Tag Archives: Andile Ndlovu

2014 USAIBC Round III, Session I, June 24, 2014

17 Aug

Row O is the last in the orchestra, now divided by a center aisle at Thalia Mara Auditorium in Jackson where the First Session of Round III commenced last night. Amy Brandt of Pointe Magazine, one-time Milwaukee Ballet member and dancer with Suzanne Farrell’s ensemble, sat beside me, just in from an extra wait at O’Hare in Chicago. On the aisle was Rhee Gold of Dance Studio Life.

Amy’s connection with me was Fiona Fuersner, one time San Francisco Ballet soloist and her brilliant dancing, so well remembered, in the third movement of Balanchine’s Symphony in C and Lew Christensen’s Divertissement d’Auber, again with Michael and the late Virginia Johnson. For Rhee Gold the ties are with Cheryl Osseola, the magazine’s editor, and Rita Felciano, dance critic for The San Francisco Bay Guardian.   The connections make for quick and pleasant.

As readers probably know, Round III requires two classical variations of soloists, and one classical pas de deux for couples in the two sections prior to the contemporary round. It makes for a long evening and a longer night for Claudia Shaw who assembled individual DVD disks for each competitor, in addition to producing a master for the USA IBC administration.

With thirty-one finalists, this session saw five juniors and five seniors; two of the latter in pas de deux. Three of the women elected this form. Blake Kessler,  and Steven Loch, chose the Act III male variation from Sleeping Beauty, with its opening pirouettes ending in a darting, low a la seconde, ending with a swift menage of turns. Kessler’s passé preparations could have been more defined.

Taiyu He chose the male variation from The Nutcracker, tidy, crisp, precise. So Jung Lee of Korea danced the almost cobwebby delicate Princess Aurora variation from Sleeping Beauty with correct and musical style, causing me to measure her taller formality to my indelible memory of Margot Fonteyn.

Mizuho Nagata, with Ogulcan Borova as non-competing partner dashed off the Le Corsaire pas de deux, Nagata choosing a flowing, knee-length blue chiffon garment. If I can embellish the word accurate with acute, Nagata demonstrated it, though her overall attack struck me as a trifle metallic.

Daniel Alejandro McCormick danced his own Nutcracker prince, his greater length providing a softer contrast to Taiyu He, an invariably fascinating diversion for the balletomane. Andile Ndlovu’s choice of the same variation was accomplished with definite nobility.

Steven Loch’s Prince’s costume shimmered with a ruff at the neck – a dashing figure. His tours seemed very rushed at upstage center, but the finish was elegant and stylish.

Shiori Kase of Japan essayed that holiday staple, The Sugar Plum Fairy variation – gracious, elegant and delicate of gesture., as close to spun sugar as a dancer can get.

After the first Intermission, Blake Kessler bared his chest in the male variation from Le Corsaire. His delivery was smooth, but demonstrated little emphasis.

Taiyu He and So Jung Lee split Victor Gvosky’s Grand Pas Classique between them. Both phrased the movements well, dancing clearly and without affectation. Lee delivered the battements en avant with steely calm, sending the audience roaring, but I ached for her toes on that supporting foot! She definitely aced it.

Daniel McCormick also bared his chest but as Acteon in Aggripina Vaganova’s famed Diana and Acteon pas de deux from Esmeralda. His multiple turns were clear, and he executed multiple turns with unforced panache.

In the second pas de deux of the evening, Arianna Martin danced Corsaire with Nayon Rangel Iovino. He approach again made me believe she was channeling Alicia Alonso, though I have seen Alonso in the role. My scribbled notes remark “good fouettes.

Andile Ndlovu chose the male variations from the Nutcracker’s grand pas de deux and the Acteon variation from the Diana and Acteon pas de deux in Esmeralda, phrasing well, quite elegant.

Steven Loch’s second variation was Solor’s from La Bayadere, a choice which reinforced his classical abilities, but gave little hint of his range. This was compensated by his own choreography in the contemporary section, Chained: My Struggle With Mental Illness, a prolonged essay of agony, fear and fight.

Irina Sapozhnikova, elected Le Corsaire, Medora and the Slave, with her non-ompeting partner, Joseph Phillips, where she was slightly crisp, well phrased and during fouettes, spun singles and doubles, executed to the four corners, staying more or less in one place through the challenge.

Shiori Kase’s second variation was also Medora’s variation, marked with a deep blue tutu, the skirt larger than normal, the tunic and skirt surface dusted with brilliants. Again, her musical phrasing was notable.

