The prizes were generous: $9000 for men's and women's gold-medal winners in the senior division, $5000 for silver, $2500 for bronze. (The judges did exercise their prerogative not to award all prizes: no silver medal was given in the women's senior division, and no gold to the junior women.) The winners came from South Korea, Japan, Canada, the US, Cuba (Boston Ballet corps member Rodrigo Almarales, who shared the senior men's bronze with high-flying Brooklyn Mack), and Brazil. There were also non-monetary prizes: summer scholarships, one-year company contracts, performance opportunities. Andris Liepa gave out two special prizes in memory of his father, Maris Liepa, himself a Bolshoi star: Adea will have an opportunity to dance the Firebird at an international gala in Paris, and Mack a chance to perform as Sheherazade's Golden Slave at an international gala in Moscow. (For the complete list of winners, go to bostonibc.org.)
The Boston gala that followed the prize ceremony offered performances by all the medal winners plus some special guests. Boston Ballet soloists Whitney Jensen (a former Kozlova pupil) and Joseph Gatti did the home side proud in the pas de deux from Diana and Acteon. New York City Ballet principals Jennie Somogyi and Charles Askegard were less fortunate to have Margo Sappington's generic Entwine to perform. Alexandra Jacob and Samuel Wilson from Dance Theatre of Harlem did Peter Pucci's Episode in mirror-image red-and-black unitards that underlined the Prince-Ivan-and-Firebird aspect of their duet.
In her brief gala address, Kozlova stressed that the competition aspect of the event was secondary to her, that it had been her goal to create "a very friendly atmosphere, unity, exchange of cultures." She got her wish: the two South Korean gold-medal winners are contributing $2000 to enable the BIBC to send a dancer of its choice to next year's Seoul International Dance Competition.
There'll also be a Boston Ballet International Competition next year. (The plan is to hold it every two years after that.) The dates have already been announced: May 29–June 4. And a "surprise" new venue is promised. By May 29, Boston Ballet will have concluded its 2011–2012 season. Could the BIBC aspire to fill the Opera House? That would indeed be a surprise — and a good one.
Then again, the second year of "Next Generation" drew a more-than-respectable crowd to the Opera House. It's actually a joint venture of Boston Ballet and the New England Conservatory, whose Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, under guest conductor Mark Churchill, provided the music. And even composed some of it: the evening opened with a work by orchestra member Jeremiah Klarman, Festive Dance, that with its scurrying Mendelssohnian winds and isolated Tchaikovsky oboe, was comforting without sounding derivative. Les Passages followed, Boston Ballet School's presentation of its pre-professional and trainee students, in nine well-integrated pieces that came off as an actual dance rather than a series of performance levels, to music from pianist Tanya Foaksman and violinist Soo-Gyeong Lee that included Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and a reduction of the third movement of Mendelssohn's E-minor Violin Concerto. On stage, the emphasis was on fundamentals rather than virtuosity and pyrotechnics, on doing the simple things right.