Tag Archives: Byul Yun

Thoughts on the 2014 USA IBC Gala, June 28

20 Aug

The June 28 IBC Gala definitely had its moments of excitement, gratification, surprises plus lapses in taste and, to use old—fashioned terms, breeding and courtesy. These rips in the social fabric largely lay in Caucasian behavior, not amongst the visitors. And, my dear, the wearing apparel! You’d think me a character in the back row of the Confederate ball when Scarlett O’Hara Hampton danced with Rhett Butler for one hundred dollars in gold!

The dancers participating in the Gala started with Peter LeBreton Merz’ heroic effort to accommodate sixty two dancers on the Thalia Mara stage, dancing to Wolfgang Amadeuz Mozart’s overture to Cosi fan Tutte under the title Fete de Ballet. Merz accomplished this by waves of arriving and departing lines, traveling circular jetes for the men, then having to partner young girls, spreading the task in one or two brief ensembles. The sound of toe shoe boxes were prominent, making me realize that the Thalia Mara administrators may have a problem in their marley floor. There is a spot down stage right where “here’s a river and here’s a lake and here’s where you make a big mistake,” the fate of several contestants during the three rounds.

The Junior Best Couple, Yasmin Lomondo and Gustavo Carvalho of Brazil, both of whom garnered Bronze medals for Junior Women and Junior Men, performed the Grand pas de deux from The Nutcracker. Notable in their interpretation is the courtesy and rapport between them. Lomondo looked at Carvalho at each appropriate moment, seeming to draw radiance from each exchanged glance, enough to make one believe totally in romance.

Paulina Guraieb Abella of Mexico, who shared the Women’s Junior Bronze, followed with a variation from Paquita,made memorable by Park Sae-Eun of Korea in 2006 requiring stroking of the arms, pirouettes ending in exact fifth positions and brief bourrees and a sudden finish. Large-boned, Abella, though not yet a dancer of nuance, dances with strong, clear and confident movement.

Mackenzie Richter, U.S.A., Junior Women’s Silver, brought Trey McIntyre’s Excerpt from Bad Winter to Chaplinesque life, her arm gestures deftly punctuating the plaintiff sounds of Arthur Tracy singing “Pennies from Heaven.”

Eum Jinsol [Korean style of family name first] sliced through the air in Solor’s variation from La Bayadere where sissonnes commence the variation followed swooping side movements, circling the stage with low flying jetes, ending in the spin of pirouettes. Eum’s elevation and swiftness is admirable, although any motivation of this variation by anyone I’ve seen dance it is a mystery. Solor is in a dream, probably induced by opium; my guess is he’s floating in his ghostly reunion with Nikiya. I suspect this early manifestation of Marius Petipa’s skill with women in ensemble never was all that strong on motivation, even though this was precisely the historical period of The Great Game between Britain and Russia for influence in Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush. Such connections are likely to elude junior contestants.

The Junior Women’s Gold, Gisela Bethea, unfortunately was not allowed to dance the Grand Pas from the Sleeping Beauty, but instead repeated Matthew Neenan’s Excerpt from “The Last Glass” with her partner Michal Slawomir Wozniak, and, clearly, made it memorable as a beguiling young woman a flutter with reciprocated love.

The Junior Men’s Gold, He Taiye [again the Asian style of address] from the People’s Republic of China, wearing impeccable white with gold accents on the tunic started the variation of The Nutcracker Grand Pas de deux. On the small and slender side, He was infinitely correct and precise, ending in a flourish, a near waist-high a la seconde.

Since the Senior Golds medalists are permitted two appearances, their selections are divided between classical and contemporary, evidence of the worthiness of their selection. For Shiori Kase of Japan, it was Trey McIntyre’s Excerpt from “Robust American Love,” danced to the Tiger Mountain Peasant Song for which she wore a diaphanous black redingote over a white unitard. To an unforgiving series of steps, Kase brought a Madame Butterfly sensibility without sacrificing strength or correctness, her koto-string like plaintive interpretation an acute touch for the demonic verbal ending.

