The National Ballet Contest - Constanţa '94

The city on the shore of Pontus Euxinus, which time and again unravels new vestiges of ancient civilization, the old city of Tomis is, at present, building up a cultural profile of considerable complexity: museums, theatres, one opera, art festivals and contests. The contribution of dance to the shaping of this image has become capital, primarily due to the presence in this city, starting 1978, of an artistic personality of the caliber of Oleg Danovski.In the said year, in Constanţa, yet another choreographic company, under the directorship of Oleg Danovski, competing with the ballet corps of the Lyrical Theatre. Two ballet companies in the same city are – save the capital and Cluj – a past and present exception to the rule. The uncommon case was, primarily, that of a young company not artistically subordinate to any theatre of a different orientation. A complete emancipation, nevertheless, occurred as late as 1989 when the additional right to a self-governing organization structure was bestowed thereon. Thus, the company became the first national Theatre of Classical and Contemporary Ballet, nowadays revered locally and abroad. Another "madman's dream", as he himself terms it, was carried through by Oleg Danovski last year when, upon his initiative, the first National Ballet Contest event was organized in Constanţa. And his dreams do not end here as, in this year's edition, held from the 6th to the 12th of June, he announced his intention of turning this into an international competition, alternative with that in Varna.Furthermore, the foundations of yet another institution were set in Constanţa, capital to the development of the art of dance: the choreography department at the School of Arts. This year, it produced the first fully-instructed batch of alumni; its students distinguished themselves in the section Romanian dance, at the inter-school contest of choreography schools. They also excelled in contemporary dance, at The National Ballet Contest. Concurrently, starting this year, Oleg Danovski's Theatre of Classical and Contemporary Ballet will be able to also recruit dancers from the nursery groomed by its own city.The ambitions of the maestro Oleg Danovski go beyond that. Aside from the afore-mentioned gymnasium, a three-year college will be inaugurated this autumn, which should give an academic grounding to young ballet dancers. The choreography department of the Academy of Theatre and Film in Bucharest, designed for choreographers and instructors, will be yielding the first promotion of academic graduates this year, concomitant with the first steps taken by the ballet performers enrolled at the Constanţa College. The consequences of these feats will, of course, become visible in time, but their moment of initiation remains capital. The same may be said about the National Ballet Contest which has, from one edition to the next, expanded and gained in prestige, the significance of which, nevertheless, will become self-evident only in years to come. The contest was organized by the county committee, the Inspectorate for Culture and the Theatre of Classical and Contemporary Ballet in Constanţa, in collaboration with the National Committee for Dance in Romania (under the aegis of UNESCO) and with the Gymnasium of Arts (Choreography Department) in Constanţa, under the high patronage of the Ministry of Culture.Chaired by choreologist Gabriel Negri, the jury was formed by choreographers, instructors and performers from Bucharest, Cluj, Chişinău and Constanţa, whereas contestants, aged between 14 and 26, prevalently from Bucharest and Constanţa, but also from Chişinău and Timişoara, competed under three age categories in two different sections: classical and contemporary dance.On a theory level, the contest regulations outran facts in allowing students of public and private ballet schools to enlist, although, for the latter to emerge, a legal frame is still expected.For the time being, the contest represents an opportunity of timely launch for students in the state system and of evidencing the artistic value and technical perfection of youths form all the ballet companies; for everybody, Constanţa sets the path to major international contests. The Ministry of Culture has provided the funds for the 1st through 3rd prizes in all competing categories, added to the sponsorship for the remaining prizes from the part of the press and local companies, private persons, as well as of Mr. Oleg Danovski and Mr. Constantin Duţu, and even of jury members.The competition has revealed many talents, some of them still disciples, others with a well-defined professional status. Whilst the prize winners of the first junior category (14 to 16 years) – Section: Classical Dance, Cătălina Măgureanu (1st prize), Elade Sineaev (2nd prize) and Sorina Şerban (3rd prize) are promising in accuracy of execution, their co-contestants in the second junior category (16 to 19 years), Mateia Săndulescu and Alexandru Fotescu (1st prize), Olimpia Cheţa and Mircea Crăciun (2nd prize), Cosmina Zaharia and Ciprian Oprişan (3rd Prize) attest a high level of training, visible in the firmness and elegance of line. We wish to emphasize the artistic maturity and technical quality of the performance of Olimpia Cheţa and Alexandru Fotescu and the expectancy of great technicality on the part of Mircea Crăciun. The seniors in the same category of Classical Dance (22 to 26 years) Elisabeta Ogreanu and Horaţiu Cherecheş (1st prize), Silvia Ivan and Constantin Georgescu (2nd prize), Cristina Uţă and Cristian Tarcea (3rd prize) performed according to their professional dancer status. Compelling to the attention of onlookers were markedly Elisabeta Ogreanu with her impeccably true-to-the-epoch interpretation of La Sylphide, Silvia Ivan and her flawless variation technique in Don Quixote, Horaţiu Cherecheş and his technical performance in interpreting the variations in the same ballet, and Constantin Georgescu, with his elegant silhouette and his noble interpretation of Auber's Pas classique.This year's contemporary dance section hosted an increased number of competitors; the event in itself was, due to the rich choreography, a genuine miniature recital. Nevertheless, this section poses complex issues relative to the definitional aspect of dancing styles; these necessitate clarifying in same-themed round tables. Nonetheless: the prize-winners, each devoted to the dancing genre entered for, were, in juniors, Bianca Fânaru and Mircea Crăciun (1st prize), Mateia Stănculescu and Alexandru Fotescu (2nd prize), Cosmina Zaharia and Ciprian Oprişan (3rd prize). Among these, Bianca Fânaru and Mateia Stănculescu excelled in bodily graphicalness, Mircea Crăciun, in the inwardly rooted accent placed on motion. The laureates in seniors for the homologous section (age category: 19 to 26 years) were Simona Iliescu and Horaţiu Cherecheş (1st prize), Varvara Ştefănescu and Răzvan Mazilu (2nd prize), Monica Petrică and Daniel Precuş (3rd prize). All three prize-winning female performers were outstanding in the statuesqueness of a remarkably graphical figure, as was Răzvan Mazilu, in his extremely valuable personality of contemporary dance.

by Liana Tugearu