The VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow

June 19 - June 30, 1997

55 participants from 15 countries

The VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow changed its location for one year. The Opening Ceremony, the Award Ceremony, and the laureates' concert took place in the State Kremlin Palace. The competition itself was at the Operetta Theatre, a branch of the Bolshoi Theatre at that time. In 1997, 55 competitors from 15 countries took part in the competition. Despite the relatively small number of participants, their preparation and skills were exceptionally high-level, confirming the competition's reputation and authority.

Gold medal
Silver medal
Bronze medal
Diplomas and awards

Chairman of the Organizing Committee

Olga Lepeshinskaya (Russia)

Honorary Chairman of the Jury

Galina Ulanova (Russia)

Chairman of the Jury

Yuri Grigorovich (Russia)

Jury Members

Dawn Weller (South Africa) 
Sofia Golovkina (Russia) 
Bisser Deyanov (Bulgaria) 
Valentin Elizariev (Republic of Belarus) 
Andrey Zolotov (Russia)
Inna Zubkovskaya (Russia)
Askold Makarov (Russia)
Natalia Makarova (USA) 
Minoru Ochi (Japan) 
Anna Maria Prina (Italy)
Ben Stevenson (USA) 
Xiao Suhua (China)
Alex Ursuliak (Germany)
Tamara Finch (Great Britain) 
Karen Khachaturian (Russia) 
Anatoly Shekera (Ukraine)
Andrei Вatalov (Russia)
Maria Alexandrova (Russia) 
Jian Zhang (China)
German Cornejo (Argentina) 
Nikolai Tsiskaridze (Russia)
Alina Cojocaru (Romania)
Irina Surneva (Russia)
Konstantin Kuznetsov (Republic of Belarus)
Elena Glurdgydze (Russia) 
Oksana Kuzmenko (Russia) 
Natalia Ogneva (Russia) 
Kim Yong Geol (Korea)
Fernando Mora (Denmark) 
Mikhail Ronnikov (Russia)

Encouragement Awards and Diplomas

Nelli Beliakaite (Lithuania) 
Bae Joo Yoon (Korea) 
Miki Watanabe (Japan)
Yulia Dyatko (Republic of Belarus) 
Natalia Sologub (Russia) 
Miki Hamanaka (Japan) 
Emi Khariyama (Japan) 
Natalia Stchiolokova (Russia) 
Fabio Grossi (Italy) 
Vladimir Muravlev (Russia)
Та Mila (China) 
Nikita Stcheglov (Russia)

Partnering Award

Elvira Tarasova (Russia)

Contemporary Choreography Award

Wang Yuan Yuan and Zeng Hua Xing (China) for "Attraction" 

Award to the Best Ballet Pianist

Alexei Melentiev (Russia)  

"Ballet Magazine Award for Pedagogical Debut"

Lyudmila Shipulina (Russia)

Peter van der Sloot Personal Award "For Maintaining of Russian Classical Ballet Traditions"

Nikolai Tsiskaridze (Russia)

Audience Sympathy Award

Bae Jo о Yoon (Korea)

Press Award "In Support of Artistic Personality"

Alina Cojocaru (Romania)

Independent Newspaper Award "For Contemporary Artistic Interpretation of Classical Repertoire" 

Alina Cojocaru (Romania)

Music Academy Magazine Award

Alina Cojocaru (Romania)

The Opening Ceremony of the VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow at the State Kremlin Palace. Photo: TASS

The opening of the competition began with a historical perspective; on a large screen, it was shown documentary footage of the Moscow contests' laureates' performances. As part of the Opening Ceremony, a teleconference between New York and Moscow was held. A live broadcast across the ocean allowed renowned dancers, winners Julio Bocca (1985) and Vladimir Malakhov (1989), to wish the new contestants good luck from the screen. For the first time, the Opening Ceremony did not end with a performance, but with a big gala concert.

In the first round, the soloists Maria Alexandrova from Russia and Herman Carneja from Argentina manifested themselves brightly. And two duets performed brilliantly: Julia Strandberg and Fernando Mora (Royal Danish Ballet), and Andrei Batalov and Elvira Tarasova (Mariinsky Theater).

The highlight of the competition was Andrei Batalov's performance. The Mariinsky Theatre premiere danced a piece from the ballet Le Corsaire. The height of Batalov's jumps, which should rather be called flights, and his unique sense of pose were striking. The Bolshoi Theatre soloist Nikolai Tsiskaridze was his main rival. Who would get the prize remained an intrigue until the finals. It was challenging for the jury to decide. In the end, the Grand Prix was awarded to Andrei Batalov.

Laureate of the VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow Nikolai Tsiskaridze (Russia), first prize, gold medal. Photo: Ballet magazine.

This competition became a contest of strong personalities. Gold medals were awarded to future Bolshoi Theatre prima and primer Maria Alexandrova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze (Russia). After completing his career at the Bolshoi Theatre, Nikolai Tsiskaridze leads the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet. The winners of the first prize and the gold medal at the VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow were Jian Zhang(China), future prima ballerina of the National Ballet of China, and sixteen-year-old Argentinian dancer Herman Carneja, the youngest winner of such an award in the history of the competition. He was only sixteen. Eventually, he became a soloist of the Argentinean Ballet, and afterward, he continued his career in the American Ballet Theatre in New York.

The Contemporary Choreography Award went to Attraction by Chinese choreographers Wang Yuan Yuan and Zeng Hua Xing, a poetic and wise parable about love.

 Regular meetings and discussions were organized in the Press Centre, and a meeting of the directors of the international ballet competitions was held. Three photo exhibitions were opened - one was in the Operetta Theatre's foyer, the second one was in the Cultural Centre on Petrovskie Linii street, and the third was in the Press Centre.

 The VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow was the last competition attended by Galina Ulanova, the jury's honorary Chairman. The great ballerina was 87 years old, but she did not miss a single performance or jury meeting. The following year, Galina Ulanova passed away. The ninth Moscow competition was dedicated to her memory.

“The competition provides a good harding for creativity. After all the physical and emotional stresses that come over you during the contest, it costs you nothing to dance in the show: you feel light, relaxed, and confident on stage”.

Andrei Batalov, winner of the Grand Prix at the VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow

“The VIII International Competition of Ballet Dancers in Moscow was not a contest of mechanical puppets furiously turning double rounds and double sautes de basque (which we, alas, accepted), but a contest of personalities and promising individualities”.

Anna Galaida, ballet critic

“And if the contest reveals just one but significant individuality, the competition already has a greater meaning. School teaches. And destiny chooses. Theatre grinds. And nature bestows. And if all of the above components come together in one contestant, he will win”.

Elena Lutskaya, ballet critic