Principal Dancer Patric Palkens and Soloist Abigail Morwood competed with more than 200 dancers from around the world Thursday in the first Vienna International Ballet Competition held in the United States. Performing the Variation of Franz from Coppelia and the Grand Pas Classique Variation, Palkens took home a Silver Medal in the Men’s Classical category. Soloist Morwood won a Silver Medal in the Women’s Classical category performing Aurora Act I Variation from Sleeping Beauty, Queen of the Dryads and a premiere contemporary piece entitled Iris, choreographed by fellow Cincinnati Ballet dancer, Jake Casey.
The Vienna International Ballet Experience (VIBE) USA took place January 12 through 16 in Missoula, Montana. The multi-day competition and dance festival is under the direction of Gregor Hatala from Vienna and is hosted by the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre and Destination Missoula.
The competition came at a time when the dancers were busy preparing for Cincinnati Ballet’s upcoming performance of Cinderella, and they were able to prepare in just three days, rehearsing their pieces during breaks in their daily rehearsal schedule.
“One of the reasons I love competing is that you get to choose the work,” said Palkens. This competition gave me the chance to work on pieces that I had my eye on for a long time, but haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet. Both pieces are incredibly classical, yet understated, and I really wanted to challenge myself.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for Palkens who is originally from Lewistown, Montana. Upon arrival, he was greeted by Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Mayor of Missoula John Engen. Several young dancers from his hometown traveled to Missoula to watch Palkens perform. “I felt an incredible amount of support from the community, and along with that comes some pressure. I really wanted to do well and make my supporters proud,” Palkens said.
Morwood also competed in the Contemporary Solo division. “I knew right away [Corp de Ballet Dancer] Jake Casey had to choreograph my solo,” she said. “He choreographed it in just a matter of hours and it was brilliant. It was such a great experience to take his work to the competition. As a friend and a choreographer I admire, I wanted to honor him and make him proud!”
After receiving their awards, they were invited to perform for the final gala on Saturday evening before returning to Cincinnati. Palkens and Morwood were both invited to participate in the Vienna International Ballet Competition held in Austria.
Artistic Director and CEO Victoria Morgan was very proud to hear the news. “I love the fight and ambition that is a part of that dancer who wants to go further,” she said. “While it wasn’t perfect timing, I thought it would be a great opportunity for two of our highly driven dancers to push themselves forward, to be surrounded by some of the top technical artists in the world and to put themselves in front of a new audience of international judges and competitors. I’m really proud of the fact that both Patric and Abigail received Silver Medals. It not only shines a light on their talent but on the caliber of our dancers right here in Cincinnati.”
Cincinnati Ballet 2015-2016 Season Sponsors: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation, ArtsWave, The Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, Rhonda & Larry A. Sheakley Family Foundation, Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Ohio Arts Council, PNC Bank, Frisch’s, Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Enquirer
Photo: Peter Mueller