2019 AWARD, Willhelm Burmann
Mr. Burmann danced with New York City Ballet for 4 years, was a Principal Dancer for Frankfurt Ballet and Grand Theatre du Genève for whom he was also Ballet Master. He was a Principal at Stuttgart Ballet and danced for many other companies including Pennsylvania Ballet and New Jersey Ballet.
He has also been Ballet Master for Washington Ballet and Ballet du Nord and has personally coached many of the biggest names in American Ballet. Besides being on the faculty of Steps he has also taught on faculty at the Melissa Hayden School of Ballet, Harkness Ballet School and Ballet Arts in New York. He is a guest faculty member for a host of companies including American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Milan's La Scala and Australian Ballet to name but a few. The University of Iowa and Skidmore College's Saratoga Program also benefit from his association with Wilhelm Burmann.
2018 AWARD, Pedro Pablo Peña
In 2006 Mr. Pena formed the stellar Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami to preserve the breathtaking style and technique of the famed Cuban Ballet in exile, drawing on the incredible Cuban diaspora of talented dancers that has spread internationally, many of them having passed through Mr. Pena’s doors at the start of their careers. He also created Creation Art Center presenting the best in Hispanic literature, theater and music.
Throughout the years Mr. Pena had a grand vision to create a space that would feature all the Hispanic Arts for the enjoyment of both English and Hispanic audiences. In 2010 this vision became a reality. The Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center was formed with a beautiful home in the historic Miami JW Warner House appropriately located in Little Havana. The Center presents theater, concerts, art exhibits, film showings, music and dance classes and the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami School. For his herculean efforts and struggles in the name of art, Pedro Pablo Pena has received numerous awards. His last wishes were to thank all who have supported him and to carry on his vision and legacy.
2017 Award CECILIA KERCHE
Her name is one of the most notable exponents appearing in Latin American ballet of the last decades, Ambassador of dance, title granted by the Brazilian Council of dance, official representative in Brazil of the Conseil International de La Danse-CID-UNESCO.
With a vast repertoire, including several versions of the most important classics, performed in more than seventeen foreign companies in four continents.
Prima ballerina of the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, acted as a guest of the most important Brazilian and international festivals.
Her career is registered in Cecilia Kerche biographical photo book, “Life and Stage”.
Part of the art curatorship of Festidal de Dança de Joinville, as well as a member of the jury of TANZOLIMP in Berlin, and the TANZOLIMP Brazil.
Currently is responsible for the artistic direction of the Corps de ballet of the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro.
2016 AWARD, Carlos Gacio
Born in Havana, Cuba, was trained as a Dancer, pedagogue and actor in his native city Havana. He was principal dancer with Ballet Nacional de Cuba and a former partner of the legendary ballerina Alicia Alonso. Mr Gacio was also a dancer and teacher for the Teatro Musical de La Habana. Between 1978 and 1980 he was a ballet master at the Ballet School of the Austrian Federal Theaters. Mr. Gacio was a ballet master and repeteteur for the Vienna State Opera, and for three years he headed the Ballet of Theater an der Wien. Throughout his career Mr. Gacio has been a gest ballet master with Ballet of Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet, Ballet du Rhin, Hungarian National Ballet, Ballet of the Opera House Zurich, Scapino Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Australian Ballet, Ballet Estable Teatro Colon, Balletto Teatro di Torino, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro alla Scala Milano, Salta Ballet, among others. He has also conducted summer courses at the following institutions: Sommer Akademie Köln, (Germany), Jacksonville Ballet Center, Ballet Concerto Miami (USA), Perth Graduate College of Danse (Australia), Montpellier Danse, Grado et Cormons (France), Instituto Superior de Arte, Asociacion Arte y Cultura (Argentina), International Sommer Akademie, Austria, Vacanza con la Danza, Sommer Kurz, Summer Dance Salo Lago di Garda, Summer Dance Toscolano Maderno, Ateneo della Danza (Italy), among others. In 1998 Mr. Gacio was bestowed with the title of "Professor" by the Republic of Austria, and in 2003 he was honoured with the Austrian Special Distinction of Arts and Science.
2015 AWARD, Azari Plisetsky
In 1971 went to Brussels as master of the Mudra school and Ballet ballet du XXe Siècle MauriceBéjart.
