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Corella Ballet Castilla y León, La BayadèreLiceu, Barcelona - 9, 10, and 11 July 2009


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#1 sunday

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 03:55 AM

Cast according to the hand program

Coreography: Natalia Makarova

Solor: Ángel Corella
Nikiya: Alina Cojocaru
Gamzatti: Adyaris Almeida
Bronze Idol: Fernando Bufalá
Trio of shades: Kazuko Omori, María José Sales, Ahsley Ellis

My first contact with world-class ballet, my first Bayadère ever, and my first review attempt in BT.

After resigning myself to not seeing at this time the stars of Corella Ballet, two days before the performance I was offered the chance of a orchestra seat. Cool!

The performance matched my expectations. The orchestra was correct, some slips during the second act notwithstanding. Gorgeous, rich settings, somewhat marred by a lighting that was, unwillingly, somewhat "dynamic": there was a kind of UFO loitering the ceilings instead of, I suppose, the moon, and the final, very dark destruction of the temple -that I thought at first a nice touch of ambiance showing the unlighting of the world brought by the vengeful gods summoned by the wronged Nikiya- was really a lighting mistake, because the dancers in stage were supposed to be seen, as my companions told me after the representation. Well, so much for my rationalizations. Out of that, I think the lighting was adequate, albeit a bit dark at the beginning of the first scene. That bit of darkness made a bit difficult to appreciate the initial movements of Nikiya but, fortunately, not much.

In the first act, the fluidity, gracefulness, and precision of Cojocaru's Nikiya were so striking that almost made me cry of pure joy during her second solo. Fortunately for my throat, it's no difficult to get used to good things and so I could enjoy the rest of her very brilliant performance. A truly prima. Corella movements seemed to me clean, elegant and with a precise bit of showiness. Impressive jetés, and pirouettes whirling enough to blur the figure of the dancer -something I thought not possible before seeing Angel. Almeida was really a discovery: very quick, sharp, clean cut movements, and an unbelievable ability to literally turn in a dime i.e. the radial movements of the point of her pivot foot were in the order of a inch, and less than three inches at maximum excursion. I'd like to see a Black Swan by her*.

The entry of the 24 shades in the second act was correct enough. If I were a Corps Nazi, possible I'll find something to criticize, but seems that a company needs really a large, permanent, and seasoned corps to excel in this scene. As we haven't got here the corps of the Maryinsky or the POB, it was good enough. Omori, Sales, and Ellis looked very good as the Three Shades - excellent synchronization, accurate movements, and incorporeal enough to be easily taken as spirits.

Arriving the Bronze Idol, Bufalá performance was good enough to almost move the distinguished ladies in the orchestra seating into the kind of frenzy that one usually associate with Beatles young female fans, and one that Corella not received always during that evening. Well, there is a bit of exaggeration, but surely you catch my drift. Bufala technique looked very good. This is a dancer to watch. The tragic counterpoint between Nikiya's ghost and the bride Gamzatti was well presented, with the dramatic tension in crescendo until the final (and dark) destruction of the temple.

After a roaring applause, bravos, woo-hoos, and four curtain calls, the session ended. For me was a dream come true. Yours truly was able to chat to some of the dancers, and ask for a couple of signatures in the program booklet. I was amazed by how young the dancers looked. Adiarys Almeida revealed herself as a very approachable, charming young lady. I met the very happy, newly-ascended soloist María José Sales, who was also a dear. I met also a surprisingly tall Carmen Corella, and a promising temporary corps dancer, Andrea Palacios. I didn't dare to ask to be introduced to Ángel because being afraid myself of being struck by a case of Stendhal Syndrome, but he seemed a very natural and down-to-earth kind of guy.

Well, from stuff like that evening, dreams are made.

* After her scenes I bravoed her enough for my seating neighbors to notice, and a pair of quite distinguished-looking ladies turned to me in the interval, and in a very kind manner, almost asked me about my credentials as ballet aficionado. I was told later on that one of them was a known balletomane. I fervently hope I did not make a nuisance of myself!

