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Cannes, Palais des Festivals

In 2004, the first edition of the Prix established by BALLET2000, the “Lifetime Achievement Prize” went to Maya Plisetskaya. The great artist (who was 79 at the time) danced the Ave Maya solo created for her by Maurice Béjart. Her husband Rodion Schedrin (one of the greatest Russian composers of his generation) had accompanied her to Cannes. A grand piano for Schedrin was found at the Palais des Festivals and he played the notes of Gounod’s Ave Maria on stage (with cellist Luis Felipe Serrano) while Maya, extremely elegant in a costume designed for her by Pierre Cardin, danced simple steps adorned by her magnificent ports de bras as she waved two Japanese-like fans.
On the very same stage at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes on 31 July 2016, the Prix BALLET2000 was dedicated to the memory of  Maya Plisetskaya who passed away last year. Rodion Schedrin was guest of honour at the event.
The Prizes are given out to nominees by the jury which is made up of some of the world’s most famous dance critics and specialists, all of whom contributors to BALLET2000.
The focus is on the “Prix à la Carrière” (Lifetime Achievement Prize) that goes to a celebrity who has had an extraordinarily significant career. In 2016 it was given to Hans van Manen, the great Dutch choreographer, whose vast and varied oeuvre, rigorous and open at the same time, has had a deep influence on European modern ballet during recent decades.
Three special “Prix MAYA” were handed out in 2016, respectively to: Diana Vishneva, star of the Mariinsky Ballet, St Petersburg and of American Ballet Theatre, New York; Aurélie Dupontétoile of the Paris Opéra Ballet and the new director of the company (she danced in Cannes with Alessio Carbone, also from the Paris Opéra); Friedemann Vogel, principal dancer of the Stuttgart Ballet as well as guest of major companies around the world.
The BALLET2000 Prizes are however essentially for dancers who have shone with major international companies during recent seasons. 2016 awardees were: Óscar Chacón and Kateryna Shalkina (Béjart Ballet Lausanne), Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shklyarov (Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg), Ósiel Gouneo (English National Ballet, with his partner Jem Choi), Virna Toppi and Jacopo Tissi (Teatro alla Scala, Milan), Sergio Bernal (Ballet Nacional de España), Davide Dato (Vienna Opera Ballet), Maëva Cotton and Alessio Passaquindici (Ballet Nice Méditerranée, Opéra de Nice), Anjara Ballesteros (Ballets de Monte-Carlo, with her partner Lucien Postlewaite).
Furthermore, a special plate was awarded to “Forceful Feelings”, an all-male group of Armenian dancers, principals with international troupes but committed to raising an awareness, around the world, of ballet in their country. They performed in Cannes with partners of various origins. Their names are: Sarah-Jane Brodbeck, Arman Grigoryan, Vahe Martirosyan, Arsen Mehrabyan, Galina Mihaylova, Tigran Mikayelyan, Mia Rudic.
The aforementioned artists danced at a gala performance (under the artistic direction of Mariinsky étoile Irma Nioradze), on stage at the Palais des Festivals (Grand Auditorium), Cannes, the climax of which was the prize-giving.

Jury 2016 :
Erik Aschengreen, Leonetta Bentivoglio, Valeria Crippa, Clement Crisp, Gerald Dowler, Elisa Guzzo Vaccarino, Marc Haegeman, Anna Kisselgoff, Kevin Ng, Jean Pierre Pastori, Emmanuèle Rüegger, Roger Salas, Sonia Schoonejans, René Sirvin
Jury coordinator : Alfio Agostini (editor of BALLET2000)

This event is a co-production Askaneli Art, VisualClassics, Palais des Festivals de Cannes and BALLET2000, with the support of ROSATOM.


