We don´t see great dancing now as often as we did decades ago; the big companies don´t come, too expensive: their crises and ours add up. Nevertheless, we do have some appreciable moments from time to time and in very different styles and traditions. This survey will touch upon some of those experiences.
The pompously called Russian Imperial Ballet gave us at the Coliseo the choreographic vision of Gediminas Taranda based on Alexander Gorski of the famous Minkus ballet "Don Quixote". Here we are very used to the Zarko Prebil choreography, seen innumerable times during this last quarter of a century, so it´s difficult to adapt to another view. The RIB is a private company born in 1994 and purports to be in the great Russian School of Ballet tradition. The very badly designed hand programme gives no information on the principal staff, only the names of the dancers and their roles (absurdly written in English). The poor sound of the recorded music (no information on interpreters) hardly added to the pleasure. About 35 dancers were on the stage, most of them with Russian surnames.
The results were no more than acceptable. The principals danced well but with no stamp of their own. Maria Sokolnikova (Kitri) was certainly the best, fresh, beautiful and assured in her steps. Nariman Bekzhanov (Basil) has a good body and knows the moves, but lacks the personality for the audacious suitor. Vitali Oleynik was a nondescript Toreador (and Tarandas´choreography for the part is weak). As I was seeing their second show and the cast list often had two names for certain parts, I assume that the second one is right. The most vital artist was Anna Pashkova doubling as Gypsy and Street dancer. In Tarandas´ conception both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are more prominent, which is logical enough; the knight is played with great solemnity and a display of mime rather than dance; Alexander Lodochkin did well. The most unusual idea of the choreographer is to cast Sancho with a woman, with very direct humor and great flexibility; Yuliya Golovyna managed to make it convincing. Lorenzo, Kitri´s father, is presented as an obese mime with heavy humor by Vitautas Taranda (the choreographer´s brother?), whilst Gamash is a fop aristocrat (Arkadie Nazarenco). Cupid was too cute as danced by Radamaria Nazareno-Dominica ( a non-Russian in the cast), and Mercedes was nicely done by Solomon Khamaganov (can Solomon be a lady?).
The Corps de Ballet was of a good standard if you don´t compare with the Bolshoi or the Kirov; it has plenty to do in this old-fashioned ballet with old-fashioned aesthetics in Tarandas´ version. Costumes and scenery were pleasant though sometimes kitschy.
The Ballet Stockholm 59º North is made up of Soloists of the Swedish Royal Ballet. The SRB has a high European reputation and indeed the quality of the dancers is very high; eleven of them came to BA, but I had bad luck: I saw the second of two nights for the Mozarteum at the Coliseo, and one of the artists, after the performance of "Pulcinella and Pimpinella", had a lesion; as he had no cover that number was eliminated on the second night. Quite a pity, for that ballet, on Stravinsky´s lovely Pergolesi-based music, had a choreography by Birgit Cullberg, who was for many years the main choreographer of the SRB. So we had two choreographies by her son, Mats Ek, and two by other choreographers, all in typical modern dance trends. The music was recorded but in this case the sound was good; again no interpreters were identified.
"Cantus in memory of the dancing Queen" has as incongruous music "Kommt, ihr Töchter" from Bach´s "St. John Passion", with presumably meaningful interruptions and low noise added; the choreography by Giovanni Bucchieri (Italian though he works in Sweden) is about "a pair of friends, a pair of lovers and a relationship that ended"; I disliked it. "Pas de danse" has tuneful popular music by Benny Andersson (ex ABBA memeber) and shows the good choreographic background of Mats Ek. "Apartment",also by Ek, has music by the Swedish rock group Fläskkvartetten combining jazz, pop and rap; the choreography, more complex than "Pas de danse", tries to give some humor to situations of separation and alienation; the result is intermittently attractive. Finally, the 22-minute "Tactile affinity", by Pontus Lindberg, on ugly noises by David Lang and a piano piece by Philip Glass (minimalist, of course), explores "familiarity through closeness, tact and shared movements"; not my cup of tea. But apart from the moot value of the choreographies, I do admire the dancers, uniformly very good, fully attuned to modern dance steps and some of them of intense plasticity; but where is content such as Limón or Martha Graham or early Béjart provided? The group is led by Jens Rosén.
Finally, the Colón´s CETC: a half-hour divertimento called "La limousine", with ingenious percussion music by Marta Lambertini (premiere), provided a chance to appreciate the group of aerial dance led by Brenda Angiel. It is aesthetically interesting with its unrelenting bumping off columns or its acrobatic beauty as the dancers hang harnessed; it needs a lot of training and the artists showed themselves past masters of this special style. But I do feel that the half-hour was perfect: the repertory of possibilities is limited and longer than that it would surely pall.