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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San Francisco Ballet in class during World Ballet Day 2016. Photo Courtesy SFB.

Here at Pointe, every day feels like World Ballet Day, though the official 2018 event took place on Tuesday. While WBD is a thrill for any bunhead, it can also be overwhelming. How are you supposed to sit in front of your computer all day when you have class and rehearsal and work and a life? We get it, and we're here to help.

To give you a chance to catch up, we've rounded up WBD videos from 26 companies. So grab some popcorn, a backlog of pointe shoes to sew, and settle in. If you start watching now, you might just be done in time for WBD 2019.

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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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Anderson leads company class onstage. Photo by Ulrich Beuttenmueller, Courtesy Stuttgart Ballet.

Name the most prominent choreographers and directors in continental Europe, and the list reads like a who's who of Stuttgart Ballet alumni. John Neumeier, Jirí Kylián and William Forsythe all came up through the ranks of the German company. Four decades after the death of its founder, choreographer John Cranko, Stuttgart Ballet remains a trendsetter under artistic director Reid Anderson, himself a product of the Stuttgart company.

Anderson has mastered an impressive balancing act. Extremes live in peaceful coexistence under the company's repertory system: On alternate nights, dancers might go from the period costumes of Cranko's Onegin or The Taming of the Shrew to the sleek leotards associated with its contemporary in-house creations. As many as five or six premieres make their way to the stage each season. Creativity is also encouraged through the Noverre-Society, an organization created in 1958 that supports new works.

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