Presentation of the joint Russian-Italian Prize Benois-Massine

September 7, 2019, Positano, Italy

The 47th edition of the Premia la Danza Léonide Massine took place in Positano in southern Italy with the Dancer of the Year Award going to the Bolshoi’s Prima Ballerina Svetlana Zakharova.

This event brings together to Positano everyone who is in any way involved with ballet. All of them being old acquaintances, this award is a opportunity to find out even more about each other as well as about any new comers in the industry. The ceremony itself lays a claim to being one of the most informal ones in the world of ballet and theatre, taking place on the Amalfi Coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

A concert venue is put together in a small bay, and the audience either sits there or watches from the cafés and restaurants nearby. To most people it’s not a secret as to why the award is named after the Russian dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine. His house which was situated on the island of Li Galli and visible from the beach was later bought along with the island by Rudolf Nureyev, who owned it till his death, forever tying the place to Russian ballet. Therefore, it is both legend and history, kept alive by the annual Positano Premia la Danza – Léonide Massine Award which is given to the most prominent ballet dancers in the world.

The appearance of Svetlana Zakharova was much anticipated. Everyone wanted to celebrate the jury’s decision, as the nomination she had received was a sort of appraisal of her as an artist in general. During the gala concert she and her partner who is the leading soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre Jacopo Tissi performed a duet from Caravaggio by Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, a piece which Zakaharova only dances in gala concerts. This made it all the more interesting for the audience who got to see a different side of the talented ballerina. While she usually dances only in the classical style, this time she performed elements of modern choreography and raised them to the level of what are considered academic classics.

Another notable event of the evening was the presentation of the Russian-Italian Benois-Massine Prize. This year it went to Russian dancer Vadim Muntagirov who is a Principle of the Royal Ballet. He is at a high point in his career, having been awarded the Benois de La Danse Prize twice – in 2013 and 2019. For the gala concert he danced a fragment from the part of Solor in La Bayadère and produced a performance that left the audience completely swept of their feet.
Alexander Kolesnikov, Positano.