He has choreographed for various companies; among their most famous creations include his version of El Lago de los Cisnes (1974) for the Ballet de Wallonie, Paolo Bortoluzzi with Menia Martínez in the main roles. He was also director of the Conservatory of the Teatro de la Moneda in Brussels and the National Ballet of Venezuela. In 1995 he produced for Víctor Ullate Ballet Giselle.
A representative of the Russian dance school, who is also brother of Prima Ballerina Maya Plisetskaya and nephew of Asaf Messerer, began his career at the Bolshoi Theatre. The young dancer who had graduated from the Moscow Choreographic School with honors, was chosen as a partner by the legendary Olga Lepeshinskaya. Working with this outstanding dancer was an invaluable experience for the young artist. Being naturally inclined to getting an appetite for teaching, Azari Plisetsky soon began to share his knowledge and skills with ballet students. His teaching activities brought him to many countries of the world: he has taught in Cuba and in the School of American Ballet, he has also staged performances in Japan, and given lessons for the company of New York City Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Spain. Since 1992 he has been a teacher of Béjart Ballet Lausanne troupe and Rudra dance school founded by Maurice Béjart.
She was a jury member for the most prestigious National and International Ballet Competitions such as Lausanne, Monte-Carlo, Jackson, Prague, and more. Since 1999, Ms. Trailine is associated with J. A. Cartier, with the organization of Europa Danse, as an artistic counselor.
Hélène Trailine has been made a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1987) of the French Republic
2014 AWARD, Helen Trailine
French ballerina of Russian parentage, pupil of Julie Sedova (Cannes) and Lubov Egorova (Paris), Elena Trailina made her debut (1946) with the Nouveau Ballet de Monte-Carlo, artistic director and choreographer: Serge Lifar. She danced leading roles in Dramma Per Musica, Suite en Blanc, Chota Roustaveli, and remained until 1948 by which time the company had become Grand Ballet de Monte-Carlo (later du Marquis de Cuevas). Ms. Trailine was ballerina for Ballets des Champs- Elysées (1949-50) and with Ballets Janine Charrat for several seasons (1952-59), dancing in Europe, the U.S., Central and South America. She has also danced special seasons and festival performances, creating leading roles in Maurice Béjart's Haut Voltage (1956) and Equilibre (1959). She danced in Vera Zorina's Persephone in the Stravinsky work choreographed by Margaret Wallman for the Salzburg Festival (1955).
After several years devoted to teaching (Académie Volinine, Paris Ecoles Nationales de Musique et de Danse, France) Ms. Trailine was the founder, with Jean-Albert Cartier, of Ballet Théâtre Français de Nancy, and its Artistic Director from 1978 to 1988.
Ms. Trailine has also been the Associate Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet (1989-94), and Artistic Director of the Ballet at Nice Opera House (1994-97).
2013 AWARD, Maria de Avila
María Dolores Gómez de Ávila ( Barcelona, April 10, 1920, Zaragoza - February 27, 2014) was a renowned Spanish dancer and Ballet Mistress .
She began her studies at the age of ten with Pauleta Pàmies in the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona, where she soon became part of her ballet company. The increased activity in the Liceo with theSpanish Ballet Company and the Ballets de Barcelona was developed between 1937 and the mid- 50s. Ms Avila was notable as the partner to famed dancer Juan Magrinyá.
In 1954 she opened her own school of classical dance in Zaragoza and was founder of the Ballet de Zaragoza and Youth Ballet María de Ávila. In 1983 she was appointed Director of the National Ballet of Spain and the National Ballet of Spain-Classic .
María de Ávila, the grande dame of dance, died on February 27, 2014 at her home in Zaragoza.
2012 AWARD, Heinz Spoerli:
Heinz Spoerli (born 8 July 1940) is a Swiss dance maker, internationally known. After a long career as a ballet dancer and company director, he is now widely considered to be one of the foremost European choreographers of his time.
