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Ángel Corella to become next Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet

Ángel Corella to become next Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet

After announcing the closure of his Spanish company and saying that he had little choice but to leave Spain if he was to continue working, Ángel Corella  has done just that and in September he will become the Artistic Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Initially the job will be part-time as he is handed over the reins by Roy Kaiser, who announced his retirement in April, and will become…

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Roberto Bolle & Friends arrives in Verona: not drunk and not vulgar!

Roberto Bolle & Friends arrives in Verona: not drunk and not vulgar!

Bolle and Friends 2014 VeronaRoberto Bolle and Friends is up and running with two dates in Genoa already ticked off the list. Tomorrow comes the Verona date at that biggest of all dance venues, the 15,000-seater Roman amphitheatre, the Verona Arena.

The line-up for 2014 is Alicia Amatriain, Polina Semionova, Daniil Simkin, Hee Seo, Eris Nezha, Julie Kent, Cory Stearns, Jason Reilly, Skylar Brandt and Signor Bolle himself.

In…

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Carla Fracci for Expo 2015: Milan, Capital of the World

Carla Fracci for Expo 2015: Milan, Capital of the World

Ambassador Expo Milano 2015 Carla FracciThe Milanese ballerina, Carla Fracci, has become an Ambassador for the Milan Expo 2015.

The theme of the World Expo is Feed the planet, Energy for Lifeand in the clip below she talks about her love for her childhood dishes of Risotto alla Milanese (with a short-grained rice, such as Carnaroli , saffron and beef marrow) and Polenta (a maize flour, or cornmeal, boiled into a type of porridge, which…

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Deloitte Ignite 2014: The Royal Ballet’s month-long festival of dance, music and art

Deloitte Ignite 2014: The Royal Ballet’s month-long festival of dance, music and art

deloitte-myth-mainThe month-long contemporary arts festival Deloitte Ignite 2014 is based on the theme of myth and this year is curated by The Royal Ballet and The National Gallery’s Dr Minna Moore Ede, who said,

At the National Gallery we try and bring paintings to life, but Deloitte Ignitehas been an incredible opportunity to create a cross-arts spectacle; each art form – painting, video art, dance, film,…

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Callas Remastered: as you’ve never heard her before on 69 cds

Callas Remastered: as you’ve never heard her before on 69 cds

Callas RemasteredWarner Classics now holds the key to the Maria Callas official recordings treasure chest. Recently that key was taken out, and the original masters were carefully removed and transferred to computers for high-definition remastering. Carefully is the right word, for just placing the tapes on the machines caused some splicing to come apart at the original edit points. In fact, one of the tasks…

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$50,000 tickets to hear Andrea Bocelli

$50,000 tickets to hear Andrea Bocelli

AndreaBocelliVeronicaBertiMar10

Andrea and Veronica Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli brings Celebrity Fight Night to Italy.

Bocelli has been involved with Muhammad Ali’s charity for years, but this will be the first time that the event has been seen outside America. For $50,000 a head each ‘guest’ will be flown from the States to Pisa for a six-day break in Tuscany, lunch with the Marques De Frescobaldi,  dinner at the home of Roberto…

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Q&A

Luis Ortigoza with Eva and Audrey

Luis Ortigoza with Eva and Audrey

When did you start dancing?
When I was 5 years old.

Why did you start dancing?
I saw a ballet class and enjoyed watching it, so I said to my mother, “That’s what I want to do!”

Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
Nureyev always.

Which dancer do you most admire?
Nureyev.

What’s your favourite role?
Prince Rudolph in Mayerling.

What role have you never played but would like to?
The man in Le Jeune homme et la mort, but this year, in November, I will finally dance that role.

What’s your favourite ballet to watch?
Mayerling and Manon.

Who is your favourite choreographer?
Sir Kenneth MacMillan.

Who is your favourite writer?
Oscar Wilde.

Who is your favourite director?
Roman Polanski.

Who is your favourite actor?
Anthony Hopkins

Who is your favourite singer?
Argentinian singer, Susana Rinaldi.

What is your favourite book?
The Letters of Oscar Wilde.

What is your favourite film?
The Secret in Their Eyes (‘El secreto de sus ojos’, 2009 film from Argentina)

Which is your favourite city?
New York.

