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 Post subject: 2009 Erik Bruhn Competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:20 pm 
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I am creating a new thread for continued discussion since this involves dancers from various companies.

The competitors have been announced:


Competitors

For American Ballet Theatre
Isabella Boylston and Cory Stearns
dancing the Black Swan Pas de Deux from Act III of Swan Lake and End. by Marcelo Gomes

For The National Ballet of Canada
Elena Lobsanova and Noah Long
dancing a pas de deux from Le Corsaire and Dénouement by Matjash Mrozewski

For The Royal Danish Ballet
Hilary Guswiler and Alban Lendorf
dancing the pas de deux from Act II of La Sylphide and An Elegy for Us by Iain Rowe

For San Francisco Ballet
Dores Andre and Anthony Spaulding
dancing the pas de deux from Act II of Giselle and Ebony Concerto by Val Caniparoli

For Stuttgart Ballet
Rachele Buriassi and William Moore
dancing the Black Swan Pas de Deux from Act III of Swan Lake and La Grande Parade du Funk by Bridget Breiner


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:30 pm 
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It's an interesting mix of dancers - they must be be 18-23 - with, I think, a stronger mix of male dancers than female dancers.

The choreographers are a more perplexing mix - though there don't seem to be any stated rules, I was assuming that the idea would be for companies to showcase young, up and coming choreographers. Mrozewski has been working with major companies since at least 2001, and Caniparoli has a long choreographic resume. Whereas Gomes, Rowe and Breiner are all dancers who have just recently begun to choreograph, and to my knowledge have not had a piece performed by a major company in regular repertory.

Which leads one to wonder how this will be judged - how do you compare an experienced choreographers' work to something by someone who has had much less time and experience? I wonder if next time around, there might need to be some specific rules regarding choreographers - i.e. age limit or limit based upon commissions for a major company.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:37 pm 
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With less than week until the competition, I want to highlight the competitors. Today, I will start with the first competitor from the Royal Danish Ballet

Alban Lendorf

Lendorf, who was born in 1989, joined the corps of the Royal Danish Ballet this season after two years as an aspirant (apprentice). However, like most students at the Royal Theatre ballet school, he appeared in a number of productions during his student years.

You can see his bio and photo here: http://www.kglteater.dk/sitecore/conten ... e/Alban%20%Lendorf.aspx

I first saw Lendorf dance when he was a student doing a small role in the revival of "Kermessen i Bruges".

One of early student roles was in a production of Hansel and Gretel:
http://www.kglteater.dk/OplevTeateret/G ... s=2&imgId={E9BCDC4D-C647-464E-A512-5B95495A4AB1}&pgl=true

He performed in the Proteges series at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as a student in 2006:

In Dance Magazine, one reviewer said: "The men from The Royal Ballet School and Royal Danish School of Ballet were stunning, particularly Alban Lendorf-Thim of the latter."

George Jackson in the Danceview Times said,
Quote:
"This showed particularly with two of the young men, Sebastian Kloborg and Alban Lendorf-Thim. The latter, being short and broad, has an "old time" body that looks naturally good in the open chested, frontal moves and stances Bournonville often used. For stretch, though, both in motion and in balance, people of this anatomic sort usually have to work hard. Kloborg is the taller, slimmer, streamlined type on whom Bournonville's fast, intricate "French" step vocabulary could look trivial. Work corrects this too. Both dancers, Kloborg and Lendorf-Thim, mastered movement that wasn't natural for them, and did so with aplomb."


From Robert Greskovic's review:
Quote:
"Otherwise, some slightly too taxing examples of the work of Denmark's 19th-century master, August Bournonville, added substance to the efforts of Royal Danish student and novice dancers, ranging in age from 13 to 19. Notable among these was a gently intense, 16-year-old, Alban Lendorf-Thim, who invested his dancing with unforced power and projection."


This past season he got his first major role as Iago in Louise Midjord's "Othello" :
http://www.kglteater.dk/OplevTeateret/G ... s=9&imgId={45000DFF-1DF3-4EDF-9B58-1839FD986FCC}&pgl=true

Eva Kistrup reviews this performance here saying, "But the performance belongs to Alban Lendorf, a young powerhouse, as Iago."


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:54 am 
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Wow, high praise indeed. He sounds wonderful.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:35 pm 
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(apologies for the hideous urls - the RDB website uses different coding which I am having trouble getting the forum to recognize)

Hilary Guswiler

Guswiler was born in 1990, was named an aspirant in 2006 and joined the main company for the 2008-2009 season.

