viernes, agosto 29, 2014

The Coliseo Ballet Gala, featuring Herman Cornejo


            Fourteen solos or duets by fifteen dancers, the long-awaited "rentrée" of Herman Cornejo and a varied selection with several new dances: an interesting Coliseo Ballet Gala, the fourth since its inception in 2011. The Grupo Ars, with production by Liana Vinacur, Diego Radivoy and Martín Boschet, has the sponsorship of Galicia Éminent.

            I dislike the marketing side of this enterprise, with unnecessary videos of the dancers saying generally uninteresting words prior to their dancing, but apart from that the selection of artists was done with a fine eye for talent, and some of the pieces were worthy of local premières. The music was recorded in generally good sound, though sometimes overbright.

            There were two old Petipa standards, pieces of long trajectory of the Twentieth Century (Vaganova, Vainonen, Neumeier, Cranko) and six new ones. Although the latter were all effective, the majority had recourse to gimmicks that were more like variety numbers with dancing expertise than really creative choreography.

            Cornejo has recently won the Benois trophy, as it were the Ballet´s Oscar, as best dancer of the world. Another artist, Joaquín de Luz, Spanish, obtained the same distinction years ago, and he also was a part of this feast of movement. Cornejo, Argentine, has long been absent from Buenos Aires, absorbed by his international career. 

            Things started in the right direction with the expressive and beautiful duet from "Spartacus" (music by Khachaturian, choreography by Attilio Labis), admirably danced by two members of the Colón Ballet: the veteran Karina Olmedo in her best level and the young and powerful Nahuel Prozzi.

            I disagree with Neumeier´s parodic style for Delibes´s "Sylvia";I feel that it does scant justice to an open-air Greek mythology ballet, shamefully neglected by the Colón for the last seventy years for it has fine music, as good as "Coppélia" ´s. The two fragments (a famous Pizzicato and a sentimental piece with violin solo) were done with fine technique by two Argentines that are a part of the Hamburg Ballett: Carolina Agüero and Darío Franconi. By the way, we were given a luxurious booklet with full references on the dancers plus some interviews (especially about Cornejo), though not free from misprints.

            The short athletic male variation from "The Corsair" (Petipa and Drigo, on Lord Byrón´s book) was promisingly danced by the 18-year-old Nicolai Gorodyskii, a Ukrainian bred in Argentina and currently at the Croatian National Ballet. Then came "Kübler Ross", a sensitive choreography by Andrea Schermoly on a slow movement from a Vivaldi Violin Concerto, where we had the revelation of two world-class dancers: the Russian Maria Kochetkova, from the San Francisco Ballet, and Joaquín de Luz, from the New York City Ballet.

            I couldn´t fathom why the following piece is called "Mona Lisa"; a rather ugly music by Thomas Höfs had a choreography by Itzik Galili which seemed to have been molded on the singular flexibility of Spanish dancer Alicia Amatriain, capable of almost supernatural contorsions but also of intense, poetic communication. Her very good partner was Jason Reilly, and both are members of the Stuttgart Ballet.

            On Oriental music by Deval Premal we saw a curious solo, "Aqua Flora", where the female dancer (Nicole Loizides) constantly manipulated a contraption that covers her in diverse ways; it is typical Moses Pendleton, and both choreographer and dancer are from the  Momix group; Pendleton was a part of that marvelous company, Pilobolus. He isn´t in the same league as either that company or Alwin Nikolais, but he is fun.

            And then, the spectacular Pas de deux from "Diana and Acteon", Agrippina Vaganova´s famous virtuosic choreography on Drigo´s music. Both Cornejo (from the American Ballet Theatre) and Lauren Lovette (from the New York City Ballet) are dancers of great level and wowed the audience with their dexterity.

            The Second Part started with a short flashy Sovietic solo from "Flames of Paris" (on the French Revolution), music by Boris Asafiev, choreography by Vasily Vainonen, danced with proper impetus by Gorodyskii. Then came the humorous take on gender violence, where the dancers were also choreographers: the Argentine Candelaria Antelo and the French Arthur Bazin are the two sole members of HuryCan. With marvelous ability they enacted perilous hostile physical contact always avoiding disaster by millimeters. More acrobatic dance than choreography, but original and difficult.

            "Adagietto" is an accomplished piece by Neumeier on the famous movement from Mahler´s Fifth Symphony; it was very well done by Agüero and Franconi. The duet "Millenium Skiva" is indeed based on a gimmick: the two excellent dancers (Loizides and Steven Ezra, from Momix), clad with a metallic appearance, are on "skis", and show their abilities counterweighted by them. Choreography by Pendleton on nondescript music by Alberto Bertapelle.

            Based on a Bach Violin Concerto fast movement, choreographer David Fernández imagined "Five variations", elegant moves wonderfully danced by De Luz. Then  came, added to the programme and replacing "101 steps" (music, Jens-Peter Abele; choreography, Eric Gauthier), the very welcome final duet from Cranko´s "Eugen Onegin", so expressive of the anguish of love, with the emotional intensity and charisma of Amatriain and Reilly (music based on Tchaikovsky piano pieces and on "Francesca da Rimini", not on the "Onegin" opera, arranged by Kurt-Heinz Stolze).     

            And to cap it all, the admittedly overdone "Don Quixote" Pas de deux (Minkus-Petipa) in a memorable version by Kochetkova and Cornejo. We know every step but what a pleasure to see them done with such exultant joy and refinement.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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