shayer, 17, USA
Yukihiro Tamura, 36, Japan
Joan Sebastian Zamora, 30, Columbia

Junior Women:

Ji Young Chae, 5, South Korea
Ayaka Fujii, 9, Japan
Amada Gomes, 12, Brasil
Fumi Kaneko, 26, Japan
Mariana Layun, 29, Mexico
Alys Shee, 25, Canada
Patricia Zhou, 19, Canada

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23-06-10, 10:05 AM (BST)
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16. "More Richard Finkelstein Pictures"
In response to message #0
Naturally some of the competitors have really caught Renee Renouf's eye and Richard Finkelstein has kindly made available 11 pictures that Renee selected. They are in a separate gallery, but to get you started here are 3...

Cao Shuci and Zhung Xi dancing a piece from Giselle at the USA-USA IBC Round 1 Session 4

Mariana Layun Prado and Gabrielle Frola dancing a selection from Flames of Paris at the USA-IBC 2010 Round 1, Session 6

Nurlan Konotbayov dancing a selection of Giselle at the USA IBC Round 1 Session 7

USA International Ballet Competition 2010 Gallery Area
all images ©, Richard Finkelstein

See more of Richard Finkelstein's USA International Ballet Competition 2010 pictures here:

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28-06-10, 00:12 AM (BST)
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28. "RE: More Richard Finkelstein Pictures"
In response to message #16
   that Giselle one is utterly glorious

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Renee Renouf

23-06-10, 10:14 PM (BST)
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17. "RE: USA IBC Round III, Session I, June 22, 2010"
In response to message #0
   The audience filled Thalia Mara for this first session of Round III and the air was clearly more electrified.

Christopher d’Amboise returned to announce this round and Evelyn Hart appeared in red with a lengthy boa of equal hue. Someone mercifully decided after the 2006 Competition it was no longer necessary to state music or choreographic credits before each competitor’s performance; the decision has streamlined the procedure by light years,eliminating audience ho-hums

The evening featured two intermissions, contemporary offerings after the classics exposition, juniors and seniors executing the same choices. I’ll combine both appearances in my comments.

Mentions should include that easily in competitions since 1990, the students from the International School, and the seeded competitors, most sitting in the balcony or mezzanine, cheer the contestants with vocal yelps when they enter. Where favorites have been identified yells, shouts, foot stamps and other degrees of pandemonium follow the performance. Sometimes it is entirely meaningless and visibly lacking in discernment.

Ji Young Chae, 5, Ki-Min Kim, 20, South Korea, danced mpeccably, a sparkling Diana and Acteon pas de deux, Chao the only woman sporting a bow during the evening. In orange, Chae smiled throughout, the searching movement before plunging arabesques unmistakable with the finish a crisp fifth. Kim has an airborne quality, in contrast to the spikiness required of Chae. The young Koreans definitely set the bar for the classical half of the evening.

The two elected Soo Kyung Min to choreograph ID Kim’s Dull Knife/ Little Wolf under the title The Wall (Trouble), possibly refering to the border between the two Koreas. With the anguish frequently present in Korean p’an sori, and involving stretches and lifts, Chae was costumed in a two tuned tunic and Kim stripped to the waist.

Ayaka Fujii,9,Japan, Constantine Allen, 14, USA, Fujii, in pink, and Allen, in turquoise, elected Medora and the Slave from Le Corsaire. Their rendition possessed moments, but Allen was visibly nervous, falling out of his initial turns; Fujii’s fouettes, some double, traveled. Otherwise correct, these juniors gave me a sense of sluggishness.

The two students from The Rock School chose Viktor Plotnikov to choreograph Two of a Kind, a Creation of Hi Tekk and Nikkfurie,this a la Menthe. The pas de deux was studied, would-be-folksy; the two in suspenders and deliberately faded trousers didn’t seem quite at home in the piece.

Esteban Hernandez, 11, Mexico, elected the male variation from Raymonda, dancing in a handsome Light blue tunic. His dancing, spot on, except the characteristic Hungarian gesture seemed perfunctory; he shares with his brother slow, unforced movement which engages one’s eye pleasurably. His second selection, the Acteon variation, was again easy, clear, very precise in finishes and transitions without losing the impulse.

Kanji Segawa selected Serge Houppin and Henry Torgue’s Bacchanale of Ulysse to create Hernandez’ contemporary solo Escaper. The piece used falling at times, and my notes read “good dancing,” though the role of escaper could have been more cogently projected. Hernandez, in loose white shirt (this seems to be a cliché for competition pieces, probably to convey end of the rope or emotional downers)did convey something of a sleaze trying to get out of a tight situation, something the Odyssey definitely relates about Ulysses.

Amanda Gomes, 12, Brazil, chose Aurora’s variation from Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding pas de deux in Act III. Hers was a rendition of charm, a regal deportment, finished with a slight off step.

She redeemed that slight flaw in the killer variation from Victor Gsovsky’s Grand Pas Classique, evoking hysterical response from the balcony, quite deserved.

Gomes was dressed in a short red tunic, with disguised open midriff, flower in her hair for To See You,danced to Astor Piazzola’s Tango Ballet Piazzolla, Amarildo Cassiano created a mature solo. Gomes hinted at the sexual, her delivery definitely sensual.

Rodrigo Almareles, 58, Cuba, in glistening white trimmed in gold, moved through the male variation of Nutcracker with unadorned simplicity, giving up a final gesture to set off his performance as a model of male elegance.

When he returned to dance the male variation from Diana and Acteon, Almarales was in the regulation minimal tunic, his simple presentation winning loud approval.

When it came to his contemporary portion, Almarales aced it, again to Astor Piazzolla music,Vayamos Al Diablo, which Luis Delejo titled Mas de un Tango. While brief, Almarales never seemed to stop low jetes and traveling turns; they flowed like a freely running brook. The ending was a spot on pirouette.

I wrote “fantastic” and the audience approval was pandemonium level.

Maki Onuki, 54, Japan was sailing through the Diana and Acteon pas de deux, dressed in a red tunic and minus bow, with non-competing partner Tomas Krizsa, massive in a minimal tunic, glittering wrist bands, head band and lace-like sandal straps up his calves, looked huge in his grand jetes. The two made quite a contrast.

In the Coda, however, there was a sudden pause when Krizsa preparing a pirouette, dropped to the floor and started to crawl on all fours to stage left. The stage lights were immediately cut; shortly after Evelyn Hart came on stage to state Krizsa had ruptured a tendon and was being cared for by the medical staff. The audience response was distinctly empathic.