Her bio: http://www.kglteater.dk/sitecore/conten ... wiler.aspx


In the children's ballet, "Paperclip":

http://www.kglteater.dk/OplevTeateret/G ... s=2&imgId={EECFF81D-42EB-4E2C-A8B6-A1F5FF8CC429}&pgl=true


She was one of the 2007 DANCE Scholarship recepients, which allowed her to train at SAB: http://www.das-ny.org/dance2007_essay.htm


Another picture of Guswiler can be on David Amzallag's blog here


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:51 pm 
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Doris Andre

Ms. Andre is a native of Spain and joined the company in 2004. You can see her bio here

She has posted several times on the San Francisco Ballet blog.


There's a page with text and images on her here


Our own Fluteboo posted this about one of Andre's performances:

Quote:
Ah, but then Boada and Andre sent sparks throughout the theater with their roles in "Carousel." Boada displayed a hint of danger alongside his seductive gestures. Andre traversed the shift from hesitant and naive to full erotic enjoyment in a gradual and fully believable way. Here was perfect casting, well-supported by everyone else. Boada's final leap audacious onstage as the carousel was underway provided the perfect punctuation to his role.



And for a fun picture, drag down on this page


Last edited by ksneds on Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:56 pm 
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Anthony Spaulding

Spaulding attended both the Arizona Ballet School and the San Francisco Ballet. Named a soloist in 2008, he joined the corps in 2006 after a year as an apprentice.

His bio can be found here You can also read his thoughts from a trip to NYC on the Voice of Dance blog


There are great shots of him in "Diving into the Lilacs" here and here


Here he is in The Four Temperaments.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:11 pm 
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Rachele Buriassi

Buriassi, who turned 21 in December, is a native of Genova, Italy. She studied at Rosella Hightower's school in France and the John Cranko School before joining the Stuttgart Ballet in 2006.

As a student at the Cranko School, she made it to the third round of the 2006 Vaganova Prix and received the "Will to Win" prize.

Her bio


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:20 pm 
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William Moore


Moore, native of Warwickshire, England, has been a demi-soloist since 2007. He joined Stuttgart Ballet in 2005 after training at the Oakley School of Dance and the Royal Ballet School. Among his major roles are Benvolio (Romeo & Juliet), Gurn (La Sylphide), Benno (Swan Lake) and Cassio (Othello).

His complete bio can be found here.


Good review of his dancing here.

From the 2004 Genee Competition where he won a silver medal: image


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:50 am 
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ksneds wrote:
Which leads one to wonder how this will be judged - how do you compare an experienced choreographers' work to something by someone who has had much less time and experience?


You don't worry about it. It's not an academic exercise; "good" is "good". "Better" is "better". If the younger choreographers lose, based on their inexperience, well, that, too, is part of the process.

Lack of success is how we learn; it's not human nature to examine in depth the things that work, but the smart artist reverse-engineers her/his failures.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:33 am 
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Perhaps. I think this year will probably be a testing period for the choreographic award. No rules regarding the choreographic entries were announced, which is a bit at odds with the strict age regulation for the dancers.

My impression though was given the differences in choreographers selected - three companies are using very novice choreographers and two are using very experienced choreographers - is that there might have been different interpretations of what was expected. And that could cause friction.

Personally, I think it would be better to limit the entrants to new choreographers who have not done more than a couple pieces for major companies. There are few enough opportunities for new choreographers to get good exposure - so why not use the Erik Bruhn Competition as one of them.

Kate


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:53 pm 
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And the winners are....

Choreography: Matjash Mrozeski

Male: Cory Stearns, ABT

Female: Elena Lobsanova, NBoC

(I will admit outright that I was cheering for the Danes - it is a competition, so it's hard not to have favorites.

It was a nice evening. I found the Danes and the couple from San Francisco Ballet the strongest in the classical pas de deux. The ABT couple and the Stuttgart couple had the misfortune to dance the same pas de deux, one right after another.

The contemporary pieces, for the most part, I didn't find particularly inspiring. I thought that Marcelo Gomes' and Bridget Breiner's pieces were pleasant, but choreographically simplistic. Gomes' piece, I found the most weak because it wasn't really that contemporary - she was a in full romantic tutus, the deep purple-red very reminiscent of "In the Night" - the impression was of "In the Night" light. The idea, I presume, is to see the dancers in two different styles, and Gomes' ballet, pleasant as it was, was too similar to the classical pas de deuxs.

Mrozewski's winning piece was nice enought, but it came last, and by that point, for me, it had blended into the rest by then.

The one that stood out was Ian Rowe's very modern piece for the two young Danes. In the contemporary pas de deux, he was the only choreographer not to put the woman en pointe. It was a short piece involving a tempestous relationship and two chairs. I felt that it showed off the Danes' ability to tell a story, but had some weaknesses, the primary one being the long stretch of non-dance in the beginning. The choreography also gave some really impressive views of Alban Lendorf's considerable talent. He has a lot of power and height, and it might have played more in their favour to create a piece that better highlighted his abilities.

