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Ballet Nacional de Cuba

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#16 LLM



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Posted 25 November 2001 - 11:34 AM

I saw Giselle, danced by Galina Alvarez, on Saturday Matinee. I was extremely dissapointed! First, I wasn't particuarly fond of Alverez. While she did do an amazing tripple pirouette in her variation (perfectly controlled) that was the only thing about her that really impressed me during her performance.

I know she can not help her costume (1st act), but I think it had an effect on how I viewed her during the performance. She looked heavy in her uppper body. This doesn't usually bother me about dancers, but she had no waist. I can't help but wonder if a better costume could have fixed this. Maybe I shouldn't be paying attention to this, but Giselle is my FAVORITE ballet, and she did not "look" the part. I think of Giselle as younger and a little more frail. I'm not sure how old she is but she looked old on stage. Maybe it was the make-up, I'm not sure.

Costumes and body aren't all that bothered me. I did not like the peasant pas de deux being danced by 6 girls and 4 boys. Technically I have to say they did a good job. However, the four men were not always together. The six girls did do a nice job. Actually, I enjoyed watching them more than I enjoyed watching Giselle. But, overally I didn't like the change. I would much rather see the pas.

As for second act....AHHH. With the exception of a few moments that were impressive, overall I was dissapointed again. I did not like Myrta. I thought that she, along with the corps, looked like robots. Everything was so angular. And the romantic style was not soft. All the did was a pose in a romantic style position and then the next moment the arms were straight as an arrow. Somehow along the way it must have been decided that to be cold you had to be harsh in the movement.

As for the wilis, I was extremely dissapointed in the "hops." The corps thuded across the stage! I wanted to cover my ears. But, they did do a nice job on the timing of the diagonal as many have already pointed out. But again, even in the diagonal I couldn't stand looking at their arms. If they weren't posing in romantic style (which I found to be done with no feeling) they had their elbows locked and their fingers glued together. Again, their timing was beautiful, they were definately together. I just didn't like the style.

However, judging from the audience's reaction, I think I was alone. The audience seemed to love it! It surprised me for sure. All I could think about was the audience's reaction to ABT's performance of Giselle last spring, compared to their reaction to this performance. In my eyes ABT far exceeded Cuba. I saw Ashley Tuttle perform Giselle (not the best I've ever seen but much better than yesterday) and Stella Abrera peform Myrtha (absolutely gorgeous!!!) However, looking at the audiences reaction, I'm not sure they would agree.

I wish I could say I enjoyed it more. But, being my favorite ballet I had high expectations. Unfortunately they were not met.

#17 Alexandra


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Posted 25 November 2001 - 12:42 PM

Thanks for posting that, LLM and welcome (or welcome again) to Ballet Alert! I hope you'll post throughout the season about what you're seeing. Please don't worry about whether you agree with the rest of the audience, or other posters here smile.gif

My sense of the audience yesterday afternoon was that it wasn't predominantly a ballet audience. As often happens when a foreign company visits, people from that country who live in the area attend performances for a taste of home, and I heard as much Spanish spoken during intermissions as I did English. (And good for the Kennedy Center that this is so; another reason to bring the company back for frequent visits.)

#18 Alexandra


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Posted 25 November 2001 - 01:28 PM

Here's a link to the Ballet Nacional de Cuba web site -- interesting repertory, including Apollo, Theme and Variations and Lilac Garden. 1940 versions of those ballets might be interesting to see smile.gif

There are lots of photos of the dancers here -- head shots without the make up. I was shocked at how young some of the people I thought were 35 really are!!!!


[ November 25, 2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

#19 Estelle


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Posted 25 November 2001 - 05:30 PM

It is very interesting to read all the reviews and various opinions about the Ballet de Cuba. When they came to Paris a few seasons ago (I didn't see them), nearly all the reviews focused on the poor production standards (sets, costumes, music...), and on the repertory choices (works which were danced by the POB during the same season), and included very little about the style of the company.

I don't know if all the works which are listed on their repertory page still are danced by the company, but the list is impressive (especially when one considers that it's a rather "recent" company and not especially rich financially).
I wonder how they look like in Robbins' "In the Night"...

About the productions of "Giselle": if I remember correctly, Alonso's production of "Giselle" was in the POB's repertory in the 1970s, and then in the 1980s there was Mary Skeaping's. The present one
(lasting from the early 1990s) is by Patrice Bart and the late Eugene Poliakov, and I don't know what the differences between them are...

#20 The Bard's Ballerina

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 09:08 AM

I only saw yesterday's matinee of Coppelia, which I thought was delightful. The acting wasn't fabulous: Lorna Feijoo doesn't have a particularly expressive face, and Nelson Madrigal just looks like a big, happy lug of a guy. But the dancing was wonderful, especially by Feijoo, whose technique and radiance more than made up for her lack of facial expressions.

I liked the bright, colorful sets (far preferable to the usual bubble-gum pink ones), but didn't care for the flat tutus. The character dances weren't as crisp as I was expecting from such a traditional company, but on the whole, I thought the corps and soloists were all quite fine. It was also nice to see that Swanhilda has such big, healthy friends whose partners were nevertheless able to lift them without staggering.

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