Word June 23 is that Krizsa suffered a tear in his Achillles tendon. The jury has provided Onuki with the option of appearing on Thursday evening, but her decision is not currently known.

Ekaterina OLeynik, 67, Belarus, ncp Konstantin Kuziniasatsou, chose the grand pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty for her final classical performance. Pretty, slender, obviously well trained with elegant shoulders and carriage, I found her port de bras quite mannered, doubtless a style finding approval in eastern Europe. It’s the kind where the upper arm starts down in regulation first position before the forearm is raised as if finishing a variation and saying to the audience, “There, I’ve done it, now applaud.” Her hands ended in an open filigree of fingers cupped slightly inward. Forgive me, I still remember Fonteyn’s simplicity in port de bras and her simple eloquent hands.

Additionally the version danced chose a series of pirouettes instead of the customary fish dives; the audience went hysterical, I mentally harrumphed.

We Dancing Pergolezi found the Berlarus couple in turquoise Milliskin unitards which Radu Poklitaru started as if the two were stick figures or illustrations from a hoary dancing manual. After intricate partnering, lifts and crawling through legs, the pair returned to their starting position, a requirement in sonata allegro musical form. The music was beguiling; unlike the audience, I parted company with the piece, although well executed.

Junna Ige, 71, Japan, Shimon Ito, 54, USA, gave the Diana & Acteon pas de deux their customary accurate execution, minus special effects, both understated in delivery. A worthy rendition, it seemed subdued with the surrounding excesses and effects from other competitors.

Karen Gabay choreographed Andalucia for the Ballet San Jose couple, danced to an extended rendition of Ernest Lecuonia’s composition of the same name. Again, the tone was light, gentle, thoroughly professional, unforced, minus tricks except perhaps for two sets of minor hip wiggles. Their dancing and the selection provided a light note to a lengthy evening.

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Renee Renouf

27-06-10, 00:11 AM (BST)
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23. "RE: USA IBC Round III, Session II, June 23, 2010"
In response to message #17
   The days blend together though punctuated by brief thunder showers. Walking the four street distances between the Marriott Hotel and the Media Center has allowed a quick assessment of the caliber of clouds forming south and west, some streaked, some billowing, most varying degrees of spectacular. The thunderstorms twice held off until the audience had gathered and the performance begun.

Evelyn Hart announced that for the contemporary section choreography needed to be created since 1990. Elsewhere, I read 2006. No matter, the pieces seen looked easily within the decade.

For his classical selections Gabe Shayer, 17, USA selected Raymonda and the Slave variation from Le Corsaire’s pas de deux with Medora. Shayer looked loaded down in a heavily embroidered tunic of purple. Dancing with clarity, the variation seemed more a series of poses than the progression of two or three phrases. In the Slave variation Shayer demonstrated he moves well with a series of broad gestures. His feet shifted position slightly as he went down on his knee in the final pose.

Patricia Zhou, 19, Canada also selected Raymonda for her first selection. Assured, she really danced,sparkling like those young Koreans. Despite toe shoe soundsm, her ending attitude was strong.

Zhou also danced Medora ‘s variation from the familiar Medora and The Slave, and I read the word “hesitations – but moved and musical.”

Derek Dunn, 23, USA drew the expected nearly hysterical screams for his two classical appearances,Prince Desiree’s variation in the Act III Pas de Deux and Solor’s variation in La Bayadere. His first, understated and very grand, showed good coaching. My notes for the second were blotted out by notes regarding the balcony.

Alys Shee, 25, Canada, and ncp Aaron Smyth presented us with the “killer” Pas de deux, Grand Pas Classique by Victor Gsovksy, the only 20th century pas de deux on the list of classical requirements. One year selections from Les Sylphides made the list.

Shee’s approach, with a solitary flower near one ear, was almost Spanish in postures and balances, demonstrating port de corps nuance comparatively rare in young dancers. It made me want to see her in Don Q. While the Grand Pas Classique invites an almost metronome like rigidity, Shee demonstrated that while classically correct, she is also liquid and lyrical.

Immediately following, Fumi Kaneko, 26, Kosuke Okumura, 94, Japan gave us a sweetly authoritative performance of the Nutcracker Pas de Deux, sugar spun in its elegance.

Kyohei Yoshida, 81, Japan elected the male version of Raymonda and the Golden Idol solo from La Bayadere for his classical variations. In the Raymonda Yoshida experienced two slips notable in recovery and the elegance in his finish. His Golden Idol from La Bayadere, in a glorified dance belt covered With gold cloth, forearms and wrists wrapped in gold and a little chest piece, found him spot on in the gestures required, the space covered and the dynamics in jumps. My notes read “splendid.”

Seo-Hye Han, 87, South Korea , with ncp Se Jong Kim chose the familiar Medora and the Slave for her single Round III classical selection. My notes read "she leaned in final supported turn.”

Eun Won Lee, 88, South Korea, chose Aurora’s Third Act variation and a Shade Variations for her classical variations. Her Aurora was generalized, if correctly danced. For Bayadere, she hit balances with a hop.

Candice Adea, 90, Philippines completed the classical assignments for Session II with the Diana & Acteon pas de deux in red, with ncp Jean Marc Cordero wearing in a brown short, loose one-shouldered tunic, sandal lacing to the knee. Adea gave gestural and body notice this partnering with men was not Diana’s usual habit but she was trying to be adroit. Adea more than succeeded. In the finale, her fouettes moved minimally; there was a slight slip in support for her final pirouettes.

Gabe Shayer, 17, USA, commenced the Contemporary half of the program to Shubert, a study called Here I am. Despite the gadgety use of Shayer’s ability, choreographer Ronen Koresh allowed Shayer to demonstrate how well he moves.

Viktor Plotnikov,creating six solos for this year’s competitors, elected Rococo Variation No. 6 of Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky for Patricia Zhou,19,Canada. Titled Mischievous, toe shoe sound seemed to characterize a rather sedate solo, unusual elements being small sequences with the feet that don’t belong to classical phrasing.

Derek Dunn, 23, USA, again chose Ashley Canterna to create his contemporary variation. She selected Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for Moonlight. Canterna supplied a more restrained vocabulary for Dunn, faithful to the music’s development. Grasping movements as if clutching on the play of the moon through trees was not clearly contextualized. Starting with head forward on the floor arms grasping the knees profile to the audience, Dunn rendered a dazzling display of several types of pirouettes before finishing in his original position.

