It was a tale of two competitions here in New York City last week: While Youth America Grand Prix was taking over Greenwich Village and Brooklyn, the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition was underway uptown. (Which meant a lot of running around for this editor in chief!) And while VKIBC was much smaller (134 competitors), the stakes were just as high, with ballet and contemporary dancers from 29 countries vying for medals, scholarships and company contracts.
Two training opportunities, in particular, stood out: an invitation to study at Russia's venerable Vaganova Ballet Academy and a traineeship with the State Ballet of Georgia, led by international superstar Nina Ananiashvili. (Both Ananiashivili and Vaganova rector Nikolai Tsiskaridze were among the judges.) And six standout dancers representing the U.S. won the honors. Tsiskaridze invited Nikita Boris and Justin Valentine, both students at the Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York, to attend the Vaganova Academy for one year. Meanwhile, Daniela Maarraoui (City Ballet of Houston), Brecke Swan (VKDCNY), Dante Alabastro and Thomas Giugovaz (both from The Washington Ballet) received traineeships with the State Ballet of Georgia.
The Grand Prix was awarded to young Russian choreographer Ildar Tagirov. Maria Iliushkina of Russia and Dong Hyeon Kwak of South Korea received company contracts with the Ballet de l'Opera de Bordeaux in France. Maarraoui was also offered a company contract with South Carolina's Columbia Classical Ballet and Ballet Centro del Conocimiento in Argentina. Miho Morita (Japan) and Maria Clara Ambrosini (Ecuador) received trainee program contracts with Columbia Classical Ballet. Congratulations to all!
For a full list of scholarship recipients and Contemporary and Choreography Competition prize winners, click here. Below is a rundown of medalists in the Classical Competition.
Women's Senior Division Medalists
Gold: Maria Iliushkina (Russia)
Silver: Da Woon Lee (South Korea) and Hee Won Cho (South Korea)
Bronze: Anna Guerrero (Philippines) and Brecke Swan (USA)
Men's Senior Division Medalists
Gold: Seung Hyun Lee (South Korea)
Silver: Dong Hyeon Kwak (South Korea) and Gwan Woo Park (South Korea)
Bronze: Thomas Giugovaz (USA)
Women's Junior Division Medalists
Gold: Nikita Boris (USA)
Silver: Seon Mee Park (South Korea)
Bronze: Maria Clara Ambrosini (Ecuador)
Men's Junior Division Medalists
Gold: not awarded
Silver: Justin Valentine (USA) and Gilles Delellio (Belgium)
Bronze: Miguel David Aranda (Paraguay)
Women's Student Division Medalists
Gold: Caroline Grossman (USA)
Silver: Seon Hyang An (South Korea) and Ye Jin Joo (South Korea)
Bronze: Katya Saburova (Russia) and Yun Ju Lee (South Korea)
Men's Student Division Medalists
Gold: Eun Soo Lee (South Korea)
Silver: Keita Fujishima (Japan)
Bronze: not awarded
Best Interpretation of Classical Compulsory: Daniela Maarraoui (USA) and Seung Hyun Lee (South Korea)
Best Interpretation of Contemporary Compulsory: Anna Guerrero (Phillippines) and Dante Alabastro (USA)