La Notte Ballet Top-5: Principals' fire
Every month we announce Top-5 of Dancers in different categories and November’s La Notte Ballet Top-5 is a bit late but we are happy to tell you about the principal female and male dancers from the leading ballet companies of the world such as Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet. The five chosen by La Notte Magazine are on the top of their careers now and we have chance to see their performances in the most famous ballets on the world’s main stages, so let’s get to know them a little.
Photo: Matthew Brookes
Amandine Albisson, the “étoile” of Paris Opera Ballet, was born in Marseille. She grew up in the artistic family, her mother was a dancer and her father is a singer. Amandine began dancing with her mother and her teacher Eve Gonnet at the Art et Danse studio in the District of St Anne in Marseille at the age of 4. She entered the Ballet School of the Opéra national de Paris in 1999, at the age of 10, and continued her education there before joining the corps de ballet in 2006 at the age of 17.
On March 5th 2014, she was announced as an « Étoile » following a performance of Onegin (John Cranko) in which she performed the role of Tatiana.
Le Figaro wrote:
“In 2013, Forsythe took her under his wing and made for her the work “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated”: “She is fabulous; all that remains is to pass on to him the art of details, ”he said…”
Amandine in Les Enfants du Paradis, Photo: Isabelle Aubert
Her repertoire contains various brightest roles in the classical, modern and contemporary ballets, uncluding Giselle, Paquita, Odette/Odile (Swan Lake), Clara in The Nutcracker (by Rudolf Nureyev), Esmeralda in Notre-Dame de Paris (by Roland Petit), Le Palais de Cristal, Violin Concerto, Diamants / Joyaux (all by George Balanchine), Chloé in Daphnis et Chloé (Benjamin Millepied), Afternoon of a Faun, Dances at a Gathering (by Jerome Robbins) and many others.
“When I was younger, I dreamed of the leading roles in Swan Lake and La Bayadère… I had the chance to dance them! But over time, I have a penchant for story roles, which require a real talent for interpretation.”
Amandine for Numéro.
Amandine and Audric Bezard in Swan Lake, Photo: Svetlana Loboff
In the same interview in May 2018 she told that Marguerite in La Dame aux Camélias by John Neumeier was her dream role. In 2019 Amandine Albisson was nominated on Benois de la Danse award for amazing performing the role of Marguerite Gautier in this ballet with Paris Opera Ballet (her partner Audric Bezard was also a Benois de la Danse nominee for the role of Armand Duval).
“Elegant with her spectacular lines, precise with her mastered technique, she is capable of an extremely refined dance while possessing real dramatic capacities: no role seems to resist …”
Photo: Sasha Gusov
Vladislav Lantratov was born in Moscow to the ballet family: his parents (Inna Leschinskaya and Valery Lantratov) and elder brother (Anton Leschinsky) were the ballet dancers.
At the age of 9 he went to the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. In 2006 he graduated the Moscow Choreographic Academy (Ilya Kuznetsov’s class) and joined the Bolshoi Ballet Company.
Vladislav has both, romantic and heroic roles in his repertoire:
“A torrent of energy, he took command of the stage the second he entered. He exuded an over-the-top virility that was perfect for the role of Petruchio in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Taming of the Shrew. With outsized swagger, swiping and swatting Katharina, he matched her obstreperousness with his own. With his suspenders half down and his shirt half hanging out, he struck a charismatic (if violent) figure.”
Dance Magazine, 2017.
Ekaterina Krysanova and Vladislav Lantratov in Taming of the Shrew, Photo: Dave Morgan
He performs main characters in the classical ballets of Bolshoi like Nutcracker-Prince (Nutcracker), Solor (La Bayadere), Count Albrecht (Giselle), Jean de Brienne (Raymonda) Basilio (Don Quixote), James (La Sylphide), Prince Siegfried (Swan Lake) etc. with individuality. His Onegin (choreography by J. Cranko), Armand Duval (Lady of the Camellias by J. Neumeier), Florizel (The Winter’s Tale by Ch.Wheeldon) are also very special, each of characters performed by Vladislav has his own charm and personality.
