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Paris International Dance Competition
(twinned with the Varna contest)

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 7 December1998 - The 8th Concours International de Danse de Paris under the presidency of Madame Chirac and organised by Cyril Lafaurie ended with a Gala performance at the Theatre des Champs Elysées, where winners danced together with guest artists from the previous Varna competition.

In the classical category, it was no surprise to see the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris won by Rolando Sarabia (16), 1998 Varna gold medallist, and the first prize, men, Junior, carried off with ease by Yosvani Ramos (19), 1996 Varna gold medallist. In the Senior section, Howard Quintero (20) was awarded the second prize.

Rolando Sarabia

All three dancers, Cuban born, were trained at the National School of Havana. Sarabia, now in his eighth year at the school stupefied the audience with his extraordinary technique and artistry, particularly in " Don Quixotte ", but the great favourite was Ramos, actually member of " Young Ballet of France ", who interpreted an irresistible solo to Jacques Brel's song, " Les Bourgeois ".

The mens' first prize went to Dmitri Goudanov(26) , soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow
The first prize, women, Junior, went to Emilie Cozette(17) of the Opéra of Paris who interpreted " La Cigarette " from " Suite en Blanc ", choreography Serge Lifar with purity and grace. The level of the women in the Senior category was a little disappointing, but the lack of a winner here was more than compensated for by the adorable South Korean ballerina, Kim Ji Young (20), who won the first prize, couples, with her partner, Kim Yong Geol.

Ji Young, trained in Russia, showed off her beautiful line and delicacy of movement in the Tchaikovsky pas de deux.

The revelation of the competition came in the contemporary section, dominated by the Chinese, who have not only caught up with, but overtaken everyone else.

The hero here was the magnificent dancer Li Hong Ju(25), who triumphed with his dramatic solo, " I want to Fly ", which he choreographed together with Xing Liang. The tall, graceful Hong Ju began studying Chinese dance at thirteen at the Shenyang Arts School, joining Guangdong Modern Dance Company in 1996.

Li Hong Ju

The Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris was nontheless awarded to the more academic Zheng Wu (24), who allied acrobatics with artistry, in a brilliant interpretation of José Montalvo's " La Mitrailleuse en Etat de Grace 11 " .Wu, a pupil of the Institute of Dance,Peking, has worked in France since 1996,and French audiences should shortly be able to see him dance as he has recently joined Montalvo's troupe.

One can not always understand a jury's decision as to whom should receive , or not receive which prize, but I particularly enjoyed two young dancers I saw in the contemporary finals, Zhang Jing (20), and Zhang Yuanchun (24). They interpreted "Yin Yang ", choreography Zhang Shouche to music by Zhang Weiliang , but unlike their fellow countrymen, they won no medals.

After the gala, the awards were presented to these and the other prizewinners by Madame Jacques Chirac at the Palais de l'Elysée.

10 to 22 November 1998
Classical jury presided by Elisabeth Platel
Contemporary jury presided by Carolyn Carlson

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