Despite his late start, Spoerli advanced rapidly in his dance training, and in 1960, at age 19, he was engaged as an artist of the Basel Municipal Theater, directed by Vaslav Orlikovsky. He continued to improve his classical technique while appearing in operas, operettas, and the spectacular ballet productions that Orlikovsky mounted. In 1963 Spoerli joined the Cologne State Opera Ballet, directed by Todd Bolender. There he was exposed to an international repertory of high caliber, including works of Balanchine, Béjart, Cranko, de Mille, and Lander. In 1966 he moved to Canada, having been hired as a soloist by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, directed by Arnold Spohr. The following year, 1967, he made his first choreographies, two short pas de deux for the Calgary Ballet Company. After a brief stint back in Cologne, he returned to Canada in late 1967 as a soloist with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal. There, under the direction of Ludmilla Chiriaeff and Fernand Nault, he danced in both classical and modern works by Dolin, Lichine, Nault, Paige, Kuch, and Butler. In 1969 Spoerli returned to Switzerland, where he danced as a soloist with the Basel Ballet, directed by Pavel Smok, and then with the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, directed by Alfonso Catá. In Geneva from 1970 to 1973 he again danced in works by Balanchine and other prominent neoclassical choreographers. There, in 1972, he also made his first major ballet, Le Chemin("The Road"), set to an electronic score that had been commissioned from Éric Gaudibert.
The success of Le Chemin led to Spoerli's appointment as resident choreographer of the Basel Ballet in 1973 and as ballet director of the Basel Municipal Theater in 1978. Working in his hometown for almost two decades, he elevated the artistic and technical standards of the company dancers to a remarkable degree and created many works for ballet stages, for opera and operetta, and for television productions. During his tenure the Basel Ballet was recognized as one of the foremost ballet companies in all of Europe. In the autumn of 1991 Spoerli left Basel to become the director of the Rhine Opera Ballet, the resident company for Düsseldorf and Duisberg, Germany. The large roster of dancers in this company allowed him to mount productions on a grander scale than had been possible in Basel, and he took full advantage of the opportunity, creating some of his most memorable works during his sojourn in Germany. In 1996 he returned to Switzerland to assume the post of artistic director and choreographer of the Zurich Ballet. There he assembled one of the finest ensembles of dancers in Europe and continued to present his audiences with bold new productions.
Over the years, Spoerli also worked as guest choreographer for dance companies in many cities of EuropeandAsia,including Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Milan, Budapest, Vienna, Graz, Lisbon, Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki, Hong Kong, and Singapore. His acclaimed version of La Fille Mal Gardée was, in fact, created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1981, and his dances for Rossini's opera William Tell, the story of the Swiss folk hero, were created for the ballet of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1995. Performed by his own companies, his ballets have also been seen in the United States, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Upon completion of his contract, Spoerli retired from his post with the Zurich Ballet in June 2012. Under the direction of his successor, the company is committed to cultivate his choreographic legacy and to preserve his works, which remain an essential part of the company's repertoire. As an independent artist, Spoerli continues to be much in demand as a guest choreographer for ballet companies around the world.
2011 AWARD, Marcia Haydée
After studies with several masters, she joined the Royal Ballet School in London and the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas (Monaco) in 1957. Then she entered the Stuttgart Ballet in 1961, where she had been called the Prima ballerina the following year. From 1976 to 1996 she was director of the Stuttgart Ballet. She is currently the director of Ballet Municipal de Santiago de Chile.
2010 AWARD, Milorad Mišković:
Was a Serbian ballet dancer and choreographer. His emigration toFrance in 1947 made him a persona non grata in Yugoslavia, but has also made possible for him to show the world his class, that has later earned him the title of one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world in the 1950s. His greatest successes include the roles of Prometheus, Don Juan,Tristan, Hamlet, and Orestês. He has worked with some of the most famous artists of his time, such as choreographer Serge Lifar, opera singer Maria Callas, as well as the world's most prominent ballerinas of his time, such as Zizi Jeanmaire, Yvette Chauviré, Margot Fonteyn and Alicia Markova. In 1956, he founded his own company, which continued to tour for ten years. In 1966, Mišković performed in Yugoslavia for the first time after his emigration.Since the end of his professional career, he began to work with UNESCO, first as an art director, and later he became the honorary president of UNESCO International Dance Council.
