CriticalDance Forum

Erik Bruhn Prize 2007
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Author:  ksneds [ Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:26 am ]
Post subject:  Erik Bruhn Prize 2007

We've been discussing the competition over in the National Ballet of Canada topic, but since it relates to companies in the US and Europe we're opening a brand new thread.

Previos discussion can be found here: ... 6&start=15

But let's keep all new discussion and news links on this thread!


Author:  mom2 [ Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:39 am ]
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ok I'm game....for those of you familiar with NBOC.........

It is sad news indeed that Ms Zehr is injured. I have to say that I am not really familiar with her replacement's dancing, which is a bit odd as I've had seasons tickets now for a number of years. Perhaps she's just been in a different cast than I've seen... At any rate, I had wondered if KK might put Tanya Howard in this competition - last season she was in everything I saw and then some! She, like Ms Zehr, is a second soloist. Yesterday I went to the company website and saw that for some reason there is no bio information for Ms Howard: is something up?

for those of you more familiar with other companies, what can you tell us about the competitors? I remember a lot of drama in the dance media about Misty Copeland a few years back, when she was still a student, but have never seen her dance of course. She has always been described as quite a talent, so I"m looking forward to seeing her dance.


Author:  ksneds [ Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:12 am ]
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It could simply be that the company is updating Ms. Howard's bio or had a tehcnical glitch. Remember that we ask that info on departures/hirings etc. not be posted unless confirmed by a company press release or article in a reliable newspaper.

In any case, having joined the company in 1998, it's possible that Ms. Howard might have been older than the Erik Bruhn Prize age limit of 26. I believe also that the award is intended as a showcase for younger, newer talent, so the companies are likely to aim younger, especially for the women.

I will be interested to see how that ABT dancers are physically, given that I assume that the competiting dancers are taking part in the company's current European tour. Whilst the other three companies are all currently performing, international tours can be especially tiring and may not provide much time or space to work on pieces for a competition.

More to come later...

Author:  JaneH [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:00 am ]
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The NBoC Web site is indeed glitchy! I find that if I access it using my AOL-powered interface, I can't get to all the features, but going in through my plain old Internet Explorer on a local university node, then I usually can get to everything. Very persnickety.

As for the competitors, I have seen Misty Copeland dance a few times. If I've seen her partner, Jared Matthews, perform, then he must have been doing corps work and didn't stand out for me. But she is an interesting dancer. She has a very strong emotional presence and an equally strong, athletic physique. The thing that can be rather distracting about her, though, is the extreme hyperextension in her legs. I think they try to keep it in check, but when it's on full display, it's pretty hard to notice anything else on stage.

I saw the Royal Ballet Company perform twice last year but neither of their competitors' names ring a bell with me. And I'm clueless on the Royal Danish competitors.

The new NBoC competitor, Tina Pereira, has an interesting bio. She seems to be an "old" newcomer to the company. Graduated from NBS, joined NBoC in 2002, danced in the corps for two years, then went away (to the Dutch/Het Nationale) for two years, then rejoined NBoC just this past November. But she's obviously rising fast because she's slated to make her principal part debut on March 11 in the Taming of the Shrew.

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 2:04 pm ]
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Misty Copeland's got those crazy banana feet too. She's surprisingly strong for such a loose body and she has quite a presence.

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 3:10 pm ]
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I wonder if Copeland's hyperextension and feet - beyond genes - might be related to her very late start in ballet. I think she didn't start ballet until 13, though she'd done other forms of dance. And I remember that there was a big fuss because she wanted to take a year out of high school to concentrate on ballet, but her parent(s) didn't agree, so she had to petition to make her teacher her legal guardian...or something like that. At the time it didn't seem like a healthy situation - great talent or not - but it seems to have worked out for the best.

As to the Danes...

Ulrik Birkkjær is 21 (or possibly 22) and this is his third season in the corps (after two full time a apprentice years). He didn't catch my eye until the Bournonville Festival in 2005, but has steadily risen in the last two years and has danced some of the toughest male parts in the RDB rep, including one of the solo parts in "Etudes" and the pas de six in "Napoli". Like the other Danes in the company he's a product of the Royal Danish Theatre Ballet School, and is very much a Bournonville dancer. He's tall, long limbed and has that soft elegance that is so typically Bournonville.

When I saw him dance this past December, what really struck my eye was his poise and elegance in finishing out of pirouettes. Bournonville's male solos not infrequently end in a series of pirouettes with a low working leg, finished in releve with a balance before the working foot is placed neatly into fifth. This is a not infrequent source of difficulty for the younger dancers, as that kind of control isn't easy after a challenging solo, but Birkkjær both in Swan Lake and Napoli, finished into perfectly balanced releves on the music.

There's a great photo of Birkkjær in Etudes here (copyright David Amzallag/RDB, not to be used without permission)

Yao Wei, who is 22 or 23, was named a soloist during the Bournonville Festival in June 2005. She joined the company right out of the Shanghai Dance School/Drama College and received the Hope Prize at the Prix de Lausanne.

Since joining she's danced lead roles in a number of large ballets, her first major lead role being Elonora in "Kermesse in Bruges" (The lead roles in Kermessen are usually given to young dancers on the cusp of something big, and all four dancers in the lead roles were promoted soon after their debuts). This season she danced Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" - a real test of any dancer, and I think she certainly passed. Initially I had reservations about her Odette, but she she was smashing as Odile, and after that a much more feeling Odette. She's not hugely tall, but long limbed and flexible - a physique that is well suited to contemporary and classical ballet. She does sometimes push the 'tricks' a bit, but I think her edges are softening and maturing with age and experience.