#2 Paquita

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 05:44 AM

it's no difficult to get used to good things and so I could enjoy the rest of her very brilliant performance.


I agree with you there!

Thank you for sharing your impressions here, sunday! It sounds like it was a wonderful first Bayadere. It must have been so special to meet the dancers afterward. Hope you'll continue to report on Corella's performances!

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:04 AM

Thanks Jose Luis for your review of Bayadere ! It seems as you had a great time. :clapping:
re: Adiarys. I do know her, and I can tell you that she is personally just as charming as she is onstage. I often have the chance to see her dancing, as she is also in the roster of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. I've seen her Black Swan-(actually a whole Swan Lake)-, and yes... she is indeed very exciting. I was searching for a thread I thought existed already about her, but couldn't find it...(maybe it never did, I'm not sure now...), so I will open a new one. (Mods, please, if an older one is out there somewhere, move my post). :thanks:

#4 bart

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 11:32 AM

I add my thanks, sunday. Your wonderful report -- especially your remarks about the pluses and minuses of the corps in the Kingdom of the Shades scene -- motivated me to locate this photo in the Corella Company website:
http://www.angelcore.../compania2.html

How great to see it in a theater like the Liceu. I hope this is the start of a serious and extended ballet "season" for the company Barcelona.

Questions: Is "Castilla y Leon" now officially part of the title? Does this imply that they are getting funding and are somehow the official company of the region? A prestigious official designation like this would be wonderful. Possibly a step on the way to being officially, legally, a true "compania nacional"?

#5 sunday

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 03:08 PM

Re: cubanmiamiboy

Yep. A great time, full of nice, very unexpected surprises. Others not so very nice, like the reasons that make heavy moderation a must in Internet forums about ballet. And thanks be giving for that heavy moderation in BT!

About Adiarys, I introduced myself, telling her that a friend on Ballet Talk told me to watch her (quite a bit of presumption on my part, really), and when I told her your name at her request, she showed a lot of fondness for you. And thank you for supporting my intuition about her as Odile.

Re: bart

They did received some sponsorship money by part of the Spanish various governments. The official name in the advertising material is Corella Ballet Castilla y León as a result of an agreement between the Corella Foundation and the regional govt of Castilla y León in order to boost the image of the later around the world.

To discuss the politics of Spanish ballet, there are posters more knowledgeable that yours truly in this same forum, but I'm sure they prefer to remain silent. My POW is that in Spain public money comes with political strings attached, more so when there is a leftist govt in power. So, a future of Corella Ballet as Compañía Nacional does not seem very desirable. The fact that Ángel, knowing about the state of affairs in Spain about ballet from the inside, came back and strove to make a private Spanish Classical ballet company possible is admirable.

Back to ballet:

I went also to other two representations, both with Nehemiah Kish as Solor, Carmen Corella as Nikiya, and Ashley Ellis as Gamzatti, but one day (10th) with Yevgen Uzlenkov as Bronze Idol, and the other (11th) with Fernando Bufalá. The Three Shades were also different: Cristina Casa/María José Sales/Alexandra Basmagy, and Ana Calderón/Alba Cazorla/Cristina Casa.

The 10th we had tickets for one of the orchestra boxes, at the very front in one side. About 30% of the stage wasn't visible, but we could see very well details in the visible stage. Relationship between dancers and orchestra was better, and there weren't slips with the violins.

Carmen Corella's Nikiya was more on the line of the tall Nikiyas I've seen in youtube, like Lopatkina or Semionova. I saw a little bit of leg wobble in some arabesques, and thought it as a fault. However, after seeing Guerin in the POB documentary about La Bayadère doing the same thing I understood that "wobble" as a dramatical device to show Nikiya feelings. In fact, this ballet is the last one that I go to see performed live without watching it in video before.

Nehemiah Kish, a correct, solid Solor, showed a little stress in the most demanding lifts, and had a little slip in one of the knee landings the 10th after the second series of jetés, visible from where I was seated but not much elsewhere, and was much applauded at the end.