Edward Liang’s pas de deux for Alys Shee, 25, Canada, and ncp Aaron Smyth, used Antonio Vivaldi’s Adagio in G Minor for Ballo per Sei. More than a little abstract, it showed off Shee’s line and lyricism.

Fumiko Kaneko, 26 and Kosuke Okumura, 94, danced to the sound of rain and an evocative European accordion in Seung Min Shin’s Revenant, part of violin Corradi’s Varekai.

Cao Shuci, 75, and Zhang Xi, 93, danced another Fei Bo essay to Edward Elgar’s Concerto for Cello in B Minor. Titled Will You Dance With Me? . The Chinese pair were dressed in beige tunics and shoe tops, narrowly banded with colors, moving like puppets – except that Shuci was free and Zhang ‘s wrists and ankles were confined by narrow strips of what turned out to be elastic. Over the course of the music, Zhang shed all but one elastic, situated on his left foot. Each removal of a strip was marked by amazement and conveyed liberation, When the final strip was removed, there was the expected reaction to freedom;; but Zhang suddenly collapsed forward and the light blacked out.

Kyohei Yoshida’s solo, Compulsive was created by Mario Radacovsky to Les Tour Tristes by Denis Champoux, featuring Yoshida in a suit, tie and a chair to the theme Compulsive. Yoshida danced the impulse of someone desperately trying to control himself, but obsessing with minutiae. When he returned for his bow, acknowledging the vociferous applause, the chair was slung over one shoulder.

Mozart’s Allegro Con Brio in G Minor was Sun Tae Lee’s choice for Language of Anger, created for Seo-Hye Han, 87, South Korea, and her ncp Se Jon Kim. Except for its hurried tempo, it was a surprising choice for an exposition of one very turbulent couple, feinting forward and backward, until they ended in a clutch.

Eun Won Lee, 88, South Korea, danced to the semi-middle Eastern Arabian Dance, composer Savery Uffe’s music chosen by choreography Jo Ji Young. My notes spoke to its shortness, and the volume of the music.

With ncp Jena Marc Cordero, Candice Adea, 90,Philippines, danced Sapin-Sapin to Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 4, in F. Minor RV 297-Largo. Created by ballet Master Victor Ursabia, and danced in steel hued unitards, the music was augmented by sporadic text, delivered in liquidly accented English. Performed in soft shoes. Adea moved in and out of a central core, raised, lifted, or supported. The text focused on subtle as well as obvious ties of the Filipino. Adea seemed to melt in and out of her support.

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Renee Renouf

27-06-10, 11:57 PM (BST)
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27. "RE: USA IBC Round III, Session III, June 24, 2010"
In response to message #23
   LAST EDITED ON 27-06-10 AT 11:58 PM (GMT - BST)
Mariana Layun, 20, Mexico, with her ncp F. Gabriele Frola, opened the third and final “heat” with Le Corsaire’s Pas d’Esclave. Since Layun came on stage, heavily veiled in a stylized cringe, I assumed it signified Medora had just been captured, clearly apprehensive of her fate. Glitter, glitter on blue shone through the veil, and with bare-midriff there might have been reason to feel anxious. Partner Frola in gauzy slave pantaloons, glittering as well, should have reassured her mayhem was un likely. His variation with two grand plies in the beginning was really good. Layun made stylized gestures of fear for several finishes; Remembered are admirable, virtually en place fouettes.

Joan Sebastian Zamora, 30, Columbia, danced the male variation from the Nutcracker pas de deux,distinguished by slow ease, and his last set of tours. His second variation was the Gsovsky’s Grand pas variation, again with his easy, understated delivery.

Yukihiro Tamura, 36, Japan, the second of four successive Nutcracker variations, contrasted Zamora’s ease with a crsip elegance suiting his height. Tamura also danced the lesser known Corsaire variation in black with green and red bands. My notes state, “nailed it.”

Marcelino Sambe, 38, Portugal, in Nutcracker variation three, was notable in his ability to travel,enlarging his changements into small leaps, and spectacular final pirouettes. Sambe stuck to the more familiar variation, bare chested with sky blue pantaloons for Le Corsaie. Again my notes state, “nailed it with extra tours while traveling.”

Nathan Chaney, 40, USA, the fourth and final Nutcracker essayist in a row, moved with a deliberation that seemed almost heavy. His finishes, save for the final position, were good; in the last his weight shifted backward slightly, marring his finish. Chaney’s second choice, also the familiar Corsaire, found me writing, “bronze pantaloons with slits, but fell into broad fourth positions after turns.”

Maki Onuki, 54, Japan, finished the coda of Diana and Acteon,the pas de deux aborted by ncp partner Tomas Krizsa’s accident.

Miki Wakuta, 91, Japan, danced a very correct Aurora variation from Act III of Sleeping Beauty. Her attack and gestures led me to note ”more like it.” Wakuta's second was the “killer” female variation of Victor Gsovsky, eliciting the note “musical, precise.”

The sole entrant from Hungary, Balazs Krajczar, with ncp Chiaki Yasukawa, elected the Wedding Pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty. Krajczar displayed Yasukawa with self-effacing skill; she gave
warmth, tenderness and sharing. The love of newly weds was clear. His variation was finished if minus fireworks; it's scarcely a dazzling male role.

Carlos Hopuy, 98, Cuba, chose the different slave variation from Le Corsaire. He moved consistentlywith elegance and admirable deep plies but his finish was tilted. In the earlier Act III Sleeping Beauty variation, his finish was tilted and mid-way there was a visible hesitation.

Nurlan Konokbayev, 100, Kazakhstan, danced a fifth Nucracker variation;, happily it was sufficiently distant from the first four, a rendering beautiful for its turns, though I noted “slipped at the beginning.” His second choice, from the Diana and Acteon pas de deux my notes read, “stretches, fabulous sur la place multiple pirouettes.”

Guixien Chu, 101, Taipei, danced Prince Desire’s variation from Sleeping Beauty’s Act III, notable for its clarity. Dressed in elegant brown for Le Corsaire, Chu again was clean, off in his final pirouettes, but finished with style.

When Andre Pisarev, 110, Ukraine, started to dance the Raymonda variation it was almost like watching a thought process, a slow, controlled attach, deceptively soft. I felt him visibly calculating the space to be covered. Pisarev, dancing the same variation, surprised me. This distinguished medalist danced “off” throughout his second variation.