There's a picture of her in the Swan Lake Pd Quatre here (copyright Henrik Stenberg/RDB, not to be used without permission) and as Eleonora in Kermessen in Bruges here (copyright Martin Mydtskov Rønne/RDB, not to be used without permission)

Both dancers are in the shot of Etudes at the Jacob's Pillow website photo gallery. Ulrik is the gentleman, Yao Wei is the second fully visible dancer from left (Femke Mølbach Slot, Yao Wei, Susanne Grinder, Elisabeth Dam, Charlotte Amaand and Alba Nadal(?))

Author:  ksneds [ Sat Feb 24, 2007 6:15 am ]
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I came across this review of the 2002 Compeition in our archives: ... 20520.html

Two questions..

Does anyone know why it's been five years between competitions?

And also, why were dancers from the Stuttgart Ballet invited in 2002 (and previously?)?

I seem to remember reading that Bruhn's wishes were only for the four original companies to be involved. I could understand if one company was unable to attend - 3 couples makes for a weak competition - but in 2002 five companies were represented. In previous years, San Francisco Ballet was also represented.


Author:  mom2 [ Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:01 pm ]
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I found a mention of this on the ABT website, I guess an archive from the last competition. (reference to the inclusion of Stuttgart, but it doesn't say why the inclusion)....

Anyone else know???


Author:  ksneds [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:01 am ]
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For anyone who will be attending the competition, there will be a talk with Frank Andersen 1 hour before the competition:

The Seventh International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize
(March 3, 2007)
Michael Crabb in conversation with Frank Andersen, Artistic Director of The Royal Danish Ballet

Author:  ksneds [ Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:29 am ]
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Briefly - more news will be posted as it becomes available...

The winners were NBoC's Tina Pereira and RDB's Ulrik Birkkjær. Congratulations to both!

Unfortunately, NBoC's Keiichi Hirano was injured during the classical section of the competition and could not continue. Due to his injury, Sabrina Matthew's piece could not be performed and Ms. Pereira instead performed the Balcony Scene from Cranko's 'Romeo and Juliet', partnered by by NBoC principal Guillaume Cote.


Author:  mom2 [ Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:31 am ]
Post subject:  Erik Bruhn

It was an exciting evening to be sure!!

Congratulations to the winners!

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Keichii Hurano.

A huge thank you to Guillaume Cote for saving the day, and allowing Ms. Pereira to continue in the competition.

As ksneds mentions, we didn't have the opportunity to see Sabrina Matthew's new work - hopefully the time will be right in the near future.

NBOC also did well by Glen Tetley - a very nice tribute was given to him verbally by Rex Harrington and Veronica Tennant - and in dance by the company, performing Voluntaries. Mr. Tetley had intended to be present at this year's competition but sadly passed away a few weeks ago.

In addition, a nice tribute was given to Celia Franca, founding AD of NBOC, who died very recently.

In terms of the companies that enter contestants for this prize, mention was made that these are companies "with whom Erik Burhn felt most closely associated." He must have mentioned which ones in particular these were in his will, but last night's program doesn't give further information. Mr. Bruhn is quoted as stipulating that the prize be awarded to two young dancers who "reflect such technical ability, artistic achievement, and dedication as I endeavored to bring to dance." What a wonderful thing to bequeath to the world of dance!!

The program also gives information about previous years of the competition and winners. The first one was in 1988 (which apparently was co-hosted by Glen Tetley himself) - other years were 1989, 1993, 1995, 1999, and 2002.

If readers are interested in past winners I can post this as well.

Did anyone else attend the event?


Author:  mom2 [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:35 am ]
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A review in Toronto's Globe and Mail. Probably what I would say if I actually knew how to write about dance! (note the story about the costume change as well)...... ... uery=bruhn

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:52 am ]
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Thanks for posting the Paula Citron review. Wow! Talk about drama! Tina Pereira has loads of spunk! I hope Keichii Hurano will be back by the start of next season.

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:21 am ]
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The Toronto Star's report:

[It would have been nice if the Canadian newspaper could have bothered to spell Birkkjær's name correctly. Given modern word processors, it's not hard to insert proper characters for foreign languages.]

Author:  JaneH [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:32 am ]
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I literally got chills reading about everything that was going on backstage with the NBoC competitors' crisis. Wow! (though I'll bet future competitors come armed with a Plan B)

I didn't get to go, but my daughter and her NBS schoolmates did. They were the probably very noisy group up in the nosebleed seats. (I asked her if they cheered loudly for all the competitors and she said, "Well...we tried, but in the end, we probably cheered loudest for the National dancers.")

anyway, just to add a few of her thoughts, she actually liked Matthews of ABT's dancing best of the remaining men (Hirano had been off to a jaw-dropping start, she agrees with Citron). She said he landed everything perfectly, no wobbles whatsoever, and did have great presence, in her opinion. But the RDB fellow was a close second. She said she really wanted to like the Royal fellow because he came across as the kind of performer who really wanted you to like him, but his arms bugged her.

The Peirara drama was indeed exciting. I asked her if she felt her victory was a sympathy vote, but she felt that, no, even with the improvising that went on, the difficulty and technical quality of Pereira's dancing truly was the best. Now she said that she thought Pereira came out for her first Corsaire solo and threw off 32 fouettes. A friend has pointed out to me that this is not in the choreography. I see in the Citron article that a lot of improvising went on. Was it truly 32 -- or a reasonable facsimile? I guess I could see "32-F" being the "go to" bravura move when one is down a partner and looking to dazzle the audience and judges.

As for the other women, she said she can easily see the Royal gal attaining principal status soon. She really liked her dancing -- very clean and technically excellent. ABT's Copeland is "gorgeous." The RDB gal was good but didn't exude enough charisma to compete with Pereira and the Royal dancer, in her opinion.

So, all in all, a great evening for her, and I was happy to hear it was a noisy sell-out crowd.

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