Vladislav in The Sleeping Beauty, Photo: Yasuko Kageyama
In 2017 Yuri Possokhov and Kirill Serebrennikov created the ballet Nureyev based on the music by Ilya Demutsky, and for Lantratov the role of Rudolf Nureyev is one of the brightest ones:
“The role is very complicated. Before going out, you have to ask yourself important questions: about the purpose of art, about who you are for art, why you go on stage. Otherwise you will not dance. For "Nureyev" I have already received the Benois de la Danse international prize, but I really don't think about the awards. Although I will be very pleased if this production is celebrated. Yuri Possokhov and Kirill Serebrennikov made a wonderful performance. Ilya Demutsky created wonderful music. True, this performance is only capable of the Bolshoi Theater. "Nureyev" is unlikely to ever go on tour, as it needs an incredible number of people, theater’s own artists and guests, there are singers, drama actors, a choir, musicians, a large crowd and huge sets that were specially created for the stage of the Bolshoi Theater”
Vladislav Lantratov for Moskvichmag.ru, 2019.
Calvin Royal III
Photo: Ricardo Gomes
Calvin Royal is from Tampa, Florida, the USA. At age 14, he was recommended to audition for Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School's dance program and was accepted despite his lack of choreographical training. When he was 17, he competed at the Youth America Grand Prix and received a scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York City.
Royal joined ABT II, American Ballet Theatre's second company in 2007, became an apprentice with the main company in 2010, a corps de ballet member in 2011, and soloist in 2017. An interesting fact: Calvin studied at the Long Island University when he was in ABT II and an ABT apprentice, but withdrew when he joined the corps de ballet due to his schedule. He resumed his study through Saint Mary's College of California's LEAP program in 2018 after he became a soloist.
Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal III, Photo: Peggy Sirota
In 2020 he was promoted to principal dancer, making him the third black person to reach this rank, after Desmond Richardson and Misty Copeland.
“When I heard my name called out on promotion day, it honestly felt like the skies opened up. Whether I was being featured or not over the years, I pushed myself and strived to be the best version of myself on stage and off. So, to finally make it to principal with ABT, it was a dream come true!”
Calvin Royal III for AllArts.org
His repertoire with the Company is wide and includes such roles as Apollo, a Cavalier in Cinderella, Dorcon in Daphnis and Chloe, Espada in Don Quixote, Lescaut in Manon, the Recruit in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, the Spanish Prince and Prince Fortune in The Sleeping Beauty, von Rothbart, Benno and the Spanish Dance in Swan Lake etc.
Photo: Ruth Hogben
In 2020 Calvin was scheduled to perform as Romeo to Misty Copeland's Juliet, and make his Albrecht debut.
“...But then the COVID-19 crisis hit, bringing the entire world to a halt and putting all premieres on an indefinite hold. Royal—tall, lanky, with a silken, elegant way of moving and a gentle and open stage manner—would seem ideally suited to play Romeo. There is a quiet persuasiveness to his dancing. He doesn't show off. Instead, he imbues each movement with an aura of beauty and lyricism. As Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director of the company, puts it, "Calvin has an inner light."
Dance Magazine (June, 2020).
But the life is going on and the audience is waiting for the new appearances of this elegant and graceful dancer on the stage.
Photo: Sasha Gusov
The principal dancer of Mariinsky Ballet Xander Parish was born in North Ferriby in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. He began dancing at the age of 8, at the Skelton-Hooper School of Dance in Kingston upon Hull. In 1998, he was accepted into the Royal Ballet School, which graduated from in 2005.
He was the member of the Royal Ballet Company from 2005 to 2009 and then joined the Mariinsky Ballet in January 2010. He is the first British dancer to be employed by the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Xander made his Mariinsky Theatre debut as Béranger in the ballet Raymonda.
“This dashing Englishman has the ideal Romantic look – tall, well built, with a good legs and a truly beautiful foot.”
