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South Africa International Ballet Competition Announces Awards & Special Prizes For 2020 Virtual Event

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South Africa International Ballet Competition Announces Awards & Special Prizes For 2020 Virtual Event

On Mandela Day 18 July 2020, the 7th South African Ballet International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) came to a close with a spectacular Gala featuring dancers from across the globe and presented virtually through an app in a ground breaking move hailed as a world first. The finale event paid tribute to the dancer, creative and LGBTQI+ activist Kirvan Fortuin who was tragically murdered in Cape Town last month.

Gala performers included this year's double gold medallists Xinyue Zhao, 20 (Junior category) and Chongzheng Guan, 21 (Senior category) from the National Ballet of China and several SAIBC alumni such as Swiss-based South African dancers Leroy Mokgatle and Joshua Williams, Antonio Casalinho and Margarita Fernandes from Portugal, Aaron Smyth from Australia, and Annija Kopstale and Elza Leimane from Latvia.

The 2020 Jury was led by Chair Ted Brandsen, Artistic Director of Dutch National Ballet in The Netherlands. Joining him was an illustrious panel that included Runqiao Du, Artistic Director of the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, USA; Roberta Martins from the Zürich Dance Academy in Switzerland; South African Thoriso Magongwa from The National Theatre of Brno in the Czech Republic; Charlene Campbell Carey, President of Ballet Without Borders and Artistic Director of Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre; Professor Geung Soo Kim, the President of the Ballet Society in South Korea; Madame Feng Ying the Director from the National Ballet of China in Beijing; Martha Iris Fernandez Aguero Deputy Director from National Ballet School in Havana, Cuba; Annarella Sánchez, head of the Annarella Institute of Ballet & Dance in Portugal and Christoph Böhm from the Berlin State Ballet School in Germany.

155 competitors were adjudicated this year, the largest number of entries received since the SAIBC's inception in 2008. Male and female dancers competed separately in three categories: Scholars (age 12-15), Juniors (age 16-20) and Seniors (age 21-28). Medals, bursaries and scholarships to ballet schools and summer intensive programmes at some of the finest dance training institutions in the world were awarded and also entry into other ballet competitions. Because of the challenges faced during the global COVID19 Lockdown there were no elimination rounds this year.

The top scoring country was China with 17 medals followed by South Korea with 7winners. Double gold medalists were Brady Farrar, 15 (USA), Francisco Gomes, 17 (Portugal), Xinyue Zhao, 20, (China) and Jiayuan Ou, 23 (China). Three South Africans placed, namely Paige McElligott, 17 who tied for silver in the Junior classical section; Ane Bierman who tied for bronze in the junior contemporary section and Alexia Munn, 13, who tied for bronze in the scholar contemporary section. Other South Africans who won special prizes for excellent performances were Miguel Kenneth Franco-Green, Gia Lipschitz, Navin Jacobs, Irisa Van Niekerk and Emma Wood. South Africans Sikhumbuzo Hlahleni from Cape Town and Navin Jacobs from Johannesburg received a CEO Commendation along with Yu Jin Jang, Ha min Park, Dmitri Donaldson Govertson and Caroline Costa.

The 2020 SAIBC results are as follows:

SCHOLARS

Contemporary

Male

Gold Brady Farrar, 15 (USA)

Silver Alberto Gil Vicente, 14 (Spain)

Bronze Zihan Kong, 15 (China)

Female

Gold Margarida Gonçalves, 15 (Portugal)

Silver Madison Brown, 15 (USA) and Mengxuan Yan, 13 (China)

Bronze Minseo Chung, 14 (South Korea), Alexia Munn, 13 (South Africa) and Juliana Wilder, 13 (USA)

SCHOLARS

Classical

Male

Gold Brady Farrar, 15 (USA)

Silver KangWon Lee, 15 (South Korea)

Bronze Alberto Gil Vicente, 14 (Spain)

Female

Gold MinSeo Chung, 14 (South Korea)

Silver Yoon Seon Jun, 13 (South Korea) and Yujeong Kang, 16 (South Korea)

Bronze Mengxuan Yan, 13 (China) and Yaeri Kim, 15 (South Korea),

JUNIORS

Contemporary

Male

Gold Francisco Gomes, 17 (Portugal)

