Ballet Competitions: Russia

Ballet Competitions: Russia

Dance is an art, not a sport, but passion erases boundaries between them, which is confirmed by ballet competitions. Moreover, competitions act as a social elevator and a way to replenish your portfolio. Today, we are going to tell you about the competitions held in Russia.

Vaganova-PRIX, St. Petersburg

Vaganova-PRIX is held by the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet. This competition for students of choreographic schools and academies was established in 1988 on the initiative of an outstanding dancer, then the head of the Leningrad Choreographic School, Konstantin Sergeev. 

In 2006, the competitions were interrupted for 10 years; in 2016, they resumed. Now, Vaganova-PRIX is proud of its stellar international jury, which included, for example, Kathryn Bradney - dancer of the Maurice Béjart troupe, artistic director of the Prix de Lausanne competition; Tadeusz Matacz - Director of the John Cranko Ballet School; choreographer and teacher Mikhail Lavrovsky and others. The jury is headed by one of the last students of Agrippina Vaganova, People's Artist of the USSR Irina Kolpakova. 

The competition is held in two rounds and ends with a gala concert of its laureates. Over the years, among them were Ulyana Lopatkina, Svetlana Zakharova, Leonid Sarafanov, Igor Kolb, Vladimir Shklyarov and many other soloists of the best ballet companies. 

The composition of the contestants is always international: e.g., in 2016 young dancers from 13 countries on 3 continents applied; in 2018 - from 20 countries. Last year, it was decided to hold the competition every three years. In 2021, it is scheduled for October 14-21. 

The International Ballet Competition and Contest of Choreographers, Moscow

Established in 1969, the competition is held at the Bolshoi Theater every four years, like the Olympics. The first chairman of the jury was Galina Ulanova; since 1973, Yuri Grigorovich has become the permanent head. Among the first gold medalists were Mikhail Baryshnikov (1969), Nina Semizorova (1977), Andris Liepa (1981), Nina Ananiashvili (1981 and 1985). In the 1990s-2000s, gold medals were received by Marina Aleksandrova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Polina Semyonova and Leonid Sarafanov, Radu Poklitaru and Ivan Vasiliev. Among the silver medalists were Alina Cojocaru, Ekaterina Shipulina, Ekaterina Krysanova, Andrei Merkuriev, etc.

In the entire history of the competition, the Grand Prix was awarded only four times. Its recipients were Nadezhda Pavlova (1973), a well-known Soviet ballerina, teacher-repetiteur of the Bolshoi Theater; Irek Mukhamedov (1981), soloist of the Bolshoi Theater and the Royal London Ballet, head of the Athens Opera ballet company since 2007; Andrei Batalov (1997), soloist of the Mariinsky Theater; and Denis Matvienko (2005), principal dancer of the Mariinsky Theater and former artistic director of the Novosibirsk Opera House Ballet. At the other nine festivals, no Grand Prix was awarded. 

Starting from 2009, not only dancers, but also choreographers take part in the competition. Only numbers prepared specifically for the Moscow competition can apply for awards. 

In 2021, the International Ballet Competition and Contest of Choreographers was rescheduled to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since 1969, it was held without any interruptions, now it is the first time that it will be organized in an even-numbered year. 

The competition is held by the Federal State Budgetary Institution of Culture "Rosconcert" with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Russia. 

Russian Open Ballet Competition ARABESQUE named after Ekaterina Maximova, Perm

The ballet competition at the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater was established in 1990 and is held every two years. Until 2012, the Grand Prix was named after the famous native of Perm, Sergei Diaghilev, but after the presentation of the highest award, the competition was renamed after Ekaterina Maximova. The ballerina headed the Arabesque jury from 1996 to 2008, now this role has passed to her husband, the titled dancer and choreographer Vladimir Vasiliev. 

Arabesque is distinguished by a special press jury and a contemporary choreography competition, in which awards are presented to performers and directors. 

Unlike many other contests, Arabesque was held in 2020 despite the pandemic. Although not in its usual format either. They shifted the competition from April to October, allowed only participants and jury members into the hall, while the audience had to watch the broadcast. Most of the contestants, according to Vladimir Vasiliev, could not come because of the closed borders. 

Benois de la Danse, Moscow

This international ballet competition and festival was established in 1991 in Moscow. The prize is named after the artist Alexandre Benois, and the statuette of the award was designed by Benois's grand-nephew, the architect Igor Ustinov. 

Benois de la Danse is another competition directed by the renowned choreographer Yuri Grigorovich. The artists are nominated by members of the jury, selected by the chairman. The prize is awarded every year to the best female dancer, male dancer and choreographer for new works created in the previous year.

The festival began as a one-day gala concert of the winners, and in 2004 they added Benois de la Danse Stars - Laureates of Different Years event. It became charitable: after every festival, a tea party is held at the Bolshoi, during which ballet veterans receive donations from the concert. From 1995 to 2000, after Grigorovich had been fired from the Bolshoi, Benois de la Danse wandered around Europe, but finally returned to the major ballet stage in Russia. 

Benois de la Danse skipped 2020 and took place this June, although not all nominees came to the Gala and the jury had to meet online. The British dancer Anthony Dowell received the prize "For a Life in Art", Amandine Albisson (Paris Opera) and Ekaterina Krysanova (Bolshoi Theater) were named the best female dancers, Jesus Carmona (Latitude Festival, London) - the best male dancer. Yuri Possokhov was named the best choreographer for staging Anna Karenina for the Joffrey Ballet.