He was promoted to soloist in March 2014 and principal dancer in July 2017. In his repertoire there are plenty of roles in classical, modern and contemporary ballets, including Albrecht (Giselle) Siegfried (Swan Lake), Prince Désiré (The Sleeping Beauty), the Nutcracker Prince (Nutcracker), Romeo (Romeo and Juliet). He is also amazing in the ballets by George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins, Angelin Preljocaj, Wayne McGregor, Ilya Jivoi and many others.
Xander in Apollo, Photo: Svetlana Avvakum
His first leading role in an evening-length ballet was Albrecht in Giselle and he has special feelings about this role:
“I don’t particularly think of a personality trait when I dance Albrecht, I just try to make him a real person. If he had a really happy life he wouldn’t be in the village pretending to be a peasant so it means he is someone who is searching for something, and he found that something in Giselle. I have nothing against non-classical versions of Giselle, I just count myself very fortunate to dance such a wonderful, pure classical version here at the Mariinsky! Few productions can come close to it!”
Xander for Voci Dell’Opera
The romantic Chopiniana by Mikhal Fokine performed by Xander is celebrated in St. Petersburg:
“Parish treated the girls that surrounded his character on the stage (in Chopiniana there is one male dancer and a host of snowy white maidens – spirits of sylphs or memories) as if they were made of glass. Lifting them carefully, setting them down gently and trying not to breathe; exemplary British gallantry that excludes even a hint of sensuality. A pure drawing, a subtle figure and the expressive arm bones...”
Viktoria Tereshkina and Xander Parish in Swan Lake, Photo: Svetlana Avvakum
Being a part of two ballet and art cultures he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 for services to dance and UK/Russia cultural relations.
Photo: Roman Novitzky
Elisa Badenes, the Spanish principal of Stuttgart Ballet, was born in Valencia, Spain. She attended the Conservatorio Profesional de Danza de Valencia. At the Prix de Lausanne in 2008 she won a scholarship for the Royal Ballet School from which she graduated one year later. In the 2009/10 season Elisa Badenes joined the Stuttgart Ballet where, five years later, after a brilliant way from an apprentice she was promoted to Principal Dancer.
“Her changeability between a virtuoso role like Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty” or the title character in “Giselle”, which she recently presented in addition to Stuttgart at a guest performance at the English National Ballet in London, and which - as she emphasizes - both have enormous self-control to maintain the line, and Lena, who offers a lot of leeway in “Leonce und Lena”, is captivating and rarely so pronounced as if everything were the most natural thing in the world. And with a character that is particularly tempting to exaggerate, such as Katharina in “The Taming of the Shrew”, she has so far in her hand at hand to avoid artificially produced comedy and not to overdo it.”
Elisa in The Sleeping Beauty, Photo: Roman Novitzky
Her repertoire includes a wide range of leading and solo roles such as Odette/Odile (Swan Lake), Giselle (Giselle), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Tatiana (Onegin by John Cranko), Kitri (Don Quixote) Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty by Marcia Haydée), Stella (A Streetcar named Desire by John Neumeier) In addition, she has danced solo roles in ballets by Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, Hans van Manen, Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, etc. Choreographers such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Wayne McGregor, Mauro Bigonzetti, Christian Spuck, Marco Goecke, Demis Volpi and Louis Stiens have created roles for her.
About the difference between classical and modern choreography she says:
“I simply can’t choose because the biggest pleasure is to be able to do both. I can’t imagine dancing just classical or just modern. I love dancing different styles and different works. That is one of the big pleasures of our job, that we are changing roles, characters and styles.”
Elisa for Dance Informa Australian Edition
Elisa Badenes and Friedemann Vogel in The Sleeping Beauty, Photo: The Stuttgart Ballet
Elisa Badenes has received several honors and prizes including the Gold medal of the Youth American Grand Prix, the Audience Choice Award of the Erik Bruhn Competition in Toronto in 2011 and the German Dance Prize Future in 2015. In Dance Europe's Critics' Choice 2020 she was named in the category "Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer".
Text: Julia Sumzina
Photos: Matthew Brookes, Isabelle Aubert, Svetlana Loboff, Sasha Gusov, Dave Morgan, Yasuko Kageyama, Ricardo Gomes, Peggy Sirota, Ruth Hogben, Svetlana Avvakum, Roman Novitzky