Genée International Ballet Competition in Antwerp for the first time

English: Photo by unknown of Adeline Genee in ...

Photo by unknown of Adeline Genee in “Camargo”. London, 1897. Sydney, 1912 cf. Photo comes from my collection and was scanned by me. Mrlopez2681 05:01, 25 December 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1886, Anina Jensen, a farmer’s daughter, was adopted at age eight by her uncle, Alexander Genée, director of a modest touring ballet company. Her uncle and his wife, Antonia Zimmermann, tained the girl in the mastery of movement and brought her on stage to be admired by the public when she revealed a precocious talent and made her first stage appearance in Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway, at age 10 under the name Adeline Genée. Already in 1895, she became the principal dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen. Subsequently, in 1896, she danced with the Berlin Royal Opera Ballet and the Munich Opera Ballet.

Thanks to the opportunities she got from her uncle and the teaching of need for reviving earlier productions and creating an audience for more elaborate works, Adeline Genée opened the way for ballet-productions which could survive time. Her aim of improving the standard of dance and the teaching of dance in the United Kingdom was welcomed by Philip Richardson of the Dancing Time magazine, for long time the best linking magazine for teachers in the U.K. and abroad.

She became invited to take on the first presidency of the Association of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain which was later to become the Royal Academy of Dancing, which still holds a high position in the world of amateur and professional dancing. Today the R.A.D. offers a wide range of exams and assessments to motivate and reward students of all ages and abilities. From the early years onwards they tried to bring live in the child, giving also freedom, creativity and musicality, though provided a very good build up system with their graded system providing opportunities to progress and achieve and giving a variety of variations and a graded examination system so that several classes and schools could be compared at the same level.

Genée International Ballet Competition

Genée International Ballet Competition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After RAD’s first president Dame Adeline Genée DBE, the R.A.D. flagship annual event “The Genée International Ballet Competition” was created and grew out to an international renowned competition. First of all it attracts the finest young dancers trained in the RAD syllabus, from around the globe. But what is very important to this competition is that candidates receive a unique opportunity to work with renowned choreographers and teachers for five days before performing at the semi-finals, and then the final, where they compete for a range of medals.

You could say there is a high tradition of R.A.D. teaching in the Common Wealth countries, so evidently the Anglo-Saxon countries would be attracted very much to get the competition over into their country as well. It took until 2002 before the RAD took the decision to hold the competition outside London for the first time, taking it to Australia where Sydney Opera House played host to a record number of candidates. Following that success, the Genée has now been hosted around the world. As part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2004 the Genée competition got hosted by Athens and found itself two years later in Hong Kong. 2008 saw its North American début in Toronto. After Singapore in 2009, it returned to London the year after.

South Africa in 2011 hosted the event in Cape Town, adding a community legacy project, Sizodanisa – ‘Let’s Dance!’. Next on the list was New Zealand where Wellington hosted the competition in 2012.

After the Genée was hosted for the first time in Scotland (Glasgow) it has found its way oversee in the tiny country Belgium. When you know that past Genée medalists have gone on to work for some of the best ballet companies around the world, of which the Ballet of Flanders is one of them, it is no surprise that the Brazilian dancer Ricardo Amarante, ex-Genée and now  a soloist with the reduced Ballet Vlaanderen was willing to bring this competition also to Antwerp.

An examination board that oversees the teaching of classical ballet in 79 countries, to strict standards of excellence may be looking forward to get 59 candidates from 10 countries to present themselves in Antwerp.

Ricardo Amarante shall not easily forget 1 January, 1998. As a young Brazilian dancer he then embarked on an intense two-week regimen of practice and rehearsals with other young talents from around the world. Being thrown before the lions he had to prove himself on this training and on the Genée International Ballet Competition.

“I didn’t win a medal, but the competition still kick-started my career. I learned so much during the contact with teachers and other dancers. I became a different – more mature – dancer.”

For the first time in its 83-year-history this competition will be in Antwerp, but for Amarante it shall be a return looking at it from the other site. This time he will be the choreographer who has to provide two solos for this year’s batch of young hopefuls, who will vie for one of the top medals.

For Amarante, 34, who is contemplating a conversion from dance to choreography, it is a chance to turn over an exciting new leaf.

“I have come full circle,” he says. “For the second time in my life, the Genée is offering me a new beginning.”

From his days Amarante remembers the excellent teachers and pianists. He reached the semi-finals and reaped enormous benefits from the Genée. For sure in Antwerp again there will be very good pianists and Amarante’s solos will be studied under his guidance by all competitors. Though only semi-finalists will get to perform them for the public. There are two versions, one for girls, and one for boys, with both set to music by up-and-coming Japanese composer Sayo Kosugi.

The most interesting bit in viewing the competitors is that all get the same base, but then mostly the choreographer give them also the change to build in their personal accents, which makes no performance the same.

Because every dancer is different the best ones will be those who achieve the most clarity and intensity and get with their personality the spectators moved.

Foto: Last night, RAD's CEO Luke Rittner welcomed the 58 Genee International Ballet Competition candidates to Antwerp, aboard the cruise ship Marjorie.Coaching starts today. Good luck candidates!

Last night, RAD’s CEO Luke Rittner welcomed the 58 Genee International Ballet Competition candidates to Antwerp, aboard the cruise ship Marjorie.

“Of course, technique is important,” says RAD artistic director and teacher Lynn Wallis. “It underpins everything. But what I try to bring out in them is their own interpretations. I try to encourage them to really respond to the music, to really let their bodies sing the music.”

Last night, RAD’s CEO Luke Rittner welcomed the 58 Genee International Ballet Competition candidates to Antwerp, aboard the cruise ship Marjorie.
Coaching started today.

Foto: And more candidates enjoying themselves at our welcome reception yesterday!

Candidates enjoying themselves at our welcome reception yesterday!

It is a shame, in Belgium is not much more done to inform the possible public. I noticed the performance of the Royal Ballet of Flanders is already sold out, which is very good. But people who do not live in Antwerp did not come to hear about this important event in time.
If I would have known earlier in the year I also would have taken care to be able to see the competition. Now I am more than 1700km away from Antwerp and do not see an opportunity to be there.

I wish the R.A.D. organisation a marvellous experience in Antwerp and do hope the candidates and their supervisors, monitors and companions shall have a nice time never to forget in Antwerp.


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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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