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TV Talent Scouts

“Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia
“Большой Балет” (Bolshoi Ballet), Rossiya-Kultura TV, Russia
May 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Matevosyan (host), A.Haxverdyan, L.Hakobyan, M.Mkhitaryan, G.Karapetyan (jury), A.Julhakyan (jury), A.Davtyan (Shant TV), H.Ghukasyan (director and producer), S.Mikayelyan (jury), T.Mnoyan (jury), A.Khangeldyan, S.Margaryan, M.Babayan, S.Barseghyan (host); “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TVWhile German TV programs rarely promote the art of dance, dance is part and parcel of media abroad. The sequels of two dance competitions—Ազգային պարեր (Azgayin Parer/National Dances) on Shant TV, Armenia, and Большой Балет (Bolshoi Ballet) on Rossiya-Kultura TV, Russia—were broadcast recently. Both competitions are textbook examples of how to foster talent while simultaneously nourishing and cherishing dance culture.

Folk dance is a pillar of Armenia’s culture, and the Armenian State Barekamutyun Dance Ensemble has presented it professionally since 1987. Its founder and artistic adviser, Norayr Mehrabyan, is the father of Arsen Mehrabyan, who made his career on Western ballet stages. Shant TV’s first run of a folk dance competition reinforces the status of national dance. (more…)

Laureates of the XVIII Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024

“Gala Concert”
Perm State Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Perm, Russia
April 27, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Awardees, Gala Concert of the Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024 © A.Chuntomov Last weekend, Perm’s ten-day Ballet Competition Arabesque closed with two gala concerts performed by laureates and diploma winners. Many were Russians, but young dancers from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Armenia, Brazil, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and Great Britain also won awards. Thanks to many live streams, dance enthusiasts could easily follow the tournament. Saturday’s gala was the last broadcast and again presented by Aleksandra Domracheva. The first half was reserved for the award ceremony; during the second half, twenty-two of the thirty-nine prize winners performed a mixed program of solos and pas de deux. Treasures from the video archive from previous laureates and a well-made backstage video filmed during this year’s contemporary performance were shown during the break. Sunday’s gala had a different program, which included further awardees. (more…)

XVIII Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque – 2024 named after Ekaterina Maximova

“Gala Concert”
Perm State Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Perm, Russia
April 17, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, Gala Concert of the Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024 © A.Chuntomov “Perm is remarkable in that it’s Ballet Lovers’ Society initiated the first Russian ballet competition,” stated Russia’s dance icon, Vladimir Vasiliev. Though it was mainly an event for young Russian dancers at its inauguration in 1988, four years later, the biannual Arabesque Competition welcomed participants from the U.S.A. and Japan. In 1996, the same Ballet Lovers’ Society coaxed Vasiliev and his wife, Ekaterina Maximova (1939-2009)—Russia’s most prestigious ballet couple—to lead the jury. (Notably, Arabesque has a two-tier jury consisting of renowned dancers and ballet and theater critics.) In addition, Vasiliev became its artistic director. This year’s run is dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the birth of Maximova.

At the opening gala concert, director, Elena Zavershinskaya, recalled how Arabesque has grown: “Over the years, the spectrum of prizes increased thanks to generous donations and so did the amount of countries that participated. We used to have dancers from 8-9 countries and were quite happy with that. Seventy applicants were a big figure; eighty were many. Once we had one-hundred applicants and were so excited! Now, however, young talents from nineteen countries participate, among them dancers from twenty-three regions of Russia. This year we received a record-high of 266 applications!” (more…)

