Great academic dancing, either classical, romantic or modern, is a blend of natural talent, superb training and, not least, qualities that I can only call acrobatic and athletic. There is also the vital element of strong personality, which goes beyond mere talent: one sees dancers whose technique is very good but don´t communicate or don´t present a distinctive view of a role. And there´s also physical beauty, for dancing is intensely dependent on the human body; sexiness is necessary to transcend.
I wrote weeks ago that this year we are seeing more dancing than in recent seasons. And I welcome the trend, for the Colón certainly isn´t enough; even if that great theatre has recuperated this year some of the old qualities, the productivity is still rather low and artists from abroad are scarce, although there will be a great gala next week. Unfortunately, the Argentino of La Plata has had to cut down its budget due to the dire financial situation of the province, and has eliminated the premiere of "Zorba the Greek" (Lorca Massine on Theodorakis´ music).
The "Second Ballet Gala of Buenos Aires" at the Coliseo sponsored by Galicia Éminent was a success. Apart from an irrelevant and unnecessary presentation at the beginning: "The Merry Widow March" (Lehár-Bazilis) by disciples of the Fundación Julio Bocca seemed elementary and out-of-place, though one very young girl soloist showed some promise. But with "After the rain", an inventive choreography by Christopher Wheeldon on Arvo Pärt´s minimalist music for violin and piano (recorded, as all the rest) we shared the enormous plasticity of Carmen Corella and Dayron Vera from the Barcelona Ballet.
The "Grand pas classique" is a 1949 very academic choreography by Viktor Gsovsky on Auber´s music nicely done by Silvina Perillo and Edgardo Trabalón from the Colón. I didn´t relish the following "Duet", with kitschy music (Isaac Schwartz) and choreography (Jasemine Bigo), but it was well danced by the Russians Polina Semionova and Dimitri Semionov, from the Staatsballett Berlin. Although I disliked the music of "The Fall" (Electric Light Orchestra), the steps by Russell Ducker were imaginative and gave the astonishing Ángel Corella (brother of Carmen) opportunity to show his fantastic agility and fine body. He is a member of the ABT (American Ballet Theatre).
The pas de deux "The Black Swan" is one of the best conceived by Marius Petipa, as an essential part of the Third Act of Tchaikovsky´s "Swan Lake", for the Odette beloved by the Prince is now (with the same appearance) Odile, the seductive and cruel daughter of the magician Von Rothbart. So you have the best qualities of virtuosic dance but meshed with a psychological undercurrent. The Argentine Marianela Núñez and the Brazilian Thiago Soares are man and wife and members of the Royal Opera House in London. Of course they both have a very clean command, though I find more poise and better physical form in Núñez than in Soares, to my mind a bit heavy.
The First Part ended with a Soviet ballet, the pas de deux from "The Flames of Paris", a 1932 score by Boris Asafiev on very traditional lines about the French Revolution, presented with a new choreography by Alexei Ratmansky Osipovich, also traditional, correctly danced by Iana Salenko from the Staatsballett Berlin but stunningly partnered by Daniil Simkin, from the ABT, whose amazing cabrioles seemed to defy gravity.
Simkin, who looks like a young Baryshnikov, added to the programme (and beginning the Second Part) a piece in which he was feted on an earlier visit to BA, a dislocated, Bohemian choreography of one of the satirical songs by Jacques Brel, "Les bourgeois"; the dancer was fascinating to watch, with an uncanny command of the weirdest moves. Then, a duet from Act I of "Carmen", a ballet concocted by Marcia Haydée on music by Bizet, although on this case not from the opera but from "Les Pêcheurs de Perles" and the second movement of his Symphony. I find the characterisation of the steps rather tame, lacking the power of other views such as Alonso´s. It was agreeably danced by Julieta Paul and Bautista Parada from the Teatro Argentino (La Plata).
A true hit followed, with the renovated view of the tango steps by choreographer Gustavo Mollajoli on one of Piazzolla´s best pieces, "A Buenos Aires", a vibrant duet in which Perillo was magnificent, just one year before her retirement, and Trabalón a very good partner. The celebrated Pas de deux from "The Corsair" (Petipa on music by Drigo) was nicely executed by Semionova and Semionov, but I´ve seen the Corsair´s Variation danced with much more audacious steps by the flying Serge Golovine and Julio Bocca.
"La pluie" ("The rain") is an interesting choreography by Annabelle López Ochoa on Bach pieces from the "Goldberg variations" and it was danced beautifully by Salenko and Simkin. Then, another stunner: "Soleá", in which María Pagés manages to give us vibrant flamenco with ballet slippers on authentic guitar music by Rubén Lebaniegos including a harsh "cantaora jondo". The duet of the brothers Corella was unforgettable, pure fire and perfect execution by people that are as beautiful as they are talented.
Finally, "Winter dreams", a passionately Romantic duet by Kenneth MacMillan on piano pieces by Tchaikovsky in which Núñez and Soares were convincing and attractive. It was a good ending for a variegated and generally accomplished night.