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Dancers Soared at the Kozlova International Ballet Competition

Eunhye Lee of South Korea received the silver medal in the senior division.

For a small competition, Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition is packed with 20 power judges and loads of promising talent. More than 100 serious students ages 11 to 25 gathered in New York to dance at Symphony Space, culminating in a gala Sunday June 10. Judges included top figures like Nina Ananiashvili, director of State Ballet of Georgia; Andris Liepa, People's Artist of Russia; Jeon Mi Sook, faculty of Korea National University of Arts; Victoria Morgan, artistic director of Cincinnati Ballet; choreographer Margo Sappington; and Olga Guardia de Smoak, artistic advisor to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Panama.


Classical gold medalist Yu Jeong Choi from South Korea

In its seventh year, the talent, according to de Smoak, was outstanding, especially the male contestants. For the first time at VKIBC, two grand prix were awarded: Bakhtiyar Adamzham of Kazakhstan in the senior classical division, and Sungmin Kim of South Korea in the contemporary division.

At the gala, Kozlova, who is a former principal with both the Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet, honored Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem. The award was accepted by Eddie Shellman, former principal of DTH.

Valentina Kozlova, in her tribute to Arthur Mitchell, all photos by Costas, courtesy VKIBC

Kozlova posted part of her speech on Facebook: "Performing art has no borders, nationalities, color and minorities. We have our love for dance, inspiration, passion. I salute anyone who is not afraid of taking risks and following their vision and their souls."

Health & Body
Getty Images

Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.

"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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The Creative Process
Rehearsal of Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy Performa.

Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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