Hans van Manen, “Prix à la Carrière”

Hans van Manen (84) has a greatness of his own on the 20th-century European choreography scene. Spanning 60 years (his first choreography dates back to 1957), his career is richly studded with artistic experiences and results.
Van Manen’s professional training reflects an era. In seeking out a teacher he, like all the others, chose Sonia Gaskell who had been with the Ballets Russes of Serge de Diaghilev before settling in Amsterdam. The young van Manen danced in Gaskell’s groups which – as he himself relates – divulged the Russian School in a pure form, with extreme insistence on clean execution, though at the same time upholding the idea of abstract ballet (especially George Balanchine) that led to the development of modern Dutch ballet.
The setting-up of the Nederlands Dans Theater was a complicated process and Van Manen found himself at the helm of the new company together with Benjamin Harkavy. It was here that he began to make his creative ideas a reality: these were very closely-linked to music, initially with Manuel Ponce and Arthur Honegger, but he also worked with classical symphonic music. The curiosity of youth led to forays also into cabaret, musical comedy and television, while the ‘travelling’ part of his career took him to collaborate with various companies such as Scapino Ballet, the Düsseldorf Ballet and the Bavarian State Ballet at the Munich Opera House, thereby placing him in friendly (albeit distant) “competition” with the phenomenon of John Cranko in Stuttgart.
From 1970 onwards Van Manen worked exclusively as a free-lance choreographer and this is when his style began to take shape more clearly. His passion for Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel produced pieces of deep aesthetic value and creative quality. If there is such a thing as a Dutch school of modern choreography, this has emerged – or developed – largely from the personal oeuvre of Van Manen. This is blatant when we see the oeuvre of Czech choreographer Jirí Kylián who trained in The Netherlands and in the shadow of Van Manen’s aesthetics; and the same can be said, although to a lesser degree, not only of Spaniard Nacho Duato, but also of Van Manen’s contemporary, Rudi van Dantzig. With regard to the latter, the influence was mutual: whereas Van Dantzig is more cerebral and obscure, Van Manen is more “liberated” and outgoing, often somewhat sarcastic.
One of his most famous works to enter the international repertoire is Adagio Hammerklavier (Beethoven) in which the couples establish a strong jeux of physical dependency and tension; it is the apotheosis of Van Manen’s style and can be considered as his aesthetic manifesto.
In many ways Van Manen is a typical Dutchman and we might find his character puzzling: there is something rough and disconcerting about his manners which then mellows in his stage language, the latter invariably disclosing an ideal of harmony – not only in its symmetrical development but also in the highly-accentuated musical structure.
Van Manen’s oeuvre developed in the Europe of the 1960s and 1970s which was, once and for all, leaving behind the War and horrors of Nazism through immediate forms of plastic and “colloquial” arts which the public could take in without too much intellectualism. Van Manen looks for simple themes in everyday gestures and social behaviour, stylizes them and embeds them in his vocabulary, phrasing and style. However, those were also the years of the sexual revolution – and one of the first countries where one could openly speak about sexual freedom was Holland. Van Manen was sensitive to this profound social upheaval that was breaking down the rigid barriers of Calvinist morality. There is sex in his choreography: pas de deux between two men, full nudity of men and women, a fearless and uninhibited erotic vision.
Another level on which Van Manen has been a forerunner in Europe relates to the use of video in choreography. In 1970 he created Mutations together with Glen Tetley (music by Karlheinz Stockhausen) which can be considered the most important formal experiment of the whole decade. 1979 was the year of Live: a public happening in Amsterdam, with a cameraman literally chasing after a female dancer dancing a solo with, concurrently, the video being projected live onto a big screen. Such experimentation was consolidated during those same years with eminent (and almost always abstract) painters.
Apart from being a choreographer, Van Manen is also a celebrated photographer. His pictures are displayed in galleries and museums all over the world. He has often used his own dancers as models: initially they were the clay with which to model his choreography; with his photography he then placed them on a statuesque plane, as if frozen in time, at times nude and in provocative poses. But Van Manen’s aesthetic of the body has always been one of sublime and superior plasticity, identical to the one that he – a true creator of moving forms – pursues in his refined working of choreographic material.
Roger Salas

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