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Jack Reed

"Diamonds" Program in Naples,Florida

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(from Naples, Florida) MCB is calling this program "Diamonds" to highlight the fact that Ileana Lopez and Franklin Gamero are giving their farewell performances in this Balanchine ballet, and it reminded me that I didn't understand at first why Balanchine made it to conclude "Jewels": There was symphonic Tchaikovsky, white costumes, a large cast, but it always seemed anticlimactic after "Rubies". There are those here on this board who argue, with some truth, that "Diamonds" is not such a strong ballet. I think it depends a lot on who's in it. I was seeing "Rubies" with Patricia McBride and Edward Villella, and then "Diamonds" with Kay Mazzo, and it had never seemed like the grand finale it was suposed to be. (Mazzo was superb in a numbe of other roles.) Then Suzanne Farrell returned to Balanchine's company. "Diamonds" was the first ballet I saw Farrell dance in, and she showed me how very grand "Diamonds" could be. And last night, Lopez and Gamero showed us what a grand ballet "Diamonds" is, almost as seamlessly as they had danced "Giselle" on the weekend (there appeared to be a little cut in the last movement), if not quite on the level of Farrell and d'Amboise or Martins. But the grandness was there, right through.

The program opened with a splendid performance of "Symphony in Three Movements" led by Jennifer Kronenberg and Renato Penteado; the solo couples were Mary Carmen Catoya and Jeremy Cox, and Andrea Spiridonakos and Yann Trividic. This "747 of a ballet", as Croce called it, is one of my top favorites, and I enjoyed this performance straight through.

After intermission, Deanna Seay, with Carlos Guerra, showed us "Allegro Brilliante" with everything spun out and beautifully finished, just as Tchaikovsky deserves. And after a pause, Catoya and Mikhail Ilyin showed "Sylvia Pas de Deux", one of the spectacular showoff pieces people sometimes forget Balanchine knew well how to do. Catoya made the impossible look easy and beautiful, skimming the stage, holding balances with time-stopping security, and making the unlikely seem natural enough. I had a sense of great reserves of technique behind her dancing, but something else more important, the intelligence not just to show herself off, but instead to show off her dance. This way she gives us yet more. And Ilyin did his share of gravity-defying feats in smooth, stage-covering flow.

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Jack,

I have not read anything on Wu Haiyan, the new Chinese principal dancer in the company.Has she been cast on anything yet?Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

Joe

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(from Miami Beach, Florida) Indeed she has, bingham. Haiyan Wu, as she is listed, alternated for Catoya in "Sylvia pas de deux" Wednesday evening, and was most impressive in this virtuoso show piece in a cool, somewhat disinterested (but by no means uncaring) way, though, in contrast to Catoya, who is rather warmer, even eager. And she danced the first number, "Softly", in the company premiere of "Nine Sinatra Songs" last night, but that's another topic.

(The rest of Wednesday's cast was the same as Tuesday's.)

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Thanks Jack. As you probably know, she is a multiple gold medalist in several ballet competitions.I know that doesn't mean anything until one actually performs well in a ballet company.Was she cast in Giselle?

Joe

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bingham, Wu was Giselle in one of the performances in Naples a few weeks ago. She is a lovely dancer but, as Jack said, still somewhat "cool" in her interpretation.

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