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BNC @ Kennedy Center 2011: Mixed Bill & Don Q


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 10:27 AM

Detailed casting for both programs (Magia and Don Q) announced. No Romel Frometa in sight, sadly. It appears that he really has left the company for good.

http://www.kennedy-c...ent&event=BLBSI

#2 Ceeszi

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 08:17 AM

Has there been any casting for NBC's performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music?

#3 Natalia

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 03:41 AM

La Magia de la Danza opener at the Kennedy Center. Was that FUN last night or WHAT? Extraordinary evening of classical dance - that's pure, unadulterated classical dance, my friends. As one rarely sees anywhere else on earth nowadays. No out-of-whack penchees. Perfect 5th landings from the men. No glossed-over steps; everything crystal-clear. Nothing punched-out for the sake of extremes. Easy-as-pie multi-fouettes from women and the troupe's trademark centered and speed-changing pirouettes from the guys. Phenomenal technique and 'tricks' delivered in a nonchalant manner. No straining. So refreshing! [Well, Miss Viengsay did push the envelope with those Don Q pdd balances...but that is Kitri and she is Miss V, so all is forgiven...and I was right there, whooping and hollering with the rest of the audience...]

One after the other, the 'hits' kept rolling: Swan Lake, Beauty, Coppelia, Giselle, Nutcracker, Don Q, etc. The very young-looking lad (Osiel Gounod) dancing the pdd from Coppelia totally blew the lid off the house. His Swanhilda was also very impressive: Grettel Morejon. Then the audience went even nuttier at the end, with an instant standing-o for La Alonso. Welcome to Washington, mis amigos! :clapping:

Edited to add: Here's a peek at Osiel Gounod..the only thing that I could find on YouTube and a shaky picture, but you get the idea.

Here's another of Gounod, in Bluebird pdd:


#4 ksk04

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 02:37 PM

Edited to add: Here's a peek at Osiel Gounod..the only thing that I could find on YouTube and a shaky picture, but you get the idea.


Wow, he slices right through the air, doesn't he?

#5 Natalia

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:39 AM

....Wow, he slices right through the air, doesn't he?


Indeed. I Googled his name & there's very little info on him right now. The KennCen playbill lists him as Principal (one step below the very highest rank of 'Primeros Bailarines'). Most of the short reports on the internet seem to be from this season -- recent UK and Spain tours, e.g., in Spain, he was a sensation as the Jester in the full Swan Lake. Even though he is shortish, he possesses lovely lines and real elegance, like Baryshnikov. Gorgeous pointed toes in something as simple as a tendu pose. VERY engaging personality, even when just glancing at his Swanhilda...natural charmer. Love him! Not-to-be-missed!!!

Can't wait for tonight's DON Q opener, when Gounod is slated to dance the Young Gypsy...a role that, in the Alonso version, includes a bravura solo. It's a real shame that he doesn't yet dance Basilio (at least not on this tour).

#6 Natalia

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 02:35 AM

Don Quixote opener last night at the Kennedy Center did not disappoint. My 'Gypsy Boy' Osiel Gounod was as thrilling and scene-stealing as ever, e.g., after his solo, while the spotlight shines on Kitri, Basil and Don Q, there's a choreographed moment in which the surrounding gypsies react & the main Gypsy Lad (Gounod) performs a pirouette among crowd (spotlight on principals, not him) -- WHAT a pirouette, that went on for 20+ smooth, well-centered turns! I almost felt sorry for Alejandro Virelles, last night's Basil, who certainly is wonderful in his own way, if low on fire-power (not a jumper but a great turner, naturally charming and elegant of line).

Also impressive were last night's Espada & Mercedes, the long and elegant pairing of Jose Losada and Amaya Rodriguez. The tall Lissi Baez drew cheers for her Italian Fouettes as the Dryad Queen and petite Maureen Gil was simply fantastic as Amour, who, in this version, gets the traditional Kitri-Dulcinea variation. (Surprisingly, there was no Dream Scene variation for Kitri/Valdes.)