The Senior Male Gold was awarded to Hansol Jeong of Korea and his classical selection was Basilio’s variation from the Don Quixote wedding pas de deux . Resplendent in black with elaborate gold accents on the shoulders and sleeves, Hansol danced crisply, with a serious expression. After a spectacular series of pirouettes, the audience roared its excitement and Hansol permitted himself a smile of satisfaction, almost as if he had completed a set of bold black strokes of calligraphy. The smile, curving devilishly at the ends, made me wonder what his interpretation would be like in the full-length Don Quixote. Short or long, the audience roared approval.

Tamako Miyazaki and her partner Ariel Breitman completed the first half of the program with the Esmeralda Pas de Deux, enabling her to demonstrate her prolonged talent for balancing, supported by Breitman whose own flourish and presentation made Miyazaki look just that much better.

Le Corsaire got its opportunity with the best Senior Couple, Ha Ji-Seok and one of the senior female bronze winners Jung Ga-yeon. Slender and classical, their rendition sizzled with intensity.

Senior Men’s Bronze Ivan Duarte danced his contemporary solo Field Boy to the Theodorakis’ music starting slowly, deliberately like most Greek male dancing, increasing to the frenetic in the portrait of a Charlie Brown type of guy.

Senior men’s silver winner Yun Byul danced the Acteon variation from Esmeralda’s Diana and Acteon Pas de deux, another Korean whose pleasure and intensity compensated for his tall, slender build.

Displaying Rendez-vous, Nicolas Blanc’s prize for choreography, were Senior Bronze medalist Aaron Smyth and Cara Marie Gary.

Shiori Kase, Senior Women’s Gold danced Medora’s variation from Le Corsaire, again in her elegant blue tutu with the same warm correctness that marked every step she displayed during the competition.

It was left to Hansol Jeong to dance one of the Trey McIntyre solos for the seniors, the excerpt from (serious) which he did with the off-handed, distinct flair that had marked all of his dancing.

Completing the program Was senior women’s Silver Irina Sapozhikova with Joseph Phillips dancing the Don Quixote pas de deux with their seeming relaxed presentation, he with special emphasis in his tours and she waving her fan aloft during her very correct fouettes executed to the four corners of the stage, sometimes single, sometimes double. The couple gave the evening a just finale.

Following the second intermission the awards were distributed, following a tribute to Executive Director Sue Lobrano who leaves her position in September with plans for a December wedding. It brought forth IBC’s Haley Fisackerly to present her with an IBC citation. When the Gold Medals were awarded, the respective national anthems were played, the Gold, Silver and Bronze recipients arrayed in Olympic fashion on a pedastal.

Shall I gossip on or stick to the subject on stage? Let’s go with the gossip, displaying the dubious side of my character. To start, I know styles change and individual tastes vary. But I wonder whether women, budding, in full flower, or slightly wilted regard themselves as part of a visual landscape that includes other humans with eyes for line, proportion as well as curves. My mother, when she permitted herself to be snotty would comment, “She has her youth to recommend her,” when observing a young woman with too tight a dress to move easily or shoes breaking a natural walk. When the awards for scholarships were announced and teen-agers walked across the stage to accept a certificate for study which just might lead towards a coveted tutu, classical or romantic, what were they thinking? Wedge-shaped shoes making a noise, shoes hinderiing their walk, and skirts? At least two looked like fugitives from the swimming pool. It occurred to me fashion magazines and store mannikins specialize in poses and postures which have nothing to do with motion. And these young things are engaged in an endeavor celebrating beautiful,sustained movement! It very much looks like clothing notes may need to be included for those enrolling in IBC USA’s International School in 2018.

I would like to believe that talent and taste are bosom buddies. There might even be a seminar for students on make up off, as well as on stage, and a specialist analyzing facial contours, and how to minimize less than perfect proportions off stage as well as on. Certainly the days have passed, so well recorded in Alexandra Danilova’s memoir, Choura, when dancers on tour or in an engagement in a city were expected to wear hats, silk stockings in addition to current style. The idea was to convey glamour and a certain mystique. Styles have changed, but expectations do linger.

