Below is a continuation from Music Director Ramona Pansegrau on her activities at the International Ballet Competition preparing for opening night, and then heading across the country to Jacob’s Pillow.
One of the things I love about coming to the competition, besides seeing wonderful dancers, is encountering friends and colleagues from all over the world. You never know who will step into the elevator – an artistic director, a world famous ballerina, a friend from 30 years ago. It is such a delight to reconnect and catch up. The ballet world is such a small place – it seems you can find common ground with mutual friends, mutual companies, mutual beloved repertory – it’s just a joy. Tonight was one of those times. We were to gather in the lobby of the hotel to go to the governor’s reception. One by one, as people joined the group of those waiting, new faces were greeted with hugs, kisses, loud delighted salutations – all in a variety of languages. The cacophony of meeting again made everyone smile, myself included. We traveled in a caravan to the event – Edward Villella, Tatiana Tchernova, Nina Ananiashvili, and about eight more lauded names in the ballet world. As I always expected, a car that fits eight normal people can hold about 12 dancers….
So, the preparation is over and the actual competition finally starts tomorrow night with the opening ceremonies. I’ve gathered music, fixed orchestra parts, rehearsed the orchestra and all that culminates tomorrow with dress rehearsal and the opening of the X USA International Ballet Competition. Stay tuned!
The opening ceremonies of the IBC have been over for 24 hours – and since then, I’ve flown half way across the country to Jacob’s Pillow and spent the evening in an 18th century Inn having dinner with former ballerina and now internationally known ballet teacher and stager - Anna-Marie Holmes, and famed ABT principal ballet dancer Maxim Belerokovsky. What a weekend! Back to the IBC – the Saturday afternoon orchestra dress rehearsal went well, but the evening opening gala was spectacular. The parade of nations, with dancers proudly following their flags on to the stage as they entered through the audience, the entrance of the jury as they were cheered and warmly greeted by the audience, the torch – carried to the stage by Joseph Phillips, former gold medalist, and the lighting of the cauldron – all moments indelibly etched in my mind – each of which was accompanied by musical selections played by the Mississippi Symphony - creating unforgettable moments. The evening was very emotional for me, and one I feel so privileged to have conducted. So, the competition has hit the ground running – they will have 2 rounds of competition daily, eliminating dancers at the end of round 1 - which is a classical round. Round 2 will follow, with 1 session per day, with competitors showing their contemporary works. More eliminations. Round 3 will begin in a week – and I’ll return to keep on eye on what works remain and therefore may be chosen for the final galas. Hopefully, I can eliminate some pieces from the orchestral repertory – and the orchestra can stop practicing some of them!
In the meantime, I’m here at the Pillow. Tomorrow I start the day playing a master class for Maxim with the ballet program students – 22 promising young dancers chosen from around the world. In the afternoon, I’ll work on repertory works, staged by Anna-Marie, and former Royal Danish ballet director, Dinna Bjorn. In the evening, I’ll teach a music class/lecture to the students, followed by attending a talk by Joseph Morrissey, administrator for artistic planning and touring for the Hong Kong ballet. I’ve known Joseph since he was a ballet student at Boston Ballet and sang in my ‘Nutcracker’ chorus. I love it when that happens! Hong Kong ballet opens the festival here on Wednesday. Oh, yeah – it’s also my birthday. What a great way to spend the day!