2009 AWARD, Lupe Serrano:
Born in Santiago, Chile, Lupe Serrano is of Spanish and French heritage. Beginning her training in Chile at the age of four, Serrano continued her studies when her family moved to Mexico City, where at the age of thirteen she made her professional debut with the Mexico City Ballet.Before leaving Mexico City in 1951, Serrano had established herself as Mexico’s leading ballerina and had broadened her training by studying modern dance, folk dance, and the dramatic arts. Upon her arrival in New York, Serrano joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a soloist and toured the United States, Canada and Venezuela.In 1953 she joined American Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer. Before her retirement in 1971, Serrano rose to the position of prima ballerina and danced more than fifty different roles in such ballet classics as Swan Lake, Giselle, Les Sylphides, La Fille Mal Gardée,Aurora’s Wedding, and most of the virtuoso pas de deux. She also performed contemporary ballets by Balanchine, Dollar, Lander, Robbins, Tudor and other esteemed choreographers. Serrano also participated in several American Ballet Theatre international tours where she was acclaimed by audiences in South America, Europe and the Soviet Union.Lupe Serrano began her teaching career at the University of Milwaukee and at the College Conservatory of Milwaukee in 1968 while she was still performing with American Ballet Theatre. After she retired from the stage in 1971, she served as Assistant Director at the National Academy of Arts in Illinois. In 1974 she joined the Pennsylvania Ballet as company teacher and head of the apprentice program where she served as the School Director from 1975-1983. She later resigned this position to allow time for guest teaching.While continuing as principal teacher for the
Pennsylvania Ballet School, Serrano has taught master classes at many regional festivals, acted as judge in several dance events, and has been a guest company teacher for the San Francisco Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Cleveland Ballet, Washington Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Rome Opera Ballet and Ballet Nacional de Mexico.In September 1988, she accepted the position of Artistic Associate for the Washington Ballet. Her responsibilities included teaching and coaching the company, the apprentices, and the advanced students.Lupe Serrano has taught at The Juilliard School since 1997. At present she is also teaching company class for American Ballet Theatre, ABT’s Studio Company, Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and The Metropolitan Opera Dancers.
2008 AWARD, Frederick Franklin:
Born in Liverpool, England, Frederic Franklin claimed that on seeing Peter Pan, his only thought was to go on the stage. He began his career in 1931 at the Casino de Paris with Josephine Baker, briefly danced with the Vic-Wells (early Royal Ballet) and joined the Markova-Dolin Ballet in 1935. Three years later, Franklin became a dancer with Leonide Massine's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where he was premier danseur until 1952. Known as a quick study and for having an impeccable memory, Franklin also became the company's ballet master in 1944. With the Ballet Russe, Franklin originated many indelible characters and starred in over 45 principal roles by such choreographers as Massine, Michel Fokine, Bronislava Nijinska,Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Ruth Page and Valerie Bettis.While performing internationally with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Frederic Franklin and Alexandra Danilova created one of the legendary ballet partnerships of the twentieth century. Among the other ballerinas he partnered were Alicia Markova, Irina Baronova, Agnes de Mille, Ruthanna Boris, Yvette Chauviré, Moira Shearer, Rosella Hightower, Maria Tallchief, Tamara Toumanova and Alicia Alonso.In 1952, Franklin co-founded the Slavenska-Franklin Ballet, and a few years later he became the co-director of the I'Washington Ballet, and then the co-founder and artistic director of the National Ballet of Washington, D.C.. After a few years in Washington, D.C., Franklin began a free-lance career reviving
and staging works around the United States, and he developed a long-standing artistic association with many ballet companies, including Cincinnati Ballet (where he was artistic director for two years and later Director Emeritus), Dance Theatre of Harlem (where Franklin officially became artistic advisor as of 1989), Chicago Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, the Oakland Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and American Ballet Theatre, to name a few.In 1984, Frederic Franklin was honored with a Laurence Olivier Award for his staging of a Creole-themed Giselle (starring Virginia Johnson) at Dance Theatre of Harlem. Franklin received the Dance Magazine Award in 1985 and the Capezio Dance Award in 1992. On 16 November 2004 Franklin was appointed a Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire., and in 2011, Franklin was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame.In 2005, Franklin was featured in the documentary film Ballets Russes, recounting his years with the famous company. In his 90s, Franklin continued to perform with American Ballet Theatre, appearing in mime roles such as the Friar in in Romeo and Juliet, Madge in La Sylphide, and the Prince´s Tutor in Swan Lake.Franklin succumbed to complications from pneumonia in New York City at the Weill Cornell Medical Center on May 4, 2013. He was 98. He is survived by his partner of 48 years, William Haywood Ausman, and his brother, John Franklin.