That said, it was gratifying to register the Asians never lacked for manners; a bow to the teachers and the jurors and then to the audience, the Koreans notable with politeness mingled with pleasure at their success.

It took Claudia Shaw some time to close up her taping equipment, so by the time we mounted the steps at the Mississippi Museum of Art for Entergy’s Grand Prix Ball, we could hear it loud and clear in the Garden the Museum has built on what was once a parking lot between their building and their former location. Entergy clearly is new to post Gala IBC entertainment; the food had virtually disappeared for anyone fifteen minutes past the portal opening.

Our compensation came the following day when the medalists came to claim their DVD’s, a clump of handsome young Korean medalists. Tamako Miyasaki with Shiori Kase autographed a DVD, a gift to 2010 International Dance School teacher Arleen Sugano and her mother Kimiko Sugano, who had served as an interpreter in 1990.

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2014 USAIBC Results, June 27, 2014

20 Aug

These comments will see the website not quire two months following the announcement of winners for the 2014 USAIBC Competition. In thirty-five years technology has devastated “scoops”, Facebook and YouTube almost decreeing “sayonara” to ritual and decorum.

The IBC Staff, Jurors, finalists, seeded dancers, coaches, press, family, friends and IBC volunteers gathered on the Mezzanine to learn the results of 8 sessions of Round I, 3 sessions each of Rounds II and III. Vicki Blake Harper, a six- competition press and public relations veteran, had managed to print the three page announcement to supply the press with the data.

The third page was nearly full listing scholarships and positions with junior companies of U.S. companies before the perfunctory notice of the Gala, and statements by Edward Villella, Jury Chair, and Sue Lobrano, Executive Director.

Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet offered full scholarships for 2015 Summer Intensive to Blake Kessler, Matthew Griffin; from the People’s Republic of China Taiyu He and Yue Shi plus Gustavo Carvalho from Brasil. Griffin, He, Shi and Carvalho are also designated to continue into the Joffrey Studio Company.

The Joffrey also offered positions in the Joffrey Company for the 2015-2016 season to the Koreans Dae Han Na and Jeong Hansol. The two Koreans are still students, Dae Han Na of Korea National University of Art, Jeong Hansol of Sejong University.

Trainee and company contracts, 2014-2015, have been offered by Ballet West to semi-finalist Anita Sineral-Scott, U.S.A; Makenzie Richter, U.S.A. with Houston Ballet’s Second Company; Texas Ballet Theater to semi-finalist Paula Alves, Brazil; Memphis Ballet offered Matthew Griffin, U.S. a trainee position for 2014-2015.

Matthew Griffin also garnered a full tuition scholarship for Colorado Ballet’s 2015 Summer intensive and a one-season contract with Columbia City Ballet.

Gisele Bethea, U.S.A., has been offered a full scholarship and stipend for the fall 2014 and a Studio Company position, Spring 2015 with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre.

Finally, Olga Marchenkova and Ilya Artamonov, Bolshoi Ballet dancers from Russia, are invited to dance leading roles in South Mississippi Ballet’s 2014-2015 production of The Sleeping Beauty.

In all, these opportunities count as much as the following awards:
Robert Joffrey Award of Merit: Daniel Alejandro McCormick-Quintero, representing Mexico, but a student at San Francisco Ballet School,$1,000.

Jury Award of Encouragement, Female: Romina Contreras from Chile, $500.

Jury Award of Encouragement, Male: Yue Shi, People’s Republic of China, $500.

The Choreographic Award went to Nicholas Blanc for Rendez-vous, danced by finalist Aaron Smyth, Australia. Both Blanc and Smyth are affiliated with the Joffrey Ballet, Blanc a former principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, then ballet master with the Royal Scottish Ballet before assuming the same position with the Joffrey Ballet. The Award brings with it $2,500.00

For the Best Couple Awards, the Junior went to Yasmin Lomondo and Gustavo Carvalho of Brazil; scarcely surprising since they were the sole couple participating throughout in the junior division, courteous and attentive as well as exact and musical. Both receive $1,000 each. The Senior Best Couple were
from Korea, Ji-Seok Ha and Ga-yeon Jung.

