As usual in March, the Colón Ballet dances again. After their ample holidays, they start rehearsals in late February and by the middle of March they are ready to tread again the theatre´s stage. The directress of the organism, Lidia Segni, choses the programme. If it is a long ballet, she recurs to the fairly immediate revival from last season. Otherwise she must do a combination of short ballets that can be prepared within a month. Thus the "Neoclassic Trilogy III" presented last week.
"III" because we had "II" in 2012 and "I" in 2011. "Neoclassic" because it uses the vocabulary of academic dance formed in the Nineteenth Century (not since Louis XIV´s time, as wrongly put by Laura Falcoff in the hand programme) but with some renovation. The programme put together three dissimilar pieces, with one of them in the fringes of Neoclassicism.
Segni is sometimes choreographer. Her "Vivaldi en concierto" was created in 2010 for a Summer season at the Anfiteatro de Parque Centenario. She had been freshly named as Directress and the Colón was yet to be reopened. "I chose various sections" (movements) "of Vivaldi Bassoon Concerti" (they aren´t identified in the hand programme; there are many!). "It is a choreography for twenty dancers". The work is considerably long, about 30 minutes, and shows a complete knowledge of academic dance; alternating slow and fast pieces, and expressive solos and duets with brilliant ensembles, I find it a pleasant and accomplished piece. It has the added bonus of letting us know some beautiful but little-known Vivaldi, and in this case it was brilliantly played by a young German, Hubert Mittermayer, apparently brought for the occasion (he isn´t a member of the accompanying Buenos Aires Philharmonic, led by Carlos Bertazza). I saw the second cast on March 19 and I found it quite satisfactory, both in the well-meshed ensembles and in an Adagio danced with beauty by Nadia Muzyca and Matías Santos.
I don´t agree with the revival of the strangely named "FugA_technica", seen last year in the "Trilogy II". First, each new trilogy shouldn´t repeat earlier ones; there are plenty of pieces to chose from and some are missing unaccountably in the Colón repertoire. Second, the piece doesn´t have enough substance to bear repetition. The repetitive music of Alexander Balanescu was well-played but it is a thankless job. As to the choreography, my reaction this time is that it wears thin, though I was positive last year: "the dancing moves were brilliant, very imaginative and dynamic, with mostly modern steps plus some token academic ones ironically mixed". Although well danced, its 20 minutes with the monotonous Balanescu music were too gymnastic. But the younger people in the audience seemed to liked it more than I did. I assume that this reprise was decided on practical terms: the dancers know it already, they did it last October; it needs little rehearsal. Balanescu wasn´t present as last year: I didn´t miss him.
But the evening ended with a glorious Balanchine: "Symphony in C", on Bizet´s Symphony. The great choreographer (to my mind the best of the Twentieth Century and an epitome of Neoclassicism) created it in just two weeks for the Ballet of the Paris Opera in 1947 with the title of "Palais de Cristal", renamed "Symphony in C" when he revived it in New York for his own company. In Paris the costumes and stage design were by the Argentine Leonor Fini. And I´m proud to say, among the solo dancers was Micheline Bardin (no kin, but I admired her when she was in BA with the Ballet de l´Opéra three years later under the helm of Serge Lifar).
Falcoff is wrong when she writes that three other Balanchine ballets were premiered by the Paris Opera Ballet: "Serenade" on Tchaikovsky´s music was done in 1934 for the School of American Ballet, and the two Stravinsky ballets, "Le Baiser de la Fée" and "Apollon Musagètes", date from 1928 and were created by Balanchine for the Ida Rubinstein Ballet as guest of the Paris Opera and for the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev at the Parisian Theatre Sarah Bernhardt. Further, it´s an absurdity to write that Stravinsky and Balanchine collaborated more than thirty times.
Back to "Symphony in C", on the lovely music written when Bizet was 17-years-old. Balanchine repeats several bits of the music so that it lasts 35 minutes rather than the habitual 28, so as to allow for his complex filigrees of movement. " There is no stage design", says Falcoff; yes there is, two refined chandeliers hover over the dancers.
Mario Pasi gives this description of the choreography: "this ballet is one of the most adequate to exalt the quality of the soloists and the corps de ballet following a modernised classic style"; he also refers to the "high level of invention". I could add that the lyricism of the slow movement is exceptional as well as the virtuosity of the ensembles of the last.
The best thing in this revival (for this ballet has been offered before, though not recently) was the precision and enthusiasm of very young dancers recently incorporated and the general ability and fine bodies of the whole ensemble. Of the soloists I would especially mention the elegance of the long-legged Gabriela Alberti. The Phil under Bertazza gave a very nice performance. A rather good evening, all told.For Buenos Aires Herald