MOSCOW — Julio Bocca of Argentina, the 18-year-old find of this year's Moscow Ballet Competition, Wednesday was awarded the gold medal for men's competition in a contest dominated by Soviets. It was also the first year that Chinese dancers have competed.
Bocca, who took the Bolshoi by storm Monday night with his performance in the pas de deux from "The Nutcracker," beat Soviet favorite Andris Liepa, 23, the son of Bolshoi star Maris Liepa, to win the top honor. Liepa took the silver medal.
But the 12 Soviet entrants did well overall in the two-week competition. All but one of them won a prize.
Dancers representing the United States also took home awards. Maria Teresa del Real, a Puerto Rican-trained ballerina of Cuban descent now with Pittsburgh Ballet, was one of only three non-Soviets to get a women's award.
Dancing Tuesday, Yuko Morimoto of Japan, the delight of the audience on the second night of final-round, took a silver medal while Maria Gibeshova of Czechoslovakia shared a bronze.
Real, who was impressive in the first two rounds but looked weaker in a pas de deux on Monday, won a special prize awarded by the Soviet journal Soviet Ballet, which normally is given for the best performance of a classical Russian ballet.
However, jury chairman Yuri Grigorovich, director of the Bolshoi Theater, said Real won because "she remained in our memories. We thought she deserved to have a prize."
Pablo Savoye of France, who was Real's partner and who also dances in Pittsburgh, shared one of the two men's silver medals with Soviet entrant Viktor Yeremenko.
Li Cunxin, a Chinese-trained dancer with the Houston ballet, took a bronze in the men's solo competition, sharing it with his one-time Peking Academy classmate, Zhao Minhua.
American choreographer Robert Joffrey, one of the jury co-chairmen assisting Grigorovich, said the male dancers "were the most exciting part of the competition."
Beside Zhao's prize in the solo category, Chan Weitsan took one of two bronzes in the male duo category and his partner Tan Min won an award for artistic merit.
Bocca surprised Soviet ballet fans from the first round of competition, when his soaring leaps and technical artistry won over one of the world's most critical ballet audiences and drew several curtain calls.
Trained by his dance teacher mother from age 4, Bocca is a soloist with the Colon National Dance Company of Argentina in Buenos Aires.