I'm here at the Prix de Lausanne

January 30, 2010

This world renowned competition emphasizes potential, and there was plenty of it in the finals earlier today.  The big winner is a boy from Argentina who studies at the Ben Stevenson Academy in Houston. His first round was a solo from La Sylphide, in which he made a beautiful presentation, particularly the timing of his head and arms. In his second round, contemporary round, he chose Cathy Marston’s Caliban. Lucky for him, no one else had chosen it. He wore only black briefs, and kind of sauntered or melted into some nicely odd movement. He masterfully blended diffident and forceful energies. His name is Cristian Emanuel Amuchastegui, but apparently he is called Emanuel. He is on the short side so his professional potential may be limited but I hope not. Oh, he also won the people’s prize. (Ballots were given to everyone in the audience.)  I wonder how many times in its 38-year history the people’s prize and the judge’s prize have gone to the same person.


Mariko Sasaki, a 15-year old from Japan, won third prize. She was just gorgeous in her Shades variation, and expressive in the contemporary solo, which was Traces Solo, choreographed by Marston. Fourth-place winner, Caitlin Stawaruk from Australia, had a nicely floaty port de bras.


But I liked some of the non-winners too.  Marcelino Sambé, who is studying in Lisbon, danced from the heart. He had an unusually wide emotional range: joyful in his classical variation and intense in the contemporary.  And Ruiqi Yang, from the Shanghai Dance School in China, was fullbodied, expressive, and mature. I enjoyed her budding artistry–at only 16.


But the real artistry tonight was Leanne Benjamin and Edward Watson of The Royal Ballet dancing the Manon pas de deux. She is so comfortable in the roleof that passionate woman, drawing the guy into a love scene, and he was so responsive, that this duet was six minutes of heaven. Benjamin has really stayed at a peak of expressivenss–and fearlessness when it comes to those MacMillan lifts where she tosses herself up high and drapes herself over his hand, with her back arched. (Click here to read our story about her amazing staying power.) Benjamin won the Prix de Lausanne in 1981, so it was like seeing the full flower of her potential–with the benefit of 29 years of hard work and life happening in between.