The Round III contemporary offerings for Session III remain to be mentioned.

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Renee Renouf

25-06-10, 00:41 AM (BST)
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18. "RE: USA IBC 2010 - Jackson - Personalities"
In response to message #0
   LAST EDITED ON 25-06-10 AT 00:48 AM (GMT - BST)
The Juror from Latvia, Lita Beiris, walks up the aisle, fairly tall with a precise grace, balanced on high arches, her inviting oblong face framed by short chestnut hued hair. This is Lita Beiris’ second visit to Jackson as a member of USA IBC’s international jury. Behind the pleasant expression is a mind and personality fully occupied in diverse dance directions, the multiplicity belied by her calm demeanor.

At the outset, Beiris apologized for her English before proceeding to display a remarkable vocabulary and grasp of grammar, the occasional changes adding to the charm; the breadth of her knowledge and involvement is simply staggering.

“My first competition as a juror was at Paris in 2000. It also was the last competition there because Cyril La Faurie retired and no one has taken his place. And in Paris!” Beiris exclaimed in disbelief.

From this auspicious beginning, she has shared jury responsibilities in Helsinki, Shanghai, South Africa. Following Jackson, she is scheduled to fly to Istanbul where a competition just two years
old convenes July 1-11. From there Beiris will fly to South Africa and then to Varna in August. Along with jury duties, Beiris is also busy choreographing.

Beiris studied and graduated from Latvia National Opera School in Riga. “My teacher was one of the last students of Vaganova; we follow the Vaganova technique in our teaching.” Her training was not limited to this exposure; she also studied choreography at Gitis and disclosed with pleasure, “Semyonova coached me in Giselle.” Her involvement with Russian ballet masters is a who’s who of influential Russian ballet luminaries the last half of the twentieth century,Moscow and St. Petersburg, the latter where she studied the Vaganova system.

Midway in her fifteen year career as ballerina with the Latvian National Opera Ballet Company,at the 1980 Moscow and Varna Competitions Beiris earned a bronze medal, followed in 1983 with the
decoration of Honored Artist of Latvia; in 1989 Beiris was named as the People’s Artist of Latvia.

Since 1985 Beiris has served as ballet master, choreographer and pedagogue with the National Ballet Opera Company. She remarked after I had finished asking about her career as a dancer, “I have taken on another job. I am now a Deputy for the Riga Council for Education,” a position where Beiris can advocate for dance and other arts.

It is not as if she had been idle in this area since she stopped sewing satin ribbons on personal toe shoes. Beiris remarked proudly she established the International Baltic Ballet Festival, which includes the arts supporting dance. “We celebrated the Festival’s fifteenth anniversary in April. An annual affair, sometimes we have workshops and recently we held an exhibition of a painter who was very famous for work with costumes and stage design.” This was a festival Leslie Friedman of The Lively Foundation in San Francisco told me she was invited to during its second year.

“We present all forms of dance. Ten years ago, I invited Rasta Thomas to appear. He was just seventeen. Three years ago we brought The Bad Boys of Dance. They had a tremendous response; strong, strong. Adrienne was with them and their baby was six months old.” Beiris, smiling, made the cradling gesture with her arms. “ I also have gala concerts where five or six couples are invited. It’s good to show these young medalists, to have them seen.”

At the end of our brief discussion, I asked an obvious question, Was she in school when Baryshnikov was in Riga? “He was ahead of me, but he was my first partner in the ballet school. Whenever I am in New York, we are in touch.”

Our conversation had lasted almost to the minute when Lita Beiris was summoned by Sue Lobrano to join other members of the jury. With an apology, she excused herself .

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25-06-10, 05:05 PM (BST)
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19. "Medalists and Winners Announced"
In response to message #0

Jackson, Miss., June 25, 2010 – Dreams were fulfilled and careers were launched as the 2010 USA International Ballet Competition came to a close during its last round of competition with 20 dancers receiving medals, scholarships and cash awards.

Senior Division Medalists are:

Men’s Senior Gold Medalist – no medal awarded
Women’s Senior Gold Medalist – Cao Shuci (Peoples Republic of China)
Men’s Senior Silver Medalist – Kosuke Okumura (Japan)
Women’s Senior Silver Medalist – Candice Adea (Philippines)
Men’s Senior Bronze Medalist – Kyohei Yoshida (Japan); Zhang Xi (Peoples Republic of China)
Women’s Senior Bronze Medalist – Maki Onuki (Japan)

Medalists in the Junior Division are:

Men’s Junior Gold Medalist – Marcelino Sambé (Portugal)
Women’s Junior Gold Medalist – Ji Young Chae (South Korea)
Men’s Junior Silver Medalist – Ki-Min Kim (South Korea)
Women’s Junior Silver Medalist – Fumi Kaneko (Japan); Alys Shee (Canada)
Men’s Junior Bronze Medalist – Derek Dunn (USA)
Women’s Junior Bronze Medalist – Mariana Layún (Mexico)

Along with medals, cash prizes are given.
Special awards and scholarships were given to:

Best Junior Couple – Ji Young Chae and Ki-Min Kim (South Korea)
Best Senior Couple – Cao Shuci and Zhang Xi (Peoples Republic of China)
Men’s Capezio Award – Guixien Chu (Chinese Taipei)
Women’s Capezio Award – Ekaterina Oleynik (Belarus)

Choreography Award – Catarina Moreira ("Que todos os ais sáo meus")
Men’s Jury Award of Encouragement – Esteban Hernandez (Mexico)
Women’s Jury Award of Encouragement – Amanda Gomes (Brazil)
Robert Joffrey Award of Merit – Seo-Hye Han (South Korea)
Senior, Female

Junior Tutu.Com Award – Ji Young Chae (South Korea)
Senior Tutu.Com Award – Cao Shuci (Peoples Republic of China)

Contract with Miami City Ballet – Ekaterina Oleynik (Belarus)
Contract with Columbia City Ballet – Aynsley Inglis (USA)
Contract with Ballet San Jose – Miki Wakuta (Japan)

“With every USA IBC, we see an intense level of skill and artistry among dancers,” said Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director. “We’re known for setting the benchmark for world-class competition, and our international jury did a great job selecting winners for 2010.”

To celebrate the presentation of the USA IBC honors, the AT&T Awards Gala will be held Saturday, June 26 at 7 p.m. This event will be followed by an Encore Gala, an event featuring the medal winners on Sunday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m.