While I mentioned Loch’s contemporary solo, my memory fastened on Taiyu He’s Cupid, portrayed as quite the trickster, while So Jung Lee’s Prayer as evocative of the human will, persisting in the face of harrowing conditions, hers seeming to evoke the Korean War.

Daniel A. McCormick’s offering was choreographed by Parrish Maynard, one of San Francisco Ballet School’s instructors, and a former company principal. Titled Between The Lines, McCormick held a brick-like grey object which defined space; he held it, placed it on the stage, worked around it; at the end he held it once more.

Arianna Martin’s contemporary followed, choreographed by her non-competing partner Nayon Rangel Iovino, danced to Vivaldi music with the title of Inner Layer.  The choreography was an extended exercise in stretching and twining Martin clothed in what looked like grey practice trousers, and it seemed to occupy every second alotted to a contemporary entry.

Andile Dnlovu’s own choreography, Wandering Thought, certainly displayed versatility and seriousness of purpose. I did feel, like Loch’s essay, an earnest and  great personal investment in the performance, which have been assisted by an outside critical yet empathic eye.

Sapozhikova’s contemporary was titled La Manana de San Juan, choreographed by Pavel Glukhov. The Latin theme was reflected in the brown-patterned costumes, a fair amount of heel-toe and lateral emphasis in the choreography, and, as I remember, a sombrero. The tone was light, its execution clear and modest, as mild as Diego Pisador composed it.

Shiori Kase’s solo ending the evening was Moon Cry to the spare sounds of the bamboo flute, the  shakuhachi, choreographed by her coach Antonio Castilla, also ballet master for English National Ballet. She commenced on her knees in a short purple-hued kimono. Reticence, longing and despair flowed through the spare sound, ending, of course, in the same traditional posture, if in despair. It  was  a surprising delicact, an elegant end to Session I.

N.B.  this somehow never made it from Draft and Preview to Published Status.  My apologies to the competitors and any other individuals mentioned.



2014 USA IBC Round II, Sessions I and II, June 20, 2014

11 Jul

For the solo competitors, Trey McIntyre provided one each for women and men, junior and senior, and Michael Noonan, one each for juniors and two alternate choices for seniors. Where a junior competitor was involved, almost always a junior, the junior choice was selected. My understanding was that both choreographers worked with the dancers, and gave them background relating to the excerpts. McIntyre could be seen in the audience throughout Round II, and expressed pleasure at what he had seen. A companion mentioned that his explanations of the work had been limited to an hour; whether that was true of any coaching I am not certain.

The selections for Round II were:
Trey Mcintyre:
Junior Women: Excerpt from Bad Winter: Music: “Pennies from Heaven”
Senior Women: Excerpt from Robust American Love: Music: Tiger Mountain Song
Junior Men: Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat: Music: Leatherwing Bat
Senior Men: Excerpt from (serious) Music: Excerpt from Book Trio

Michael Neenan:
Junior Couple: Excerpt from The Last Glass: Music: Un Dernier Verre
Senior Couple: Excerpt from Penumbra: Music: Danza De La Moza Donosa
Senior Alternate Choice: Excerpt from Switch Phase: Music: Le Muerte Chiquita

Session I>

Rieko Hatato,#2, Jr., Japan, Ilya Artamonov, #89, Sr., Russia, Excerpt from The Last Glass.
Lyrical pas de deux where the woman spent much of her time with back to the audience, once in a broad a la seconde on pointe. At the end, back to the audience, the girl’s right leg was in a low passe, foot and toe shoe beating on supporting calf of left leg.

Hitami Nakamura, #52, Sr., Japan, Excerpt from Robust American Love. Danced demi-pointe with long open-front covering with arms, dark against a white Milliskin tunic; seemed a choreographed soliloquy on unrealized romance, a haunted solo.

Katherine Barkman, #4, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Bad Winter. Danced to a vintage sounding delivery of Pennies From Heaven, striped torso band, black trunks and white coat with lengthy front tabs, contradictory with touches of Chaplin or vaudeville, ending up on the back downstage right with legs in table fashion and coat pulled up.

Arianna Martin, #54, Sr., Cuba, Nayon Rangel Iovino, #70, Sr., Brazil, Excerpt from Switch Phase.Pas de deux of angst, push, pull, a moment when the woman is held head down, frequent lifts as if man is showing he’s in charge; magical moment when pair touch one of the other’s fingers;rare equity. Showed appropriate intensity.

Paula Alves, #6, Jr., Brazil, NCP Fellipe Camarotto, Excerpt from The Last Glass. Alves’ long legs assisted emotion and phrasing.

Gantsooj Otgonbyamba, #55, Sr., NCP Ganchimeg Choijil Suren, Mongolia, Excerpt from Switch Phase. Otgonbyamba performed like a different dancer; rendition very intelligent.

