Trending
Varna IBC competitor Antonio Gameiro Casalinho. Photo by Nina Lokmadzhieva, Courtesy Varna IBC.

Every two years, dancers from all over the world head to the Bulgarian coastal city of Varna to try their luck at the Varna International Ballet competition. Established in 1964, the competition famously takes place at a leafy outdoor theater near the Black Sea, and its roster of past winners (Sylvie Guillem, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova) reads like a who's who of dance history.

This year's IBC, which took place July 15–30, brought together 120 dancers from 34 countries. After the third and final round, the winners were announced over the weekend. Yuan Zhe Zi (Jessica) Xuan, a grand sujet at Dutch National Ballet, won first place in the senior women's category. Sinuo Chang of China took first in the senior men's, while his partner, Siyi Li, placed first in the junior women's category. A few familiar faces from the competition circuit also made the list. Antonio Casolinho, a student at the Academy of Ballet and Dance in Portugal and this year's Junior Grand Prix winner at Youth America Grand Prix, took home the Special Distinction Award, Varna's top prize for juniors. Katherine Barkman, a principal guest artist with Ballet Manila, placed second in the senior women's category, fresh off her silver medal win at June's USA IBC in Jackson.

Read on to see the full list of prizewinners, then head to Varna IBC's Facebook page to catch videos of the competition. Congratulations to all!

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Jenna Anderson, a costume apprentice at UNCSA, hurries to construct a Coppelia-inspired tutu. Photo by Amy Brandt.

It was a hectic scene last Wednesday morning at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Inside a conference room at Jackson's downtown Westin Hotel, strewn pieces of tulle, satin and other trimmings littered the floor, while the frenzied whirring of sewing machines and snipping scissors filled the air. While 100+ young ballet dancers were competing for medals and scholarships at the nearby Thalia Mara Hall, 11 costume designers from the U.S. and Canada were vying to win Project Tutu, a "Project Runway"-inspired contest hosted by USA IBC and Tutu.com. Their challenge? Create a perfectly constructed tutu with three assigned materials... in just three days.

Hand-stitched embellishments by designer Kevin Kreisz of Kiki Kouture. Photo by Amy Brandt.


Keep reading... Show less
News
Canadian junior finalist Mya Kresnyak in a variation from "Paquita." Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

On June 10, 119 dancers from 19 countries gathered in Jackson, MS to compete in the USA International Ballet Competition. Today, the USA IBC announced the list of 32 finalists, who will compete for medals and cash awards in Round III, held June 19-21. All of the finalists will receive a travel stipend, and medalists and award winners will be announced at the competition's gala on June 22. See the full list below, and stay tuned all week on our Facebook and Instagram pages as we bring you the latest from Jackson, live.

Keep reading... Show less
News
2014 Junior Gold Medalist Gisele Bethea and partner Michal Wozniak at the 2014 USA IBC Awards Gala. Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

From June 10–23, 119 competitors from 19 countries will gather in Jackson, Mississippi, for the 11th USA International Ballet Competition. Held every four years, the USA IBC has helped launch the careers of dozens of stars, including Daniil Simkin, Misa Kuranaga and Brooklyn Mack. "The 2014 competition was good, but we're making this year better," says jury chairman John Meehan. Changes include broadened age limits for competitors and a larger sum of prize money. This summer's competition also has a special focus on Marius Petipa in honor of his 200th birthday. There will be an emphasis on Petipa repertoire, and choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will give a workshop for competitors on his reconstructions of original Petipa choreography. This edition will also honor the legacy of Robert Joffrey, who was a catalyst in launching the USA IBC with founder Thalia Mara. Dancers from The Joffrey Ballet will perform in the opening ceremony.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Younji-Grace Choi at the 2014 USA IBC. Choi is now a dancer with Cincinnati Ballet and will return to the USA IBC as a senior competitor this summer. Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

Exciting news today: the USA International Ballet Competition has just announced its list of invited competitors for the summer 2018 competition. The USA IBC has invited 119 dancers from 19 countries out of over 300 applicants to compete in Jackson, MS June 10-23.

Since the last USA IBC in 2014 the competition has expanded its age limits; the junior category now allows dancers ages 14-18 and the senior category dancers ages 19-28. Of the 119 competitors this year, 53 are juniors and 66 are seniors. The United States has the highest number of competitors invited (52), followed by Japan (23) and South Korea (14). The other countries represented are Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
USA IBC 2014 Junior Divison Gold Medal Winner and current American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Gisele Bethea and Michal Wozniak performing in 2014's second round. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

Every four years, dancers from around the world gather in Jackson, Mississippi to compete for medals, cash prizes, scholarships and company contracts as part of the USA International Ballet Competition. While every competition boasts famous former competitors, the USA IBC's impressive list includes Isaac Hernandez, Sarah Lamb, Misa Kuranaga, Nina Ananiashvili, Brooklyn Mack, Daniil Simkin and many more. Though the competition runs from June 10-23 of 2018, it's not too early to apply; applications for the 11th USA IBC opened this week.

