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Review, 10-17: Dry Dance
Ballet Nacional de Cuba Tours its Force
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2003 Susan Yung
NEW YORK -- Ballet Nacional
de Cuba, founded and directed by Alicia Alonso, showed its depth
and strengths in a somewhat arid repertory program at City Center
last night. The show had made the headlines for the wrong reasons
earlier in the week; scenes from Act II of Petipa/Ivanov's "Swan
Lake" replaced the company's planned presentation of "Les Sylphides"
due to American Ballet Theatre's contract with the estate of choreographer
Michel Fokine. However, "Swan Lake" demonstrated what "Les Sylphides"
surely would have -- a deep corps, attention to detail, and a bevy
of strong soloists. Laura Hormigon (Odette) danced well, but it
wasn't until her final exiting moments that her true talent was
revealed: arms as fluid as a snake sidewinding across the sand.
Oscar Torrado made a handsome partner, despite some balkiness in
assisting Hormigon in turns.
The highlight of the
evening was Viengsay Valdes's rendition of Odile in "The Black Swan."
She emerged all fire and brimstone, shooting darts from her eyes
and from pointed toes. Partnered by Joel Carreno, Valdes stabbed
her pointe shoe into the floor on arabesque balances and remained
there for what seemed like eons. Her perfect balance translated
into consistent four revolution pirouettes; amazingly, she began
her fouette sequence with a five or six revolution turn. And yet
she shaded her physical prowess with delicate articulation in developpes,
and a knack for acting. Carreno displayed a relaxed charm, with
easy splits in the air and solid turns.
"Canto Vital," choreographed
in 1973 by Azari Plisetski for four men, felt like a work of political
propaganda boosterism. Led by Octavio Martin, the lycra-bikinied
men struck poses and puffed out their chests in a supposed duel
of natural forces. While they carved beautiful lines, the piece
was, regrettably, anachronistic. The evening ended with "Blood Wedding,"
choreographed by Antonio Gades, an atmospheric soft shoe piece composed
of concise scenes, depicting a fatal love story. Barbara Garcia
portrayed the bride full of noble poise in Flamenco sequences. Javier
Torres (the groom) and Victor Gili (Leonardo) moved skillfully in
the super slo-mo knife fight. Spare movement matched the pared-down
music, augmented by the dancers' clapping and finger snapping.
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