Blake Kessler, #9, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat; dance followed the lyrics, wonderful tune. Dressed in tunic made to resemble multi-hued bird’s wings; folksy phrasing and quality of movement.


Yui Sugawara, #58, Sr., Japan, Excerpt from Robust American Love. Good job, nicely phrased, catching plaintive quality, shi kata ga nai

Taiyu He, #10, Jr., PRC, Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat, very classical rendition, well phrased, probably did not pick up on the vernacular nature of lyrics.

Andile Ndlovu, #60, Sr., South Africa, Excerpt from (serious); one word note: superb.

Sa Jung Lee, #11, Jr., Korea, Excerpt from Bad Winter; another one word: superb.

Steven Loch, #61, Sr. U.S.A., Excerpt from (serious); good interpretation less emotional.

Olivia Gusti, #18, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Bad Winter. Note: she got the message.

Ye Lim Choi, #62, Sr., Kae Han Na, #85, Sr., Korea, Excerpt from Penumbra; couple happy in style of Rogers-Astaire, girl in long dress with flowing skirt.

Session II

Irina Sapozhnikova, #63, Sr., Russia, NCP Joseph Phillips, Excerpt from Penumbra. Clear relationship, choreography had hobbled moments, very together.

Mizuho Nagata, #19, Jr., Japan, NCP Okulcan Borova, Excerpt from The Last Glass. Cheery rendition – should it be based on the lyrics?

Shiori Kase, #64, Sr. Japan, Excerpt from Robust American Love. One word; understands.

Daniel A. McCormick, #20, Jr., Mexico, Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat. Got the lyrics, control in phrasing gave extra touch.

Ga-yeon Jung,#68, Sr., Ji-Seok Ha, #83, Sr. Korea, Excerpt from Switch Phase. Quite perfect technically, some emotion in spots, but overall cool.

Yue Shi, #21, Jr., PRC, Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat. Technically lovely, minus sense of lyrics, probably too regional America

Aaron Smyth #69, Sr., Australia, NCP Cara Marie Gary, Excerpt from Switch Phase.danced with dramatic tension; finger touching a climax.

Yasmin Lomondo, #24, Jr., Gustavo Carvalho, #39, Brazil, Excerpt from The Last Glass.
As tender, correct as Round I dancing, but adapted to musical quality.


Mengjun Chen, #71, Sr., PRC, Excerpt from (serious) beautiful movement without emotional thread.

Yoshiko Kamikusa, #25, Jr., Japan, Excerpt from Bad Winter. Almost gets lyrics; nicely phrased; touches of Chaplin

Mozart Mizuyama, #75, Brazil, Excerpt from (serious) got the tension; warm audience response.

Paulina Guraieb Abella, #26, Jr., Mexico, Excerpt from Bad Winter; nice, Cantinflas touch.

Olga Marchenkova, #77, Sr., Excerpt from Robust American Love; lyrical, expressive, not dramatic.

Victoria Wong, #27, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Bad Winter; quite good

Ivan Duarte, #82, Sr., Brazil, Excerpt from (serious). Amazing portrait; tension, anxiety
strong audience response.

USA IBC, June 15, 2014 – Round I, Sessions I and II

6 Jul

Notes abbreviated, rather than full sentences; transcribed from scribbles.

Round I, Session I

1) Julliane Franzoi, Jr., Brasil – Bluebird – Princess Florine – correct, but does not know she is learning to fly from a prince enchanted as a Bluebird –

2) Rieko Hatato, Jr., Japan – with 89, Ilya Artamonov, Sr., Russia – Flames of Paris; she perky, correct, he possessed nice turning jumps

3) Fuki Takahashi, Jr., Japan – Flames of Paris – gentle and precise

4) Katherine Berkman, Jr., U.S.A., Coppelia, music excessively slow; managed to be correct, steady.

5) Janis Liu, Jr., PRC, Flames of Paris, blue skirt, some red, cut length of body line, accenting less than perfect proportion, but rendition sprightly.

51) Manu Navarro, Sr., Panama, Gian Carlo Perez Alvarez, 74, Sr., Cuba – pas de deux, Esmeralda.
Dark green tutu, coronet of brilliants. Perez white romantic shirt, dark tights. Fine partner, arms slightly curved; overall impression straight as arrow; clear, free jumps,he flubbed slightly at end of first variation, appreciably at coda. Navarro did not touch working leg opening – only in variation.

52) Hitomi Nakamura, Sr., Japan, variation from Esmeralda, nailed it correctly, extended a la seconde to the side, also developpe en avant; needs more torso fluidity.