If you're 14 years old but itching to enter the competition circuit, it's your lucky year. USA IBC has lowered its age requirement from 15 to 14 (the Prix de Lausanne made a similar change last month). Older dancers can also participate; the competition has extended the senior division limit from 26 to 28 years of age.

Keep reading... Show less
Kyle Froman for Dance Magazine.

As told to Madeline Schrock and Nancy Wozny.

We asked five frequent judges for their advice, their pet peeves and their approach to the scoring process.


Peter Stark

  • Head of the men's program at Boston Ballet School, associate director of Boston Ballet II
  • Valentina Kozlova IBC, Youth America Grand Prix

Igor Burlak, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

I am an advocate for competitions. I know there are people who are against them, but dancers can learn a lot when they're working one-to-one versus in a classroom setting. My mentor Bruce Marks, who was chair of the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson for many years, said, “the process is the prize." It's true. As a coach, I've had dancers win and lose, but I certainly feel like the process of setting a goal and working on something is valuable.

Keep reading... Show less
The Washington Ballet's Tamako Miyazaki and Colorado Ballet's Ariel Breitman as Diana and Actaeon at the 2014 USA IBC. Photo by Richard Finkelstein for Pointe.

A frequent gala and competition showpiece, the variation from "Diana and Actaeon" is a thrilling technical beast. The Washington Ballet's Tamako Miyazaki—whose performance as Diana at last summer's USA International Ballet Competition earned her the silver medal—shares her tips for a winning performance.

1. Channel Your Inner Goddess

In Greek mythology, Diana, goddess of the hunt, turns Actaeon, a mortal hunter, into a stag after he sees her bathing in a river. The "Diana and Actaeon" pas de deux, from the ballet La Esmeralda, doesn't follow the myth's story. Nevertheless, Diana's goddess status should guide your characterization—and in some versions she even carries a bow. "You have to be really strong in your port de bras," says Miyazaki, "and dance bigger than life."

2. Take the Plunge

Miyazaki as Diana. Photo by Richard Finkelstein for Pointe.

The variation opens with a huge sissonne in penchée arabesque. The key? "Just go for it," says Miyazaki. Think about making the longest line possible, from the tips of your fingers to your back toe. Approaching it tentatively won't give you the necessary power for finishing in a strong arabesque position. "Otherwise you'll just fall backwards." But for the double piqué attitude turn that follows, take the opposite approach. "I always try to stay calm," says Miyazaki. "If you have too much force in the attitude turn, it's harder to control rolling down."

3. Press Down to Lift Up 

After the turn finishes in arabesque, precipité into a series of attitude hops on pointe. The last hop extends to arabesque. "You have to be on your leg and controlled in order to transfer into the next step," says Miyazaki. "Rather than think 'Lift up,' I think about pushing down into the floor and creating length in my supporting side so that I can stay on balance and extend my leg to arabesque."

4. A Solid Landing

Miyazaki and Breitman. Photo by Richard Finkelstein for Pointe.

To nail her en dedans pirouette after the tour in à la seconde, Miyazaki makes sure she lands with her heel down in plié. "Then your weight is on your whole foot, and you can control the turn better," she says. "When you land, your body wants to go sideways because you're lifting your leg in second, but if you're leaning, you won't be able to turn. Your pelvis needs to be absolutely square."

5. Push Yourself

For the tour jeté section towards the end, you'll likely feel tired—but don't fizzle out. "You have to jump," says Miyazaki. "This is the finale of the variation, so you have to really sparkle." After the tour jeté, think of jumping down to your knee so that it feels less laborious. "Then push off your back leg to pop up into arabesque."

Keep reading... Show less
Gisele Bethea and Michal Wozniak in a coaching session. Jim Lafferty.

Every four years, dancers from around the globe descend on Jackson, Mississippi, for the USA International Ballet Competition. The only IBC hosted in the U.S. (the others are held in Varna, Bulgaria; Helsinki, Finland; and Moscow), it has served as a major turning point in the early careers of artists such as Nina Ananiashvili, José Manuel Carreño, Johan Kobborg and Sarah Lamb. This June, 99 dancers from 20 countries got their chance to not only compete for medals, but be seen by company and school directors from around the world.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox