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

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.

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Photo by Nathan Sayers

Each year, the Benois de la Danse selects the best male and female ballet dancer and a top choreographer from an impressive group of international artists. But just because it draws on a worldwide talent pool doesn't mean the names are all unrecognizable. This year's Moscow-based awards highlight the performances of many Dance Magazine favoritesand no less than three former cover stars. Plus, American Ballet Theatre received a nomination in each of the three categories.

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Possokhov rehearsing Hero of Our Time with the Bolshoi's Yekaterina Shipulina. Photo by Quinn Wharton.

Nominees for the 2016 Benois de la Danse awards have been announced, and the list is a striking mix of dancers throughout the world. Posited by some as the Oscars of ballet, the prestigious awards honor a top choreographer, male dancer and female dancer annually (other members of a ballet's design team, like scenographers or composers, are occasionally recognized). Who made this year's list? Although some of the nominees may not be as recognizable Stateside, plenty have graced the pages of Dance Magazine

For choreography:

Mauro BigonzettiCinderella for La Scala Ballet.

Alexander Ekman, A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Johan Inger, Carmen for Compañia Nacional de Danza and One on One for Nederlands Dans Theater.

Benjamin MillepiedClear, Loud, Bright, Forward for the Paris Opéra Ballet. Take a 360-degree look at the work in this video that lets you view the stage from every angle.

Justin PeckRodeo: Four Dance Episodes at New York City Ballet. This ballet received rave reviews when it premiered in February 2015, so it's no surprise Peck was nominated for it. It even made DM's list of "The Best of 2015."

Maxim PetrovDivertissement of the King for the Mariinsky Ballet.

Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Yuri PossokhovHero of Our Time for the Bolshoi Ballet. Check out exclusive photos from rehearsals and a Q&A with Possokhov about this new creation.

Zhang YunfengEmperor Yu Li for the Beijing Dance Academy. Step inside the elite school here.

Female dancers:

Stuttgart Ballet's Alicia Amatriain, for Blanche DuBois in John Neumeier's A Streetcar Named Desire. Dive into her portrayal of another leading role, Tatiana from Onegin, here.

Rome Opera Ballet's Rebecca Bianchifor the title role in Giselle.

New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns, for her role in Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes. Steal her cross-training secrets here.

Hannah O’Neill with Mathias Heymann in La Bayadère. Photo by Little Shao, Courtesy POB.

Paris Opéra Ballet's Hannah O'Neill, for the title role in Paquita. Read about her unconventional path as a foreigner who found success at POB.

Mariinsky Ballet's Oksana Skorik, for the title role in Sylvia.

Royal Swedish Ballet's Gina Tse, for Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

Male dancers:

Paris Opéra Ballet's Josua Hoffalt, for his Prince in Swan Lake, Balanchine's Theme and Variations and Lucien d’Herville in Paquita.

Mariinsky Ballet's Kimin Kim, for his Solor in La Bayadère at the Paris Opéra Ballet. Our sister publication, Pointe, profiled the Mariinsky maverick after his promotion to principal.

Paris Opéra Ballet's Hugo Marchand, for his Solor in La Bayadère.

Amar Ramasar. Photo by Jayme Thornton.

New York City Ballet's Amar Ramasar, for Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes. Read about our February 2016 cover star here.

Compañia Nacional de Danza's Alessandro Rigo, for his Frédéri in L’Arlesienne at Spoleto's Festival dei Due Mondi.

Royal Swedish Ballet's Dmitry Zagrebin, for his Basil in Don Quixote.

For scenography:

Jean-Marc Puissant, for costumes for Christopher Wheeldon's Concerto Concordia at Dutch National Ballet and sets and costumes for Whelan/Watson: Other Stories. The Royal's Edward Watson told us about his intimate collaboration with Wendy Whelan in this story.

Ren Dongsheng, for sets and costumes for Emperor Yu Li at the Beijing Dance Academy.

The winners will be announced in Moscow on May 17.

 

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