But the night belonged to Viengsay Valdes as Kitri, pushing the technical envelope even further than before (and I've seen her live in this role in St Petersburg and with Washington Ballet, plus we have her on the DVD filmed in Paris):

Exhibit A: During Act III pdd adagio, balances were held even longer than on Tuesday's gala, one balance going on for about 15 seconds, after which she s-l-o-w-l-y unfurls the leg that was in arabesque, bringing it forward to a front attitude, making a nonchalant face as if to say "OK, now I'll begin to lower it to the floor." Audience errupted into yells and bravos, right in the middle of the adagio. Then the piece de resistance...

Exhibit B: During the pdd coda, the famous sequence of 32 fouettes began with -- how do you say it? There are doubles, triples, quads...but what is the equivalent word for a fouette of TEN spins??? :jawdrop: No joke - the first fouette was 10 spins around, perfectly centered, then on to some triples and doubles, ending in a solid series of singles, capped by a triple. (I think I got that right.)

Another night at the Cuban Ballet, with instant standing-o at the end of the show, and some of the wildest, loudest cheering for a ballet heard in this theater since, perhaps, Osipova/Vasiliev's landmark Don Q with the Bolshoi ca 2007/08.

So the sets and costumes were a tad tacky to my eyes? It really didn't matter. The movement, vem & vigor on the stage made this a five-star night at the ballet. Performances of Don Q continue through the weekend, each with a totally different cast of principals.

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 11:07 AM

I'm so glad you enjoyed the performance, Natasha. I wish I could have gone to cheer my people there, but my crazy work schedule didn't allow me to. A little trivia note....back when I was still in Cuba I belonged to the "Lornistas"....(fans of Lorna Feijoo), and so Miss V. was "the enemy"... :P . Now she's the reigining queen, as I can see. Good for her!! I really wish her the most of success in her carreer. :clapping:

Edited to add: I wonder why Mme. doesn't expand a little "La Magia" to include stuff from "Bayadere" and "Fille"... that would be good...!

#8 Natalia

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 12:31 PM

...back when I was still in Cuba I belonged to the "Lornistas"....(fans of Lorna Feijoo), and so Miss V. was "the enemy"... :P . Now she's the reigining queen, as I can see. Good for her!!

....I wonder why Mme. doesn't expand a little "La Magia" to include stuff from "Bayadere" and "Fille"... that would be good...!


Thanks for the little rivalry scoop, Christian. Speaking of Mme...guess who was sitting three boxes to our left at last night's performance? And guess whose box I had the audacity to enter during one of the intermissions? Aha...aha! You know who! This one went a lot better than our little foray into the Met's "royal box" last year. I got to talk at length with Mme and her very kind & handsome husband, Mr. Simon, with practically nobody else around us. This absolutely made my day...made my year, to be honest. No autograph - no photo or other 'fan' things. That would have killed the spell. This was a time to GIVE my respect and appreciation, not TAKE away.

#9 abatt

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 12:52 PM

Natalia, you attempted to go into the MET royal box. :jawdrop: Usually the ushers there are ready to draw weapons if you don't belong there.

#10 Natalia

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 01:46 PM

Natalia, you attempted to go into the MET royal box. :jawdrop: Usually the ushers there are ready to draw weapons if you don't belong there.


LOTS of people were "paying homage" to La Alonso at the Met, at last year's ABT 90th B'day bash. No security guards that I could see. We got into the actual box and were standing close but there were SO many people milling around that it was impossible to get face time. The KennCen situation was so nice and easy. It was not a gala "homage night'...just a normal tour performance, so no 'buzz' around the Grande Dame. And it's not as if I barged in with a camera and autograph book, going ga-ga. I got the feeling that she is genuinely touched and enjoys talking with her admirers. For somebody so imposing and tough-as-nails -- which she had to be to overcome so many adversities in her life -- there's a certain down-to-earth manner there. Hard to believe but true.

p.s. Of course, she was dressed to the nines in her salmon-pinkish (Freed pointe-shoe pink!) silk dress and matching head scarf. Hardly incognito.

#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 04:17 PM

And Natalia, remember that while out of the "Royal BOx" at the MET we saw Mr. Franklin coming out and had that delightful chat with him...? That's when he asked me where had I seen that vintage footage of him dancing the DQ PDD with La Alonso... :clapping:

#12 Natalia

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 06:54 AM

And Natalia, remember that while out of the "Royal BOx" at the MET we saw Mr. Franklin coming out and had that delightful chat with him...? That's when he asked me where had I seen that vintage footage of him dancing the DQ PDD with La Alonso... :clapping:


Absolutely, cubanmiamiboy. It was truly a ROYAL Box at the Met that night.

