Japanese dancers take first and third prizes in prestigious Russian ballet competition

Kyodo

A male Japanese dancer took the top prize and his female compatriot grabbed third place in their respective senior divisions of an international ballet competition held Monday in Moscow, sources revealed prior to the official announcement of the results.

At the XIII International Ballet Competition and Contest of Choreographers held at the famed Bolshoi Theatre, Koya Okawa, a 25-year-old native of Aomori Prefecture, earned first in the men’s duet category, and Midori Terada, 24, from Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, won third prize for the women’s duet division.

The contest, which was held at the Bolshoi Theatre from June 10 through Tuesday, sees the performers “judged individually whether he/she perform solo or in a duet.”

In the boys solo category, 18-year-old Mark Chino, whose mother is a Japanese ballet dancer, won the top prize.

Okawa and Terada have been dancing at the Tatar Musa Jalil State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Kazan, Russia. Okawa performed a duet with Terada in the final round of competition.

“Not just my own dance but the performance as a duet was given high marks. I appreciate Midori,” Okawa said. “We were able to perform a very good dialogue between ourselves.”

Terada said she feels “extremely honored” to receive the award in such a big competition. “Our efforts for a long period of time have borne fruit,” she said.

Fusako Ueno, a dance commentator, said that the “artistic excellence” of Okawa and Terada must have been rated highly by the jury, adding that Okawa’s jump was “explosive” and “splendid” and that Terada had “an outstanding sense of balance.”

Okawa began ballet at the age of 2 and entered the Moscow State Academy of Choreography, from which he graduated in 2011. He was a soloist at the Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ukraine between 2011 and 2013 before moving to the Tatar state academic theater.

Terada joined the Moscow state academy at the age of 16 and also belonged to the national theater in Ukraine before moving to Kazan in 2014.

Chino, whose father is Russian, is now enrolled at the Moscow state academy.

“I am so happy. I want to make a fresh start as a professional dancer, not as a student,” he said.

Their accomplishments were celebrated in Japan by their families and former instructors. Okawa’s 54-year-old mother Yasuko said, “I want to say congratulations. I am thankful for his teachers who have guided him in the world of ballet.”

The quadrennial competition that began in 1969 is known as one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world along with the Prix de Lausanne.

The final results were set to be announced late Monday evening but organizers pushed back the schedule to Tuesday.