SC native Sara Mearns among nominees for ‘ballet’s Oscars’ announced in Moscow

Sara MearnsColumbia, S.C. native Sara Mearns, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, is one of six ballerinas nominated for the Benois de la Danse international ballet awards, considered the Oscars of ballet. The list includes eight choreographers, six female dancers, six male dancers and two scenographers, all of whom represent the world’s leading ballet companies. The awards, which honor dance works created during the past year, will be awarded May 17.

Mearns returns to Columbia frequently to teach young dancers and perform. She will appear in the 11th Annual Ballet Stars of New York Gala, taking place Friday, April 15 at the Koger Center for the Arts.

From Russia Beyond the Headlines

The nominees for the 24th edition of the Benois de la Danse international ballet awards were announced on April 7 at a press conference at the Bolshoi Theater.

The list includes eight choreographers, six dancers, six dancers and two scenographers, all of whom represent the world’s leading ballet companies.

The prestigious prize, which is unparalleled in international practice, honors dance works created during the past year.

For the first time in the history of the Benois de la Danse awards, a record number of choreographers – eight – were nominated.

They include Mauro Bigonzetti (Cinderella, La Scala Ballet), Zhang Yunfeng (Emperor Yu Li, Beijing Dance Academy), Benjamin Millepied (Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward, Paris Opera Ballet), Justin Peck (Rõde,õ: Four Dance Episodes, New York City Ballet), Alexander Ekman (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Royal Swedish Ballet) and Johan Inger, who was nominated for the prize for two performances – Carmen (Compañia Nacional de Danza) and One on One (Netherland Dance Theater).

Also nominated were two Russian choreographers – Yuri Possokhov (Hero of Our Time, Bolshoi Ballet) and Maxim Petrov (Le Divertissement du Roi, Mariinsky Ballet).

Six ballerinas were nominated for the Best Female Dancer award. One of them – Oksana Skorik – represents the Mariinsky Ballet. Her rivals will be Alicia Amatriyen (Stuttgart State Ballet), Rebecca Bianchi (Rome Opera Ballet), Sara Mearns (New York City Ballet), Gina Tse (Swedish Royal Ballet) and Hannah O’Neyl (Paris Opera Ballet).

The nominees for the Best Male Dancer award are Dmitry Zagrebin (formerly of the Bolshoi Ballet, now a soloist of the Royal Swedish Ballet),  three soloists from the Paris Opera Ballet – Kim Kimin, Hugo Marchand and Josua Hoffalt, as well as Amar Ramazar (New York City Ballet) and Alessandro Riga, who represents the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto.

The Scenographers category features two candidates: Jean-Marc Pyuissan, who was nominated for the prize for designing performances by the Dutch National Ballet and the Royal Opera House, and Ren Dongsheng (Beijing Dance Academy).

A special Russian-Italian ballet prize, which last year united the Benois de la Danse and the Premio Positano Leonide Massine Award, will be awarded this time to the Bolshoi Ballet’s prima ballerina Ekaterina Krysanova. The special prize for High Artistry in Partnership was awarded to the Hamburg Ballet’s prime dancer Alexander Ryabko.

This year’s jury includes the Paris Opera Ballet’s star dancer Marie-Agnès Gilot, the artistic director of Compania Nacional de Danza (Spain), Jose Carlos Martinez Garcia, the artistic director of the Royal Swedish Ballet, Johannes Öhman, a choreographer and professor of the Beijing Dance Academy, Xiao Suhua, as well as Italian ballet star Elisabetta Terabyust, the Mariinsky Ballet’s acting director Yury Fateyev and the New York-based Joyce Theater director Linda Shelton.

The award ceremony will be held at the Bolshoi’s Historic Stage on May 17.

First published in Russian in TASS.