Jesús Carmona showing off his prized Benois trophy
by Rose Maramba
At the Benois de la Danse Gala Concert of Ballet Stars and Award Ceremony, held on the 8th of June 2021 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, JESÚS CARMONA bagged the coveted Benois de la Danse Award for Best Danseur. Considered the Oscars of the dance world, the Benois awards fall into six categories: lifetime achievement, ballerina, danseur, choreographer, composer, and designer.
On winning Danseur of the Year for his “The Game” which premiered in the Saddler’s Wells Theater, London, in 2019, Carmona became the world’s best 2020 – 2021 male ballet dancer. That is, as ruled by the unimpeachable Benois jury.
Justifiably elated, the Catalan flamenco dancer (Barcelona, 1985) declares: “Ahora tengo la suficiente seguridad en mi discurso artístico como para seguir descubriendo nuevas posibilidades en el flamenco y la danza española (I now have sufficient confidence in my artistic discourse to be blazing trails in flamenco and in Spanish dance).”
He confesses that as he flamencoed on the historic stage of the fabled Bolshoi Theater, doing a repeat of his iconic 2016 “Opuesto” during the Gala concert, he felt as though he were in a movie (“como en una película“). While performing, “me veía desde arriba, como en aquellos vídeos de los grandes clásicos (I could see myself from above, like in those great classic movies).”
The New Yorker states that the award-winning Spanish danseur is “a showboat whose technique is supercharged not just in the feet but also in the upper body.”
In “Dancing Around”, Marina Harss says about Carmona: he is “the show-stopper, a dancer of endless invention and chispa.”
Not even the rampaging pandemic could beat Jesús Carmona who has brought the renascent flamenco and the Spanish dance to the very top of international culture. He is not the first Spanish flamenco dancer to win the Benois with a Spanish company, though; the Andalusian FERNANDO ROMERO was, in 2011. Spanish ballet dancer Tamara Rojo CBE has a Benoit trophy to her name, too, which she won while with the Royal Ballet (2008), so have Joaquin De Luz while with the New York City Ballet (2009), Alicia Amatriain while with the Stuttgart Ballet (2016), etc.
Competing with Jesús Carmona for the Benois Best Danseur Award were his Basque compatriot Jon Vallejo, principal dancer of Dresden Semperoper Ballett, the Cuban Alberto Velázque, the Chinese Wu Husheng and the French Paul Marque.
The other laureates of the Benois de la Danse 2020-2021 (the 28th Benoit de la Danse Festival) were:
• AMANDINE ALBISSON (France), Best Ballerina: étoile of the Ópera de París, for her “Carmen”.
• YURY POSSKHOV (Ukrainian by birth), Best Choreographer, for his “Anna Karenina” with the Joffrey Ballet.
• THOMAS ADES (the UK), Best Composer, for his “Inferno – The Dante Project”. Performed by the Royal Ballet London. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor.
• TACITA DEAN CBE (the UK) Best Designer, for “Inferno – The Dante Project”.
• ANTHONY DOWELL, Life Achievement. (Now retired, 78- year old Sir Anthony James Dowell CBE, a former artistic director of the Royal Ballet, is widely recognized as one of the great danseurs nobles of the twentieth century.)
THE BENOIS DE LA DANSE INTERNATIONAL BALLET FESTIVAL
For the 28th year in a row, ballet devotees have been treated to one of dance’s most important events, the Benois de la Danse Festival. On 8th and 9th June 2021, it has been held in Moscow as in previous years. Delighted fans feasted on the brilliant performances of the brightest new dance works from around the world. Some of these enthralling works were created during the pandemic and world-premiered at the Bolshoi Theater!
On the occasion of the Gala Concert of Ballet Stars (“ballet stars” being the current Benoit nominees), Jesús Carmona, as nominee for Best Male Dancer, presented and played his “Opuesto” to the music of René Aubry’s. Though it has already been staged elsewhere, this was “Opuesto”’s Russian premiere.
Benois’ past laureates performed on the 9th of June, representing the world’s leading classical and modern companies such as the Bolshoi Theater of Russia, the Mariinsky Theater, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Finnish National Ballet, and the Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company.
Established in 1991, the Benois de la Danse is an annual world ballet competition held in Moscow – at the Bolshoi Theater for the first four years of its existence. But in its fifth year, it was celebrated at the Grand Theater–National Opera in Warsaw. The year after its foundation, it came under the patronage of UNESCO. And on its sixth year (1996), the Benois Award Gala was held at the Maison de l’UNESCO, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. That year Benois was included in UNESCO’s program for the World Decade of Culture.
After Paris, the Benois Gala was celebrated in Central European cities like Berlin and Stuttgart until it circled back to Moscow.
In 2002, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation put Benois on the list of Russia’s cultural heritage. At the start, it was celebrated in May (O.S. 29 April), the birth month of the great Alexandre Benois (1870–1960) for whom the festival is named. But the date of the celebration is not written in stone. And so in 2021, the festival, as said, was held on 8 – 9 June.
Benois was a great Russian artist and art critic. As a designer for the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev, Benois exerted what is considered a seminal influence on modern ballet and stage design.
Opera and Ballet would point out that “the task of Benois De La Danse is to honor the extraordinary events in the colorful world of dance, merging classical ballet with contemporary and modern productions.” In other words, per the Festival’s website, Benois aims “to present to the public an entire theatrical panorama of dance around the world.” In so doing, “it supports ballet veterans financially” through revenues obtained from the Benois de la Danse Gala.
THE JURY 2021
Born into a family connected with the Imperial Russian Ballet and a recipient of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland in 2007, 94-year old Ballet Master YURI GRIGOROVICH is President of the Jury for the Benois de la Danse Festival.
The jurors are
JACOPO GODANI: Italian-born choreographer, artistic director of Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company
JOAQUIN DE LUZ: Artistic director of the Spanish National Dance Company
ELISABETH PLATEL: Director of Paris Opera Ballet School
XIN LILI: Artistic director of Shanghai Ballet
ASHLEY WHEATER: Artistic director of Joffrey Ballet, Chicago
EDWARD WATSON: Star of the Royal Ballet London
All these were fused into the one spellbinding event to enthrone the world’s best danseur.
Carmona, 2021 Oscar of Dance
Bolshoi Theater/Diego Delso, CC BY-SA4.0
Bolshoi Theater auditorium/Ludwig 14, CC BY-SA4.0
UNESCO Paris/Fred Romero via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY2.0
Yury Grigorovich/kremlin. ru, CC BY4.0
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