The Stuttgart couple was probably the weakest of the bunch. Moore is tall and elegant, but they both noticeably tired in the pas de deuxs. Buriassi was a more convincing black swan, despite the slightly odd Cranko (?) choreography, but seemed very stiff from what appeared to be an attack of nerves in the first half of the classical piece. She almost fell out at the very beginning of the fouettes, but gutted it out to make (or almost) make the 32 with a few doubles thrown in. He tried to push to hard into his turns in second and ended up finishing very slowly and out of balance.

Nerves seemed to be an issue with Cory Stearns as well - his win seemed a bit surprising considering the stiffness in his Black Swan Pas de Deux solos. He is an impressive dancer, but I thought his style was a bit forceful and lacked the maturity of Anthony Spaulding or the fluidity of Alban Lendorf.

Among the men, I sensed that many needed to learn to pace themselves. Noah Long, Spaulding and Moore all got trouble or barely avoid it when they started a solo with a huge jump or pirouette, but then got unbalanced or quickly tired.

I didn't know what to expect from the Danes - I've seen both of them dance, but only in the back of the corps. They were most definitely the youngest (18 and 19)and newest to a professional company - both are in their first year in the RDB corps). Lendorf has been getting rave reviews from the press back home, and while he is certainly still a James in the making, I was very impressed with his solos. The contrast of the La Sylphide pas de deux with the other pieces highlights the challenge of judging such a competition - how do you compare the flashy Swan Lake and Le Corsaire pas de deuxs with the romantic La Sylphide and Giselle pieces. For instance, the male lead in La Sylphide does primarliy beats and double tours, whilst I don't think I saw another male dancer do a single beat in the classical section. And while Le Corsaire and Swan Lake highlight turning ability, there's barely a pirouette in La Sylphide.

Guswiler is very delicate, and had a few little bobbles, but like Lendorf, she's been beautifully schooled in the Bournonville style. What for me made their performance so beautiful - and I think was only equally by the San Franciscans - was their story telling ability. Their mime is impeccable and while not quite as powerful as others in the company, much better than most ballet dancers in the world. Guswiler also has gorgeous fluidity in her arms.

The ABT couple - Stearns and Boylston were powerful and precise, but I thought that the German couple had more nuance. As I said before, Stearns looked like he had a case of the nerves in the classical piece, but those were gone by the contemporary pas de deux. If my counting was accurate, she didn't make the 32 fouettes, but ended in control. Among their strengths was an ability to project, no doubt a skill learned on the stage of the vast Met Opera House. Both have a powerful solidity that was not at all highlighted by Gomes' contemporary piece; it would have been lovely to see her demi pointe and the two of them given something edgy to sink their teeth into. I'd love to have seen them been choreographed on by Iain Rowe or Matjash Mrozewski.

Doris Andre and Anthony Spaulding from San Francisco Ballet were the most elegant of the dancers, and their Giselle pas de deux very polished. Their choice of classical pas deux was probably the most challenging, but they seem very comfortable dancing together, and both have a maturity beyond their years. Impressively, they were able to keep a stead flowing, finding that fine line between nervous speed and excessive caution. Caniparoli's piece was quite forgettable, and I don't think this helped their cause.

The Canadians were probably helped (and perhaps more nervous) because of home advantage. Their selection of repertoire was probably not ideal - their are only so many Le Corsaire's one can see in a lifetime, and though Mrowzewski is talented, I thought his contribution would have been stronger if it had been a bit shorter. When in doubt, cut it out! Lobsanova is lovely, and certainly was worthy of the award. Without a doubt full of talent, Long wowed it the tour de chats (pas de chat with a single turn...not sure if this is the correct term), but less strong in the pirouettes. I blinked at that point, but I think he had to put a foot down to press up from the first bent-knee pirouette. He has glorious lines, and I wonder if another choice of pas de deux would have better highlighted his strengths. La Bayadere comes to mind, or perhaps something from Coppelia.

Overall, I was very impressed by the partnering skill of all the dancers. Though the technical level was high all around, there did seem to be some weaker entrants.

I would have probably have leaned towards Anthony Spaulding or Alban Lendorf for the male prize, though that may be in part because I'm less a fan of the very forward, bravura ABT style and prefer the delicacy of Giselle or Bournonville.

Of the women, I thought Guswiler was wonderful, but perhaps still unfinished, and both Andre and Lobsanova excellent.

With Keichi Hirano not dancing, we were treated to an excerpt of Matthews' Dextris rather than Veer. The excerpt was danced to taped music, and it works MUCH better without the choir. The focus in on the dancers, and with the plain back backdrop highlight the dancers, it is much more interesting dance-wise. It also seems to work better from orchestra level - perhaps another instance where a choreographer needed to think about the impact for audiences looking down at the dancers (a significant portion of the audience in a theatre), not just those at stage level who seem the dancers directly against the backdrop. Here I think the costumes stand out much more against the backdrop (as seen from the orchestra) than the floor (more the view from above).