Silver Yasiel Bello Hodelin, 18 (Cuba)

Bronze Sun Pengxiang, 18 (China)

Female

Gold Xinyue Zhao, 20 (China)

Silver Alice McArthur, 16 (New Zealand)

Bronze Ane Bierman, 18 (South Africa) and Margarida Abreu, 17 (Portugal)

JUNIORS

Classical

Male

Gold Francisco Gomes, 17 (Portugal)

Silver Yasiel Hodelin Bello, 18 (Cuba)

Bronze Sun Pengxiang 18 (China)

Female

Gold Xinyue Zhao, 20 (China)

Silver Alice McArthur ,16 (New Zealand) and Paige McElligott, 17 (South Africa)

Bronze Brianna Guagliardo, 16 (USA) and Eugin Ahn, 16 (South Korea)

SENIORS

Contemporary

Male

Gold Chongzheng Guan, 21 (China)

Silver Yeodong Sun, 23 (China)

Bronze Ze Wu, 23 (China)

Female

Gold Jiayuan Ou, 23 (China)

Silver Yongyu Chen, 21 (China)

SENIORS

Classical

Male

Gold Chongzheng Guan, 21 (China)

Silver Yeodong Sun, 23 (China)

Bronze Ze Wu, 23 (China)

Female

Gold Jiayuan Ou,23 (China)

Silver Yongyu Chen, 21 (China)

The special awards are as follows:

Ted Brandsen, Jury Chair and the Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet offered several dancers, both medallists and dancers who didn't place on the podium, various opportunities at the Dutch National Ballet School, ranging from scholarships, summer schools and student residencies with connections to Dutch National main and junior companies, all to be realised once COVID19 is no longer a threat. They are Paige McElligott, 17 (South Africa), Eugin Ahn, 16 (South Korea), Francisco Gomes, 17 (Portugal), Dane Head, 17 (New Zealand), Navin Jacobs, 17 (South Africa), Alice McArthur, 16 (New Zealand), Sun Pengxiang, 18 (China) and Yasiel Hodelin Bello, 18 (Cuba).

Juliana Wilder, 13 (USA) was granted a week at the Zürich Dance Academy by Juror Roberta Martins, and Gia Lipschitz, 11 (South Africa) and Francisco Gomes (Portugal) were awarded the opportunity to participate in the international ballet competition in Cuba next year, without having to do the first round.

The Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) Grand Prize was awarded to Anthony Mmesome Madu, 11, from Nigeria. Madu won a full Scholarship to attend BBB in Los Angeles or Montana in 2021, accompanied by his teacher Daniel Owoseni Ajala, with all expenses paid. Additionally, twenty-five contestants have been invited by BBB's Charlene Campbell Carey to attend the Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) in Los Angeles or Missoula, Montana next year. They are Soyul Kim, Miguel Kenneth Franco-Green, Yaeri Kim, KangWon Lee, SoJeong Park, Jihye Shin, Seunghwan Hyun, Gia Lipschitz, Madison Brown, Irisa Van Niekerk, Bo Gyeong Kim, Emma Wood, Maria Balinha, Lucas Henry, Mengxuan Yan, Jadeline Gardner - Sandiford, Brady Farrar, Claire Ancell, Wing Yan (Ibby ) Chow, Na-eun Kim, Natalie Henry, Minseo Chung, Sarah Van Breemen, Alberto Gil Vicente, Paige McElligott, Laura Viola, Sun Pengxiang, Francisco Gomes, Yasiel Hodelin Bello, Navin Jacobs, Natalia Bovio Pineda, Tianbao Guo, Alice McArthur, Chloe Windell, Zihan Kong and Larissa Pinto.

The SAIBC also hosted a series of free daily panel discussions live streamed to the SAIBC Facebook page, attended and facilitated by members of the Jury and some of the ballet world's most prolific experts, schools, and heads of ballet schools, outreach and development projects and Artistic Directors of top international ballet companies. This was the first time an international ballet competition has been a conduit for crucial conversations around ballet in Africa, the use of the art form in PTSD therapy and gender equality. Discussions such as these will continue to take place regularly, facilitated by Badenhorst until the next SAIBC is held.

The 2020 Gala can be viewed until 21 July at R200 per ticket via the free ArtOfLife app available on the App Store and Google Play Store. www.saibc.com.


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