Announcement of Medals start with the Bronzes. The Jury is permitted to award two Bronzes and two Silvers for either men or women and this occurred amongst the Junior Women’s Bronze, the Men’s Bronze, the Women’s Senior Silver. The list went as follows:

Junior Women Bronze: Yasmin Lomondo, Brazil and Paulina Guraieb Abella, Mexico, each $1,500.

Junior Men’s Bronze, Gustavo Carvalho, Brazil, $1,000.

Junior Women’s Silver, MacKenzie Richter, U.S.A., $3,000.

Junior Women’s Gold, Gisela Bethea, U.S.A., $5,000.

In the Senior Division, the Awards lined up as follows:

Senior Women Bronze: Ga-Yeong Jung, Korea, $3,000

Senior Men’s Bronze: Aaron Smyth, Australia and Ivan Duarte, Brazil, each $3,000.

Senior Women’s Silver: Irina Sapozhnikova, Russia, and Tamako Miyazaki, Japan, each $5,000.

Senior Men’s Silver: Byul Yun, Korea, $5,000.

Senior Women’s Gold: Shiori Kase, Japan, $8,000

Senior Men’s Gold: Jeong Hansol, Korea, $8,000.

Missing from this roster were some dancers I liked enormously but who apparently took too much liberty in their classical variations. Jurors, enjoying coaching lineages stretching back almost to the time the classical repertoire was being established at the Maryinsky and Bolshoi Theatres in St. Petersburg and Moscow, or managed to acquire similar guidelines through migrating teachers or lengthy observation, pick up on such deviations. Generalized performances may permit such liberties; competitions do not and should not. As a result, one or two riveting dancers remained in the finalist category and the anguish was apparent
on their faces as the press conference terminated.

Adding my own opinion, there were several dancers already dancing with ensembles or companies. Beyond the requirements in classical variations, the professional rigors gave those competitors an edge in sheer performing skills; in the instance of the senior women it definitely showed. One or two other dancers revealed growing pains amongst the jurors manifesting such physical adjustments in degrees of reticence.

At the Gala, the medalists achieving gold status will dance twice, one classical variation and their contemporary selection.

2014 USAIBC Round III Session III, June 26, 2014

15 Aug

This final session opened with Aaron Bell who had been featured prominently in the ballet documentary “First Position.” He chose two divergent classical variations, the flashy one last,the men’s variation from Sleeping </em>Beauty as a beginning and the Slave’s variation from Le Corsaire as his second. At present, his attack is more suited to the Prince Desire role, clean, correct, somewhat self-effacing. A thoughtful, intelligent dancer, his excellence also conveyed a neutral quality. This also was conveyed in Vista, Steve Rooks’ setting to Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians.” A long time observer remarked she thought Bell needed to attend classes with other students. I have no way of knowing if that situation pertained, but the observer was thoughtful and caring.

He was followed by Jinsol Eum dancing the same variation, slender, equally correct with touches of distinct elegance, an impression cemented with Solor’s variation from La Bayadere’s Kingdom of the Shades.

Partnered by Michal Slawomir Wosniak, Gisele Bethea essayed Sleeping Beauty’s Act III pas de deux with amazing felicity. I had no trouble believing she was a princess on the occasion of something momentous. Her port de bras and gestures over her low petite battements looked like the results of a coaching session with Margot Fonteyn, their progressive rise winning me over.

Romina Contreras with Sebastian Vinet selected Victor Gsovsky’s Grand Pas de Deux,,looking authoritative in the opening. Unfortunately, Contreras lost balance visibly initially in her variation, though she finished with aplomb. Her general demeanor led one veteran competition observer to comment, “Not this time, but in five years she’ll be a ballerina.” Vinet, a former member of San Francisco Ballet, cuts a handsome figure, but something happens in his torso distorting line and phrasing, though partnering Contreras with skill and empathy.

Seniors Jeong Hansol and Kota Fujishima danced as if they had telegraphed across the Straits of Korea; both danced the male variation from the Nutcracker’s grand pas de deux and Acteon’s variation from Esmeralda’s Diana and Acteon pas de deux by Agrippina Vaganova.