All in all, an impressive night of dance, if not the most choreographically satisfying.

Looking to the future, I wouldn't be against a moratorium on Swan Lake and Le Corsaire. It would be nice to see dancers look further into the classical repertoire and not just the competition warhorses. There's lots more out there - Coppelia, La Bayadere, Nutcracker, Onegin, Sleeping Beauty, plus some other Cranko, Robbins, Balanchine etc. that could probably be used.

Secondly, I think it would be nice to give the choreography contest a bit more structure. It would be nice to have a time guideline - there was a huge range in the length of pieces, and perhaps limit the competition to choreographers who have not yet had more than a couple major commissions. Or even require that the choreographer be a fellow dancer - three of the five companies commissioned pieces from dancers. Though the poor economy is probably an equal opportunity crusher, I'd think choreographers like Caniparoli and Mrozewski would have plenty of other opportunities to choreograph. Why not let a competition for young dancers, highlight up and coming choreographers.

I also am curious as to why the competition is always in Toronto. Is it stipulate in Bruhn's bequest, or is it easier to do in Toronto because there's always a slot in the schedule? If it's not stipulated in Bruhn's bequest, it would be nice to see the competition move around between Canada, the US and Europe. Not only would this give the competition a higher profile - Toronto not exactly being the mecca of dance (though people who never see the NBoC are certainly missing a lot!). Hosting the competition in NY or London or Copenhagen one year would probably draw a whole new crowd of fans. Rotating the competition would also give other dancers the chance to compete in front of their home crowds, and save the European (and Californian) dancers the cost and jet lag of long air travel.


Congratulations to the winners, and to all the dancers!


Kate


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:15 am 
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Thanks for the detailed review! Sounds like Elena Lobsanova may be in for a promotion. Don’t know where you find the time to whip up all that prose!

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:53 am 
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I was also there last night and while my first choice male dancer didn't win, my 2nd choice did, I always feel a little sorry for the Danish dancers in this competition because so many people in the audience just don't get how fiendlishly hard it is to master Bournville technique and perform it with the lightness and ease required. The gentlemen sitting next to me remarked at the start of the 1st Black Swan that this was more like it - what he expected from a "classical" pas de deux! I really liked Alban Lendorf - his technique is very polished for one so young and, in the contempory piece, he demonstrated great focus in a very dark piece. I also liked Cory Stearns and since he was my 2nd choice I was happy with the result. As for the ladies, I enjoyed them as a group and didn't have a favourite one way or another. All of them show promise and it will be interesting to whatch how they will progress. Elena Lobsanova looked lovely dancing Corsaire, and I think she is a dancer to watch in the future - it will be nice if she gets to do a significant role with Kish in the near future.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:04 pm 
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I doubt Kish and Lobsanova are likely to dance together, in large part because he's now in Denmark most of the time so his appearances with NBoC are likely to be very limited.

I agree about the Bournonville - it is deceptively simple looking. And unlike the other pieces, one brief exit excepting, the dancers never leave the stage, so they have to be completely in character the whole time. I think Sylfiden was the only pdd last night that required the male dancer to do double tours in both directions! From my own experience, I didn't really appreciate the difficulty of Bournonville until I watched Thomas Lund and Gudrun Bojesen rehearsing in the studio. Sitting on the floor, you really get a feel for how high and far the male dancer jumps and the sheer speed of the beats.

The music also always brings back good memories for me - the last time I saw Sylfiden performed onstage was at Nikolaj Hubbe's final performance in Copenhagen almost exactly a year ago. Though I've seen some nice Swan Lakes, the music more often reminds me of the less than stellar versions that major companies seem to be presenting these days.

The Danes were the youngest competitors, both being first year corps members, though they probably have as much or even more stage experience than some of the older competitors given the nature of the ballet school in Copenhagen.

My impression was that there's no shortage of ballet talent, but a lack of ability in selecting good choreography to show off those talents. I thought only the Danes and the ABT dancers were matched with really appropriate classical pieces. NBoC's Le Corsaire wasn't a horrible choice, but I still think there's got to be something better out there to show Lobsanova & Long off than the overdone Corsaire pdd. The contemporary pieces, for the most part, were pretty bland. Mrozewski's piece, aside from being overly long, was worth another look, Rowe's piece stood out for being so different and daring to eschew pointe shoes, and Breiner's jazzy piece was fun, albeit simply choreographed. The other two were unmemorable to the point where I struggle to remember anything about them.


The Toronto Star has filed a brief story on the competition:

http://www.thestar.com/Entertainment/article/604744


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