What do you like most about yourself?
My honesty.

Luis Ortigoza rehearsing for Sleeping Beauty

Luis Ortigoza rehearsing for Sleeping Beauty

What do you dislike about yourself?
I can be too much of a perfectionist.

What was your proudest moment?
It was just last week when I received an Honorary Citizenship from the Chilean government.

When and where were you happiest?
When I’m on stage.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family.

What is your greatest fear?
I try not to think about fears.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To have more time for myself and for travelling.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My career.

What is your most treasured possession?
All I have in my life right now: family, my two dogs, my friends.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I don’t have one.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Friendship.

On what occasion do you lie?
Never.

Luis Ortigoza in Le Corsaire in Madrid, Spain

Luis Ortigoza in Le Corsaire in Madrid, Spain

If you hadn’t been a dancer what would you have liked to be?
A pianist.

What is your most marked characteristic?
I demand a lot from myself.

What quality do you most value in a friend?
Loyalty.

What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Hard work.

Which historical figure do you most admire?
Nelson Mandela.

Which living person do you most admire?
Meryl Streep.

What do you most dislike?
Lies.

What talent would you most like to have?
To be able to sing.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness does not exist.

How would you like to die?
In my sleep.

What is your motto?
Be honest in life.


Luis Ortigoza – a biography

Luis Ortigoza in Teatro Municipal de Santiago

Luis Ortigoza in Teatro Municipal de Santiago

Luis Ortigoza was born in Argentina,  and studied classical ballet with Maestro Mario Galizzi and at the Ballet School of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

In 1988 he joined the Teatro Argentino de La Plata, and later that same year he was hired by the Ballet de Santiago in Chile, being promoted to Principal Dancer in 1990, after winning the Silver Medal in the IV International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.

He has danced in Galas and International Festivals in countries such as Argentina, Paraguay, Germany, Brazil, Cuba, USA, Spain, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Uruguay, Mexico, China and Russia, sharing the stage with renowned stars.

His repertoire includes ballets by Marcia Haydée, John Cranko, Sir Keneth MacMillan, Maurice Béjart, Georges Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Rudolf Nureyev. He has worked with Natalia Makarova, Glen Tetley, Iván Nagy, Ronald Hynd and Loipa Araujo among others.

He was nominated twice for the prestigious Benois de la Danse Award for his Drosselmeyer and Prince in Nureyev’s Nutcracker and for Don José in Marcia Haydée’s Carmen.

He was distinguished with the 1992 Critics Award (Chile), the APES Award nine times (Chile), 1999 KONEX Diploma (Argentina) as one of the five best ballet dancers of the decade, the 2006 CLARIN Award (Argentina) as best dancer for his role of Des Grieux in MacMillan’s Manon.

In 2007 the Argentinian Embassy in Chile awarded him for his Artistic Career and Achievements, and also he won the 2007 ELENA SMIROVA Medal (Argentina), and in 2009 the KONEX PLATINIUM as the best dancer from last decade.

In 2007 created his own version of La Bayadère for the Ballet de Santiago, which received great critical success from both the public and press. In 2008 choreographed the Sylvia Pas de Deux for the 150 year celebrations of the Municipal Theatre. In 2010 Luis created his own version of the Paquita Grand Pas Classique for The Gala Bicentenario 2010.

Under Marcia Haydée’s Artistic Direction of the Ballet de Santiago he became a member of the company’s staff as Assistant Director, and in the 2007 ballet season he got promoted to the Premier Danseur Etoile category.

In 2013 he was presented with the 2013 Critics Award (Chile) for his role as Prince Rudolph in Mayerling. In 2014 his La Bayadère scored a success at the Municipal Ballet Theater Rio de Janeiro.

In 2014 the Chilean Congress granted him Honorary Citizenship of the country and the Medal of Merit for his contribution to the development of culture in Chile.

Visit Luis’ site: www.luisortigoza.com and see his Official Facebook page.

Luis Ortigoza in video

Luis Ortigoza answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition Q&A When did you start dancing? When I was 5 years old. Why did you start dancing?

