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Arts

Moscow's ballet 'Oscars' honor Ukrainian dancer

The most prestigious ballet prize in the capital of classical dance: Moscow. This year, the ballerina in the limelight was born in Ukraine. But London also won big at the Benois de la danse.

It's known as the Oscar of the classical ballet world. The highest prizes in the discipline, the Benois de la danse, were awarded earlier this week in Moscow's famed Bolshoi Theater. Not only dancers, but also choreographers, composers, set designers, and - for the first time this year - librettists were recognized.

The prize for best ballerina went to Ukraine-born dancer Svetlana Zakharova for her roles as Marguerite Gautier in "The Lady of the Camellias" and as Mekhmene Banuin in "A Legend of Love."

Jury member Ingrid Lorentsen, director of the Norwegian National Ballet, praised Zakharova as "the essence of a real ballerina." Lorentsen added, "She deserves a prize like this for any role. But for these two in particular."

Kudos to London

It was London's Royal Ballet, however, which came away as the big winner. It swept up three awards for its production of "A Winter's Tale," based on Shakespeare's play. Kevin O'Hare, jury member and director of the London company, accepted the prizes - but had trouble balancing all three statues in his arms.

"It's wonderful for us because I think it means we're doing something right," he told DW. "This ballet is very special for us. With "A Winter's Tale," we are bringing traditional, classical ballet into the 21st century."

Dancers Marian Walter and Rainer Krenstetter perform at the Benois de la danse event at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Copyright: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Zemlianichenko

Pas de deux: Marian Walter and Rainer Krenstetter

A modern touch

It's usually classical ballet which is performed on Bolshoi's ornately decorated stage, but at the Benois de la dance gala, contemporary dance was also on the program, as well as an excerpt from "Deep Field," a collage of speech and sound. The work was created in Germany at Dusseldorf's Ballet am Rhein, with cheoreography by Martin Schläpfer and music by Adriana Hölszky.

Schläpfer called Hölszky the "most significant living German composer." "Deep Field" presents a look into the endlessness of the universe, which humans can only view through a Hubble telescope.

This year, 21 people from 13 countries were nominated for the Benois de la danse, which was founded in 1992. Marian Walter from the Staatsballett in Berlin was nominated for the second time, this year for his role in "Proust ou les intermittences du Coeur" (Proust, or the Irregularity of the Heart). While he came away empty-handed, his pas de deux with Rainer Krenstetter of Austria was a highlight of the evening (pictured).

A charity gala followed the awards ceremony on the next day, where previous winners performed on the famous Moscow stage, including prima ballerina Silvia Azzoni from the Hamburg Ballett and Semyon Chudin from the Bolshoi Theater.

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