Last night the threatening weather held off, and the gala and award ceremony for the Positano Premia la Danza Léonide Massine on the main beach at Positano went ahead as planned.
The exquisite setting on the Amalfi Coast is what attracted artists such as Nureyev, and Massine himself, who made the area their holiday home, and when you add a stage, music and dance from some of the best performers in the world the result is magical.
Half a century separated the youngest and eldest winners celebrated during the award ceremony. Mats Ek and Ana Laguna both received the The Lifetime Achievement Prize, the Choreographer of the Year Prize went to Christopher Wheeldon, and the Bolshoi's Olga Smirnova and the Royal Ballet's Steven McRae received the prizes as Dancers of the Year on the International Scene. The Emerging Talent on the International Scene went to Mariinsky dancers Oksana Skoryk and Xander Parish, while PeiJu Chien Pott from the Martha Graham Dance Company and Alvaro Dule from Random Dance won the Contemporary Dancers of the Year award. Carlo Di Lanno, who has just left La Scala for San Francisco, won Italian Dancer of the Year and Giuseppe Comuniello from Virgilio Sieni Danza was awarded Italian Contemporary Dancer of the Year.
This year sees a new joint prize by Positano Premia la Danza and the Prix Benois, and Japanese dancer Mariko Kida was presented with the first Benois-Massine Mosca-Positano Prize by the current Director of the Positano Awards, Daniele Cipriani, and Alberto Testa who oversaw the event from its inception in 1969 until 2011. Guest of honour Carla Fracci also presented awards during the evening.
The following Gala saw all the prize winners, including Ana Laguna, perform, with Christopher Wheeldon being represented by Anna Tsygankova and Josef Varga in his creation Duet, and Laguna with Mariko Kida danced a scene from Mats Ek's Juliet and Romeo. Other highlights were Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin in Balanchine's Diamonds, Steven MCrae in Les Lutins, a piece choreographed by Johan Kobborg, and he tapped his way brilliantly through Vittorio Monti's famous Csárdás to his own choreography. Oksana Skorik and Xander Parish danced the white swan pas de deux, and Carlo di Lanno a variation from Swan Lake. Smirnova closed the evening with a touching performance of The Dying Swan.
Photographs by Vito Fusco
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
Mariinsky’s Acting Director Yuri Fateev has been pushing Skoryk everywhere he could for six years before, finally, she could be recognized as a “talent”, albeit only “emerging”.