International ballet competitors exhibit artistry

By Thea Singer
Globe Correspondent / May 17, 2011

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The future of ballet shone bright last night in the Gala Performance of the first Boston International Ballet Competition, not only for the classics, but also for contemporary, even pop-tinged, dance.

Winners from three age-based divisions, chosen from some 90 hopefuls from 23 countries, took to the stage with fellow competitors and professional dancers to spin through excerpts ranging from Perrot’s “Giselle’’ to Petipa’s “Swan Lake’’ and modern pieces including Edwaard Liang’s “As Above So Below’’ and Margo Sappington’s “Christina’s World,’’ each of which dancers learned from a video and performed in the competition. One contestant, South Africa’s senior silver medalist Andile Ndlovu, even showcased his own choreography: the jarring, head-rolling, locking-popping “The Art of War.’’

All told, there were 21 offerings. A taste of the honors from Act I: Jin Sol Eum of South Korea, gold medalist in the student division (ages 13 and 14), flew through tours jeté and circling leaps in Petipa’s “Sleeping Beauty.’’ Alicia Fotino of the United States, silver medalist in that division, displayed a musicality beyond her years in Vainonen’s “Flames of Paris.’’ Thamires Chuvas of Brazil, silver medalist in the junior division (15-18), crossed her wrists with the elegance of petals folding in Petipa’s “Paquita.’’ And Minju Kang of South Korea, also silver medalist in the junior division, splintered Lee Sun Tae’s “Into Memory’’ into jagged fragments.

In Act II, Rodrigo Almarales of Cuba, bronze medalist in the senior division (19-25), whipped the air with dervish spins in Mazilier’s “Le Corsaire.’’ Brooklyn Mack of the United States received a special award for artistry from judge Andris Liepa commemorating his father, the ballet legend Maris Liepa, and an invitation to perform at an international gala in Moscow.

In Petipa’s “La Bayadère,’’ Mack blew the stage space open, anticipating the music’s notes with hair-raising turns. Ji Young Chae and Young Gyu Choi, both of South Korea and gold medalists in the senior division, partnered beautifully in Petipa’s “Don Quixote’’ pas de deux.

Competition founder Valentina Kozlova, former principal dancer with the Bolshoi and New York City Ballet, said the contest’s aim was not for dancers to compete against one another but to share in their cultures and the collaborative nature of dance. “It is purely a celebration of talent,’’ she said at the awards ceremony preceding the show. “It warms our hearts to see ballet progressing.’’


Awards Ceremony and Gala Performance

At: John Hancock Hall, last night