2014 USA IBC Round II Results, June 23

14 Jul

The contestants were winnowed to thirty-one from fifty-four, Asia did very well, Latin American representation appreciable also. Statistically, the Republic of Korea garnered six for the finalists out of the original nine. The People’s Republic of China’s dancers numbered four, a total of ten Asian finalists; Japan added four, with a roster of fourteen Asians out of the thirty-one competitors advancing. In my opinion, that says a great deal about the seriousness with which Asians approach ballet

Further it is interesting that three of the Japanese contestants have affiliation with British or U.S. companies, giving them a critical edge in the contemporary ballet choreography assigned for Round II. Korea National University of the Arts [KNUA] train in modern dance as well as classical ballet. The lone finalist from down under, Australia, Aaron Smyth, is a member of the Joffrey Ballet. South Africa’s finalist, Andile Ndlovu, dances with Washington Ballet.

Brazil’s contestants number two juniors and one senior; Cuba has both genders in the senior division, Chile, one, and Mexico, two, are both represented in the junior division; nice going.

These statistics are all probably boring to readers, but in this tenth competition in Jackson, it reflects the growth of training and performance in Latin America along with the importance of the Jackson-based competition to Latin dancers to be seen and possibly to win scholarships or contracts. At Prix de Lausanne some of the sponsors give scholarships with recipients choosing what schools they want to attend. Here at Jackson, the choices are specific to school or company. In the past, happily, company directors have made selections from dancers seeded early; one of the more notable examples was Amy Marie Briones from the San Francisco Bay Area. Dennis Nahat selected her for an apprenticeship out of the Gala Introduction, the last he choreographed for Jackson. Briones, a strong, brilliant technician still in her early twenties, has worked herself up to soloist status with Ballet San Jose, now dancing under the direction of Jose Manuel Carreno. Nahat told me about others he had chosen, including the recently-retired Ramon Moreno, a bronze medalist from Cuba, “I take dancers who like to and are willing to work.” Moreno, a wonderful character dancer as well as admirable technician, also received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for his performances for the 2009-2010 season.

If I had my way, I would have included a fourth Brazilian senior, Mozart Matsuyama, one of the two most striking males in this competition, the other being Rodrigo Almarales of Cuba. Either one simply has to appear on stage, pause, allowing the audience to see them, before launching into the necessary steps to the chosen music. I probably have mentioned this before, but the real dancer, for me, is one so at home in their bodies that the classical training is a garment refining the natural impulse to move, there to refine the talent, not to restrict the mover to a rigid bearing nor confined like a Victorian girdle.

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