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Just a few quick impressions on sunday evening's gala event:

~2 words: Herman Cornejo!! Unbelievable in Diana and Acteon. He danced with Xiomara Reyes, and I felt that they complement each other quite well. She has a lovely on-stage personality and her fouettes (alternating single and double) were spot on. They also danced a very short pdd called something like "Spring Water". Is anyone familiar with the music and choreography? It was not on the program (actually, it seems that there were several last minute changes), they were supposed to dance the Corsaire pdd. It was a very pretty pdd, but a bit too fast and brief to absorb.

~The only modern dancers were Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Mathew Rushing from Alvin Ailey. I really enjoyed the excerpt they performed from "Revelation". The white dress for the woman is beautiful. Ms.Fisher-Harrell is a very fluid and musical dancer. I was less impressed with Rushing, who seemed to be holding back slightly. They were not always in sync, but when they were, the effect was powerful. This was my first time seeing Ailey's choreography, and it is a very different dance vocabulary compared to what I'm used to, but I liked it a lot.

~The Bolshoi sent Dmitri Godunov and Nina Kaptsova who danced La Slyphide pdd and Sleeping Beauty Act 3 grand pas. Kaptsova is very suited to Aurora, but a bit too playful as the sylph. I haven't heard a lot about her, I think she is still quite young? She is a talented dancer and exemplifies the traditional Bolshoi style. Godunov was brilliant in both pieces. His footwork in Sylphide and perfectly straight double tours in SB were magnificent (almost fell and put his hand down on one, but recovered like a prince, it did not take away anything from the performance). He was however lacking a certain level of expression, but that came out in his contemporary solo called "The Crane" to traditional Japanese music.

~The National Ballet of Cuba's Laura Hormingon and Oscar Torrado were impressive (she more than he) in Carmen and Don Q. Though they seemed to rush through the adage of Don Q, coming up to centre stage for their bow before the music had even ended!

~Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre danced the Act 2 pdd from Swan Lake, and the Lady of the Camelias. I prefered the later, in which the couple truly danced as one, and where she did not seem to be concentrating on the height of her legs, as it appeared in Swan Lake (with extension like hers you'd think you don't need to think about it!). Her hyper-extended legs create a very extreme line that seems awkward in some classical pieces, IMO. I know there has already been some discussion on this. She is a gifted dancer, but I wonder what she can do on her own. In the defile, all the dancers took the stage for a few seconds alone, but she and Cyril came out together. I don't think she would make a very strong solo dancer, but her and Cyril make a good team.

~There were also 3 Ukranian dancers and flamenco star, Antonio Marquez. He was simply amazing!

~POB was supposed to send 2 dancers, I'm not sure what happened there. Perhaps they opted out because of the WHO's travel advisory concerning SARS (it was lifted last week), which is understandable.

~All in all, a wonderful and well-rounded gala of a very high standard. (Although I thought last years was even better). I hope this will become an annual tradition here in Toronto:)

~Anyone in Montreal might be interested in the Gala des Etoiles which will be in September. The tickets are a steal! I don't think I can make it unfortunately, but for those who can, the cast is up on the website www.galadesetoiles.com . It includes Carlos Acosta Farouk Ruzimatov, Igor Zelensky, Sarah Lamb, and Portugal's Daniela Severian (she was at last year's Stars of the 21st Century, and is a great performer).

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If "Spring Water" is La Source, as i think it is, the music is by Delibes, and I think the original choreography was by Saint-Léon, so it was the same "team" as for Coppélia.

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Must have been that "Spring Waters" which Mel suggested. I have seen various movie renderings - all with the Bolshoi. Violent lifts - great throws - very acrobatic and very Bolshoi in the 50ties or so. Well... A bit circus IMO - but of course spectacular.

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Ooh, Spring Waters. Of the performances I've seen on video, that pdd performed by any professional couple is about the only one that can still make my heart kind of flutter, what with the flying headlong into waiting arms, huh!

I'm envious you got to see such a stellar cast of dancers! :mad:

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Originally posted by Mel Johnson

More likely, I think is Asaf Messerer's pas de deux set to music of the same name by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

You're right on, Mel! That's the one it was -- the old pre-war version.

And Paquita:

The POB did not stay away because of SARS. It was known long

before the SARS outbreak that this gala would not have anyone from Paris Opera.

It is important to note that not a single dancer stayed away because we had some SARS in Toronto! (Unlike many Hollywood actors who chose to film elsewhere -- Halle Berry said she would quit her flick if its filming location wasn't changed, and singers/songwriters Elton John and Billy Joel also cancelled their Toronto gigs). Of course, there were questions about it, but Solomon Tencer rightfully allayed any concerns and the show went on with 100% attendance by the 14 scheduled dancers.

Nina Kaptsova debuted with La Sylphide at the Bolshoi 6 months ago.

In previous galas's defiles, Lucia has always done Italian fouettes -- without Cyril!

LaCarra had just won the Benois Prize in Moscow for best ballerina in the world (6 days before the Toronto gala). There she had to prove herself alone. Nadia Veselova-Tencer, artistic director for the Stars of the 21st Century galas, nominated her and was also in Moscow just before the gala as a member of the jury. Previous galas' POB stars Agnes Letestu and her partner/hubby Jose Martinez were also among the nominees, as was Cyril Pierre.

My favourites of the evening: Herman Cornejo, Nina Kaptsova, Linda Fisher.

And, yes, Antonio Marquez was incredible. He had the entire theatre in his command. His use of tension in absolute silence had us spellbound. A single toetap breaking the stillness resounded with its quiet authority.

I have never seen anyone's feet move as fast as his did!

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Sorry, Marga, you are correct that none of the dancers cancelled in spite of the WHO advisory. I had just seen the names of 2 POB dancers on a list a while ago and had expected to see them. Oh well, maybe next year!

As for Lacarra, I have never seen her perform solo (last year I saw her and Cyril in Light Rain and Adagio for Strings), so I was only speculating that she would not be a strong solo dancer. Perhaps her hyper-extended legs might give that illusion. Hyper-extended legs look beautiful but are often hard to control (I have many students with this problem), however it can be done of course!

The casting was particularly good this year, as you mentioned Lacarra recently won the Benois prize and as well, Xiomara Reyes has just been promoted to principal dancer at ABT.

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You have me wondering now, too, about Lucia performing alone. I have never seen her do so, either, but I have only seen her at the galas in Lincoln Centre and Toronto. (The Italian fouette in the defile doesn't really count!)

Because you raised the question, I asked Nadia (Veselova-Tencer) yesterday what Lacarra danced in Moscow. She said it was La Dame aux Camelias! Obviously, she danced it with her husband, not alone.

Of course, she must have opportunities to show her solo abilities when she dances the variations in the story ballets. I would like to see her do all of Swan Lake. We got a taste of her embodiment of Odette last Sunday, in the pas de deux she performed with Cyril Pierre at the gala. I was anxious to see it, having seen her only in more modern works before. I think we need to see her Odile and the full Odette to form an educated opinion. I have read where others are not entirely sold on her doing the classics.

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