lunes, octubre 24, 2011

A dance panorama: the Colón Ballet and visitors from abroad

This writer, stunned by the passage of time, had quite a shock at the recent gala at the Colón commemorating the “40 years of the tragic disappearance of the members of the Colón resident Ballet on October 10, 1971”. For such dancers as Norma Fontenla, José Neglia and the other seven who died had been an essential part of my experience in the Fifties and Sixties. As so often in our country, the responsibility for this disaster was diluted and the culprits never had their deserved chastisement. And a long period of reconstruction followed for our main ballet company. The current authorities mounted an international gala in homage to these artists. It had its good points as well as some mistakes.
            I won´t write about the Second Part, for it was merely Act III from the production of Tchaikovsky´s “The Sleeping Beauty” I reviewed some weeks ago. It allowed the public to see most of the best dancers we have and verify that things have picked up after the severe 2010 crisis the Ballet went through.
            One bad thing was that in a theatre with two orchestras the public had to put up with recorded music. At least the recordings were good and sounded reasonably well.
            I suppose that “Chopin Nº 1”, the ballet by Mauricio Wainrot on the Polish composer´s First Concerto, originally covers the whole score, but we only heard (no enlightenment from the hand programme) the slow Second Movement. It is an agreeable Neoclassic piece of choreography, and was brilliantly danced by two soloists of the Ballet Contemporáneo del Teatro General San Martín (Wainrot´s home company): Sol Rourich andn Leonardo Otárola.
            “Diane and Acteon” is a hoary old pas de deux of the best Russian tradition, in famous dance steps designed by Agripina Vaganova on Cesare Pugni´s music. It needs virtuoso dancing and it got exactly that from a pair of Argentine siblings who work in the USA and were making their belated debut at the Colón: Erica Cornejo (Principal Dancer Boston Ballet) and Herman Cornejo (Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre). She has charm and refined moves; he shows a powerful physique and the sort of aggressive positiveness one expects from Acteon the hunter.
            “Adagietto”, from Mahler´s Fifth Symphony´s, is one of the best pas de deux of Oscar Araiz, an excellent example of intertwined, earthy movement. It was beautifully performed by members of the Ballet Nacional del SODRE (Uruguay): Lara Delfino and Sebastián Arias.
            Then came a piece identified with José Neglia: “El niño brujo” (“The Witch-boy”), by Jack Carter on Leonardo Salzedo´s music. Again the programme didn´t specify that we were only to see the pas de deux: I do feel that the whole ballet (lasting a half hour) should have been staged, for it is in the Colón´s repertoire. But there was a special point of interest: José´s son Sergio, Director of the Buffalo Ballet, danced the part identified with his father and thus made his Colón debut at 46. He did very well and his age was nowhere in evidence, although the special charisma of José is still sharp in my memory after more than four decades. Sergio was abetted by Silvina Vaccarelli in what used to be Fontenla´s role, and she was very good; both she and Ricardo Ale as the Sorcerer are members of the Colón Ballet.
            Again without acknowledgment in the programme, which merely said “Nutcracker”, we saw the big pas de deux with the splendid Tchaikovsky music in an orthodox choreography by Toer Van Schayk and Wayne Eagling (never seen here) with two dancers of great quality: Maia Makhateli (from Het Ballet of Amsterdam) and Marijn Rademaker (Stuttgart Ballet).
            For me the end of the First Part was an anticlimax: we had a male swan instead of a female one in what is one of the best short solos of the repertoire: the marvelous Fokin choreography to Saint-Saëns´ cello melody “The Swan” (from “The Carnival of the Animals”), called by the choreographer “The Death of the Swan”, is associated with many of the great female dancers, but here particularly with Maia Plissetskaya of the immaterial fluttering arms. The rough, angular paces imagined by Mauro di Candia are a poor substitute, and Vladimir Malakhov (absurdly clad), Director of the Berlin State Ballet, was ill-advised to make his local debut in this travesty.
            I have only one negative observation about the Sao Paulo Companhia de Dança led by Iracity Cardoso and Inês Bogéa: their programme at the Avenida for the FIBA (Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires) was too short. It is a chamber company of high level, with flexible, versatile dancers, and the chosen ballets were very interesting. “Gnawa”, “by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato, is inspired by the world of the mystical Islamic fellowship, the Gnawas, who employ songs and movement ro reach a state of trance”. An exact description of strong, characterful dance.
            A curiosity followed: the version of Marie Chouinard of Vaslav Nijinsky´s choreography of Debussy´s “Prelude to the afternoon of a faun”, a sensual solo with simulated phallus and with strictly lateral, angular movements, danced by a woman! (I. Sarmiento).
            Finally, “Six dances” by Mozart as seen humoristically in a parodied bellic context by Jiri Kylian, brilliantly done by artists who have a sense of theatre married to their natural language of movement. 

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