Iñaki Urlezaga has had a brilliant dancing career since his early debut when he was fifteen in 1991 with the Ballet of the Teatro Argentino. He went on to be Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet during a decade and a guest at the Bolshoi, the Met and the Scala. But after this trajectory, he came back to Argentina, founded his own Ballet and started a double life as dancer and choreographer.
In 2013 the Ministry of Social Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Social) called him for a federal project called Danza por la Inclusión; the current Government shortened it to Danza, but the purpose remain the same: to include and blend dancers from all over the country in a new Ballet.
All through his career Urlezaga has had the help and solid criteria of his aunt Lilian Giovine (Artistic Adviser of Danza); Rodolfo Sorbi is Assistant to the Artistic Director (Urlezaga). All three were dancers of the Argentino in 1992. Another Urlezaga, Marianela, is in charge of Artistic Production; Miguel García Lombardo is the Technical Director; and the Lighting Director is the recognized Roberto Traferri.
I can only imagine what a tough and time-consuming job it must have been to select capable dancers from all over and mesh them into a group with a corporate feeling, imbueing them with a sense of style of such different aesthetics as those displayed in this cunningly designed programme. Apart from Urlezaga, the Principal Dancers are Eliana Figueroa, Iñaki´s partner for many years; Gabriela Alberti, admirable Colón artist; and Nahuel Prozzi, who has had distinguished participation at the Argentino Ballet.
I counted 49 dancers in the programme list and frankly their names are new to me, the result of the talent hunting of recent years. Evidently the work of the leading team plus four rehearsal maestros has been fruitful, for even if some are still a bit green, most have learned and incorporated a lot of the arduous training demanded by classical ballet. I saw the Thursday afternoon performance, in which Urlezaga didn´t participate.
The choice of George Balanchine´s "Serenade" was a sign of Urlezaga´s confidence, for a ballet by this most refined and musical of all choreographers is certainly a challenge. But he had the help of the Balanchine Foundation, zealous custodian of the great G.B.; they sent Diana White to supervise the rehearsals, and following the creator´s dictum of integrated concept, the marvelous costumes of the fabled Karinska and the original lighting by Ronald Bates modified by Mark Stanley were used. Balanchine inverts the fourth and third movements, so that the piece ends with a sad Elegy. It was his first ballet conceived in America, originally in 1934 for the School of American Ballet and later revised for his New York City Ballet in 1948. Figueroa danced expressively her melancholy part, abetted in the Waltz by Prozzi, and the group of female dancers responded ably to the pure harmony of Balanchine´s steps.
"Cantares" is a ballet for women by Oscar Araiz on Ravel´s Spanish Rhapsody. It comes from a show called "Ibérica"; no date is mentioned in the programme, but I surmise that it probably was choreographed about two decades ago. Fernanda Bianchi is in charge of the revival, which used the attractive costumes of Carlos Cytrynowski. With a confessed García Lorca influence, the choreographer goes through different moods, from anguished feelings to the joyful final "Feria". It is one of his better and more balanced jobs and was quite well danced, with again fine work from Figueroa.
Finally, the Third Act of "Raymonda", the 1898 Glazunov ballet choreographed by Petipa and on this occasion revised by Urlezaga. Seen whole here when the Bolshoi Ballet visited us long ago, the final act is purely Divertimento; a succession of group dances tinged with Hungarian Gypsy folk feeling (it happens at the court of the King of Hungary) and numerous solo variations (too numerous), it is quite a test of Petipa style and as such good training for dancers. Alberti and Prozzi shone in the leading parts, and the others mostly did well, though there´s room for improvement. Splendid stage design by Sergio Massa (not the politician...) and rich costumes by Mariano Toffi.
The Orquesta Académica de Buenos Aires, though unfortunately amplified, was led with acumen by Carlos Calleja, who is a specialist in these matters.
For Buenos Aires Herald