The Benois de la Danse, the ballet world's prestigious prize, has announced the nominees for its 24th edition, including male and female dancers, choreographers and more. Past winners have included Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson, Bolshoi Ballet principal Olga Smirnova, choreographer Wayne McGregor—the list goes on and it's a veritable who's-who of the ballet world.
This year, the nominees for best female dancer are: Oxsana Skorik of the Mariinsky Ballet, Alicia Amatriain of Stuttgart Ballet, Rebecca Bianchi of Rome Opera Ballet, Sara Mearns of New York City Ballet, Gina Tse of the Royal Swedish Ballet and Hannah O'Neill of the Paris Opéra Ballet. Nominees for best male dancer are: Dmitry Zagrebin of the Royal Swedish Ballet, Kimin Kim of the Mariinsky Ballet, Hugo Marchand and Josua Hoffalt of the Paris Opéra Ballet, Amar Ramasar of New York City Ballet and Alessandro Rigo of Festival dei Due Mondi.
A record number of choreographers were nominated this year, and they include: Mauro Bigonzetti (Cinderella, La Scala Ballet), Zhang Yunfeng (Emperor Yu Li, Beijing Dance Academy), Benjamin Millepied (Clear Loud Bright Forward, Paris Opéra Ballet), Justin Peck (Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, New York City Ballet), Alexander Ekman (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Royal Swedish Ballet), Johan Inger (Carmen, Compañia Nacional de Danza and One on One, Netherland Dance Theater), Yuri Possokhov (Hero of Our Time, Bolshoi Ballet) and Maxim Petrov (Le Divertissement du Roi, Mariinsky Ballet).
It's kind of mind-boggling to contemplate the sheer variety of style and expression included in this list. And it's exciting to see how ballet can develop and morph across time and space, while maintaining the emotional essence that hooks generations of audience members and aspiring dancers.
Who on this list is your favorite? Was anyone overlooked this year? Let us know in the comments. Of course, everyone's a winner in the eyes of Pointe magazine editors, but we can't help pulling for our hometown heroes at NYCB. The world will find out who receives each prize on May 17, during the ceremony at the Bolshoi theater.