2007 AWARD, Roland Petit :
Petit was born in Villemomble, France a commune near Paris. Petit trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet school under Gustave Ricaux and Serge Lifar and began to dance with the corps de ballet in 1940. He founded the Ballets des Champs-Élyséesin 1945 and the Ballets de Paris in 1948, at Théâtre Marigny, with Zizi Jeanmaire as star dancer.Petit collaborated with Henri Dutilleux (Le loup - 1953), Serge Gainsbourg, Yves Saint-Laurent and César Baldaccini and participated in several French and American films. He returned to the Paris Opéra in 1965 to mount a production of Notre Dame de Paris (with music by Maurice Jarre). He continued to direct ballets for the largest theatres of France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and Cuba.In 1968, his ballet Turangalîla provoked a small revolution within the Paris Opéra. Four years later, in 1972, he founded the Ballet National de Marseille with the piece “Pink Floyd Ballet”. He directed the Ballet National de Marseille for the next 26 years. For the décor of his ballets, he would work in close collaboration with the painter Jean Carzou (1907–2000), but also with other artists such as Max Ernst.The creator of more than 50 ballets across all genres, he choreographed for a plethora of famed international
dancers. He refused the free technical effects; he did not stop reinventing his style, language, and became a master in the arts of pas de deux and of narrative ballet, but he succeeded also in abstract ballets. He collaborated also with the nouveaux réalistes including Martial Raysse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely.Le jeune homme et la mort (“The Young Man and Death”) of 1946 (libretto by Jean Cocteau) is considered his magnum opus and it is also his most well-known work; the choreography and the costumes are of astonishing modernity. In his 1949 ballet Carmen, he made an unusual use of the en dedans, while he gave a non-figurative treatment to Turangalîla.Among the films to which he contributed are Symphonie en blanc by René Chanas and François Ardoin (1942 short film on history of dance) in which he appeared as a dancer, the choreography for the 1948 film Alice in Wonderland, the 1954 The Glass Slipper and (with others) Anything Goes in 1956.
2006 AWARD, Alberto Alonso :
Alonso was born in Havana, and attended Springhill College in Mobile, Alabama. At his return to Cuba he began ballet training in 1930 at the Sociedad Pro-Arte Musical arts school in Havana. He studied in Paris with several teachers including Preobrazhenska and Idzikowski and danced with the Ballets Russes de Colonel W. de Basil from 1935 to 1940, performing principal roles in several ballets created by Michel Fokine. He subsequently danced with the Ballet Theatre from 1943 to 1945, in works created by Fokine, George Balanchine and Leonid Massine. Back in Cuba in 1948, he co-founded with Alicia and Fernando Alonso the Ballet Alicia Alonso, which would eventually become the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, being its artistic director and choreographer.From 1942 he also worked as ballet master and choreographer, creating several works including "Antes del Alba" (1948, music by Hilario Gonzalez, libretto by Francisco Martínez Allende), "Rapsodia Negra" (1953, music by Ernesto Lecuona), "El Solar” (1965, music by Tony Taño, filmed as"Un día en el solar” by Eduardo Manet),"Espacio y movimiento'' (1966, music by Stravinsky, prize for best choreography at Varna in 1968), "Un retablo para Romeo y Julieta" (1969, to the music of Roméo et Juliette by Berlioz), etc. His most well-known ballet is Carmen Suite (1967), to music
by Rodion Shchedrin; it was created for Maya Plisetskaya in the Bolshoi Ballet, and simultaneously for Alicia Alonso in the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and later it has been re-created by several other companies.He was married from 1939 to 1944 to the Ballets Russes Canadian dancer Alexandra Denisova. Later he married Elena del Cueto, a Cuban dancer, until 1962, when she left for the United States with their two daughters. In 1964 he married the Cuban Rumba dancer and actress Sonia Calero. They were married until his death and had a son, Alberto Jr.He left Cuba in 1993 with his third wife, and settled in Gainesville, Florida, where he became master artist in residence at the Santa Fe Community College and resident choreographer for the Dance Theater of Santa Fe. He continued choreographing for several companies including New York's Ballet Hispanico in 1994, and re-creating Carmen for Svetlana Zakharova in the Bolshoi Ballet in 2005.
2005 AWARD, Violette Verdy :
French ballerina who has worked as a director of dance companies and in other related capacities since her retirement from performing in the late 1970s. Verdy began dance training as a small child and performed with Les Ballets des Champs-Elysées beginning in 1945. She went on to dance with Les Ballets de Paris (1950; 1953–1954), the London Festival Ballet (1954–1955), La Scala, Milan (1955–1956), and theAmerican Ballet Theatre (1956–1957). She spent most of her career as a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet (1958–1977). While with NYCB, Balanchine created many roles for Verdy, including Emeralds, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, La Source and Sonatine.Upon her retirement from NYCB, she became the director of the Paris Opera Ballet and codirector of the Boston Ballet in 1980. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Music and holds the Kathy Z Anderson Chair in Ballet at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana and Artistic Advisor to the Rock School for Dance Education.Verdy was awarded the French Legion of Honour (Chevalier) by Thierry Fouquet, Director General of the Opera of Bordeaux, in a private ceremony at the Paris Opéra on June 15th, 2009. She has also written many articles and journals, including a children's ballet book called "Of Swans, Sugarplums, and Satin Slippers", which was illustrated by Marcia Brown.