“By competing in the USA IBC, many of these dancers will launch successful careers on the path to fulfilling their dreams,” said Bruce Marks, USA IBC jury chairman. “Whether or not dancers are awarded a medal, we truly believe that the process is the prize at the Jackson competition.”

The USA IBC is a two-week, “olympic-style” competition where tomorrow’s stars vie for gold, silver and bronze medals; cash awards; company contracts; and scholarships. The event is designated as the official international ballet competition in the United States by a Joint Resolution of Congress. Presented under the auspices of the International Dance Committee, International Theatre Institute of UNESCO, the USA IBC is held every four years in Jackson, Miss., in the tradition of sister competitions in Varna, Bulgaria, and Moscow, Russia.

For more information about USA IBC, visit

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Renee Renouf

25-06-10, 06:14 PM (BST)
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20. "RE: USA IBC 2010 Winners Announce"
In response to message #0
   Bruce Marks, Jury Chair for the 9th USA IBC Competition, announced the winners of the 2010 Competition in Jackson on the Mezzanine Floor of Thalia Mara Auditorium. Finalists, volunteers and well wishers filled the space some thirty minutes prior to Sue Lobrano’s opening comments.

Lobrano stated the jury deliberations made for a late evening, which spoke to the high quality of the dancers. She accomplished the business details regarding the group picture and the $1,000 stipend awarded to all the participating finalists. She also acknowledged
William “Billy” Mounger’s services as chair of the USA IBC Board of Directors and chief fund-raiser.

When Bruce Marks followed his introduction, he remarked not only on his three hours of sleep, but the “depth of passion and fairness” of the jury and their half dozen reviews of the decisions, which now follow:

Women’s Jury Award of Encouragement: Amanda Gomes, Brasil
Men’s Jury Award of Encouragements: Esteban Hernandez, Mexico

Robert Joffrey Award of Merit: Seo-Hye Han, South Korea

Women’s Capezio Award: Ekaterina Oleynik, Belarus
Men’s Capezio Award: Guixien Chu, Taipei

Best Junior Couple: Ji Young Chae, Ki-Min Kim, South Korea
Best Senior Couple: Cao Shuci, Zang Zi, People’s Republic of China

Company Contract, Miami City Ballet: Ekaterina Oleynik, Belarus
Company Contract, Columbia City Ballet: Aynsley Inglis, USA
Company Contract, Ballet San Jose: Miki Wakuta, Japan

Choreography Award: Catarina Moreira, “Que todos o sais sao meus”, danced by Marcellino Sambe, Portugal

Now for the medal awards, which are listed in the order announced:

Junior Women’s Bronze: Mariana Layun, Mexico
Junior Men’s Bronze: Derek Dunn, USA

Senior Women’s Bronze: Maki Onuka, Japan
Senior Men’s Bronze: Kyohei Yoshida, Japan and
Zhang Xi, People’s Republic of China

Junior Women’s Silver: Fumi Kaneko, Japan and
Alys Shee, Canada
Junior Men’s Silver: Ki-Min Kim, South Korea

Senior Women’s Silver: Candice Adea, Philippines
Senior Men’s Silver: Kosuke Okumura, Japan

Junior Women’s Gold: Ji Young Chae, South Korea
Junior Men’s Gold: Marcelino Sambe, Portugal

Senior Women’s Gold: Cao Shuci, People’s Republic of China.
Senior Men's Gold: None Awarded. will provide a classical tutu to each of the women’s gold medalists.

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Renee Renouf

25-06-10, 09:48 PM (BST)
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21. "USA IBC 2010 - Jackson: Personalities-II"
In response to message #0
   Tatiana Tchernova is IBC's Treasure from Tashkent.

During the Soviet Union hegemony, Uzbekistan became partially populated by Russians. “My parents moved there from Moscow, when my father, a geologist, was transferred. My mother was a lawyer. So I was born there after the war and it was a time of great flowering in the arts. For a time Anna Akmatova and other great Russian artists and musicians lived in Tashkent. So I grew up when Tashkent was quite balanced and very cultural.

"Some graduates of the Vaganova School had moved there to escape the World War II Nazi Blockade of Leningrad; they started The National Ballet College, the school which I attended and where I graduated in 1963. Zenaida Afanacieva was one of the teachers and she used the exact syllabus of Vaganova. Another was Leo Zass He was from Vaganova in Leningrad, and was the first ballet master
in Tashkent.

One of my biggest influences was Julius Plagt; he became my teacher and my coach after I joined the ballet company at the Tashkent Opera House. He had a certificate from Leningrad; he studied four years with Agrippina Vaganova, but also studied at the Bolshoi school. He had spent twenty years in Perm where he had headed the school and prepared dancers in their roles." (Perm, Diaghilev’s birthplace, was another location where Leningrad dancers moved during the World War II Blockade.)

Tchernova danced a dozen years with the Opera House. After one year she was a soloist, becoming a principal dancer after two years. She danced Swan Lake, Bayadere, and created a number of roles based on Uzbekian themes. “They stayed there, strictly local.” She also danced Frigia in Spartacus, “Our local version, not Grigorovich.” Her most singular favorite was dancing Myrta in Giselle. “I still get goose bumps when I hear the music.”

While still dancing, Tatiana studied five years at the Tashkent Institute of Dramatic and Fine Arts concentrating on criticism. receiving the equivalent of a master’s degree in 1969.

After her dozen years in Tashkent, Tchernova married a movie director and moved to Moscow where she spent a year’s intensive study as the Moscow Movie School to become an Assistant Cinema
Producer, enabling her to assist her husband in recruiting dancers for movie musicals he directed. “I handled details quickly.” Marriage made the Moscow transfer easier. (Her mother died when Tatiana, an only child, was young and her father subsequently remarried. “He never left Tashkent, and died there ten years ago.”)

Her teacher, who had come to Tashkent from Perm, later moved to the seaport of Odessa in the Ukraine. “I was reunited with him because we shot a lot of films there, and the climate was kind.”

Tatiana had a friend from Canada who studied with her teacher and who came to Odessa. “He helped me come to Canada, and I started out teaching open classes at art and private schools. Mavis Stanis of The National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto asked me to teach, first as a substitute, then part-time and in 1993, I was given a permanent position, where I continue to teach.

“Coming to Canada was such an open door!" The open door she felt enabled her to become a Canadian citizen in 1990.

