2104 USA IBC, Round II, Pre-Selected Contemporary Works – Pas de deux and Solos

10 Jul

Sometime the evening of June 18 the International Jury at Jackson’s International Ballet Competition determined who among some 90 entrants advanced to the Semi-Finals or Round II. The competitors were given one selection to learn. Choreography by Trey McIntyre and Matthew Neenan was assigned; solos by McIntrye, pas de deux from Neenan, which the semi-finalists subsequently interpreted before the audience and the jurors.

This practice is not original to international ballet competitions. I believe the first such selection occurred with the Paris International Ballet Competition when Cyril Lafaurie was in charge. [Following LaFaurie’s retirement, the Competition has not been held.] A second example was the New York Competition during the directorship of Ilona Copen; in the New York instance, the selections were classical. There may have been a contemporary component but I cannot be certain.

There are advantages to the arrangement; prime among them is the opportunity to see how the semi-finalists interpret the same material. A second advantage is one of taste and skill. While many young contestants had teachers and coaches willing to assemble music and an idea to display the dancer to advantage, in the 90’s, some of the offerings were just god-awful, with an increasing use of pop tunes frequently painfully interpreted and giving jurors and audience little sense of interpretive skills, but much information about technique and tricks. The down side? The repetition potentially gets on the nerves, while revealing a dancer’s interpretative gifts.

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