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Victoria Mazzarelli (NYIBC 1984 Alumna)
Artistic Director, The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts
I am forever thankful to Ilona Copen and the NYIBC for sending me on my way to what became a 20 year professional career overseas. In Europe, I was fortunate to work under the directorship of Heinz Spoerli (Basel Ballet, Zurich Ballet), William Forsythe (Ballet Frankfurt), and Richard Wherlock (Basel Ballet) as principal dancer. During the time in their companies I had the opportunity to work with many brilliant guest choreographers and visual artists. I was able to see the world on the many tours the companies made!
I fondly remember the weeks spent in New York, the traveling to and from rehearsals (a big deal at 17 when you are from a small town) and the wonderfully supportive people that I met during the competition. Many of the dancers I have kept in contact with and/or have danced and worked with during the years. I cherish all the rehearsals, especially the ones with Igor Youskevitch. Thinking back at how excited I was to be partnered by him when he needed to demonstrate something makes me smile! I remember him as elegant and kind. Wonderful memories! Thank you!
Barry Hughson (NYIBC 1990 Alumnus)
Executive Director, Boston Ballet
NYIBC was a transformational experience for me. I was not a great ballet technician. I had physical challenges that limited how far I could take my technique. I was an excellent partner, and that is what I loved most as a dancer – to make my partner shine. As a student, I was always told that I would never compete in an international ballet competition because of the dancer I was not. NYIBC recognized me for the dancer I was. Not only did I compete at NYIBC, but I was formally recognized for my partnering skills with the Lefkowitz Award for Partnering. NYIBC is not really a competition – it is an extraordinary educational experience – focused on the art of the pas de deux. It is not about technical “tricks” and star soloists, but truly about the artistry. Some competitions focus solely on technical virtuosity, but dancers at the NYIBC leave the experience as more accomplished artists and partners. The experience is invaluable to the individual participants, and to the integrity of ballet as an art form.
Mireille Favarel (NYIBC Alumna 1984)
Milwaukee Ballet, Associate Director MBII program and School Faculty
It was my first time in NYC and in America. That alone was a huge excitement. Aside from The “Prix de Lausanne”, I had never been interested in participating in a ballet competition.
However, the NYIBC was different, and what attracted me was that it offered three weeks of class and coaching with the most prestigious teachers prior to the competition. My most cherished moments were: being coached by Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin for “Gaite Parisienne”, and working with Igor Youskevitch in classes and rehearsals. Igor was such an incredible teacher and always had the right words of encouragement. I have very fond memories of all the teachers and staff at the NYIBC, and how everyone made me feel so welcome. Although I did not win, I was honored to be invited to perform at the next NYIBC gala performance.
Barbora Kohoutková (NYIBC Alumna 1996)
It was an amazing experience for me and a very important time in my life. It was the step between student years and professional life. It was great to work with different teachers, to follow the other dancers, experiencing different styles, and seeing all the performances and programs we had during the competition. It was my first time in USA and things were different then in Europe. I received the Grand Prix that had not been given for 12 years; it was such an honor for me and gave me much satisfaction in my work. I will never forget NYIBC and I’m thankful to all the people that put the energy to keep this competition alive and give young dancers an opportunity to have such a strong and important experience for their ballet career and life.
Kathleen Breen Combes (NYIBC Alumna 2003)
Principal Dancer, Boston Ballet
NYIBC was an incredible learning experience for me. I was cut after round one. Devastated… I remember making a decision, instead of being defeated, I was going to prove them wrong. Luckily, my partner was passed through to the finals, and I had a chance to perform with him. I had one of my all time favorite shows in the finals. I ended up being awarded the Lefkowitz Award for Special Achievement. That fortitude and perseverance I learned at NYIBC has stayed with me and helped me throughout my entire professional career! Thank you for a wonderful learning experience!
Ludmila Pagliero (NYIBC 2003 Alumna)
Danseuse Etoile, Opera National de Paris
NYIBC helped me to be stronger, to not be shy, and to share this art with others. The way the teachers, coaches, and fellow participants talked to me, the support they gave me, showed me that ballet competitions can be really fun and always with a smile. I had always hated competitions, but NYIBC showed me that it can be different.
Harald Uwe Kern (NYIBC 1987 Alumnus)
Senior Ballet Master, Louisville Ballet
Without NYIBC I never would have been able to dance in NYC and make friends and connections that took my career from Europe to the USA. It was a privilege to work with such wonderful legends of the ballet world. Also, I will never forget the camaraderie between all those fantastic dancers at the 1987 competition.
Elza Leimane-Martinova (NYIBC 2005 Alumna)
Principal Dancer, Latvian National Ballet
I cherish the most exciting and happy memories of NYIBC 2005! First of all – being in NY, taking classes at the Ailey Studios, the amazing shows we were able to attend – Broadway shows, NYC Ballet and ABT performances, our wonderful host family who made us feel at home! It is like no other competition in so many ways. The policy about living together and mixing all nationalities in different rooms so you make friends with everybody is wonderful because you become like a big family and we all cried when we had to leave after 3 weeks. NYIBC is fun, not a competition! And in my opinion one of the fairest because you all have the same time and conditions to prepare your repertoire. It is a valuable challenge. Also during the learning process you learn so much from others and help each other, not like in other competitions where you barely have time to see other people and never have we become so close with other dancers as in NYIBC. Ilona Copen was a brilliant women and we are most grateful to her for creating this competition and bringing us dancers all together. The judges were wonderful, our super coaches, the staff and everything about NYIBC is so dear to me and Raimond Martinov – my husband and partner in NYIBC 2005. We thank you, wish you all the very best and countless more dancers to inspire!!!
Roddy Doble (NYIBC 2007 Alumnus)
Corps de Ballet, American Ballet Theatre
I think the greatest things to come out of my NYIBC experience were the friendships. Dancers from all over the world were hurled into a room to work and learn together. By the end, we viewed one another as friends before competitors. We were rooting for their successes over their failures. I believe NYIBC is unique in offering that experience. Since then, I’ve toured all over the U.S. and the world with ABT, and been able to meet up with friends from my year in NYIBC.
Katie Pivarnik (NYIBC 2003, 2005 Alumna)
Former Dancer, New Jersey Ballet
NYIBC is a truly unique competition, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate both in 2003 and 2005. Learning repertory ranging from Bournonville to Petipa to Limon from world -class coaches was inspiring and made me feel part of a very large dance family. During the three exhilarating and exhausting weeks in New York City, I felt supported and cheered on by all the people involved in NYIBC-the directors, coaches, teachers, host families, and other competitors. I returned to NJ Ballet inspired, more confident, and artistically stronger after the competition.
Paulo Arrais (NYIBC 2007 Alumnus)
Principal Dancer, Boston Ballet
NYIBC taught me how to be a professional, responsible and take care of my own art, how to share in a (positive way) your knowledge and accept that there is no right and wrong when it comes to individuality as an Artist. Everyone has a special gift and we should all admire it. It really comes down to: I learned how to create healthy competition which makes me grow more and make me happier to give and receive! It’s all about choosing to be positive!