Last night was the “Grand Gala of the Stars”, as part of the XIII International Festival of Miami at the Carnival Center. Every year the Festival gives the lifetime Achievement Award to a renowned personality of dance, which in the past has been given to stars like Fernando Bujones, Carla Fracci, Violette Verdy, Roland Petit, Katia Maximova and Volodia Vasiliev, among others. This year the recipient of the award was announced to be Mr. Frederic Franklin, which I guessed was going to have somebody to pick it in his behalf. Well, that proved wrong. They announced the award, and Mr. Franklin came out to the stage, to receive an outstanding ovation. It was a beautiful momet, and he himself got emotional and first of all thanked us for make him be who he is. He took the microphone and gave a short speech, with some clever jokes and some anecdotes about his famous partnership with Danilova. He also mentioned that the last time he has been here in Miami was to stage “Les Sylphides” with Natasha and Misha. He repeatedly thanked Pedro Pablo Pena, the founder of the Festival, for his labor of love, announced that he, at 94-(!)-, still gets amazed at the sight of dancers onstage, then gracefully bowed and left the stage in a middle of another ovation. During the first Intermission I approached him and had a few words with him, while he was signing my programme.
CMB-“Hi, Mr. Franklin, would you be so kind to sign my programme?”
FF-(Jumping from his seat very attentive to my request) Oh, of course I can…!
CMB-Can I ask you a question?
CMB-“How do you remember Alexandra Danilova…?”
FF-(Pausing and daydreaming)…Well, you know, when I started dancing with her, I was very young, and she was already a famous ballerina, 13 years my senior. I was young, and she was very, very tough. But let me tell you, she was a beautiful human being and after a while we made a beautiful partnership”
He was a truly gentleman, extremely clever and with more energy than some people half his age. No glasses, no canes, no hearing devices, nothing…amazingly healthy and sharp.
Then the night went as follows:
“Love Duet:” from SL Act II. Petipa/Tchaikovsky
Elena Pris/Wieslaw Dudek. Slovene National Opera Ballet, Slovenia.
A very lyric couple, with a little bit exaggerated port de bras…not my favorite performance of this PDD.
“Madame Butterfly” Nixon/Puccini
Keiko Amemori/Keneth Tindall. Northern Ballet Theater, England.
A very well done version of the tale, with lots of lifts and acrobatic features-(reminded me of some soviet choreographies of Lavrovsky).
“Flames of Paris PDD” Vainonen/Asafiev
Misty Copeland/Joseph Phillips. ABT, USA.
OK, Phillips was a revelation to me. A very solid guy with great jump and precise turns. Very dramatic projection also…a truly stage persona. Got the most applauses of the night. (A friend told me that he used to be at MCB a while ago, but frankly, I don’t remember him). Copeland was good also, although he upstaged her. I had some trouble getting used to her physique also, which I won’t discuss so I don’t get in trouble afterward)
“Don Quijote PDD”from DQ. Petipa/Minkus
Hayna Gutierrez/Miguel Angel Blanco. Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, USA
Oh my…and I mean, OH MY!, Hayna is just star material in waiting. Balances of steel, perfect attitude turns, usual perfect 90 degrees a la seconde fouettes, singles and done in a dime space, the works…and a characterization that should be filmed so some dancers can see finally how Kitri is supposed to be, move and act. Miguel Angel, as usual, the perfect partner, doing some one hand overhead lifts just to throw her at the end up to the sky before catching her in an spectacular fish dive. It was out of this world.
“Romeo and Juliet”. Van Dantzig/Prokofiev.
Vanessa Lawson/Jaime Vargas. Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Canada.
Hum,,another R&J. The usual stuff, yes, very lyric and beautifully danced, but nothing different from what we all know from Lavrovsky, MacMillan or Martins…There was a moment that I couldn't tell where were they taking stuff from…still, very well danced, as I said.
“Dying Swan”. Fokine/Saint-Saens
Mayuko Nihei. Compania Nacional de Danza, Mexico.
A very young performer, almost a teen, very sweet and obviously very influenced by the Makarova videos, but with way too open extensions for my taste, and too much emphasis in pure technique. It lacked some personalized accents. _(oh, I wish dancers would watch more often the raw Pavlova’s characterization of the role that is floating over Youtube. I love it, and it lacks the over softness that nowadays this piece is being permeated with)
“Cor Perdut”. Duato/Bonet
Ana Maria Lopez/Francisco Lorenzo. Nacho Duato Compania Nacional de Danza, Spain.
The usual Spanish/flamenco-influenced modern choreography, which I’m not to much inclined to. Can live without it.
“Pas D’Esclave” PDD from Le Corsaire. Saint Georges&Mazilier/Adam
Cecilia Kerche/Vitor Luiz. Ballet do Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
Very good dancers, great technicians. The ballerina, although obviously being past her prime, danced with perfect control of the choreography and he did some very powerful pyrotechnics, particularly while jumping. The thing is that this is not a very well known choreography, and the audience didn’t seem to follow very well the pattern of the dancing at moments, me among them.
“Black Swan” PDD from SL. Petipa/Tchaikovsky.
Shoko Nakamura/Ronald Savkovic.Staatsballet Berlin, Germany
The male dancer wasn’t Savkovic, which was injured and had to be substituted by another dancer, which I couldn’t get his name. Still, whoever he was, did a very decent job in partnering Nakamura, who was glorious. She has a beautiful physique, and her fouettes were very daring, full of risks-(lots of triples in between, to finish with a quadruple). Perfect pointwork and amazing balances. I only wished that she could have donce the cuban sautees on pointe in penchee on the coda. Not in this choreography, which fallowed the traditional pattern of flat backward sautees/releve and so on. Still, she had great success, and I loved her dancing.
Etoiles Grand Classical GalaCarnival Center, Miami. 09/13/08
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