Opera snobs won’t stop us going back to La Bohème

Opera snobs won’t stop us going back to La Bohème

La Boheme score coverBy Peter Franklin, University of Oxford

The Royal Opera House’s restaging of La Bohèmewill get the same responses as any other production of the Puccini opera. The savvy enthusiast hedges cautiously, perhaps going with the sceptic’s play-it-safe response: “Well, it puts bums on seats, pays for the things we really want to see… in these difficult times, what with funding and all that, beggars…

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Maria Sascha and I celebrating my Gold Medal at Istanbul!

Maria Sascha and I celebrating my Gold Medal at Istanbul!

The (other) American at the Bolshoi, 16-year-old Julian MacKay, has been winning medals at the international ballet competitions at Sochi and Istanbul. Of course there are lots of ballet competitions and lots of medals, even if these particular competitions are important ones, but what is incredible is that he was representing the Bolshoi Academy at Sochi. An American in Paris doesn’t surprise anyone nowadays, but an American in Moscow – especially at the very Russian and prestigious Bolshoi – is still a rarity, and to represent the Academy, a first!

The Bolshoi always selects their top students to go and represent them. Sochi is held every two years and I really wanted to be a part of this Russian Competition before I graduate next Spring,

said Julian, returning to Moscow after his whirlwind two-week adventure on the competition circuit.

David Hallberg is trailblazing the way as the first American to be part of the Bolshoi Company, and others went through the Academy before Julian, (including the gloriously named Mario Labrador who now dances with the Mikhailovsky in St Petersburg), but to represent this great Russian institution in Russia itself is an outstanding achievement.

I have worked hard at the Academy for five years, speak Russian fluently, and the Director, Marina Konstantinova Leonova, told me that even though I am an American, “You’re ours!” I was required to show her my variations a few days before, and she approved!

The preparation wasn’t easy as the set pieces for Sochi had to be prepared outside his commitments to the Academy’s own programme.

I worked with my teacher, Mikhael Sharkov, but had to rehearse at the same time for three shows with the Bolshoi Academy. Two were in the Bolshoi Theatre, where I danced a lead role in Nacho Duato’s L’Amorosa. Also there was a Hungarian character piece. This was all while learning six new pieces for Sochi! It was a challenge to keep all the choreography clear in my mind.

The week before the competition I learned two new contemporary pieces, which were choreographed on me by Alisher Khasanov. I love working with him, he’s great! I also had help on the classical variations from another coach, Nicolai Tikhomirov in Moscow. I am really thankful that Russians love ballet so much and are willing to help so readily when you ask . I am also grateful to the people who helped me get costumes for the competition from the Bolshoi Theatre.

Performing my Oceans piece at Sochi

Performing my Oceans piece at Sochi

Although Julian is aware of his own abilities, and has the support of his rather exceptional family, he is not pushy or arrogant. He seems to be, in fact, rather like Hallberg in character, physique and onstage presence.

I was excited, then worried, then exhausted… and then just thought, “Well, I’ll just do my best”.

The Sochi competition, called “Young Ballet of the World“, was set up by Yuri Grigorovich in 2006 as a junior version of the Prix Benois de la Danse, which Grigorovich has chaired since it was established in 1992.

When I passed through the first round of Sochi I was more confident. For the second round, I just had fun, and I knew it went well. A few of the judges came back to congratulate me, and said they really liked my pieces.

I was very nervous for the last round, as I had not rehearsed as much as I wanted. It went great! I was happy to win a medal, and it was an honour to be judged by such ballet legends. The best moment was when Yuri Grigorovich said, “This is a great victory,” as he hung my medal around my neck. An American from the Bolshoi had never won a medal at Sochi before. I was proud to represent the Bolshoi, and the Director said she was proud of me also.

A great moment was when the dancers from the older category were cheering for me backstage. That really meant a lot. And the after party was a lot of fun!

What Julian and his mother, Teresa, hadn’t realised, however, was that medal winners were expected to perform not only in the closing gala in Sochi, but also in Krasnodar two days later with the Yuri Grigorovich Company. That meant a nine hour train journey to get there for the gala which was on the same day that Julian was due to start at the Istanbul Ballet Competition. No time either to return to Moscow to pick up the costumes for Turkey.

