The National Ballet Contest - Constanţa '96

Having reached its fourth edition, the National Ballet Contest for dancers between 12 and 26, organized by the Theatre of Classical and Contemporary Ballet in Constanţa, presided by the maestro Oleg Danovski, under the care of The National Dance Committee of Romania, whose president the maestro Danovski is as well, has asserted itself for good in the Romanian choreographic landscape. Youngsters from almost all the choreography schools in the country, first of all from the traditional ones in Bucharest and Cluj, but also from the newly founded ones in Constanţa, Iaşi, Galaţi, Sibiu, etc., and besides them youngsters from Chişinău as well, head every year in June towards the lands of the ancient city of Tomis, ever more of them and ever better prepared. Schoolchildren are joined by dancers under 27 from many of our ballet companies.The contest ended with the laureate gala, followed by a performance of Bela Bartok's The Miraculous Mandarin presented by the Theatre of Classical and Contemporary Ballet in Constanţa, in Oleg Danovski's choreography and featuring Delia Hanţiu and Florin Brânduşe in the main roles. Although this is an individual contest, its finalists also illustrate the level of the various schools they come from. In classical dance the dominant school was the one in Chişinău, followed by Bucharest, Cluj and Constanţa, whereas the Bucharest school headed the list in contemporary dance with a great variety of styles, just like in previous editions. The ChişinăuSchool, brilliant as academic formula, would need a direct and thorough contact with the French, German or American methods and schools of contemporary dance in order to surpass neoclassic formulas, the only freer ones that it has for the moment access to.The gala started with the lovely Cristina Balaban from Chişinău, who was awarded the first prize in classical dance – youngest group (12-15) with a variation from Delibes's Coppelia, executing the doll-girl's mechanical moves with great precision and a good sense of humor. The gala went on with a variation from The Privateer, a fragment belonging to Rodrigo Driga, interpreted by this year's young graduate of the Bucharest school, holder of the first prize in group C (17-19) and a prize-winner in all the contest's editions he took part in, Alexandru Fotescu. Then followed Margareta Camis from Chişinău, holder of this year's Great Prize, a downright delightful presence, noble, with long lines, whose smallest gesture is heavy with poetry and expressiveness; she danced a variation from Deldevez's Paquita almost drenched in applause. Finally, a second moment of contemporary dance entitled Give me a Body, you Mountains, on a fragment from Grieg's Piano Concerto, also created by choreograph Mihaela Santo, was interpreted by the 1st prize holder in group A, Bogdan Nicula – a dancer with special graphic qualities of the body, with a beautiful jump and an expressiveness of the arms unusual for a man, but not at all feminine, who has the perspective of a great career. Bogdan Nicula has only finished the 10th grade at the ChoreographyHigh School in Bucharest, yet he proves to be unusually mature and passionate about dance. Another beautiful moment of the laureates' recital was the variation Gopak from Taras Bulba by Soloviev Sedoy, interpreted by Mircea Crăciun from the Theatre of Classical and Contemporary Ballet in Constanţa, with spectacular jumps carried out with a charming smile, both these qualities seducing the public, who did not allow him to leave the stage before dancing the variation one more time. As host town, Constanţa was also present through a Spanish dance from Mincus's Don Quixote, with castanets and guitars, interpreted by Iordan Florina accompanied by two colleagues, holder of the 3rd prize in group C. The gala was brought to an end by the dancers from Chişinău, who had also opened it, namely Blaga Sireaev, holder of the 1st prize in group C and Andrei Litvinov, winner of the prize for best partner, who interpreted a Tarantela in George Balanchine's choreography with plenty of elegance, refined humor and great technical self-assuredness. The poorer aspect of this otherwise prestigious contest was the way in which the members of the jury, personalities of dance from Bucharest, Cluj, Chişinău, Constanţa and Sofia, but of prevailing classical formation, judged the contest of contemporary dance, where dances of classical and neoclassic formula were accepted, while those that did not use these as starting point were not appreciated. Greater attention paid to this section is absolutely necessary, if the National Contest in Constanţa is to keep its prestige untainted.

by Liana Tugearu