The 2012 DaveTriesBallet Awards!

You may remember the DTB Awards last year – a fun way for me to recollect the year and share the highlights. I thought I’d try and make these an annual event and so with great pleasure I give you… The DaveTriesBallet Awards 2012!


Favourite On-Stage Couple

WINNER: Lauren Cuthbertson & Federico Bonelli

Cuthbertson and Bonelli in Romeo & Juliet. Photo Copyright - Bill Cooper, ROH.

Shortlist: Alina Cojocaru & Johann Kobborg, Lauren Cuthbertson & Federico Bonelli, Marianela Nuñez & Thiago Soares, Polina Semionova & David Hallberg
Special Mention: Guillaume Côté & Zdenek Konvalina

You can have two world class dancers on stage together, but unless they have chemistry they will never dance a world class pas de deux. After Sergei Polunin quit the Royal Ballet, the hastened partnership of Cuthberson and Bonelli was a revelation: their deep emotional connection and honesty brought something new and fresh to everything they danced together. Not only great technical dancers, their acting skills are superb, as demonstrated in their Romeo & Juliet, which was beyond superlatives.

A special mention has to be given to Côté and Konvalina – who gave a dark, visceral and emotional performance together in Song of a Wayfarer this summer. As an aspiring male dancer, I don’t think I have ever seen such an inspiring performance from two male dancers.

Favourite Female Dancer

JOINT WINNERS: Lauren Cuthbertson & Marianela Nuñez

Nuñez in Apollo and Cuthbertson in Serenade. Photo credits - John Ross and Johan Persson.

Shortlist: Lauren Cuthbertson, Marianela Nuñez, Polina Semionova, Beatriz Stix-Brunell

A really strong category this year, I couldn’t choose between Cuthbertson and Nuñez. Often dancing the same role, they bring out very different qualities in the characters they portray. Cuthbertson was truly perfect in Juliet this year (her acting skills unparalleled not only at the Royal Ballet but across the world) and it is always a joy to see her dance Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Nuñez was beauty personified as Princess Rose in Prince of the Pagodas (her Act I variation had me in tears) and she was, in my eyes, the Swan Queen in the Royal Ballet’s recent run of Swan Lake.

Favourite Male Dancer

WINNER: Federico Bonelli

Federico Bonelli in Romeo & Juliet. Photo Copyright - ROH.

Shortlist: Federico Bonelli, Alex Campbell, Guillaume Côté, Vadim Muntagirov, Dawid Trzensimiech

Seeing as I recently described him as my biggest inspiration, it is perhaps unsurprising that Federico Bonelli is my favourite male dancer this year. He embodies everything I wish to emulate in a male dancer – technique, flair, depth and emotion. His Siegfried was superb, his Salamander Prince was fascinating, and his Romeo was the finest interpretation of the role I have seen.

Favourite New Choreography

WINNER: Sweet Violets (Scarlett)

Cojocaru and Kobborg in Sweet Violets. Photo Credit - Bill Cooper.

Shortlist: Brandenburg Divertissments (Zuchetti), Carbon Life (MacGregor), Labyrinth of Love (Donlon), Sweet Violets (Scarlett), Trespass (Marriott and Wheeldon)

Dame Monica Mason’s wish of leaving the Royal Ballet a legacy of new works in her final season gave mixed results. It is always refreshing to see new choreography however, and the breadth of works shown over the season was impressively wide. The highlight for me was undoubtedly Liam Scarlett’s first foray into narrative ballet, Sweet Violets. A dark and intense piece, Scarlett used his polished partnerwork to tell the tale of the troubled Sickert with great aplomb. I’m still hoping it will reappear in a few years extended to a full-length ballet!

Favourite Dance Company

WINNER: Royal Ballet

Royal Ballet in Jewels (Diamonds). Photo Credit - Bill Cooper.

Shortlist: BalletBoyz, English National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Royal Ballet, Royal Ballet School

It will come as no surprise that my pick of best dance company this year is the Royal Ballet. Having seen them perform much more than any other company you may think this is a biased choice but the fact I saw them so many times is simply testament to what a superb company they are. They constantly amaze me with the range of performances they give: from the purely classical Swan Lake to the ultra modern Infra.

Best Cinema Relay

WINNER: Romeo & Juliet (RB)

Cuthbertson and Bonelli in Romeo & Juliet. Photo Credit - Bill Cooper.

Shortlist: La Sylphide (Bolshoi), Nutcracker (RB), Romeo & Juliet (RB), Swan Lake (RB)

I mentioned recently that I have seen a handful of cinema relays this year and overall think they are fantastic – a cheap way to watch world class performances at a local venue. I haven’t been to a “bad” relay yet, but there was only ever going to be one winner: the Royal Ballet’s superb Romeo & Juliet led by Cuthbertson and Bonelli. With brilliant casting throughout (alongside the eponymous roles, Gartside’s Tybalet and Campbell’s Mercutio were particularly fine) this was a defining performance, and one I am thrilled to find out will be released on DVD in the Spring!


Favourite Dance Blog

WINNER: Daniel Dolan

Shortlist: Adult Beginner, Daniel Dolan, Londonballetblog, Pointe til U Drop

Daniel Dolan is a British lad studying at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow. His blog posts give an insight into his training and work ethic, and a glimpse into how his idols’ styles permeate into his dancing. It is great to be able to share his journey and I can’t wait to see what his final year at the Academy has in store for him!

