Tribuna Musical: The yearly Colón International Ballet Gala mixes renewal and standards

Tribuna Musical:  domingo, agosto 23, 2015
The yearly Colón International Ballet Gala mixes renewal and standards
During Lidia Segni´s tenure as Directress of the Colón Ballet she presented generally in August International Galas. Following that yearly custom she concocted this season´s mix before leaving, and the new Director, Maximiliano Guerra, has respected the idea, although I´m not quite sure if all numbers included are the same as those Segni programmed (the Colón gives no detailed information).

            I do feel that the theatre should prepare something special for such events, and not merely revive recent productions. Those that go to these galas have almost certainly seen those pieces because they regularly go to the Colón ballet programmes.

            This said, the chosen pieces are pleasant and show the good condition of the «corps de ballet», though it can be further improved. (Of course I give no importance to a slip of a member just at the beginning).

            Three facts: all the music was recorded, even those danced by the Colón groups ;  no information was given as to costume and stage designers, and there were no programme notes on the music and the choreographies (quite unhelpful this).  There was a further characteristic: no less than four of the eight principal soloists are Argentine, so that the international side was rather meager, althought three of the four Argentines are working abroad.  

            The two  pieces provided by the Colón team were, opening and closing the afternoon: the third movement of «Diamond» , choreography (C) by Eric Frédéric on music (M) by Prokofiev (the last movement of the Third Piano Concerto); and the complete «Rhapsody», C by Mauricio Wainrot, M by Rachmaninov (the same «Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini» that I reviewed days ago).

            «Diamond» responds to the title, it is a fast-moving Neoclassic creation quite pleasant to see; four girl soloists are complemented by six couples, although I feel some dissonance between the brilliant moves and the sometimes coruscating music.

             Wajnrot´s opus is quite typical of his personality, fluid and professional in his combinations of couples and groups, with a language that is Neoclassic but with a leavening of typical modernistic dancing. Sometimes the character of the choreography agrees with that of the music, but a few dramatic moments weren´t expressive enough; however, the main slow melody gave him a chance to create a persuasive duet well danced by Natalia Pelayo and Emanuel Abruzzo; and the final minutes were exciting. The ensemble numbered fourteen dancers (seven male, seven female).

            Undoubtedly the big success of the evening was the «rentrée» of the «porteña» Marianela Núñez; she is Principal Dancer of London´s Royal Ballet since 2002. She chose two hoary standards: the Grand Pas of «Don Quixote» (C, Marius Petipa; M, Leon Minkus) and the Pas de Deux from the Second Act of «Giselle» (C, Petipa; M, Adolphe Adam). She had as partner Alejandro Parente, admirable artist who paradoxically isn´t Principal Dancer of the theatre nowadays, although fully capable of going on with his important trajectory. She showed an affectionate regard for him.

            The «Grand Pas» of «Don Quixote» isn´t  the usual extracted Pas de Deux but it is done as in the complete ballet: eight female friends of Kitri start the proceeding, then the couple (Kitri and Basil) do the big and noble Adagio; follow the variations of First Friend, Basil, Kitri, Second Friend; and the final virtuosic duet. Macarena Giménez and Pelayo did well as the Two Friends, but of course Núñez and Parente were the magnet that attracted all eyes. He showed that he keeps being alert and in fine shape. And she was wonderful: the purest classical Petipa technique united to perfect taste and easy charm as in her solo with fan. By the way, the recording had bad, saturated sound.

            In «Giselle» both showed similar qualities but in a dramatic context: she gave the character  an immaterial feeling and Parente was a true «danseur noble»: and as they danced the Petipa version they stayed within Classicism instead of the earlier Romantic style of Perrot and Coralli.

            The Third Act Pas de deux from «Coppelia» (C, Enrique Martínez; M, Delibes arranged by Lanchbery) was nicely danced by María Noel Riccetto (Argentine, at the SODRE Ballet, Uruguay) and a bit heavily by Gustavo Carvalho (Brazilian, at the same Company, led by Julio Bocca).       

            And now to the moderns. The Hamburg Ballet has been John Neumeier´s home company for decades; Hélène Bouchet (French) and Carsten Jung (German) were the strong partners in a minimalist scene from «Othello» called «Mirror in the mirror» on music by Arvo Pärt for violin and piano (perhaps from «Fratres»): slow movements, bodily contact, sense of impending tragedy.

            The same artists gave us with much intensity «Tatiana», another Neumeier choreography, this time based on good tonal music by Lera Auerbach and telling us the last encounter of Tatiana and Onegin, where she refuses him. The choreographer´s style is completely different here, stressing fast and disquieting movement according to the characters´ sentiments. 

            Finally, two dancers from the Flanders Royal Ballet, Sofía Menteguiaga (Argentine) and Alain Honorez (Belgian) offered «Symbiosis» (C, Altea Núñez, M by Philip Glass, for cellos, more expressive than usual in this composer) and «The return of Ulysses», C by Christian Spuck on unidentified Purcell music.  I found them good artists but not especially interesting. The choreographies: better the one by Núñez; Spuck´s style seemed to me quite inimical to Purcell´s music.

For Buenos Aires Herald

Tribuna Musical: The yearly Colón International Ballet Gala mixes renewal and standards

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