I would like to share with you a bit about ABT's DQ and the three performances I had the opportunity to attend at El Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.
First of all I think it's really a pity that the Liceu brings ABT just when Angel Corella is not with the company anymore and now when the economy is so damaged. Ok, of course it has been a gift for us balletomanes to see ABT’s DQ but I hope they will program the Barcelona Ballet next season as this is the company we have been expecting for ages and it should be Liceu's company and even more taking into account that all tickets were sold out for their Swan Lake in February while ABT's had some performances not full at all despite the different stars casted for each one of them. Ángel was not even in the audience as he was dancing the Dance of the Hours of La Gioconda in Rome with Letizia Giuliani.
I have to say that I didn't like ABT's DQ settings. To start we see that so sad image of a bull being tortured in a city that declared to be against bullfighting (in the middle of a strong controversy) one year ago. This seems not to be a great idea (yes, I know, DQ is about toreros and so on, but that "painting" in the fan was hurting sensibilities, I'm sorry). I think they didn't bring all the original settings, I only recognized from Barisnykov original’s (VHS I have of this production) that first curtain I told about and those garlands that seemed more appropriated for Christmas time. What we saw at el Liceu at the bottom of the stage was a building remembering.... Istambul!!! Not Seville where I think this production is supposed to take place (even if in Cervantes book there’s no mention about Seville). Anyway...
Let's focus on the dance. It was really a pity that for the opening night Herman Cornejo was injured. Cory Stearns who replaced him in a short notice has very good physique, he is smart, handsome and certainly with more time for rehearsals he would have done very well. His partnering with Xiomara was not sure and in the second porté of the two spectacular ones in first act he failed and I think this conditioned all the performance as far as pdd were concerned. Xiomara was brilliant in her solos with a spectacular final fouetés, including her arm raised while moving the fan. Cuban apotheosis that lead the audience to applaud enthusiastically.
Aside of Xiomara, that first night we also were captivated by Sarah Lane, already known at el Liceu because she was the first Odette / Odile in Swan Lake by Corella’s Barcelona Ballet in February this year. Stella Abrera, also recognized as usual guest artist in the small group Angel brought to Spain, mainly Catalonia, before setting his company, was another must of that opening night.
Sarah was a lovely cupid or "Amour", as we read in the program. Her dance was light and enchanting, extremely quick , her tips barely touched the floor. Stella for her part in the double role of Mercedes and Queen of the Dryads showed high class appearance on stage in all aspects, technically and interpretive, she took a well-deserved ovation. Yuriko Kajiya and Melanie Hamrick as the two friends or "Flower Girls" were very beautiful in their variations.
In the role of Espada it was difficult to recognize the Sascha Radetsky we remembered from Central Stage. Also, why in this version Espada’s layer is so small? I din’t like this part, toreros do not use layers neither knives, but a kind of, I guess, “banderillas”…. Honestly all that was not very convincing neither their bright blue and deep-red suits.
Saturday night was one of the most expected shows. Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova danced the main roles. And they didn’t deceive. It was about an absolute demonstration of the typical bravura of the two stars of the moment. Their pas de deux was the Russian version of their original company, the Bolshoi. We enjoyed their performance, we knew what we were going to see and knowing the weaknesses, in our opinion, of this production, we forget about and focused only on the dance. Vasiliev is a marvel of virtuosity as also Natalia is and in a ballet as Don Quixote one can better accept a certain lack of style. Nevertheless Natalia pleasantly surprised by her containment in the second act. As partenaires they perfectly fit and they offered an absolutely convincing rapport.
The other main roles were almost all danced by the same cast. Sarah Lane was fantastic again, this time as one of the flower girls, Gemma Bond being "Amour." Luciana Paris as the other friend (or flower), was also very nice to see.
And on Sunday afternoon, closing the shows, there was the quintessential ABT’s Kitri: Paloma Herrera. Born to dance, as defined by the local press, Paloma showed great class and mastery of a role for which she is world famous. It is a thrilling experience to see the Argentine star to tackle this role. Her developpés have the majesty of the great artist, her balances, her fouettés and pirouettes, her perfect feet. And her understanding of a role that, despite she has danced so many times, she continues to give it the perfect sense. That was the best ABT’s performance I saw. James Whiteside is a dancer to keep track of. Aside from his undeniable talent and ability to address the technical difficulties of the character, he immediately captures the attention and conveys to the viewer. Handsome and delicate partner to Paloma they created a really seductive climate that transcended and captivated audiences.
Veronika Part assumed the dual role of Mercedes and Queen of the Dryads and it has been really a pleasure to discover this great ballerina. I liked much more the Espada of Alexandre Hammoudi . Sara Lane as "Amour" was totally captivating again. She is a wonderful dancer and it is a delight to see this small ballerina growing on stage.
The two "flower girls" were Isabella Boylston and Christine Shevchenko, both very good.
Obviously, each one of the shows had its own attractive and we celebrated that great opportunity to discover the amazing dancers of the great NY company, even if some of them we were already familiar because of Angel Corella. We never will stop praying the Liceu and the Catalan cultural leaders, to support our company Ballet, Corella’s Barcelona Ballet. If for the time being it can’t be the titular company at least that they schedule them every season. We all will gain.
For more info and for those understanding Spanish you can visit the Spanish site “Ballet y más” were we have also published an interview with Paloma Herrera.