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.
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.
“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.
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.
- Antwerp ballet student makes final of Youth America Grand Prix (flanderstoday.eu)
Mikiya Kakehashi, a student of the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp, has won the European semi-finals of the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious international competition for dancers in training. He will go to New York next April to take part in the final. Mikiya impressed the judges at the Brussels semi-final with a mix of classical and modern dance.
- Crewe dancers to appear with English Youth Ballet (crewechronicle.co.uk)
Two South Cheshire schoolgirls will be appearing in the English Youth Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty at the weekend.
Nine-year-old Madison Pickersgill, from Haslington and 14-year-old Rebecca Elsmore, who lives in Church Lawton, were both selected at an audition in June this year from over 250 young hopefuls.They will appear in a lavish adaptation of The Sleeping Beauty at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton for three performances over the weekend of September 19 and 20 with the English Youth Ballet (EYB).
An EYB spokesman said: “All the young dancers in the cast will dance alongside EYB’s stunning international principal artists in a professional production. They will gain an insight into what life is like as a professional ballet dancer.”
- Young Dancer Off to National School (blogs.abc.net.au)
Young Townsville dancer Dane Reid is celebrating an offer from the prestigious Australian Ballet School.
- Mariinsky ballet returns to the Royal Opera House (voiceofrussia.com)
The unrivalled Mariinsky ballet returns to the Royal Opera House with an eagerly awaited three-week season presented by Victor Hochhauser. The season opens with the return of one of the most cherished and admired Russian ballets of the 20th century, Mikhail Lavrovsky’s celebrated realisation of Romeo and Juliet to Prokofiev’s music, created at the Mariinsky Theatre in January 1940.
- Historic theater presents 21st Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival (george-frideric-handel.information-about-music.com)
The southern province of Antalya’s historic Aspendos Theater will host the 21st International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival between Aug. 30-Sept. 24. The festival has been organized with the collaboration of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the State Opera and Ballet General Directorate since 1994. It gained international status in 1998, being one of the most important organizations in the international art scene.
So far, the festival has brought together many Turkish and foreign artists and groups in the extraordinary acoustics of the 2,000-year-old Aspendos Theater.
This year, the festival will host İzmir, Mersin, Antalya, Ankara and Antalya opera and ballet directorates, as well as foreign guests including the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theater and Italian Taormina Festival Opera.
- National Ballet of Canada returns to New York (thestar.com)
“New York, New York, a helluva town,” wrote the Tony Award-winning team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the 1944 Broadway hit On the Town. It remains a rallying call for performers and artists of all stripes because, as Liza Minnelli so famously sang more than 30 years later, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
Success in the Big Apple offers international credibility. It places you in the major leagues. And it explains why the National Ballet of Canada, which returns to perform in New York City this week after a nine-year absence, is eager once again to test itself before some of the world’s most demanding critics and discerning dance audiences.
On Tuesday, at Lincoln Center’s 2,600-seat David H. Koch Theater, where it last performed 35 years ago, the Toronto-based company opens a six-day, seven-performance run of one of its most successful productions ever, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, based on the beloved Lewis Carroll tale.
- San Diego teen off to Royal Ballet School in London (utsandiego.com)
- Local Ballet dancers excel (jbaynews.com)
Out of 13 Examination entries, excluding Assessments, the Studio received 8 Distinctions.
The students range in ages from 4 years up to 16 Years of age.
- PNB principal Carla Körbes announces retirement (blogs.seattletimes.com)
A very sad surprise today for fans of Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes, who announced today that she is retiring at the end of the 2014-2015 season. Körbes, who is in her early 30s, explained her decision in a statement to this morning:
“I have had unforgettable moments with Pacific Northwest Ballet,” said Ms. Körbes regarding her decision. “I am thankful and honored to have shared the stage with all the dancers at PNB and have had the opportunity to work with such a generous staff. At this moment I am ready to start a new phase in my life. My body is ready to move on, so I need to respect that. Ballet has been my life, so I hope to continue to explore the art form in new ways and try new artistic endeavors.”
Körbes, a native of Brazil, joined PNB in 2005 after nine years in New York, as a student at the School of American Ballet and a New York City Ballet company member.
- Dancing toward perfection (pamplinmediagroup.com)
Three young women walk to the pale pink wall in a studio at June Taylor’s School of Dance in Tualatin. They line up along the barre a few feet apart, and perfectly synchronized, they begin dancing to the tune of live piano music. Calculated, practiced, memorized. When one plies, they all do. When one switches sides, they all do. When one gets off tempo, it’s as though the rest focus their energies to make her realign. They dance for a few minutes, and then stop at the end of a set.
“If you never get a chance to actually show people what you do, then I don’t know, it’s not really worth it if you’re just stuck in a room practicing by yourself,” says Taylor. “But (with) performances, you actually get to show people that you can dance.”
And soon, dancers from around the world will see what these three Oregon girls can do.