2005 AWARD, Paul Szilard:
Paul Szilard was born in Budapest, Hungary and became a United States citizen in the 1950’s. A former leading dancer, Mr. Szilard has performed throughout the world with such leading dancers as Nora Kaye, Colette Marchand, Sonia Arova and others. His acclaimed autobiography, Under My Wings: My Life as an Impresario, was published in 2002.
Mr Szilard was decorated by the French Ministry of Culture for his years of bringing great dance to France and for his outstanding and numerous contributions to French culture Mr. Szilard has presented such prestigious dance companies as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (for whom he was the exclusive international representative for almost 40 years), New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, Dancers of Bali, Madrid’s Ballet Víctor Ullate, Universal Ballet and the American premiere engagement of the Bunraku Japanese Doll Theater to name a few not only in New York City as well as in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Mr. Szilard produced the first Japanese tour of “West Side Story” with an American cast rehearsed by Jerome Robbins. It was the first English language Broadway show from New York to appear there. The entire company (cast and musicians) came from New York.
2004 AWARD, Edward Villella :
Villella enrolled in the School of American Ballet at age ten, the official school for the New York City Ballet. but then interrupted his studies to complete his college education. At 16 he attended the New York Maritime Academy, where he lettered in baseball and was a championship boxer. He graduated with a marine science degree in 1957, and rejoined the School of American Ballet. Mr. Villella went on to become one of NYCB Company's most famous principal male dancers. The great founder and Director of the company, Ballenchine, set and created many ballets for Mr. Villella. Rubies, Bogaku, Midsummer Nights Drea amd his most famous role Prodigal Son. In 1986 He helped launch the fledgling Miami City Ballet, and was the Director and artistic vision of the company until 2012. Mr. Villella is also known for popularizing ballet with his TV Series "Dance in America".
2003 AWARD, Vladimir Vasiliev, Ekaterina Maximova:
Born in Moscow in 1940, the son of a truck driver, Vasiliev graduated from the Moscow Ballet School in 1958 (his teachers included Aleksey Yermolayev) and joined the Bolshoi Ballet. He became a premier dancer who made enormous contributions to the development of classical male dance; he came to embody the strong new Bolshoi male.He was the first dancer to be given the award la médaille d’or du meilleur danseur du Monde (“The Gold Medal of the World’s Best Dancer”); subsequently Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patrick Dupond were also awarded the distinction. Russia’s influential ballet critic and choreographer Fyodor Lopukhov called him “God of the dance … A miracle in art, perfection”.Numerous roles were created for him, and he performed throughout the world, usually partnering his wife, Bolshoi prima ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. Among the most notable were those created by Yuri Grigorovich, who gave him the principal roles in his original productions of The Stone Flower, Spartacus, The Nutcracker, the ballet version of Ivan the Terrible, Valery Gavrilin's Anyuta (1982), and Yakov Eshpay's Angara (1976). Besides Maximova, Vasiliev’s famous partners included: Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Alicia Alonso, Carla Fracci, Rita Poelvoorde and Ambra Vallo.Yet Vladimir Vasiliev is not as well known in the west as such dancers as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, because he remained in the Soviet Union and did most of his work there. Nonetheless, he and Maximova gleaned wide exposure for their appearances in Franco Zeffirelli's filmed version of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata (1983). Both performed in Spanish costume (Vasiliev as a matador) in the divertissements composed for the equivalent of Act II, scene 2.New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff described the excitement of one of Vasiliev’s U.S. performances with the Bolshoi Ballet: “Yekaterina Maksimova and Vladimir Vasiliev burst upon New York City in 1959, the greatest of the passionate young dancers who, with Moscow's more established stars, made the Bolshoi Ballet's
Maximova was born in Moscow, Soviet Union. Maximova enjoyed her greatest successes in Giselle, Spartacus, Don Quixote, Cinderella and The Nutcracker. On 8 May 1966, Maximova was one of the Bolshoi stars who danced in the last program presented at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Thirty-ninth Street and Broadway. Maximova was coached by the legendary ballerina Galina Ulanova.Maximova performed with the Bolshoi Ballet from 1958 until 1980, often performing opposite her husband Vladimir Vasiliev. She and her husband gained wide exposure for their appearances in Franco Zeffirelli's filmed version of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata (1983). Both performed in Spanish costume in the divertissements composed for the equivalent of Act II, scene 2, though she with much diminished technique in comparison to her husband.Her greatest successes were the roles of Kitri in Don Quixote, Clara (called Maria in the Bolshoi production) in The Nutcracker, and the title roles in Giselle and Cinderella. When the Bolshoi Ballet toured to the United States for the first time in 1959, Maximova also performed as a guest artist with the Metropolitan Opera in leading roles in The Stone Flower and other ballets. She later was one of the Bolshoi stars who danced in the last program presented at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Thirty-ninth Street and Broadway on 8 May 1966. Following her career as a dancer, Maximova was a coach with the ballet and a member of the GITIS Institute faculty. On 27 April 2009 she died aged 70 in Moscow, Russia.