The gold-haired beauty of Ashley Ellis seems not the very best match for an Indian princess, but what lacked in color was more than equalized by her princessly demeanor, and made a very believable Gamzatti. Especially in the third act, where he was so able to convey her confusion about the behavior of her groom Solor, that one was almost forced to have pity for the poor thing.

The descent of the Shades in the second act was invisible for me the 10th. The 11th, with a seat in the second floor of the rafters, was truly spectacular (with the provisos expressed in my first post) and the public was very impressed.

I watched two Bronze Idols more, one by Yevgen Uzlenkov, impressively precise in the movement of the arms, and another by Bufalá that looked to me a bit less precise that the one of the first night, and another. Ladies (and girls) appreciated both in the now-traditional manner, but perhaps Bufalá received one or two woo-hoos more.

Yours truly was also witness of an anecdote that shows the popularity of ballet: the 10th, after the performance, and when going to retrieve the car from a underground car park near the theater, in the first floor I heard someone la-la-laing a few notes of the first act of the ballet . "Nice", I thought "another balletgoer". When facing the stairs to the second floor, where the car was, I was amazed by the vision, in the next landing, of a pretty, black-gowned girl, turning in place, playing with a white scarf and la-la-laing the notes heard before. Until her turn put me in her field of view. Deer-in-the-headlights expression: "Uh, sorry!". So cute! Answer: "Carry on, girl, we come from the same representation", and produced my program for her. Her boyfriend showed also some quite unexplainable embarrassment.

#6 Helene

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 08:09 PM

Thank you so much for your review of Corella Ballet, sunday! I hope to return to Spain and to see the company someday.

#7 4mrdncr

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 08:12 PM

Questions: Is "Castilla y Leon" now officially part of the title? Does this imply that they are getting funding and are somehow the official company of the region? A prestigious official designation like this would be wonderful. Possibly a step on the way to being officially, legally, a true "compania nacional"?


Yes bart, a requirement of the funding by the government of Castilla Leon was that their name be included in the Company's name. It was incorporated into the company logo as well in early 2008 (Jan-Feb?) if I remember correctly. (I seem to remember viewing the possible choices of design/colors then.)

#8 4mrdncr

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 08:32 PM

To: Sunday (not sure if you saw it,--and sorry to Moderators if posted in incorrect "Welcome" forum originally:
I originally tried to send this as an email, but it wasn't set up to do so. So here it is again, apologies if I'm redundant.

Bienvenidos "sunday"

If you review the postings at the BT forum for Corella Ballet, you may notice some from me. I have been documenting (HD) the creation and development of Angel's new company from Jan'08-Jan'09. Currently, I'm still seeking completion funding, but in the meantime, you can view the 'trailer' to the film at:

http://www.dancemedia.com/v/1528

I hope you like it. It includes footage from the company's performances of La Bayadere last year in Madrid at the Teatro Real. And Paloma Hererra and Adiarys Almeida. Both of whom were wonderfully kind to me and my film during my time in Spain. I'm glad you saw the recent performance at the Liceu and were able to speak to my dear friend CarolinaM who has done so much to explain and promote ballet in Spain. The Liceu is a beautiful theatre, and Barcelona is a beautiful city.
Welcome again. I am very glad you have joined.

4mrdncr

PS. Regarding Adiarys' Black Swan--I have footage of her and Angel in a "turning competition" after class one day. He did DonQ, she did Black Swan. I won't say who won.

#9 sunday

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:46 AM

Re Paquita: Fortunately, those days in Barcelona are some of a haven for would be ballet lovers: in addition to the Russian Stars Gala at Liceu in August, we'll have here the Moscow Ballet with another Lake and a Giselle at Teatre Tívoli.


Re Helene: Thank you for your kind words. Your signature reminded me of the lackings of my reviews, as I don't have the necessary background to decouple my subjective preferences from true, objective, artistic quality. And if you could wait, the CB is going to NYC next March and, possibly, to the West Coast also. From the fotoescena forums I lifted this link to a blog entry in the LA times site:

http://latimesblogs....rs-at-home.html

That entry contains also some answer to the questions asked by bart in this thread.