Golden Tweet Award

WINNERS: @DameGrace & @Naomip_86

Short(or, rather, long!)list: @balletboy09, @BalletTeachers, @BangorBalletBoy, @BBB_Mrs, @Bead_109, @Bellafigural, @Bennet76, @bexking, @clouddancefest, @DameGrace, @DanielDolan, @dansesplume, @DiabloBallet, @FedericoUK, @ImpressionDanse, @LondonBallerina, @KOBBORG, @Naomip_86, @nycbstar2b, @theBalletBag, @_TSOARES, @VampireSoup, @YosvaniRamos, @youdancefunny.
Special Mention: #RBLive

This year the Ballet World and Twitter seemed to collide and suddenly there is a huge wealth of amazing dance-related in the Twittosphere. As such, there was no way I could pick a single winner for the Golden Tweet Award and I turned to the power of social media for some help. Asking my followers to suggest names for the shortlist I got a wealth of fantastic accounts which form the shortlist above. A couple of names kept on cropping up though and ended up clear winners. Olivia Cowley (@DameGrace) is a First Artist with the Royal Ballet who gave us a fascinating glimpse into a #dayinthelifeofacorpsballerina earlier this year. @Naomip_86 is a Tokyo-based balletomane who has a great knack for finding the best ballet-bits on the web and shares her great insight into performances she sees all across the world.

A special mention also has to go to #RBLive – the fantastic day following the Royal Ballet through company class, rehearsals and interviews. With #RBLive trending on Twitter I think it was a real demonstration of how large the ballet Twitter-community is and a great chance to see how a professional ballet company works…

Top Performances:

Romeo & Juliet (Cuthbertson/Bonelli, Royal Ballet),
Song of a Wayfarer (Côté/Konvalina, National Ballet of Canada),
Swan Lake (Nuñez/Bonelli, Royal Ballet)

This year I was lucky enough to see three ballet performances that were truly outstanding, both on an emotional and inspirational level. I’ve already waxed lyrical about Cuthbertson/Bonelli dancing MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet: simply a perfect performance of a perfect ballet. In Béjart’s Song of a Wayfarer, Côté and Konvalina tapped into the idea of a young man’s destiny stalking him to give a performance that its originators, Nureyev and Bortoluzzi, would surely be proud of. Finally, the unexpected pairing of Nuñez and Bonelli (Cuthbertson was meant to be dancing but was injured) gave a fiery and passionate Swan Lake that was a masterclass in classical ballet. Nuñez’s Odette was delicate yet assured in Act II and IV; her Odile was fierce and fast-footed in Act III – Bonelli’s noble Siegfried didn’t stand a chance!

These three were the pinnacle of a truly fantastic year with a whole host of outstanding performances. Other highlights included:

  • Sweet Violets and Carbon Life (2nd Cast, Royal Ballet) – Although the 1st cast of Sweet Violets was more star-studded, the 2nd cast moved me more, with Gartside’s breakdown in the final tableaux both heartwrenching and shocking. Carbon Life was visually and aurally intense and like nothing I’ve seen at the ROH.
  • Apollo (Muntagirov, ENB) – Tackling Balancine’s signature male role at 22 was a big task for Muntagirov but he spectacularly rose to the challenge proving himself more than capable both in technique and maturity.
  • Swan Lake (Semionova/Hallberg, ABT) – Hallberg’s classical lines and stunning technique always make him a joy to watch. Having never seen Semionova before she blew me away with her control and speed with a particularly explosive Act III
  • Uneven Ground and Grand Défile(Royal Ballet School) – I had my first viewing of the Royal Ballet School this summer with their Main Stage end of year performance. Uneven Ground showcased the graduating boys (and one girl) with Lachlan Monaghan a highlight. The Grand Défile is akin to a balletomane religious experience; it is impossible to describe the rush and excitement it generates.
  • After The Rain (Nuñez/Soares, Royal Opera House Gala) – The Royal Opera House Gala was a very special evening (not least because the Queen was in attendance) and the absolute highlight for me was Nuñez and Soares’ performance of Wheeldon’s After The Rain (set to Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel) which was moving, delicate and beautiful.

Gratitude Award:

Finally, I want to give a big thank you to all of my Teachers over the last year. Every single one has given their time to help me improve my technique and grow as a dancer. I couldn’t be on this journey without their expertise, patience and assistance and for that I am truly grateful.

I also want to give a big thank you to all of you Readers, Tweeters and Facebookers for sharing this journey with me. It really helps when I get messages of encouragement or advice and really spurs me on to keep striving to be a better dancer.

You might have noticed I haven’t included Dance Awards this year – I’ll be disecting my year in ballet in an upcoming blog post. Keep an eye out!

I realised whilst writing this post that my awards are heavily Royal Ballet dominated – whilst unintentional I think it certainly shows my love for the company. Easily being my most-watched company of the year I guess their domination was inevitable, although many other companies I have seen have made it into the shortlists for each award.

What are you choices for the Awards? Do you agree with my choices? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time, keep on dancing!

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