Hollywood may have the Oscars, but ballet has the Prix de Benois de la Danse. Held every spring at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, the prestigious international awards ceremony recognizes dancers, choreographers, composers and designers for their extraordinary work on and off the stage. This year's laureates, chosen by a jury, were announced during an awards ceremony last night, followed by a star-studded gala featuring many of the nominated artists.
But it was also an exciting evening for American ballet, with dancers and productions from several U.S. companies receiving recognition. American Ballet Theatre's Harlequinade received two Benois nominations—Daniil Simkin for male dancer and Robert Perdziola for design—while Kansas City Ballet's world premiere of Septime Webre's The Wizard of Oz, co-produced by Colorado Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet, received nods for choreography, design and original music. The Washington Ballet's Andile Ndlovu and San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan received nominations in the male and female dancer categories, while Justin Peck was recognized for his ballet Hurry Up, We're Dreaming at SFB. (For a full list of the nominees, click here.)
Even better, there was an American ballerina among the winners! New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder received the Benois de la Danse for her performance of Swanilda in Coppélia. She shared the female dancer prize with Staattsballet Berlin principal Elisa Carillo Cabrera, for her star turn in Nacho Duato's Romeo and Juliet. The male dancer award went to Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov for his portrayal of Prince Siegfried in Liam Scarlett's Swan Lake (the ballet's scenographer, John McFarlane, also won for design). Zurich Ballet artistic director Christian Spuck (for Winterreise) and Fredrik Benke Rydman (for Duet with an Industrial Robot) took home the Benois for choreography, while legendary dancemaker Jiří Kylián was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Finally, a special award, the Russian-Italian Benois-Massine, went to Hamburg Ballet principal Anna Laudere, a dancer we spotlighted last year for her performance in John Neumeier's Anna Karenina. The festivities continue tonight with another gala featuring Benois de la Danse laureates from previous years. Congratulations, everyone!