Love, Faith, and the Inevitability of Karma

“Land of Faith – Bargujin Tukum”
Ballet of the Buryat Academic Ballet and Opera Theatre
Buryat Academic Ballet and Opera Theatre
Ulan-Ude, Russia
February 2024 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Ovcharov and ensemble, “Land of Faith - Bargujin Tukum” by N.Dmitrievsky, Ballet of the Buryat Academic Ballet and Opera Theatre 2023 © N.Dmitrievsky Roughly 4000 miles separate Moscow from the Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. Two-thirds along this stretch towards the east lies Ulan-Ude, the capital city of the Republic of Buryatia. Its population amounted to 436,000 last year. Lake Baikal is about 100 miles north of Ulan-Ude; the border with Mongolia to the south is 130 miles or so away.
Last year, the Republic celebrated the centenary of the foundation of the Buryat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic—currently known as Buryatia (which is still an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation). On this occasion, the Buryat National Ballet and Opera Theatre commissioned the Moscow-based contemporary choreographer, Nikita Dmitrievsky, to create a new ballet. His Land of Faith – Bargujin Tukum premiered last May and will return to the schedule later this year. During a tour to Moscow last December, it was shown at the Stanislavsky Theatre. I was able to watch a video of the premiere. (more…)

Sorting Out

“Catharsis Dante”
Russian State Ballet of Siberia
Hvorostovsky Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre
Krasnoyarsk, Russia
June 30, 2023 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Botenkov (Sisyphus) and ensemble, “Catharsis Dante” by N.Dmitrievsky, Hvorostovsky Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre 2023 © Y.Raskova This April, the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theatre scored a double victory at Russia’s Golden Mask Awards. Their reconstruction of “Catherine ou la fille du bandit” won the prize for the best ballet production and the best female part. I was curious about the company’s repertoire, but failed because of the distance. Krasnoyarsk is in Siberia, around 2400 miles east of Moscow. Luckily, Nikita Dmitrievsky helped me out. His ballet “Catharsis Dante” received its world premiere at the Krasnoyarsk Ballet this June and Dmitrievsky sent me a recording without much ado.

His name is well-known in Russia, where he realizes the majority of his dance projects, but he also worked in the Netherlands, UK, Israel, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Finland. An allrounder, Dmitrievsky is choreographer, artistic director, producer, filmmaker, lighting designer, and teacher in one. Costume design doesn’t seem to be on his spectrum and in the case of “Catharsis Dante” is by Inna Zaitseva. (more…)

Dancer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2023

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
June 17, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

Eleven dancers from five nations are nominated for this year’s Prix Benois. Of the six women and five men, one dances in South-Korea, four in Russia, and two each in China, France, and Kazakhstan. This Tuesday the laureates will be announced in an award ceremony at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

Here’s a short overview on the nominees:
1. M.Elchibayeva, Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay © Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay 2. M.Elchibayeva, Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay © Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after AbayMalika Elchibayeva, leading soloist of the Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is nominated for her performance as Queen Shamkhat in “Frescoes” by Zaurbek Raibayev. Gulzhan Tutkibayeva, artistic director of the company, describes Elchibayeva as having “an outstanding appearance, beautiful texture, a professional school, and acting skills. For 5 years in the theater, Elchibayeva has performed almost all the leading parts of the ballet repertoire. In the role of the Queen Shamkhat she is organic, expressive, and managed to fully convey the idea of the ballet master Raibaev.” (more…)

Vibrant

“Dances of the World”
Igor Moiseyev Ballet
Hall of Church Councils
Moscow, Russia
April 7, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Russian dance “Summer”, “Dances of the World”, Igor Moiseyev Ballet 2023 © Igor Moiseyev Ballet / E.MasalkovI’ve had the Moiseyev Ballet on my wish list for quite some time. During my latest visit to Moscow, I lucked out: one of their rare performances was announced for the Hall of Church Councils. Though it was a challenge to find the venue and its entrance (not a single poster to be found), I arrived in time. The spacious 1300-seat hall happens to be located right between the Cathedral of Christ the Savior (the largest of the Russian-Orthodox churches) and the Moskva river. The buzz of excited children (and audience members of all ages!) filled the foyer.

“Dances of the World” was comprised of eleven folk dances from, as the title suggests, all over the world – each choreographed by the company’s founder Igor Moiseyev (1906 – 2007). His vast choreographic legacy has been kept alive by the 88 dancers and small symphonic orchestra of 35 musicians based in Moscow. (more…)