I am back from my pilgrimage to Cerritos, CA. My long time dream of watching the Cuba National Ballet has finally taken place. Worth my time, effort and money?
Absolutely. Was it perfect? No. Here are my thoughts:
Last performance on their US tour; Don Quixote. Cast: Viengsay Valdes - Kitri, Joel Carreño - Basil, Victor Gili - Espada.
Production: Dismal, the costumes are horrible, the head sock in the guys have to go, the gipsy costumes were too garish in different shades of neon green (not my favorite color), the dream sequence in pastel blue might have loked better under a different type of lightning, the dresses of the corps in the third act looked like out of a school production. I know they have budget limitations, but this was too much.
The dancing: Glorious. It seems to me it is a very young company these days, the old stalwarts are gone. I am sure maturity will come in time; now it is a dazzlying energy on stage, with all the tricks in the book thown in and then some. Unlike other companies I have seen, they are really happy to be on stage and will go to any extreme to pull you in and share they joy. The technical abilities are far superior to the ones on display back in the 60's through the early 80's when I last saw them perform at home. The men are stronger, better trained. Much has been said of Ms. Valdes, I have now been witness of her extraordinary dancing ability and technique, that balance on the third act was something I never thought could be done, not even the queen of balances (in my opinion) Cynthia Gregory could have pulled someting like it, her jumps are great and although not the best turner I have seen, her piruettes and fouettes were great, a bit of travelling forward, but in a very straight line. Mr. Carreño gave me one of the sightest, swiftest and fluid variation I have ever seen, and his lift on one arm of Ms. Valdes in the first act was breathtaking.
The stage seemed or is very small, and even with an abreviated company, when they were all in stage, it looked very cramped, so much that some of the steps were performed in a single spot. I wish I could see it in their home stage at the Gran Teatro de La Habana with the full company. That, I am sure, would make it a much better experience.
I was very happy the audience received their performance with three standing ovation curtain calls and I am sure they, as well as I, can hardly wait for their next appearence.
For you guys not familiar with the venue, the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, it is a vey modern building, the lyric configuration is intimate, small theatre, slightly over 1400 seats, but as I said before, the stage is small, I guess they would have benefited of an extra 10ft to the sides and maybe another 15 in depth.
Sightlines are great, I was seated in the second row center of the Mezzanine ans checked during intermission other locations in the theatre. If you buy seats for any future performance, whatever it is, Orchestra center last row in the first block and the first row center in the second block are tops. As usual, first row center in the Mezzanine or the first and second balcony are choice. For people with vertigo, avoid the second balcony middle to top seats, the incline is quite steep.
Long, I know, but I hope you enjoy my comments. Your responses and questions are welcomed.