Three senior pas de deux followed with one non-competing partner. Byul Yun with non-competing partner Heewon Cho elected the Diana and Acteon pas de deux as did as did Tamako Miyszaki with non-competing partner Ariel Breitman. In between Melissa Gelfin elected Le Corsaire with non-competing partner Telmo Moreira. Clearly, fireworks were preferred for the senior pas de deux.

The contemporary third of Session III possessed a share of surprises. Jinsol Eum danced Juhyun Jo’s take on Pink Martini’s “But Now I’m Back”; black shirt, trousers and jacket topped by a black Fedora adjusted from time to time for emphasis, while Eum’s lean, flexible body angled, lunged and jumped with considerable panache.

Gisele Bethea’s selection, Imagine, left me with a vague impression of excellent execution, but exactly what was being evoked?

Two unusual choices of classical music for a competition were reflected by Romina Contreras and Sebastian Vinet who danced to Jaime Pinto’s essay to a Claude Debussy Sonate 1. The second was non-competing partner Telmo Moreira’s use of Frederick Chopin’s Lady of the Camellias Black pas de deux for finalist Melissa Gelfin, the former was as quiet and lyrical as Moreira’s setting was turbulent.

In between Jeong Hansol’s interpretation of Jong Ni Lee’s Napoli March of Thomas Beckman was titled Forgot Something. Terribly obvious, what was missing were Hansol’s trousers with the music providing the background for maneuvering and exposing the social and visual embarrassment for the spectacled forgetful male, accented by bright red shorts. The audience responded with chuckles, laughter, guffaws and much applause.

Ending the competition, Tamako Miyazaki with Ariel Breitman performed Tamas Krizsa’s Last Days to Max Richter’s music of the same name, an apocalyptic interpretation to music sounding much the same, enhanced by the lighting plot. One could only surmise that such feelings might be felt momentarily at the press conference the following morning.

2014 USA IBC Round II, Session III, June 22

11 Jul

The final session of Round II followed Stierle Showcase matinee at Jackson Academy. Report later.

Rounds II and III were evening performances only. Crowd little thicker, still somewhat sparse.

Session III

Sirui Liu, #90, Sr., PRC, Rodrigo Almarales, #76, Sr., Cuba, Excerpt from Penumbra. Almarales elected an open shirt; Liu an ombre skirt; emphasized sexual tension.

Ami Naito, #28, Jr., Japan, Excerpt from Bad Winter. Rushed beat, seemed mechanical.

Jeong Hansol, #92, Sr., Korea, Excerpt from (serious). Beautiful jump; danced it like abstract painting.

MacKenzie Richater, #29, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Bad Winter. Got the comic, spirit very well, even to slight salute with bow.

Kaori Fuku, #94, Sr., Jun Tanabe, #72, Sr., Japan, Excerpt from Penumbra. No notes.

Gabrielle Chock, #30, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Bad Winter. Seemed to rush beat.

Jessica Assef, #95, Sr., Brazil, NCP Lamin Dos Santon, Excerpt from Penumbra. Dressed in lavender gown; Santon voted for the open shirt.

Aaron Bell, #31, Jr., U.S.A., Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat. Very classical rendition; fully articulate, reticent in presentation.

Intermission

Heewon Cho, #98, Sr., Byul Yun, #100, Sr., Korea, Excerpt from Switch Phase. Well danced; caught tension through phrasing.

Jinsol Eum, #34, Jr., Korea, Excerpt from Leatherwing Bat. An foreigner nearly captured U.S.
regional idiom; Korean folk dance tradition helped.

Kota Fujishima, #99, Sr., Japan, Excerpt from (serious). Good but not exceptional.

Gisela Bethea, #35, Jr., U.S.A., NCP Michal Slawomir Wozniak, Excerpt from The Last Glass. Well danced; impression still slight

Melissa Gelfin, #101, Sr., U.S.A., Telmo Moreira, #80, Sr., Portugal, Excerpt from Switch Phase. Very strong interpretation.

