"Ballet Oscar" winners honored at Bolshoi
First launched 20 years ago, the annual Benois de la Danse competition, dubbed the “ballet Oscar”, reveals the most interesting ballet happenings of the season. The winners are selected by a competent international jury comprising the world’s best choreographers and led by its all-time chairman, famous Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich.
Russian dancers dominated this year’s short list of Benois de la Danse nominees with five Russian ballerinas among them. Smirnova, aged 22, charmed the jury with her absolutely superb rendition of both classical and modern ballet pieces. She shared the Benois de la Danse winners’ podium with two male dancers – Alban Lendorf of the Royal Dutch Ballet and Vadim Muntagirov, a graduate of Russia’s Perm Choreographic School and current soloist of the English National Ballet. Regina Nikiforova, one of the initiators of the “ballet Benois”, told the Voice of Russia that she was proud
to see so many Russian artists dance in the world’s top ballet theaters.
"Russian ballet dancers are among the top soloists of many famous ballet troupes from San Francisco to Europe. Our artists dance all over the world, which shows the Russian school of ballet maintains its highest professionalism and is highly esteemed abroad".
There are no Russians among the best choreographer prize winners. Both choreography awards went to foreigners. These are renowned Dutch master Hans van Manen and British choreographer Christopher Wildon.
Outstanding ballet master John Neumeier was bestowed a Benois de la Danse for his dedication to art, though he will only receive it next year, according to the competition’s rules. Neumeier was the first top winner of the very first Benois de la Danse in 1992.
Among those honored at the Bolshoi on Tuesday was French choreographer Pierre Lacotte, an acclaimed ballet record
keeper known for his passion for 19th -century ballet classics which he is never tired of reviving. This is what he told the Voice of Russia.
"It was a great honor for me to be awarded a Benois de la Danse prize. And I am happy to be in Moscow to receive the prize that infinitely pleases me. There is sort of a love story, or rather a love novel, between me and Russia…"
Pierre Lacotte’s romance with Russia began in 2000 when he staged “The Pharaoh’s Daughter” at the Bolshoi. He then put on a series of ballets at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Next season will see his new Bolshoi premiere – the ballet “Marco Spada”.