lunes, marzo 23, 2015

A tired Neoclassic Ballet Trilogy

            Lidia Segni programmed in immediate earlier years three different combinations called Neoclassic Trilogy. This is the fourth and –I suppose- last. By now the idea is tired and tiring, although there´s some fault in the selection of the pieces. It could have been much better, e.g. with an inclusion of a Balanchine masterpiece such as the long-absent "Apollon Musagètes".

            Indeed, the appellative "Neoclassic" is quite vague, and the programme notes by Laura Falcoff make it evident. First, let us think about a rather curious fact: Classicism in ballet is LATER than Romanticism. "Giselle" is Romantic, but the Russian ballets of the Petipa School such as those by Tchaikovsky or Minkus are Classic.  Falcoff considers Mijail Fokin as the starter of a renewal eventually called Neoclassic and quotes: "In the new ballet everything must be invented, even if the bases for the invention are part of a centenary tradition". And indeed Fokin innovates: think of "Petrushka"; but... that ballet has both stylizations of the popular and markedly expressionistic aspects. I wouldn´t call it Neoclassic.

            Balanchine is then mentioned and yes, he´s the epitome of Neoclassic ballet and uses the right kind of music, always adhering with perfect musicality to it, never considering it as a mere support. There´s poise, equilibrium, exquisite taste, virtuoso moves that are never empty, a definite structure, a feeling for abstraction even when he narrates.  His is the line to follow, and some later choreographers have managed it well, especially Jirí Kylian.

            A moot point is the dilemma between choreographies based on specifically ballet music, and those that take any other material that suits the fantasy of the creators. I believe that there are lots of pieces written by composers thought for the genre, many of them excellent, and that they are being forgotten quite unfairly. But I have to admit that some choreographers have been able to create splendid ballets on concert material, such as Balanchine´s "Concerto Barocco". However, he knew how to choose apposite music for the style he wanted and his steps were almost always an ideal transposition into movement, so that you saw an integral approach. And he  respected the music. How else could he work with such a touchy composer as Stravinsky in so many ballets?

             To return to Neoclassic Trilogy IV, all three works are based on concert material: Mozart´s Symphony Nº 29  in "Sinfonía entrelazada" by Mauro Bigonzetti; Prokofiev´s Third Piano Concerto in "Diamond" by Éric Frédéric; and Rachmaninov´s "Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini" by Mauricio Wainrot. Just coincidence or Segni´s wish? I don´t know.

            Bigonzetti is now a famous Italian choreographer, known here through the visits of the Atter Balletto; he created "Sinfonía entrelazada" for Bocca´s Ballet Argentino many years ago, and we saw it now as revived by the Colombian Carlos Zamorano. In a sense Bigonzetti comes closer than the others to Neoclassicism: not only Mozart is a Classicist, but the choreographer´s spare, sober, angular lines correspond at least a good part of the time to the music. But he does something I can´t pardon: he destroys the structure of the symphony, although the music isn´t travestied as Waldo de los Ríos used to do. After steps in total silence, we hear the start of the second movement; then, the first; afterwards, the second, completed; then, silence; and eliminating the third, we hear the fourth and last.

            The dancers were good: two couples (Carla Vincelli and Federico Fernández; Macarena Giménez and Edgardo Trabalón), a single man  (Emanuel Abruzzo); and an ensemble of 13 dancers with many new names. The music was (here and in the other pieces) very well played by the Buenos Aires Philharmonic under their recently chosen interim Assistant Conductor, Darío Domínguez Xodo, who is quite competent. 

            "Diamond" has a basic failure: you can´t do a Neoclassic choreography on such Modernistic, intense and even barbarous music as that Prokofiev masterpiece, his Third Piano Concerto (correctly played by Fernanda Morello). I found the initial movement quite boring, but the  second (a theme with variations) , aided by fine lighting by Rubén Conde, allowed a well-wrought pas de deux for a talented twosome, Paula Cassano and Matías Santos. The third had glittering costumes by the Brazilian René Salazar, in accord with the symbol chosen by the choreographer (there was a diamond-shaped chandelier looming over the dancers)  and some ensembles had the required dynamism. Vincelli, Trabalón, Nadia Muzyca and Fernández did well, along with four other soloists and thirteen ensemble members.

            Mauricio Wainrot is a prolific and very professional creator who has international projection. Although the Rhapsody (wonderful music very well played by Alejandro Panizza) is Neo-Romantic, it has a very definite organisation and strong contrasts; even if the steps didn´t always agree with the character of the music (especially the turbulent ones), there were many moments well solved, and in particular in the famous slow tune an attractive pas de deux beautifully done by Muzyca and Juan Pablo Ledo. The 14-member ensemble was well disciplined, especially the women.

            On this showing, the Colón Ballet is in good shape. As Maximiliano Guerra, the new Ballet Director, was greeted with warm applause by the audience and the artists, there´s hope for better relations with the dancers. He has said that he will respect Segni´s programming (as it should be). I wish him well in future endeavors.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

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