Romina Contreras, #38, Jr., Sebastian Vinet, #73, Sr., Chile, Excerpt from The Last Glass, very lyric quality.

Tamako Miyazaki, #102, Sr., Japan, NCP Ariel Breitman, Excerpt from Penumbra.> Good, but less impressive than Round I classical.

There clearly was a sense of “round up.” following the last variation, and tension for the dancers.

Those advancing will have the cumulative scores from Round I and II discounted, and will be subjected to entirely new scores for Round III. They will enjoy a $1,000 stipend from a local foundation to assist in travel expenses.

2014 USA IBC Competition Round I, Sessions VII and VIII, June 18, 2014

9 Jul

Round VII

Aaron Bell, #31, Jr. U.S.A., Coppelia,; classically correct, very well phrased; legs seemed to have sprouted with need to consolidate coordination.

Arcadian Broad, #32, Jr., U.S.A., Flames of Paris; strong, muscular dancer, seems to rush, push variation.

Alexia Basso, # 33, Jr., South Africa, Paquita; looked sweet, vulnerable; coaching sacrificed musicality for excessively correct positions.

Jinsol Eum, #34, Jr., Korea, Paquita variation; small, compact, muscular dancer.

Jessica Assef, #95, Sr., Brazil, NCP Lamin Dos Santos, Giselle Pas de Deux, Act II; adequate; did not rouse me.

Seitaro Tatsumi, #96, Sr., Japan, Act III, Swan Lake; overly restrained.

Intermission

Aaron Bell, #31, Jr. U.S.A., Flames of Paris variation; good phrasing; delivery continued loose.

Arcadian Broad, #32, Jr., U.S.A., Coppelia variation; rushed beat; good turns, zilch interepretation,
no difference from earlier variation.

Alexia Basso, # 33, Jr., South Africa, Flames of Paris variation; legs, clear, precise; arms need work.

Jinsol Eum, #34, Jr., Korea, Flames of Paris variation; nailed it, heroics et al. Audience responded.

Seitaro Tatsumi, #96, Sr., Japan, La Fille Mal Gardee; long-waisted dancer, pink vest, grey tights, accurate, slight stumble at finish.

Anna Porter Wilkes-Davis, #97, Sr., U.S.A., NCP Journy Wilkes-Davis, Giselle, Act II; accurate, did not engage me.

Heewon Cho, #98, Sr., Byul Yun, #100, Sr., Korea, Don Quixote Pas de Deux; no notes.

Round VIII

Gisela Bethea, #35, Jr., U. S.A., Michael Slawomir Wosniak, # 84, Sr., Poland; Giselle, Peasant Pas de Deux; clean, tad sedate, but canny choice, totally competent

Kathleen Videira, #36, Jr., South Africa, Paquita variation; clean, promising, but arms. arms!

Daniela K. Maarraoui, #37, Jr., U.S.A. Paquita; very good beginning, nice transitions; ending flubbed but recovered.

Romania Contreras, #38, Jr., Sebastian Vinet, #73, Sr., Chile, Blue Bird pas de deux; she conveys sense of style, his turns off, ballon okay; good costuming.

Kota Fujishima, #99, Sr., Japan. La Fille Mal Gardee; good jumps, nice presentation, not much interpretative quality

Intermission

Kathleen Videira, #36, Jr., South Africa, Coppelia; costume, sequins! coronet! port de bras lack fluidity

Daniela K. Maarraoui, #37, Jr., U.S.A., second Paquita variation; nice fouette turns, calm presence.

Kota Fujishima, #99, Sr., Japan, Don Quixote variation; counted 6-7 pirouette turns; am I really at a wedding?

Melissa Gelfin, #101, Sr., U.S.A., Telmo Moreira, #88, Sr., Portugal, Don Quixote pas de deux;
fouette turns, mostly one spot, spectacular. White tights made him look chunky.

Tamako Miyazaki, #102, Sr., Japan, Ariel Breitman, #67, Sr. U.S.A., Esmeralda pas de deux;
Breitman understated, clean; Miyazaki balances phenomenal, thrice; neither overplayed. Audience near ecstatic; great end to Round I.