The attraction that Positano and its seascape have always exercised over artists of the dance is the reason that, on 2 August 1969, the Premio Positano was established. Ten years later, on the death of Léonide Massine, the Award was named after him. Now into its 42nd edition, the 2014 Awards will be presented on Saturday 6 September in the captivating setting of Positano's main beach.
An associate of Diaghilev settled in Italy's most vertical town, which hugs the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, and began hosting Ballets Russes collaborators such as Lifar, Bakst, Nijinsky, Stravinsky, Picasso and Cocteau. Léonide Massine was so smitten with the area that he bought the Li Galli Islands across from Positano and made his home there. Rudolf Nureyev bought the islands from him and for the last 26 years of his life he would come to recharge his batteries in this spellbinding idyll.
The Positano Premia la Danza Léonide Massine award-giving ceremony is accompanied by a gala featuring dancers from all over the world: Russia, Great Britain, Italy, USA, Sweden, Japan. The full line-up will not be announced until a couple of days before, but the main prizes are announced in advance. The Lifetime Achievement Prize 2014 goes jointly to Mats Ek and Ana Laguna, Olga Smirnova receives the Ballerina of the Year on the International Scene Prize, and the Choreographer of the Year Prize goes to Christopher Wheeldon. Franco Zeffirelli, who holidayed in his splendid villa in Positano until very recently, has donated one of his designs for Teatro alla Scala's 1955 production of opera Il Turco in Italia, to be given to awardees, as well as an original lithography for the winners of the Lifetime Achievement Prize.
Moscow-Positano Prix Benois-Massine
This year's ceremony will also see a ‘twinning' of the Positano Prize with the Moscow's Prix Benois with a new prize called, logically, the Moscow-Positano Prix Benois-Massine. The Artistic Director, Daniele Cipriani, together with the president of the jury, Roger Salas, critic of El Pais, will bestow on one of the awardees of this year's Prix Benois and, in turn, at the next edition of the Benois, the Moscow jury will bestow an analogous prize on one of the awardees of this edition at Positano. Japanese ballerina Mariko Kida – principal with The Royal Swedish Ballet – will receive this new prize this year. Rather neatly, the Prix Benois-Massine trophy is an original creation by sculptor Igor Ustinov who also designs the Prix Benois trophy. Igor Ustinov is the son of the late British actor Sir Peter Ustinov and the great-great nephew of the Ballet Russes designer Alexandre Benois for whom the Prix is named.
Other critics who make up the judging panel are Valentina Bonelli (Vogue Italia), Tatiana Kuznetkova (Kommersant), Judith Mackrell (The Guardian) and Wendy Perron (Dance Magazine).
5 September, 7.30 pm
“ON THE WINGS OF THE PREMIO POSITANO” EXHIBITION OPENING (1969-2013)
The Grand Adventure of the Premio Positano, from the unpublished diaries of Alberto Testa
Pinacoteca Comunale, Positano
from 6 to 14 September
6 September, 7.00 pm
Roll over Petipa! Does the classical repertoire need revamping?
A MEETING WITH CARLA FRACCI, ANA LAGUNA AND CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON
Presented by Roger Salas and Valentina Bonelli
Hotel Covo dei Saraceni, Positano
6 September, 9.00 pm
GALA OF THE AWARDEES
Spiaggia Grande, Positano
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.