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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Wins Top Ballet Prize

On Sunday night at the Kremlin Palace, Andrei Batalov took home the Grand Prix for the VIII Moscow International Ballet Competition.

It was only the third time in the 28-year history of the event that the top prize was taken by a Russian.

A gold-medal winner in ballet competitions in Perm, Nagoya and Paris, Batalov has been a soloist for St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater since 1994.

After his victory, Batalov said he felt that competitions were good practice for the rigors of full-length performance.

"Contests help to train one for creative work," he said. "After the intense physical and mental strain of competition, dancing a full performance seems like nothing at all. It makes you feel light and sure of yourself on the stage."

Gold medals went to Nikolai Tsiskaridze for his duet with Maria Alexandrova and 17-year-old Herman Korneho as a soloist. Korneho's good-luck charm was his countryman, Julio Bocca, the director of the company for which the young Argentinian dances and a former gold medal winner himself. Bocca was not only able offer an insider's view of the event, he also funded Korneho's trip to Moscow.

The remaining prize winners in the men's category were: Konstantin Kuznetsov from Belarus (2 prizes), Yong Geol Kim from South Korea, Fernando Mora from Denmark, and Mikhail Ronnikov (3 prizes).

The women's winners were: China's Jian Zhang, Romania's Alina Cojocaru, Irina Surneva (2 prizes), Oksana Kuzmenko, Natalya Ogneva, and Yelena Glurdzhudze (3 prizes), all from Russia.