Shanghai ballet competition fails to award top prize

Three Chinese dancers were honored the Golden Award Saturday night at the 6th Shanghai International Ballet Competition awards ceremony, but the top prize remained out of reach.
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Three Chinese dancers were honored the Golden Award Saturday night at the 6th Shanghai International Ballet Competition awards ceremony, after a concentrated six-day battle on stage. The Grand Prix, however, was not awarded, with the jury saying they didn't find what they expected.

“The general level of the contestants this time is better, but we failed to see any dancers with a strong personality like the Grand Prix winner Omelchenko Olexander two years ago,” said jury member Andris Liepa, the former principal dancer of Bolshoi Ballet, who was also a judge of the 5th Shanghai International Dance Competition.

This year's Golden Awards were bestowed upon Ao Dingwen for senior division female, Shi Yue for senior division male, and Li Siyi for junior division female. The Golden Award for junior division male was not awarded. Smyth Aaron John from Australia was given the Special Jury Award for Best Performer.

“It was a pity that we did not have a Grand Prix winner,” Liepa said, “but finding such talent is much like fishing, you don't succeed every time.”

Rather than merely excellent technique, “artistry, expression and dancing with heart” are among the qualities that jurors are looking for in the competition, according to Frank. A. Anderson, chairperson of the jury panel and former artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet.

“Audiences may like the big jump. We jurors do, too. But it is only a small part of it,” he said. "Technique may support you in a 55-second variation, but it will not help you master a 3-hour show. You need more than that.”

In the competition, the judges witnessed wonderful performances by many Chinese dancers, which is not that common in other competitions, according to Liepa.

The Chinese dancers who used to be a “best kept secret” to the world 20 years ago are no secret anymore, with many dancing principal roles worldwide, Anderson said.

“They learnt ballet tradition from the West, absorbed it and formed their dance vocabulary, which is very impressive."

Four other prizes, Choreography Award, Partner Award, Contemporary Performer Award and Encouragement Award, were also granted Saturday.

The online-stream of the competition attracted more than 1.9 million viewers, about 70 percent of whom were under 28.

Ti Gong

Chinese dancer Ao Dingwen was given a Golden Award.

Ti Gong

Chinese dancer Shi Yue was given a Golden Award.

Chinese dancer Li Siyi was given a Golden Award.

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