Ballet Stars
Alicia Amatriain in the title role and Roman Novitzy as Dr. Schöning in Christian Spuck's Lulu. A Monstre Tragedy. Photo Courtesy Stuttgart Ballet/

It's not every day that a company presents a work so original, both in concept and execution, with dancers so well suited to its unique strengths, as Stuttgart Ballet in Christian Spuck's revival of Lulu. A Monstre Tragedy. Spuck, now artistic director at Zurich Ballet, choreographed the ballet while resident choreographer of Stuttgart Ballet in 2003.

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Reid Anderson teaching class at Stuttgart Ballet. Photo by Roman Novitsky, courtesy Stuttgart Ballet.

Stuttgart Ballet artistic director Reid Anderson will be the first to admit that his company loves a good party. "We celebrate quite a lot here," he says. Indeed, there's much to celebrate this week in the industrial German city famous for Porsche and Mercedes Benz: after 39 years at Stuttgart Ballet—17 as a dancer and 22 as artistic director—Anderson is retiring. And the company is giving him a grand, 10-day send-off. A Reid Anderson Celebration starts Friday, July 13 and continues through July 22, with a different event almost every night. The festival includes the film premiere of John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, full-length performances of Christian Spuck's Lulu. A Monstre Tragedy and Cranko's Onegin, three mixed-repertory evenings, a one-man show starring Anderson himself, and a star-studded farewell gala.

Hired into Stuttgart Ballet by legendary choreographer John Cranko at 19, the Canadian-born Anderson rose to become a principal dancer. He then directed Ballet British Columbia and the National Ballet of Canada before returning to take the helm of Stuttgart Ballet in 1996. He is leaving behind an impressive legacy: a diverse repertoire that includes 112 world premieres, internationally acclaimed dancers (Alicia Amatriain, Friedemann Vogel and Jason Reilly to name a few), a new building for the John Cranko School, a diaspora of alumni now choreographing or leading companies, and a 94 percent audience attendance rate. I spoke with Anderson over the phone last month to reflect on his career and to see what's next for him.

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Photo via the Bolshoi Theatre.

With its glitz, glamour and funny statues, the Benois de la Danse has a lot in common with the awards show it’s often compared to: the Oscars. While we’re all for gowns and red carpets, we prefer tutus and opera houses—much like the Bolshoi Theatre where, on Tuesday, Yury Grigorovich announced the jury’s winners.

The nominees, hailing from countries and companies worldwide, were recognized for their outstanding achievements in ballet performance and creation. But there could only be a few victors. So, without further ado, the awards for the 2016 Benois de la Danse go to:

Best Female Dancer

Alicia Amatriain of Stuttgart Ballet (Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar named Desire and The Devil in The Soldier’s Tale)

Hannah O’Neill of the Paris Opéra Ballet (Title role in Paquita)

O’Neill with Mathias Heymann in La Bayadère . Photo by Little Shao courtesy of POB via Dance Magazine.

Best Male Dancer

Kimin Kim of the Mariinsky Ballet (Solor in La Bayadère at POB)

Best Choreographer

Yuri Possokhov (Hero of Our Time, Bolshoi Ballet)

Johan Inger (Carmen, Compañia Nacional de Danza and One on One, Nederlands Dans Theater)

Benois-Moscow-Massine-Positano Prize

Ekaterina Krysanova of Bolshoi Ballet

Great Partnering Artistry Prize

Oleksandr Ryabko of Hamburg Ballet

Lifetime Achievement Award

John Neumeier, choreographer and Hamburg Ballet artistic director

Edward Watson of The Royal Ballet

Best Scenographer

Ren Dongsheng, (Emperor Yu Li, Beijing Dance Academy)

 

Possokhov demonstrates a partnering sequence on Bolshoi dancers. Photo by Quinn Wharton via Dance Magazine.

It seems like the jury couldn’t pick just one winner for the Best Female Dancer and Best Choreographer categories. (How does one rate different degrees of flawlessness?) The Americans—Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns and Justin Peck, all nominated for Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes—didn’t top the list. But Yuri Possokhov is a bit of a Russian expat in America; he’s been San Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer since his retirement from the company in 2006.

With the busy spring performance season well underway, we’re already keeping an eye out for potential 2017 standouts.

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

 

Alicia Amatrian. Photo Courtesy Stuttgart Ballet.

Stuttgart Ballet's Alicia Amatriain finds freedom in new roles.

In reaching the top, how much is talent and how much is sweat?

A person I admire once said: You must be in the right place at the right time. There is so much work behind it, but there is luck, as well. I've seen a lot of talent come and go and never achieve anything. If you don't have anyone believing in you, no matter how hard you work, I don't know if you can get to the top.

What's the toughest part of being a dancer?

Not being able to be with my family in Spain. It's been many years since I left home, and it's hard not being there for birthdays, Christmas. It's a big sacrifice that dancers have to make.

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Roberto Bolle’s no longer just a superstar dancer. (Or a jaw-dropping model, for that matter.) This fall, he'll try out his hand as artistic director, leading a special one-night event, Roberto Bolle and Friends Gala. The program, to be held at New York City Center on September 17, is part of the celebration 2013–The Year in Italian Culture, and will feature performances from Dresden Semperoper’s Jiří Bubeníček and Stuttgart’s Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly—as well as Bolle, of course. The Italian ballet icon answered a few of Pointe's questions about this latest twist in his career.

 

What inspired this program?

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented international dancers from the best companies. Naturally, I wanted to bring such great energy together in a single show. They are my colleagues onstage as well as my friends in real life.


What does it mean to you to be an Italian dancer who's become an international star?

It’s a honor and a privilege, but also a responsibility. Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, rich with the most extraordinary cultural and artistic tradition. So, you know, it’s not easy to be good enough, to excel. I try my best, every day. Ballet is not just a job, but my whole life and I do it with love, passion and fun! 

Is there anything that you’d say is particularly “Italian” about your artistry? 

I was deeply influenced by Italian art and by the Italian ballet school—I studied and had my debut at La Scala Theatre in Milan. Without a doubt, the atmosphere of the Italian cities where I spent most of my life played a very strong role in my artistic “education.” Italians have a strong love for the beautiful in any form, from fine arts to architecture, from fashion to design and films. I make no exception at all!


What’s been the highlight of your career? 

Dancing in Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee. It was, I think, the most unreal experience I’ve had.

What advice would you offer students who dream of a career like yours?
Pursue your dream, know your limits, push them as much as you reasonably can, work harder than hard. Live your passion—dance is not a job. 

 

 

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