For some reason the first half of the season was barren of foreign dance visitors, but in the second half we have an avalanche. The Parisians started the intense period of the season. In my personal history the 1950 visit of the complete Ballet de l´Opéra led by Serge Lifar was the first great experience.
Among the basic schools of ballet, the French tradition is the oldest, since the times of Louis XIII; and it was the blend of it (through Marius Petipa) with the telluric essence of their country that led to the Russian School. So it is always positive and pleasant to receive the French-trained artists in our city. It is practically a certainty that we are going to see elegance, poise and refined technique in the traditional ballets, though there´s a contrasting iconoclasm in recent choreographies.
This visit was the initiative of two Argentines, Estela and Horacio Erman (she is a distinguished dancer and teacher). The French Embassy and the Alliance Française collaborated. The delegation of nine artists included the recent Argentine "danseuse étoile", Ludmila Pagliero, and her admirable partner Hervé Moreau. The artistic directress was Élizabeth Maurin. I would have done without the presence of pianist Touvé Ratovondrahety (curious name) in two rather cheap improvisations. The rest of the music was recorded and sometimes rather poorly. The hand programme was mediocre, with no reference to dancers and choreographers.
They started with fragments from "Paquita", music by Ludwig Minkus (of "Don Quichotte" fame) and choreography by Petipa revised by Maurin, with all nine dancers; they all had the chance to show their complete training in this St Petersburg Tsarist Court ballet influenced by the exotic Spanish vogue. The principal pas de deux showed Pagliero´s impeccable style and Moreau´s personable presence as partenaire and brilliance in his variation.
Although well danced by Gregory Dominiak, I disliked the Improvisation with cosmic projections, strangely based on an XVIIIth Century anonymous work. As to "La fille mal gardée", it is important in history as the first XIXth Century ballet that has remained in the repertoire, but I have seen much better choreographies than the one by Joseph Lazzini presented on this occasion. With light music by Ferdinand Hérold and Peter Hertel, the Pas de Deux was nicely danced by Marion Barbeau and Axel Ibot.
Things picked up with the Balcony Pas de deux from Prokofiev´s marvellous "Romeo and Juliet", in a difficult and virtuoso choreography by Rudolf Nureyev (long associated with the Paris Opéra Ballet) beautifully expressed by Charline Giezendanner and Dominiak.
The Second Part started with a welcome addition, a pas de deux from Roland Petit´s angular choreography for "Carmen" imagined for his wife Zizi Jeanmaire and danced with impressive perfection by Pagliero and Moreau (Bizet´s music in an arrangement). The audience wasn´t informed who were the dancers...
I didn´t enjoy a Pas de deux from "La troisième fenêtre" on a Neapolitan song shouted rather than sung; choreography by Lazzini revived by Estela Erman; danced by Giezendanner and Ibot. The "Grand Pass Classique" is a "period" choreography done by Victor Gsovsky with great style on music adapted from originals by Daniel Auber; it was admirably danced by Barbeau and Germain Louvet.
"The Black Swan" is a famous Pas de trois from Tchaikovsky´s "Swan Lake", this time in a splendid choreography by Nureyev, danced with true panache by Valentine Colasante, Florimond Lorieux and Dominiak. Finally, "Cantadagio" on Mahler´s last movement from his Third Symphony, an intense Pas de deux by Lazzini revived by Erman, movingly danced by Pagliero and Moreau. They all took leave of the show accompanied by Schubert´s "Marche militaire".
It´s been a long time since I last appreciated the work of the Ballet Contemporáneo del Teatro San Martín and I was happy to make contact with them again, for they remain a formidable group, certainly the best of its kind in BA. Mauricio Wainrot has led them for the last ten years or so, and he has kept the artistic discipline and high standard of young dancers with splendid bodies.
I liked "Galaxies", choreography, stage design and video by Margarita Bali, with costumes by Mónica Toschi and lighting by Eli Sirlin, except for the nondescript music by Gabriel Gendin. It is an imaginative exercise blending dancers in the stage with cosmic visions and talented video images containing dancers. Beautiful to see, it is divided into "Galaxies", "Fantasy" and "End, Black Hole".
In total contrast, "Oscuras golondrinas" is a choreography by Daniel Goldin on music by Shostakovich and –briefly- Bach. Although it refers to a metaphore of "coming back, repetition and beginning again", I felt psychological tensions between the couples and groups.
Finally, a revival of Wainrot´s version of Stravinsky´s "Rite of Spring". This is clean, professional choreography, but I did feel (except in the final scene) that it was too civilised; I like for this terrific music something savage, as Bausch or Béjart did. The whole show was danced with great stamina and quality by the second cast, especially the Elected One of Vanesa Turelli.
For Buenos Aires Herald