June 6, 2012

HIBC: Merde!

Francesco Frola (Italy). Here in his variation from Esméralda.
Photo courtesy of HIBC / Sakari Viika.

You want to get more boys into classical dance? Have them sit in the audience and watch 19-year old Francesco Frola high-jump onto the stage. Track and field athletes - they have nothing on ballet dancers. Dancers don't take 30 seconds to prepare for a jump, nor do they land on mattresses. Oh, and have you ever seen a high-jumping athlete smile to the audience at the hight of his jump? If you have, tell that guy to take dance class ASAP! Frola brought the house down with his classical variation from the Flames of Paris, and he wasn't too shy to embrace the applause.. Must be that famous Italian charm. ;)

Charm, stage presence, personality - you need some (well, a lot) to be a performing artist. Ballet can't be all about technique, the number of pirouettes you turn, or high extensions and pretty faces. Ballet demands athletic prowess, but it's not sports. Jinchang Gu (junior, born 1997) turned octoplet piroeuttes like nothing last night, but his contemporary choregraphies have also shown a dancer with surprising emotional capacity.

Sadly, some of the finalists seemed to be somewhat over their heads with the challenge. It would be prudent to choose a variation that fits the dancer's current skill and expression. Raymonda's solo in the final grand pas demands a ballerina who's on top of her game. For a student it's a learning experience at best.. There were also some interesting choices of costumes. Maria Baranova, otherwise adorable, wore a red-black plumey fascinator on her head and gold embellishments on her black Odile's tutu. A tad too restless for my taste. And one bayadère should have gone for more, not less. Honestly, temple dancers are not showgirls - unless they worship in Las Vegas.

The contemporary part of the evening was.. let's just say it was interesting. No, let's say a little more than that! I really wish dancers and their coaches (and choreographers) would put more thought and ambition into these numbers. After watching two rounds of classical variations the audience is grateful for anything other than Don Quixote, but we are not that low-maintenance! Please, don't copy&paste more ballet steps and tours en l'air and sauts en manege - how about bringing something new and contemporary on stage? Something that will capture the audience as much as your ballet bravado just did.

Emrecan Tanis (Turkey) and Emmi Pennanen (Finland)
Choreography by Emrecan Tanis.
Photo courtesy of HIBC / Sakari Viika

Emrecan Tanis' choreography "Sena" did just that. He danced with his competing partner, Emmi Pennanen (Finland), and both delivered a focused and convincing performance. I find it difficult to describe modern routines, but I can at least tell you that I was never bored! The interplay between the dancers, the repeating themes, the music, the moves - it all worked. I didn't expect anything, but was rewarded with much of something! When the dancer wants to give of him/herself to the audience, that's when magic happens.

Magical was no other than my early favorite, Candice Adea. Again. She danced her Diana and Actéon variation with such technical purity, exquisite expression and warmth.. I think most of the audience has already fallen in love with her! Adea and her now non-competing partner had also one of the scariest over-head lifts, which had one of my back-stage friends praying for their safety! If Ms. Adea doesn't place high, I should be very surprised.

Candice Adea (Philippines) with non-competing partner.
Photo courtesy of HIBC / Sakari Viika.

9 comments:

  1. It's wonderful to read your posts, as I didn't have the chance to see more than first round! :) Frola and Adea were my absolute favorites last Tuesday, so happy that they made it to finals.

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  2. Oh wow, what a lift!

    This is getting really interesting, as the competition is proggressing and you get to see how the competitors manage to keep their act together and even enhance!
    I was wondering, what happens to those who didn't qualify to the finals? Do they get to stay till the end & participate to the classes or do they just head home?

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  3. Yes, they can stay until the very end if they wish, take classes and see the performances - an excellent learning opportunity anyway, even if one can't continue in the competition. :)

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  4. Those pictures are incredible! It sounds like you are having a fantastic experience - am a bit jealous!

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    1. Mr. Viika is an experienced and excellent dance photographer, and I'm very honoured that I have rights to post the pictures in my blog!

      It has been a very intense and awesome two weeks - and I think it will be a little hard to adjust back to normal life ;)

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  5. Thanks for your posts - I learn to love ballet more and more! And please may I quote some of your stuff here? KIITOS! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sheila,

      you may quote, that's fine by me. I would appreciate if you link the quote back to me. :)

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  6. Wow. The final picture is amazing.

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  7. Wowzers! What a leap!!

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