Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin in "Diamonds." Photo by E. Fetisova, Courtesy Bolshoi Ballet

In November, Lincoln Center announced that three of the world's biggest companies—New York City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet—would present a collaborative performance of George Balanchine's Jewels July 20–23 in honor of the ballet's 50th anniversary. Each company will take an act, with the Paris Opéra performing "Emeralds" and NYCB and the Bolshoi alternating performances of "Rubies" and "Diamonds." Yesterday, Lincoln Center finally announced what we've all been waiting for: the all-star cast list. (As well as rising stars–Alena Kovaleva and Jacopo Tissi, two young Bolshoi corps members, are slated to dance the leads in "Diamonds" for one performance.) Check out the list below this trailer!

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Hannah O'Neill photographed by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

This is Pointe's August/September 2016 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

What a difference four years have made for Hannah O'Neill. In 2012, as a foreign dancer on a temporary corps contract with the Paris Opéra Ballet, a botched arabesque in La Bayadère's “Kingdom of the Shades" scene led her to believe her French career was over. Last December, however, she was back on the Opéra Bastille stage in the same ballet, as Gamzatti. Newly promoted to first soloist, she led the company opposite étoile Dorothée Gilbert, showcasing the pencil lines and robust technique that have made her a local favorite.

At just 23, the young New Zealander has quickly established herself as one of the faces of the “Millepied generation." Her technical strength and fresh stage presence, backed up by a solid dose of sangfroid, made her a perfect fit for outgoing director Benjamin Millepied's focus on new blood and repertoire in Paris. In the two short seasons he spent there, she climbed the ranks and impressed with her precocious fearlessness in classical full-lengths, from Swan Lake to Paquita.


O'Neill as Gamzatti in "La Bayadère." Photo by Little Shao, Courtesy POB.

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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.

 

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