The journey to Krasnodar was an adventure in itself, as Teresa explains,

We got stranded for 2½ hours without air or open windows. It was funny later, but exhausting, as it was unbearably hot. It was mostly filled with Russians who had been on vacation at the Black Sea, and wore no shirts, with little kids running around in their underpants.

As Julian notes,

Wow, so hot in there!!! No air… Now we know why none of the Bolshoi teachers came, haha!

At Krasnodar, Julian performed two of his pieces from the competition – Albrecht’s variation and a contemporary work, Cuban Nutcracker – which went so well that he was even offered a job. At one-thirty in the morning they left for the airport to get the night plane for Istanbul. A two-hour flight over the Black Sea and they arrived just in time for the competition, but not in time to sleep!

The International Istanbul Ballet Competition has reached its fourth edition and is attracting much attention and important names from the dance world.

In Istanbul everyone was really nice and supportive, dancers from the company there came and gave me tips, they are all so great to work with,

says Julian.

I danced new pieces that I had not danced before, both Don Q, Paquita, and a new contemporary work called Pointe of Origin.

But he didn’t have costumes. Two of the dancers at the Sochi competition had rallied round and lent him theirs – “they were awesome!” – and for the modern piece he managed to buy something suitable in Istanbul.

His sister, Maria Sascha Khan, who dances with the Bayerisches Staatsballett, flew over to put him through his paces, putting the finishing touches on variations he didn’t know that well, and even completing the choreography for the modern piece. The result was that he won the gold medal in the Juniors section.

Istanbul was surreal: Vladimir Malakhov gave me my medal, and Irek Mukhamedov said “Great job, keep going!” My favorite comment after winning Gold in Istanbul was from Judge Vadim Pisarev, who also judged two days before in Sochi; he said, “Sochi was just a rehearsal!”

The medal winners, as in Sochi, went on to dance in the closing Gala.

I had the privilege of dancing in the Gala of Stars with Vladimir Malakhov and Beatrice Knop, who I met seven years ago in Berlin when my sister danced there! It was a great moment to be on stage with them! After winning the Gold medal in Istanbul I was really, really happy!

I won two medals and did three Galas in the span of two weeks. I was exhausted, but it felt right because I had given all I had to my performances.

Winning competitions is much more than receiving bits of metal on ribbons and a certificate to hang on the wall. It’s about experience in front of an audience and colleagues, confronting fears, and getting recognition; outside the school it gives an idea of your place on the world stage, and what you need to work at if you want to climb up the rankings.

It’s not athletics, there are no absolutes, so competitions are always subjective affairs. Even if a young dancers is not placed in one event, it doesn’t mean that he won’t be getting a medal at another. I have already heard from several onlookers in Sochi who were astonished that Julian didn’t get the gold medal there too, but each judge has his or her own way of seeing things. Generally speaking, competitions are there to be exploited by young talent, and if you can’t come out at the end with your head held high – winner or loser – then the world of professional dance probably isn’t for you.

I think the most important thing I learned was that I can accomplish a lot if I am really focused, and don’t let anyone tell you you cannot do it, or aren’t ready. A lot of my fears disappeared just because I put myself there and decided to do my best.

In Istanbul it helped to be out of Russia and with dancers from around the world. I am very happy with the training I have received from Russian teachers, and look forward to graduating in June 2015 from the Bolshoi.

I plan to work in Russia, and these competitions helped me connect with people who want to support me in accomplishing that goal.

Young American at the Bolshoi: Julian MacKay wins Sochi and Istanbul medals The (other) American at the Bolshoi, 16-year-old Julian MacKay, has been winning medals at the international ballet competitions at Sochi and Istanbul.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui creates a semi-new piece for Osipova and Vasiliev

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui creates a semi-new piece for Osipova and Vasiliev

Natalia Osipova and Vladimir photo by Stas Levshin

Natalia Osipova and Vladimir photo by Stas Levshin

Nat­alia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev summer ballet-fest, Solo for Two, has a slight alteration in the programme.

The evening’s opening is now to be a new piece by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, drawing on two previous pas de deux, In Memoriam and Mea Culpa, entitled Mercy. This will replace Mea Culpaas previously announced. It will be set to music by…

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