Tag Archives: Matthew Griffin

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.


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.