Tag Archives: Vicki Harper Blake

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 Allowed A Brief Exchange with Hae Shik Kim

12 Jul

Vicki Harper-Blake said she wanted to defer interviews with jurors until Round I was over, so it was not until Saturday morning, June 21 I met Hae Shik Kim, juror from Korea, in the Marriott Hotel lobby, sitting at two heavily upholtsered, high back=chairs with a stone table between on which a Wi-Fi access accessory was attached. Though officially retired from the Korean National Academy of the Arts, KNUA, Hae Shik still teaches, taking company rehearsals, especially when organizing Galas for younger students to display them in Seoul and elsewhere.

Using a phrase from my mother’s generation, Hae Shik Kim always is “well turned out.” Occasionally it might be a set of trousers, but usually it is a dress with a gauzy jacket, monochrome in shade, tiny pleats revealing she patronizes Korean establishments selling Issaye Miyaki designs. “They pack so easily and always look good,” is her comment. This year Miyake apparently added multi-hued circles to his offerings.

I keep seeing her name on the jurors’ list of various international competitions, so I asked her how many she attended. “1998 Jackson was my first competition. This is my fifth here. I have gone to competitions as a juror to Helsinki, Luxembourg, Prix de Lausanne, Nagoya – a very strong competition; Shanghai, New York International, Toulouse, South Africa. Then there is the yearly Seoul International Ballet Competition, where I am listed as artistic director. More recently there was the Beijing Competition, the first for adults; they also have one for the Academy, the young dancers. Jana Kurova had a competition in Prague I attended as a juror, and, of course, there now is Youth America Grand Prix.“ The recitation is enough to list Hae Shik as Madame Competition.

Hae Shik came into my orbit through a Leslie Friedman feature in Dance Teacher Now, the precursor of today’s Dance Teacher, when Leslie subbed modern dance classes at Fresno State University. Married to Joo Ick Kim, a professor in the Agricultural Department of the University, Hae Shik was teaching ballet classes at the University. Having trained at the Royal Ballet School following her graduation from Ewha University in Seoul, the first Korean to enter the British training center, she later danced as a soloist for the Zurich Opera under Nicholas Beriosov, then for Fernand Nault at Les Grands Ballets Canadien before marrying and moving to Fresno. Hae Shik told me she arrived in England with two English words in her vocabulary.

Shortly after Leslie’s feature was published, Hae Shik was invited to become the Artistic Director of the Korean National Ballet (KNB) In 1994, I suggested her name to Jana Kurova as a good candidate for The Czech National Foundation and the annual Gala she was planning. We met at the 1995 Gala; a friendship ensued, and in 1998 Hae Shik joined the jury at Jackson for the first time.

One of the great charms about the Kims is Joo’s support of Hae Shik. When Hae Shik flew to be interviewed for the directorship of KNB, Joo went with her, appearing with her at the interview. “We are a team,” she said. “This is the American way,” Joo asserted, “I cannot allow my wife to fail.” This unorthodox approach, even for Americans, paid off; Joo continued his support, long distance by enrolling his classmates from the university, important figures in finance and business at the time, to support the company and productions. Some even served as supers in Russian-style productions such as Le Corsaire.

Shortly following KNB’s production of La Bayadere, staged with the assistance of Maria Kondratieva, retired Bolshoi principal, Hae Shik was asked to create the dance department of the newly-founded Korea National University of Arts, KNUA. Starting from scratch, funds permitting a spectacular physical sports medicine clinic with the best and latest equipment, Hae Shik invited noted international teachers and coaches to Seoul for the advanced students; pre-collegiate students were also permitted to attend.

Hae Shik’s vision has paid off. Without surfing other competitions to record honors awarded Korean dancers, the progress in training and resulting artistry, the USA IBC record reads: 1998: Ji-Yun Park, Senior Women’s Bronze; 2002: Eun Ji-Ha, Dance Magazine Scholarship; Sung Yi Han, Eun Ji Han, Junior Bronze; 2006: Sae Eun Park, Junior Women’s Bronze; 2010: Seo Hye Han, Joffrey Award of Merit; Ki-Min Kim, Junior Men’s Silver; Ji Yon Chae, Junior Women’s Gold; Ji Yon Chae and Ki-Min Kim, Best Junior Couple. In anyone’s list, it’s a healthy record. Hae Shik informed me “Ki-Min Kim is now a soloist at the Maryinsky Ballet.”

The Kims continue their two-country travel with a new residence in Las Vegas. Hopefully, San Francisco will see more of the Korean talents whose foundation was laid by Hae Shik Kim.

USA IBC Update

2 Jun

Last reported, the official United States International Ballet Competition was listed as having 109 entrants. The current listing numbers 90, 19 originals deciding not to appear. Thirty-one will represent the United States, ten of them seniors, seven women, three men, ages ranging from 19 to 26. The twenty one juniors, 15 to 18, fifteen are young women, six young men. Japan follows next with seventeen. Of the eleven seniors, seven are women, four are men, the remaining six are all junnios. South Korea and Brasil are each represented with nine aspirants. For South Korea three are women and four men in the senior category, and one junior male and female. Brasil has two senior women and three senior men, three junior women and one junior male entrant. Cuba and the Czech Republic are each sending senior women; so are Mongolia, Panama and the Philippines. Senior Women from the People’s Republic of china will be two and the Russian Federation three. Single Senior male entrants will arrive representing Australia, Chile,People’s Republic of China, Colombia, France, Mongolia, Poland Portugal and South Africa. Cuba and the Philippines each will be represented by two senior men.

Amongst the junior contestants, single medal candidates will arrive from Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Mexico and Peru. And the young men will have one aspirate from Brasil, two from the People’s Republic of China and one from Mexico, Daniel McCormick-Quintero, an advanced student at the San Francisco Ballet School.

The smaller number of competitors represents something of a God send for jurors and audiences. In 2010, over a hundred competed; despite the marvelous clowning of hostess Evelyn Hart, who was a full performance every time she stepped to the podium to introduce a contestant and the number danced, there were just so many classical variations one could observe, particularly the Don Quixote pas de deux with the Diana and Acteon a close second, before the eyes glazed, searching for something to rivet the attention. But this is what makes a competition a competition — how clean can you dance, how well do you phrase,with the music – on top, ahead, or slightly en retart? How smooth are your transitions? Do you look as if you’re enjoying yourself, are the fouettes in place or do they travel, and are they requisite number?

During the competition, bets – not often monetary – start on who will advance to Round Two, traditionally the contemporary one. Veteran observer and occasional juror Olga Guardia de Smoak will have sized the roster up by the end of Round One. She will take her program, appraise it and calculate. Remind me to ask her and report how frequently she comes up dead on accurate. This year, she will be interviewing Jury Chair Edward Vilella at one of the special lunches planned for Competition enthusiasts.

Claudia Shaw will return to record each performance, selling copies of the variations during intermissions, working overtime to deliver DVD’s to dancers seeded and choosing to return home, not watching the remaining sessions, taking classes with the International Ballet School faculty, possibly joining the massive entrance piece devised for opening the Gala, a practice first created by Dennis Nahat.

And in the press room, Vicki Harper Blake will answer questions, computer space, provide special copy, hand out tickets to the press-related folk.

There may be a thunderstorm or two; all part of a June Jackson, Mississippi international ballet competition every four years.