The affiliation does not prevent Tchernova from guest teaching. Hae Shik Kim engaged her first to teach for the Korean National Ballet and later for a three to four month period at the Dance Conservatory of Korea’s National University of Arts. Tchernova coached two Koreans for their price winning appearance at one of the
;ast Paris Competitions.

A guest teacher for the Finnish National Ballet from 1996-1999, she continues to teach open classes in Toronto. She has taught at USA IBC's International School, classes in character, pointe, variations and for the competitors. From the competition she is scheduled to teach at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, a school about which she is justly enthusiastic.

In her beguiling Russian-inflected English Tchernova also mentioned a more recent influence when Claude Bessy and Serge Golovine taught the Paris Opera Ballet School Syllabus at New York University in 1997. Tchernova loved the experience and remembered Bessy’s response to a query how many steps were required in a pas de bouree. Bessy’s response, “Count? I don’t teach counts, I teach dancing.”

Obviously less vociferous than Bessy, Tatiana Tchernova certainly can be counted upon to teach dancing with her steady warmth and incredible finesse of gesture.

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Renee Renouf

25-06-10, 10:28 PM (BST)
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22. "USA IBC 2010 - Personalities - III"
In response to message #0
   LAST EDITED ON 25-06-10 AT 10:28 PM (GMT - BST)
Marcus Alford has his own form of Wild Blue Yonder

If there is one high energy individual at USA IBC’s International School it is Marcus Alford,one of four sons of a 44-year “lifer” with the Air Force.

"I was born in Tripoli and was in elementary school when my father was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines. It was during the Vietnam War and on the way to school we passed an area where coffins were lined up to receive body bags flown in from South Vietnam. The first few times we were sick, but then we smply began to count.”

High School provided Marcus with his first dance opportunities, “If you wanted to be social and cool in the 60’s and 70’s, you had to dance. You could say I was first moved by Funk, R&B and Rock. My first exposure to ballet was with Richard Englund and Gage Bush, who were involved with the Birmingham Ballet; I was overwhelmed. I wanted to do it, but with an Air Force lifer as a father? No way.”

Alford’s opportunity was indirect. I went to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa on an athletic scholarship, to become an athletic training instructor. Paul Crane, a former player in the UOFA came down from the New York Jets, and his comment provided me with the chance I needed. We were using Astro-turf, the invented play surface, and there were lots of injuries. Crane said to the head coach, “You need to send someone to dance class to expose your athletes to correct techniques of warm up. It was my opportunity.”

Alford said the University didn’t have a formal dance department at the time but there was Lou Wall who made yearly pilgrimages to the American Dance Festival in Connecticut to study with Graham. Phoebe Barr, 87, had danced with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn and we learned all their dances. I had to go off campus for ballet twice a week taught by a woman named Inge McKenny.

“I rapidly increased to five a week, saying to the coach I have to learn these exercises for football team. I wasn’t going to do tights and a dance belt until I was threatened with flunking. The next day I was in the outfit.”

Royal Winnepeg, John Cage, Buddy Rich, Daniel Nagrin and George Fusion, the “Wiz” choreographer, all came to the campus. Nagrin made the biggest impression on me, his first introduction to jazz. “I asked him how do I tell my parents that I would like to become a dancer?” Nagrin replied, “It’s not your parents who are dancing, it’s you.”

Alford was sufficiently fired up to want to speed up his education, and graduate in two and a half years. Tuscaloosa had a New College, one of the few in the country, where one devised a curriculum of one’s own. “One hundred students out of sixteen thousand were admitted, and I was one of the hundred. What were once my electives became my core curricula.”

Alford’s father was invested in Marcus’ acquiring a master’s, and told Marcus, “If you can get on Johnny Carson’s show, do what you want.” Though Marcus was conditionally accepted at Florida
State University in Tallahassee, he was turned off on focus then exclusively on Graham.

Leah Darwin, administrator for the Gus Giordano school, came to the campus to teach a three-week jazz workshop, and Alford attended it. Darwin asked the class to execute battement back layout, where the torso stretches back. “I thought I thought I was going to end up in the hospital.” But Alford was totally energized by the classes, explaining. “Gus Giordano was out of Hanya Holm, Gus was the most grounded technically of the Jazz greats with his modern background. And he was Italian and very masculine.”

At the end of the workshop, Darwin asked him to come to Chicago for the six week summerworkshop. Alford said, “I’ll come if you pay me.” Alford said Darwin talked to Gus Giordano who offered him a scholarship. Alford’s father offered him a chance to go to Europe, but Marcus wanted to check out those classes in Chicago.

“I take off in my Triumph TR-6, and was in for a surprise. I had never been above the Mason-Dixon line except on holiday travels. I got to Chicago's outskirts and could feel the energy. Giordano’s studio is in Evanston, north of Chicago, upstairs in a converted bowling alley; eight lanes across, a balcony and three columns on two sides.. As you climbed the stairs, there were pictures on either side of the wall, and I had the feeling ‘This is going to be my home.’

“The studio was huge, 2000 students and at times 120 in class, classes three hours. I decided I wanted to get into the company, but there was only twelve dancers. And they wore shoes; I had danced barefoot, so that summer I got used to shoes .’

With evident respect and affection, Alford spoke of Giordano and his approach. "He respected you, and honed in on your strengths, not your weaknesses, first; then he went to work to get the weaknesses out of you. He must have been in his mid-fifties then, grey-haired with a great physique, perhaps five ten and a half. His wife ran the studio.”

The year Alford arrived was the year Giordano’s book was published. They arrived at the studio and Giordano needed to have the boxes carted up to the second floor. “Mind you, the studio had no air conditioning, but Giordano said if we carted them up we got a free, autographed copy. It was $25 and we each had a piece of gold.”

It took Alford three years to get into the Giordano company, but he worked in small companies around Chicago in the interval. “I was in the Lakeshore Ballet and two modern companies, and I was teaching modern at Giordano’s school in the meantime. He had five ballet teachers on the faculty, three modern teachers and three for tap. Gus was open to every thing.

"When someone came to town he felt had something to offer, he’d invite them over for a master class.I remember Erik Hawkins invited to teach. He introduced us to minimal movement. We were used to broad, percussive movements,” Alford’s voice reflected the alternate approach.”It was a time when you could dance all over the place.”

Giordano said ‘You’re going to be a sponge.’” Dennis Wayne gave a class,“Only a thirty minute warm up, not symmetrical at all. It was part of Gus’ credo, “I want dancers to make a living.”

