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Three awards this year and they all go to choreographers associated with the Dutch National Ballet. The first is for full-length ballets, the second for one act works or less and the third is for the best new full-length ballet in the United Kingdom. My choice for the first category is Ted Brandsen, for the second Ernst Meisner and for the third David Dawson.
Two of the highlights of my year were Mata Hari (see Brandsen's Masterpiece 14 Feb 2016) and Coppelia (see Brandsen's Coppelia 12 Dec 2016 and Pictures of Coppelia 15 Dec 2016) and they were both created by Ted Brandsen. I also saw two of my favourite young dancers, Cristiano Principato and Emilie Tassinari, in Brandsen's Replay when I went to Italy in June (see From Italy with Love 1 July 2016). These were very different works but each and every one was a masterpiece in its own way. As I said in my last post, there has been some brilliant full-length works by Bintlley, Dawson, Maillot and Marston this year and they all have merits but Brandsen wins it on points.
If Brandsen won the full-length contest on points, Meisner won the short works title with a knockout. I fell in love with No Time before Time when I saw the video from Lausanne. I was amazed when I saw it at the Meervvart in Ballet Bubbles on 14 Feb 2016 and carried to my feet with the crowd's acclamation when I saw it at the gala in September. In my review of the gala I wrote:
"The first time I saw the video of Ernst Meisner's No Time Before Time was in the Prix de Lausanne finals. I fell in love with it there and then. When I saw it live for the first time in Ballet Bubbles at the Meervaart Theatre on my birthday on Valentine's day it was the best present anyone could possibly receive. I expressed my appreciation in Thank You Ernst a few days later. Ernst Meisner is an extraordinary choreographer. His Saltarello had been the highlight of the Junior Company's Stadsshouwburg show of 24 Nov 2013. The performance of Embers by Nancy Burer and Thomas van Damme to the haunting music of Max Richter was my favourite of the following year. I described it my review as quite simply one of the most beautiful ballets I have ever seen. Well, No Time Before Time is Ernst's best work yet."In the video above Ernst Meisner talks about his craft. It is well worth a listen.
Dawson's Swan Lake was so good that it has to be acknowledged (see Empire Blanche: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016). It was the best new full-length work for a British company all year though Cathy Marston and David Bintley were not far behind. Dawson produced a work of which Peter Darrell would certainly have been proud and Petipa too perhaps.