Re 4mrdncr: Hi, Gerri! Thanks for the link. I saw your kind welcome, but waited to answer until having PMs enabled in order to keep inside the posting guidelines. Seems we have some common friends in Spain, and one of them have you in great esteem for sure. Terrific work, your video! I'm eager to watch the final result.

About your PS, I expect you didn't try to have fun teasing my newly adquired ballet curiosity. :lol: More seriously, that footage would be a treat if you could manage to include it in your final movie. If not, well, some viral marketing in youtube could boost interest (hint, hint) :)

#10 Helene

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 11:39 AM

Your signature reminded me of the lackings of my reviews, as I don't have the necessary background to decouple my subjective preferences from true, objective, artistic quality. And if you could wait, the CB is going to NYC next March and, possibly, to the West Coast also. From the fotoescena forums I lifted this link to a blog entry in the LA times site:

http://latimesblogs....rs-at-home.html


Many thanks for the news, and I hope I can make it to the US performances.

Re: the signature line, which is a quote from a very wise person on the Opera-L discussion group, it is an aspiration. The first and probably biggest step is to know that there is a difference.

#11 4mrdncr

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 07:21 PM

From the fotoescena forums I lifted this link to a blog entry in the LA times site:

http://latimesblogs....rs-at-home.html

That entry contains also some answer to the questions asked by bart in this thread.


For everyone's info: I was the major source for that LA Times article: (The author Ms.Khouri saw my trailer, and contacted me. We spent an hour on the phone as I told her of contacts, locations, historical background, backstage info etc.etc.) All I asked in return for providing all that info was that the existance of my doc-in-progress was mentioned--one sentance would have sufficed. But as you see, that didn't happen. So no credit, nor acknowledgement of my almost 2yrs of work, nothing. Just wanted to set the record straight, since LA will never know now.

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 07:36 PM

That sucks... :o

#13 sunday

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 11:45 PM

Agree. It sucks. And that journo deserves some unflattering calificatives.

#14 bart

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 02:46 AM

Thanks for that L.A.TIMES link, Sunday. I enjoyed my reading of it less, however, once I learned how the journalist had treated an important provider of the information.

The hard work of the Corella family is impressive. The high percentage they have to raise from private sources is a surprise; I tend to think of European companies as overwhelmingly public-funded.

Those little things allow the company to run with a budget of less than $4 million: $1.7 million from the Castilla y Leon government, $530,000 from the federal government and the rest from private donors, sponsors and ticket sales.

As a comparison, I can't help thinking of the now defunct LOCAL company Ballet Florida, whose largest budget a few years ago was actually a bit bigger than Corella's but who were much smaller and far from his league.

#15 sunday

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 03:30 AM

Thanks for that L.A.TIMES link, Sunday. I enjoyed my reading of it less, however, once I learned how the journalist had treated an important provider of the information.

The hard work of the Corella family is impressive. The high percentage they have to raise from private sources is a surprise; I tend to think of European companies as overwhelmingly public-funded.

Those little things allow the company to run with a budget of less than $4 million: $1.7 million from the Castilla y Leon government, $530,000 from the federal government and the rest from private donors, sponsors and ticket sales.

As a comparison, I can't help thinking of the now defunct LOCAL company Ballet Florida, whose largest budget a few years ago was actually a bit bigger than Corella's but who were much smaller and far from his league.


:o

I've thinking about that, and possibly the establishment of the Corella Ballet in Spain shows good business sense. Considering that:

i) there are no classical ballet companies in Spain, so we've got a virgin territory.
ii) the Spanish public wants ballet, as shown by the multiple tours foreign companies* do in Spain.
iii) the major contribution of tourism to Spanish economy, and the old aspiration to change from sun, sea, and sex (cheap) tourism to high-brow city tourism, more profitable -and there are a number of summer classical festival in Spain-

then, the Corella Ballet could make a killing from a business POW. And that'll be good for the Spanish classical ballet, and for the Spanish economy. Even we could enjoy a new staging of Falla's El sombrero de tres picos, originally arranged for Diaghilev's people.

* If Osipova was not afflicted by a minor injury, we'll be looking forward to watch her this August at the Liceu, for example.


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