The art of dance has had its abundant fans since many decades ago. We used to receive illustrious companies of all types : from the Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev to the Alwin Nikolais, from the Moscow Bolshoi to the Ballet du Vingtième Siècle (Béjart), from the Paris Opera Ballet or the American Ballet Theatre to the José Limón or Martha Graham companies, the "porteño" saw the very best of dancing. It´s been a long while now since a big company has come whole, although smaller and less illustrious groups have visited in recent years.
But there is another category that we need: that of great international galas combining artists in pas de deux or seeing them in solo numbers. We´ve had such visits in the past; e.g., in Iron Curtain times I remember the regular visits of Stars of the Russian Ballet. Although nothing replaces the satisfaction of seeing a full-length ballet by a great company, there´s a lot to be said for a judiciously assembled group of dancers from all over doing their favorite duets or solos. Galas by local dancers have been done in recent seasons (and there will be one at AMIJAI in a few days) but we should get to know outstanding dancers from other places.
So the recent initiative of having two nights at the Coliseo combining a brilliant dancing roster is certainly to be welcome, and it was a huge success at the box office. The organizers called it "1º Gala de Ballet de Buenos Aires", so they intend eventually to do a second and perhaps many others. If they are as good as this one, it will be worth waiting. The Grupo Ars is led by Martín Boschet and Diego Radivoy, and they have the support of
Liana Vinocur as Executive Producer, of an old hand such as Miguel Levy as Artistic Coordinator and of the knowledegable Tatiana Fesenko as rehearsal teacher. Pablo Cabrera supervised the costumes, generally adequate. And the Colón´s José Luis Fiorrucio did the technical coordination (especially the lighting). Boschet was the controversial Executive Director of the Colón during the Sanguinetti period; I believe this new calling is far more his thing.
It was a pity that in the second night (the one I saw) there were changes in the program and that they were announced by microphone, for such a procedure is much less clear than a flyer. I won´t analyze the show chronologically, instead I will write about the artists and their choices. The music was recorded and the sound was acceptable. As is the abusive custom, we never get to know what orchestras and conductors intervene.
I was stunned by the duet from the Bolshoi, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. There was a major change: instead of an old Soviet standard, "Paris in flames" (1932, Asafiev-Vainonen, revised by Ratmansky), they danced an aggressively sensual modernist "Serenade" with choreography by Amerigo Ciervo, music by ? (I couldn´t catch the name).
If you think of Bolshoi dancers as epitomes of classical perfection, you certainly got that from these dancers in the Pas de Deux from Minkus´ "Don Quichotte" as choreographed by Petipa and Gorsky (it closed the evening) but I could hardly believe they were the same dancers that had been so wild in "Serenade" (surely an ironic title); certainly new winds are blowing in Russia.
My other favorite was Daniil Simkin of the American Ballet Theatre. In the classical side, he was an unbelievably acrobatic "Corsair" in the old Drigo-Petipa ballet, with some steps that defied gravity and were surely perilous; there he was admirably partnered by Iana Salenko, from the Staats Ballett Barlin. But he also did a charming solo, "Les bourgeois", a humoristic and resourceful choreography by Ben Van Cauwenbergh on a typically satirical song by Jacques Brel; Simkin couldn´t have been more nonchalant as he danced with ease the funny steps imagined by the choreographer.
Two partners from competing ballets gave much pleasure: the Argentine Ana Sophia Scheller from the New York City Ballet and Joseph Phillips from the American Ballet Theatre. They kept to the classics: "Esmeralda" by Pugni, Perrot and Petipa (naturally derived from Hugo´s "Notre Dame de Paris") and the "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" by the master Balanchine. Phillips was always very correct, but it was Scheller that shone, with a spontaneity coupled with high technique that was quite attractive.
The duo from the Opéra National de Paris had charm and distinction, without trascending to a higher plane: Mathilde Froustey and Mathias Heymann did a "Delibes Suite" choreographed by José Martínez (very agreeable) and "Who cares?", by Balanchine on Gershwin, where Froustey gave us some delicately funny moments.
A young Argentine duo from the Colón did fine work: Natalia Pelayo and Federico Fernández danced Tchaikovsky´s "Sleeping Beauty" (Petipa) and the Macmillan choreography "Manon" on Massenet´s music (not from the opera); they showed first-rate technique and pleasant personalities. Another Argentine couple was very adequate in Khachaturian´s "Spartacus" as choreographed by Gastyan; Agustina Verde and Bautista Parada have the "physique du rôle" and do honor to La Plata Argentino´s Ballet.
I am of two minds about the other solos: they were danced with precision and character but I disliked the choreographies and the "sounds" (rather than music). Daniel Proietto from Eastman did "Two" by Andy Cowton, and Pablo Fermani (from CNDC) offered "Lay still" by Gustavo Lesgart.For Buenos Aires Herald