56) Jenny Winton, Sr, USA, Giselle’s variation in Act I – strange shoulders, effective use of eyes; did not seem to dance for Albrecht as much as village.


Up the stairs to the lobby to stand behind the Video Masters table, watching competitors, students cluster around two small DVD players or watch light imprint on the wall of one entry complete with music. By evening, space will reflected one of the Round One, Session One Presentations.

Returning, four juniors, 1,3,4,5 with least two, possibly three variations from Paquita, ranging from lyric, swaying to the harp, to one requiring paragon of balance, sweeping fouettes with the working leg a la seconde. Notes state Janis Liu’s selection particularly spirited.

Hitomi Nakamura, #52, Sr., Japan, provided one of best renditions thus far of Giselle’s Act I variation; correct, played to the invisible Albrecht, one believed she overflowed with emotion, so lost in love awakening was fatal.

Ariana Martin, #54, Sr., Cuba, and Nayon Rangel Iovino, #70, Sr., Brazil, supplied extended pas de deux, Act II, Giselle. Musical version very labored; wonder if anyone dancing in danger of transforming into pillar of salt. Clearly Martin strongly influenced by Alicia Alonso, an Alonso some years post-American Ballet Theatre.

Gantsooj Otgonbyama, #55, Sr., Mongolia, essayed the Don Quixote Grand pas de deux with non-competing partner, Ganchimeg Choijil Suren. Otgonbyamba clearly a courtier, a princely partner in demeanor. Post performance I learned he danced with an upper thigh muscle problem undoubtedly contributed to impression of lacking fluid transitions. Technical demands more than adequate but where music merges with performance skills transitions were flat.

Jenny Winton’s variation from the multi-worked over choreography for Esmeralda; more convincing than Giselle. Still troubled by shoulder use.

Session II

Paula Alves, #5, Jr., Brazil, selected Coppelia’s wedding pas de deux; non-competing partner Fellipe Camarotto. Most sur la place pas de deuxselection in competition and classical repertoire. Rendition sparked audience response.

Kennedy Brown, #7, Jr., U.S.A., danced Paquita variation; supplied accurate reading of lilting, bending style.

Matthew Griffin,#8, Jr.,U.S.A., elected male variation of Flames of Paris, with much energy. Announcer mistitled as Paquita.

Blake Kessler, #9, Jr., U.S.A.,supplied Paquita male variation with energy, nascent style, stage presence.

Taiyu He, #10, Jr. China, astonished; six pirouettes, a crisp competence in the Flames of Paris male variation.

Anisa Sinteral-Scott, #57, Sr., U.S.A. Act I Giselle for first classical variation. Unusually tall, danced small, perhaps compensating for height; seemed more concerned about size than possible nuance.

Yui Sugawara, #58, Sr., Japan, reverted to war horse pleaser, Esmeralda, hitting working leg vigorously en avant with tambourine, also knee and elbow. En arriere attitude also hit, all glitter, blue sequins.

Andile Ndlova, #60, Sr.,South Africa, next happy surprise; male variation from Coppelia pas de deux, Act III; wonderful ballon, clean, simple, spot on of man happy to get married.

Steven Loch, #61, Sr., U.S.A., chose same variation, also with wonderful ballon, dances in looser style.


Kennedy Brown, #7, Jr., Coppelia for second variation. Arms lack fluidity, phrasing overall legato. Torso, port de bras need work.

Matthew Griffin, #8, Jr., Paquita’s male variation. Confident, rushed the beat.

Blake Kessler, #9, Jr. good jumps for Coppelia, pointe shoes too hard for best effect.

Continuing preference for Coppelia , Taiyu He, #10, Jr. sported yellow knickers, happy demeanor; polished male variation, a six pirouette man.

Anisa Sinteral-Scott, #57, Sr., went for Esmeralda, chose gypsy attire, tambourine in frequent use.

Yui Sugiwara, #58, Sr., in red and black, female Don Quixote variation; appropriate flash with fan. Lorena Feijoo still sets the standard.

Emily Speed, #59, Sr., Esmeralda full out with non-competing partner Kevin Wilson.

Two senior males, Andile Ndlovu, #60, and Steven Loch #61, closed Session II; Loch, male solo from Giselle, Act II, Ndlovu, stylish Don Quixote variation, well phrased.

Unlike Don Quixote, Giselle male solo truncated without Giselle; Loch conveyed Albrecht’s increasing exhaustion; selection markedly different joy of Coppelia, good choice to show range of characterization, attack.

As a whole, found rubato missing; it occurs when the dancer can phrase en retard, a hallmark of control and interpretive capacities.