Thursday, 29 December 2016

Terpschore Titles: Outstanding Male Dancers

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I have decided to make two awards in this category:  one for principals and soloists of major companies who dance leading roles in full-length ballets and another for the rest. I do that to acknowledge brilliant performances in one act ballets and to avoid comparing the incomparable such as Alvin Ailey's Revelations with the Bolshoi's Swan Lake. In both categories I am looking for a male dancer who has spoken to me in a special way in 2016.

In the latter category, the choice is easy.  It is Damien Johnson of Ballet Black. I have described him as "one of the most exciting dancers on the British stage right now" and I repeat those words now.  I have seen him in no less than five shows this year - three of Ballet Black's triple bill and two of Dogs Don't Do Ballet and in rehearsal at the Barbican. In each performance he has delighted me whether as the Obama-like dad accompanying his excited daughter with her dog in tow to the theatre to see Madame Kanikova in Christopher Marney's Dogs or as the sailor in Christopher Hampson's Storyville which I reviewed for the first time in Ballet Black made my Manchester Day on 20 June 2016. Johnson is one of the reasons why I go to Ballet Black, why I support it not only with my pen (OK keyboard) but also with my widow's mite as a Friend and also why I love that company so.

But where do I start with the first category? There have been so many great performances this year starting with James Hay in Rhapsody and Alexander Campbell in The Two Pigeons in January (see The Royal Ballet's Double Bill 18 Jan 2016); continuing with Artur Shesterikov in Mata Hari, Joseph Caley as Oberon and Jamie Bond as Beliaev in Ashton's Double Bill in February; Tyrone Singleton's magnificent performance as Romeo where he stepped in for Bond at the last moment in March (see A Good Outcome from an Unhappy Event - Singleton's Fine Performance 6 March 2016); Federico Bonelli for his memorable performance as Albrecht (see Cuthbertson's Giselle 3 April 2016) and Vadim Muntagirov in The Winter's Tale a month later; Javier Torres as Cathy Marston's Rochester, Victor Zarallo as Siegfried and Nicholas Shoesmith as Benno in David Dawson's Swan Lake for Scottish Ballet (see Empire Blanche: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016), Yonah Acosta's Siegfried in English National Ballet's (see Swan Lake in the Round 13 June 2016) and Iain Mackay in The Taming of the Shrew (see Birmingham Royal Ballet performs my favourite ballet at last 21 June 2016) all of which took place in June; Rudy Hawkes as Siegfried in The Australian Ballet's Swan Lake (see The Australian Ballet's Swan Lake - Murphy won me over 17 May 2016). Ruslan Skvortsov as Siegfried in the Bolshoi's (see Grigorovich's Swan Lake in Covent Garden 31 July 2016) or Ty King Wall in Zatmansky's Cinderella, a great ballet that I forgot to discuss in my review of 2016 (see Ratmansky's Razzmatazz 24 July 2016) in July; Vladislav Lantratov as Petrucchio in  Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew in August (see Bolshoi's Triumph - The Taming of the Shrew 4 Aug 2016); Mackay and Singleton again in David Bintley's new ballet The Tempest in October; Jozef Varga as Solor in the Dutch National Ballet's La Bayadere in November and Shesterikov again in Coppelia.

There were a handful of performances that really stood out for me this year, namely Singleton's Romeo in March, Bonelli's Albrecht in April, Zarallo and Shoesmith in Dawson's Swan Lake, Varga's Solor and Shesterikov in Mata Hari and Coppelia. I have been twisting and turning all night trying to decide this issue - particularly between Bonelli and Shesterikov. A choice has to be made. I have chosen Shesterikov because of his mastery of two very different roles in two very different ballets. In making that choice I am comforted by the knowledge that I am in very good company for Shesterikov is also the most recent winner of the Alexandra Radius prize (see Principal Dancer Artur Shesterikov wins Radius Prize on the Dutch National Ballet website).

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