Tag Archives: Ga-yeon Jung

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 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.

Intermission

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.

Intermission

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.