Well, I bit the bullet and bought a last-minute ticket to today's 1:30pm matinee starring Barbara Garcia & Ernesto Alvarez...and the last chance to see Osiel Gounod in a featured role during this run(Gypsy Boy once again)! Also, I'm curious about seeing another Cuban ballerina besides Valdes as Kitri. I wasn't planning this at all but the Cuban bug has bitten, once again. Now I must hurry up and get ready.

#13 Natalia

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:04 AM

Yesterday's Saturday matinee Don Q by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba:

Barbara Garcia (Kitri) and Ernesto Alvarez (Basilio) conquered the Kennedy Center yesterday afternoon in every respect. As a couple, they were more balanced than the Valdes/Virelles opener, in which the lady clearly out-powered the gent. Both Garcia and Alvarez truly delivered the goods in all 3 acts, especially in the Act III pdd, in which they garnered a 'first' in my 30+ yrs of ballet-going: an instant standing ovation after the adagio (in the midst of the pdd)! Garcia's fouettes in the coda included a "four-corners set" (direction of the fouettes shifting four ways) towards the end.

The ensemble was full of delights, not only Osiel Gounod's Lead Gypsy Lad but also a magnificently turning Gypsy Girl (Amaya Rodriguez); an A++ Espada-Mercedes duo with Alfredo Ibanez (lovely double-tour jumps in assemble) and Jessie Dominguez; a light and airy rendition of Kitri's traditional Dream Scene variation by Grettel Morejon as Amour; and -- my discovery of the day -- the long and lyrical Etheysis Menendez delivering one of the most tastefully sublime Dryad Queen solos in our planet.

I am so happy to have bought the last-minute ticket to what turned out to be a magical performance. Cuba has more than one great Kitri in its ranks! Barbara Garcia -- petite and powerful -- has entered my Pantheon!

In general, this has been an amazing run. Most refreshing, for me, has been the rare opportunity of seeing a company in 2011 that dances with the academic purity of, say, 1960 or 1970s style. Nary an out-of-whack extension around. Some of the ladies may push the technical envelope but, in performing their feats, their positions are so wondrously pure. Finally, we see a top int'l company that doesn't try to turn every ballerina into a poor man's Sylvie Guillem. How very refreshing. I, for one, hope that 'globalization' never reaches Havana.

After the Cubans, the Danes have their work cut out for them to conquer the Kennedy Center audience, beginning this Tuesday. I hope that they can succeed. Let's see what the new Folk Tale and Napoli bring.

#14 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:17 PM

Cuba has more than one great Kitri in its ranks! Barbara Garcia -- petite and powerful -- has entered my Pantheon!


Yes indeed, Natasha...! Barbarita is the last ballerina that was taught by the late Fernando Alonso. She's the oldest of them all...






#15 Natalia

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 01:10 PM

Thank you, Christian! That 3rd clip (Kitri Act I solo) says it all. Amazing technique and guts - all of the time, throughout the ballet yesterday. I'm happy that you (not I) aluded to age...as, at first, I thought "un poco madurita"...but the thought disappeared quickly because she is petite and 'pert-cute' enough to get away with it.

It's a shame that it's so hard to find bio information on the current BNC stars and soloists anywhere. That, I believe, is the huge downfall of the otherwise-lovely coffee-table tome, Cuban Ballet, by Octavio Roca, i.e., that one buys it thiking that it has all of the inside scoop on the current (last 10 yrs) company and it turns out to be another bio-homage of Alonso. Practically ALL of the 'current' Cuban stars mentioned and pictured by Roca are exiles! We end up knowing more about the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami as about the current, actual dancers in Havana. And since I'm on my mini-rant about one recent book...the also-recent Jennifer Homans tome on the world history of ballet (Apollo's Angels) presents ZERO-ZILCH history on the Cuban ballet. If Homans would have devoted a few pages to Cuba, she would not have written her grim Epilogue that 'ballet is dead.'

Is there even an official BNC website with bios of the current dancers? There used to one and that URL has long expired and/or is very hard to access (computers tend to freeze). Right now, Christian, you are my A#1 source for information on current, active members of the BNC! :)


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