2002 AWARD, Jean Babilee:
Jean Babilée (real name Jean Gutman(n); 2 February 1923 – 30 January 2014) was a prominent French dancer and choreographer of the latter half of the 20th century. He is considered to have been one of modern ballet's greatest performers, and the first French dancer to gain international acclaim. Babilée has been called the "enfant terrible of dance."Born in Paris in 1923, the son of a doctor, Babilée studied at the Paris Opéra Ballet School from 1936 to 1940. His dance career was interrupted during World War II because he was Jewish on his father's side. He left Paris in 1940 when the Wehrmacht was approaching the city, but returned to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet in early 1942. He narrowly escaped being sent to Auschwitz during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in Paris on 16 July 1942. In early 1943 he left the city to avoid compulsory deportation to Germany as a forced laborer. He spent the rest of the war with theFrench Resistance, fighting with the Maquis in Touraine.After the war, Babilée returned to dance, joining the Soirées de la Danse, which later became Les Ballet des Champs Elysées. His birth name was Jean Gutmann, but he adopted his mother's maiden name for professional use. Babilée enjoyed some of his greatest successes as a member of Les Ballets des Champs-Elysées and Les Ballets de Paris. From 1945 to 1950 he was principal dancer of the Ballets des Champs-Élysées, for which he created roles in ballets including Jeu de cartes, Jean Cocteau's Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, L'Amour et son amour, and Till Eulenspiegel. In several of these ballets he performed opposite his wife, featured ballerina Nathalie Philippart. In the 1940s Babilée quickly developed a reputation for his physical prowess. It was said that he could leap better than any dancer since Nijinsky, and in the 1946 premiere of Le Jeune Homme et la Mort he hung by his neck on a gallows for one minute, supported only by wrapping one minute,supported only by wrapping one arm around a pillar.In the 1950s he danced
as a guest of Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris and the American Ballet Theatre, before forming his own company, Les Ballets Jean Babilée. In 1972 and 1973 he served as director of the Ballet du Rhin in Strasbourg. In the early 1980s, Maurice Béjart created the soloLife for him. In 1984, at the age of 61, he performed Le Jeune Homme et la Mort with the Ballet de Marseille.He also appeared as a stage actor and in several films.The 2000 documentary film Le Mystère Babilée, directed by Patrick Bensard, reconstructs Babilée's career through interviews with the dancer, excerpts from his choreographic work, and recollections by observers and collaborators including Béjart, Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Goude and Yvette Chauviré.
2001 AWARD, Carla Fracci:
Carla Fracci (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkarla ˈfrattʃi]; born 20 August 1936 in Milan, Italy) is a ballet dancer and actress. Her career highlights include Nijinsky, Giselle (American Ballet Theatre), Complete Bell Telephone Hour Performances: Erik Bruhn1961-1967.Fracci studied at La Scala Theatre Ballet School starting in 1946. She graduated to La Scala Theatre Ballet in 1954, where she was promoted to soloist in 1956, and to principal in 1958. Other ballet companies she appeared with include: the London Festival Ballet (1959 & 1962), the Royal Ballet (1963), the Stuttgart Ballet (1965), and the Royal Swedish Ballet (1969). She was a principal guest artist with American Ballet Theatre from 1967.She was known for her performances in Giselle, dancing in with partners such as Rudolf Nureyev, Vladimir Vasiliev, Henning Kronstam, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Erik Bruhn.
