Ashley Bouder in George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova's Coppélia. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

NYCB's Ashley Bouder Takes Home a Benois de la Danse Award

Hollywood may have the Oscars, but ballet has the Prix de Benois de la Danse. Held every spring at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, the prestigious international awards ceremony recognizes dancers, choreographers, composers and designers for their extraordinary work on and off the stage. This year's laureates, chosen by a jury, were announced during an awards ceremony last night, followed by a star-studded gala featuring many of the nominated artists.


But it was also an exciting evening for American ballet, with dancers and productions from several U.S. companies receiving recognition. American Ballet Theatre's Harlequinade received two Benois nominations—Daniil Simkin for male dancer and Robert Perdziola for design—while Kansas City Ballet's world premiere of Septime Webre's The Wizard of Oz, co-produced by Colorado Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet, received nods for both choreography and design. The Washington Ballet's Andile Ndlovu and San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan received nominations in the male and female dancer categories, while Justin Peck was recognized for his ballet Hurry Up, We're Dreaming at SFB. (For a full list of the nominees, click here.)

Even better, there was an American ballerina among the winners! New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder received the Benois de la Danse for her performance of Swanilda in Coppélia. She shared the female dancer prize with Stattsballet Berlin principal Elisa Carillo Cabrera, for her star turn in Nacho Duato's Romeo and Juliet. The male dancer award went to Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov for his portrayal of Prince Siegfried in Liam Scarlett's Swan Lake (the ballet's scenographer, John McFarlane, also won for design). Zurich Ballet artistic director Christian Spuck (for Winterreise) and Fredrik Benke Rydman (for Duet with an Industrial Robot) took home the Benois for choreography, while legendary dancemaker Jiří Kylián was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Finally, a special award, the Russian-Italian Benois-Massine, went to Hamburg Ballet principal Anna Laudere, a dancer we spotlighted last year for her performance in John Neumeier's Anna Karenina. The festivities continue tonight with another gala featuring Benois de la Danse laureates from previous years. Congratulations, everyone!

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Jason Samuels Smith, photographed by Jayme Thornton

Moving Forward by Looking Back: A Week at the L.A. Tap Festival Online

I turned to tap at the outset of the European lockdown as a meaningful escape from the anxiety of the pandemic. As a dance historian specialized in dance film, I've seen my fair share of tap on screen, but my own training remains elementary. While sheltering in place, my old hardwood floors beckoned. I wanted to dig deeper in order to better understand tap's origins and how the art form has evolved today. Not so easy to accomplish in France, especially from home.

Enter the L.A. Tap Fest's first online edition.

Alongside 100 other viewers peering out from our respective Zoom windows, I watch a performer tap out rhythms on a board in their living room. Advanced audio settings allow us to hear their feet. In the chat box, valuable resources are being shared and it's common to see questions like, "Can you post the link to that vaudeville book you mentioned?" Greetings and words of gratitude are also exchanged as participants trickle in and out from various times zones across the US and around the world.

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