South Africa Makes Ballet History On The Bolshoi Stage In Moscow This Month
For the first time in the history of the Prix Benois De La Danse International Ballet Competition there will be two representatives from South Africa at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow: South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) Founder Dirk Badenhorst takes his place as the first ever South African jury member, and Soweto-born dancer Andile Ndlovu (pictured), now USA based, will perform in the prestigious event gala on 22 May as one of this year's 27 nominees for the Benois de la Danse award as Best Male Dancer for his role as 'Mercutio' in Washington Ballet's Romeo and Juliet.
The Benois de la Danse, founded by the International Dance Association in Moscow in 1991, is one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. The prestigious jury panel that changes every year, awards statuettes to the winners in the categories of lifelong achievement, best ballerina, best danseur, best choreographer, best composer and best designer. Says Dirk Badenhorst, "it's like the Oscars of the ballet competition world, where the the very best are considered for an uber prestigious and covered prize." In 1992, the Prix Benois De La Danse International Ballet Competition succeeded in obtaining the patronage of UNESCO and French sculptor Igor Ustinov designed the award statuette. Ustinov is the son of the famous actor Peter Ustinov and a great-nephew of Alexandre Benois (1870-1960) after whom the competition and prize is named.
The jury for the this year comprise of some of the most impressive leaders in the world of ballet: Ted Brandsen the Director of Dutch National Ballet; Svetlana Zakharova from the Bolshoi Ballet Star; Ana Laguna anInternational Ballet Star and coach; Agnes Letestu of the Paris Opera Ballet Star and Designer; Vladimir Malakov an International Ballet Star and Choreographer; Rachel Moore the President and Executive Director of the Los Angeles Music Centre, and Dirk Badenhorst the Founder and CEO of the South African International Ballet Competition and Artistic Director of Mzansi Ballet.
The Benois de la Danse dance nominees, 27 in total this year, include world ballet stars Amandine Albisson (Paris Opera Ballet); Ashley Bouder (New York City Ballet); Elisa Carrillo Cabrera (State Ballet of Berlin); Maia Makhateli (Dutch National Ballet); Anastasia Stashkevich (Bolshoi Theatre); Yuan Yuan Tan (San Francisco Ballet); Kaho Yanagisawa (Royal Swedish Ballet); Audric Bezard (Paris Opera Ballet); Daniel Camargo (Dutch National Ballet); Vadim Muntigarov (Royal Ballet); Abel Rojo (Malpaso Company); Daniil Simpkin (American Ballet Theatre) and Andile Ndlovu (The Washington Ballet). The dancers don't compete at the event but are rather nominated via various jury members who then make their final choice on 20 May and announce the winners in the various categories on 21 May.
Mr Badenhorst, the first South African jury member at competitions in Russia, China, Cuba, USA and South Korea, also became the first South African jury member of the Benois de la Danse when he was recommended by the former director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Ms Brigitte Lefevre. He was requested to nominate the best male dancer, female dancer, best choreographer, best designer and best composer in the world for 2018 and in the Best Male Dancer category, he nominated South African ballet dancer Andile Ndlovu. The Benois nominations were made public globally last month.
The gala event will take place on the May 22, 2019 and in addition to the nominees, dancers include the Prima-Ballerina of the Hamburg Ballet Anna Laudere, who was awarded the 2018 Benois-Massine Prize, and soloists of Hubbard Street Dance from Chicago.
Andile Ndlovu relocated to Washington in the United States of America after being invited to a summer intensive by the then director of Washington Ballet, Septime Webre, who was a judge at the inaugural SAIBC in 2008. His time there was so successful that he progressed to the studio company before joining the main company where he is today. Andile returns to South Africa regularly and to dance in numerous ballet SAIBC and Mzansi Ballet performances and to work with local dancers and organisations to inspire passion and a love of ballet in young South African dancers.