After three years Alford became a member of the Giordano company #2. There were eight men, six or seven women, a more varied rep. I was ten years in the studio, eight years in the company,
78 to 86. Even when we were touring, I would fly back to teach.”

Just before leaving the Giordano troupe, Alford started teaching at North Carolina School of the Arts summer program. “Bob Fosse’s daughter was enrolled, and Fosse said, ‘There should be jazz dance here.’´

The North Carolina affiliation continued through 1989 , but he moved from Chicago to Atlanta in 1986. I wanted a company of my own and I was used to the south. I had guested in Atlanta with Ruth Mitchell, so I was familiar with Atlanta, sometimes called ‘the pearl in a bowl of grits.’ Alford remained affiliated with Mitchell for some time,

After a year, “I needed to start my own company. I wanted men five eight to six feet who Were able to lift, and most of them had to have had five years of musical theater. A concert dance company called Jazz Dance Theater South, JDTS. it appeared at the Olympics in Atlanta, presented jazz dance as an art form. There were twelve dancers with work thirty-five to forty weeks. We had an agent, A business manager, the whole smear.

“One night in performance, I felt I don’t want to do this any more. I talked it over with My wife, Annie Day, said to me, ‘Do a pick up company.’ This has enabled me to continue without the heavy responsibility.”

Marcus has also worked in Europe, mostly in Germany, in UNESCO-affiliated workshops over A quarter century.

Watching Alford at the Competitions where he has taught since 1998, he may not have quite such responsibility, but there is no cessation in that “wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun” energy..


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Renee Renouf

27-06-10, 00:27 AM (BST)
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24. "RE: USA BC- Jackson: Personalities - IV"
In response to message #0
   LAST EDITED ON 03-07-10 AT 05:50 PM (GMT - BST) by Bruce (admin)
Nothing like correcting one’s inflated estimate of knowing the Jackson Competition cold. It happened when I asked Denise Schultze Godfrey if this was her first trip to Jackson. This keen-eyed ballet veteran, native to Johannesburg, replied in pleasant even tones, “It’s my fifth. My first occurred when I came to set a work for Ballet Mississippi and got caught in an ice storm and was four days late in leaving Jackson. This is my third time on the jury; I was here in 2002 and 2006.” Now I ask you, where have I been?

Schultze-Godfrey, born and raised in Johannesburg, then proceeded to provide me with a history of ballet in a country which gave The Royal Ballet and its predecessor, Sadler’s Wells, dancers Alexis Rassine, Nadia Nerina and Merle Park and, Monica Mason, the current Director of the Royal Ballet. I mentioned to her Rassine had been a member of the Competition’s first jury in 1979.

“When I was actively dancing in South Africa, there were four provinces; now there are nine. You need to realize that we have eleven official languages.” I fast became aware of a history far more complex than what I’ve read as general information.

“I was Cecchetti-trained, becoming an examiner of the Method through the I.S.T.D., Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance. I was the principal dancer of the Johannesburg City Ballet and also ran my own school.

Schultze-Godfrey then went to Capetown at the invitation of Dulcie Howes, who founded the Dance Department at the University of Capetown and also started a company there 75 years ago “Ballet West in Utah also developed during William Christensen’s direction of the University of Utah’s Dance Department.“ The professional companies, sponsored by the Government of South Africa, were formed in 1963.

“I was a principal dancer of PACT Ballet, and in 1969 became its ballet mistress. Some years later I co-directed the company with my husband, Louis Godfrey. Louis was a principal dancer with The London Festival Ballet before being named. English National Ballet.”

In 1981 the Godfreys joined Ballet West at the invitation of Bruce Marks, remaining in Utah until he left to assume direction of Boston Ballet.

“Merle Park, who directs the Royal Ballet School, invited me to teach at The Royal Ballet School during 1988-1989.”

An invitation also came her way from the late Betty Oliphant, founder and director the National Ballet School of Canada. “At this time I commuted between Toronto and Las Vegas where my husband was associate director (for nine years) to Vassili Sulich, artistic director of Nevada Dance Theatre.” Schultze-Godfrey taught nine years at the National Ballet School in twenty-five to thirty week stretches.

Ten years ago, the Godfreys returned to South Africa, “My roots are there. But,” she added with a smile, “ I maintain one foot in each continent. In July I teach my eighth year in the Boston Ballet Summer School Program.” That's continent hopping at its best!

Schultze-Godfrey also remarked to me that ballet and dance companies in South Africa are no longer sponsored by the government, and, like the United States, must support themselves.

Switching to her impressions of this year’s competition, Schultze-Godfrey enthused over the caliber of young dancers at this year’s competition. “It’s an incredibly talented group,” At the same time she is concerned with the level of teaching in The R.A.D. and Cecchetti syllabus. “The level is no longer as high and there seems to be more emphasis on passing, than being exact. It concerns me.”

Edit: Corrcted for reasons noted in Post 31. BM

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Renee Renouf

27-06-10, 10:38 PM (BST)
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25. "RE: USA BC- Jackson: Personalities -V"
In response to message #24
   There are three Graces at the Media Center: Vicki, Meredith and Sally Beth.

The Media Center must be a meeting room when USA IBC doesn’t use it to assist reporters, reviewers and photographers with appointments, data and refreshments. Carpeted, it lies mid-way down the long north corridor of the Mississippi Arts Center where one feels refrigerated after Jackson’s humid June climate. To the left are the offices of the USA IBC which moved into the premises in November 2008 when the Mississippi Museum of Art moved to the building further south on Lamar and extending behind Thalia Mara Hall. Outside the building is a walled courtyard, perhaps originally designed for The Museum’s social events but during IBC marathons is distinguished principaly the twigs of trees blown there during the windy rain storms marking this year’s Competition.

The Media Center, however, is tempered, and safe; its furnishings are minimal but entirely adequate for the professionals, screened and credentialed by the Godwin Group, which has handled the Media relations since 1986. Prior to that, press trotted in and out of a curtained off basement space in the Auditorium, now named for Thalia Mara; there Yvonne Sorge presided graciously and competently during 1979. In 1982 a Chicago firm handled public relations, the year of the PBS Special narrated by Jacques d’Amboise and the year Houston Ballet made such a sweep in the senior division.

Vicki Harper Blake has managed the Media Center of the USA IBC Competition since 1986 when The Jackson-based Godwin Group handled public relations at the Competition, taking over the year the late Karlen Bain was in charge of the Competition with Sue Lobrano as her assistant.