2000 AWARD, Rosella Hightower:
Rosella Hightower was born in Durwood, Carter County, Oklahoma, the only child of Charles Edgar Hightower and his wife, the former Eula May Flanning. Of Choctaw heritage, she moved with her family to Kansas City, Missouri after her father took a new position with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. Hightower began her dance training in Kansas City under the instruction of Dorothy Perkins.After a 1937 appearance by Russian choreographer and ballet dancer Léonide Massine in Kansas City with Wassily de Basil's Ballets Russes, Massine invited Hightower to join a new ballet company he was forming in Monte Carlo. Hightower traveled to France at her own expense and discovered that she had been invited for further auditions and had been given no commitment of employment by the group. She was ultimately accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where she was guided by Massine who recognized her hard work and ability to learn quickly. There she met André Eglevsky, her future partner at various dance companies. After the outbreak of World War II, Hightower followed the Ballet Russe to New York City, where she joined the Ballet Theater in 1941.She joined the de Basil Ballet in 1946, which was performing under the name Original Ballet Russe. Hightower received acclaim from John Martin of The New York Times after a March 1947 performance of Giselle by the Original Ballet Russe at the Metropolitan Opera House. After Alicia Markova, who had been scheduled to dance the title role, became sick, Hightower was called in as her replacement, and learned the part she
had never danced before in some five hours of rehearsal with dancer/choreographer Anton Dolin. Martin's review stated that the "Original Ballet Russe had planned no novelty for the opening of its season... but there was a major one on its program nevertheless. This was the unscheduled first appearance of Rosella Hightower in the title role of Giselle", calling it "a thoroughly admirable achievement, which brought an ovation from the audience". Three days later, Martin's review of Swan Lake called Hightower "the newest star on the ballet horizon" after her two performances with Dolin and then André Eglevsky as her partnerIn 1947, she accepted an invitation from the Marquis George de Cuevas to join a new ballet company, which was variously called the Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo or the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, but was most commonly called the de Cuevas Ballet by theatergoers. The presence there of choreographer Bronislava Nijinska was one of the major factors in Hightower's decision. Nijinska choreographed for Hightower the "glitteringly virtuosic" Rondo Capriccioso. In addition to classic dances, Hightower's performances included Piège de Lumière by John Taras, the troupe's choreographer and balletmaster, in which she danced the role of a butterfly in a tropical forest who enchants a group of escaped convicts.The company disbanded after the 1961 death of de Cuevas, and Hightower largely retired from the stage, though she gave a series of performances in 1962 with Sonia Arova, Erik Bruhn and Rudolf Nureyev. She opened the Centre de Danse Classique in 1962 near her home in Cannes, which became one of Europe's leading ballet schools. Hightower later directed several major companies, including the Marseilles Ballet from 1969–72, the Ballet of the Grand Théâtre of Nancy in 1973–74, the Paris Opéra Ballet from 1980 to 1983 and the La Scala Ballet of Milan in 1985–86. She is honored in Tulsa, Oklahoma, along with four other Native American ballerinas (Yvonne Chouteau, Moscelyne Larkin, Maria Tallchief and Marjorie Tallchief), with a larger than life-size bronze statue, The Five Moons in the garden of the Tulsa Historical Society.
1999 AWARD, Jose Pares:
Dancer, choreographer, teacher of ballet and American Professor, born in Humacaco (Puerto Rico) on December 11, 1926.
He began his dance studies under the tutelage of Manolo Agulló in San Juan of Puerto Rico; Subsequently, expanded his training in New York with teachers Edward Caton, Margaret Craske, Vera Nemchinova and Antony Tudor. He made his debut with the Ballet Alicia Alonso in 1951, company with which remained until 1956, when he founded the theatre of dance José pairs in Puerto Rico, a private company that lasted until 1959. From the latter year until 1970 he worked as a dancer, ballet master and choreographer of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. For this company created: A concert in black and white (Haydn, 1952), Delirium (Franck, 1953), El Caballo de Coral (Martín, 1960) with a second version in 1964, the night of Walpurgis (Gounod, 1961), Cain and Abel (Wagner, 1962) on the original choreography by David Lichine, El Flautista de Hamelin (Delibes, 1963) and Bach x 11=4' x H (Bach, 1970).