The year 1986 may also have been the last Competition where local volunteers kept the press room sugar rush heaven with superb cookies, cakes, and an occasional cheese cake or two. I remember two or three us figured out just about when the volunteer would appear with her daily temptations. She arrived, picture-perfect, hair perfected curled or poofed, and we mentally would salaam, as I do still to her memory.

Food still occupies a definite role at The Media Center. Whenever I staggered in around noon or 1 p.m. the trio were engaged in ordering from one of their favorite spots in town or consuming the results; one of the trio drove to the establishment to pick up the daily delectables. It’s testimony to the development of Jackson and environs as a foodie’s haven in the Magnola State.

Vicki is responsible for receiving and coordinating the requests for media credentials and authorizing those submissions measuring up professional standards. A graduate of Mississippi State University in Sparksville, Vicki previously worked for the all volunteer, non-profit Mississippi Blood Services. “We don’t have the Red Cross Blood Program in Mississippi so this organization handles all the blood and blood products for hospitals in the state." Statuesque and blonde, Vicki has been in public relations for twenty-six years and seventeen with the Godwin Group. She has been a member of the Public Relations Federation since 1981 and served as its Treasurer in 1994, when its meeting was held in Jackson. Vicki received her APR accreditation in 1989, “It’s like a CPA for public relations.”

Her immediate assistant, Meredith Johnson, has been with the Godwin Group five years. Native to Jackson, Meredith went to the University of Georgia in Athens to get a Masters’ degree in mass communication.

Her first job was for Georgia's Morgan County Citizen in Madison, “a tiny town off Interstate-20, very pretty. I commuted over a two lane highway from Athens; you could buy peanuts and peaches along the road during the season. “The newspaper was a weekly, and it published a magazine called Lake Ocomme Living, There’s a golf course in Augusta, Georgia, one hour away, which holds a Masters tournament . The community has a number of golf courses and it also has a Ritz Carleton. It’s quite cultural.”

Sally Beth Allred is USA IBC’s intern for the Competition. Skilled in Excel, she produced a number of statistics and percentages on the competitors; the count per country and the age range of dancers within the junior and senior categories, both for the first and second rounds.

Sally Beth has also cheerily guided me through the intricacies of MS Word 2007; without her I would have torn my thinning locks in an effort to post my drafts. A student as Mississippi State University like Vicki, Sally Beth submitted a form to Chantal Lott, the public relations manager, some writing samples and provided three references before being interviewed for the position. She was one of three finalists for her two-week position.

The Mercury for the Media Center was Miles Donald, just graduated from the Sparksville Program in Mass Communications. He went through the same screening process, but with the Godwin Group. He has been responsible for local news coverage, When the semi-finalists were announced, he taped the announcement for You Tube.

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Renee Renouf

29-06-10, 04:07 AM (BST)
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31. "RE: USA BC- Jackson: Personalities - IV"
In response to message #24
   Leaving Jackson this morning, I picked up Denise Schultze Godfrey's
comments on my revision of her interview. She corrected her husband's
sojourn with Vassili Sulich with the Nevada Dance Theatre to nine years.

She also pointed out that Monica Mason is styled as the Director of
the Royal Ballet, not simply the artistic director.

Sorry these comments didn't reach me earlier.

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Renee Renouf

28-06-10, 00:13 AM (BST)
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29. "USA IBC Personalities – VII"
In response to message #0
   Coming out on stage to dance Don Q in the First Round, Candice Adea displayed the Spanish influence inherent in a Filipina. The tilt of the head, the sparkle in her eye and the slight inflection in her shoulders spoke to generations removed from the Iberian Peninsula, but the aura still lingering. Like Lorena Feijoo, the Hispanic roots are there in the genes. Like Feijoo's, the interpretation and audience impact was utterly beguiling.

After Adea made the finalist list, I had the chance to talk to her, partner Jean Marc Cordero and Ballet Philippines coach Victor Ursabia after they finished rehearsing in one of Ballet Mississippi’s
two studios. However hard the trio may have worked during the hour, their response to my presence was relaxed and welcoming and to my questions, Adea responded with modesty.

“I’ve been with Ballet Philippines for seven years, joining after graduating from the Philippine School of the Arts. We had academics in the morning, and dance classes in the afternoon. Actually, I started dancing when I was four, but didn’t take it seriously until the second year of high school. My sister,Carcissa Adea, is a principal in the company and she was an influence.” Adea mentioned there was an aunt who was a modern dancer and that she had recruited cousins into serious study.

Adea credited Jean Marc Cordero, her partner, as the force propelling her to come to the 2010 Competition. “He pushed me and inspired me to do it, as did our coach Victor Ursabia, and so I
started to believe in myself.”

I asked Adea how frequently Ballet Philippines performs. “On a weekend we will give six to eight performances, starting on a Thursday night, and we do four productions a year. The Thursday performance is usually for schools. We also dance around the Philippines, performing thirteen times over a two week period, and we give classes and demonstrations as well. The National Government sponsored the Company’s appearance in Shanghai recently, but we really don’t perform as much as we might. Developing an interest in the Philippines is hard.”

Adea has some definite dance aspirations, and when asked what they were, she replied quickly, “My dream ballet to dance is Balanchine’ Serenade. I love the music. But there are no funds to bring it to the Philippines.” Contemporary ballet’s holds no favorites for her.

The morning after the Gala, I sat with the trio at Bellhaven and over lunch was clued in On the distinctive background of the two contemporary pieces danced, Evacuation and Sapin-Sapin. “They both received their North American premiere at the Competition, “ Cordero mentioned.

“Evacuation was premiered in Europe in the ‘Nineties.” Adea added, “It was a six minute piece; we had to cut the number to four minutes to meet USA IBC’s requirements. The choreographer,
Augustus Damian III, had danced with Maurice Bejart’s company.

"Actually, Sapin-Spain was also cut from five or six to four minutes. We didn’t know how to edit the original music, which was Filipino, so The Vivaldi was selected to substitute.”

As for the overall experience, Addea sighed, glowing with hands
clasped near her neck, “It is so memorable, even the rehearsals before we arrived – all the work, the sweat, the tears and pain. It was worth it.”

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Jane Sadmin

07-07-10, 10:11 PM (BST)
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33. "RE: USA IBC Personalities – VII"
In response to message #29
   Renee, a belated thanks for all your hard work - these make fascinating reading and it will also be great to be able to look back at them in a few years when we know what happened to some of these young dancers!

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