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Ballet Gamonet Program III

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Last night I went to see BG's Program III . I’d never seen this company before, honestly speaking, due to , what I wrongly thought, their lack of classical repertoire. I never knew that they did pointe work. Well, I was wrong, they do.

For what I read, this is a small company that, as bart noted, was created as the result of some conflicts between its Artistic Director, Jimmy Gamonet (former main choreographer of MCB) and MCB, resulting on his exit and that of MCB’s prima ballerina Ileana Diaz. Now, I’d heard many stories about Ms. Lopez' career upon her 1982 graduation , her unparalleled 17 tenure as MCB’s prima, and her highly acclaimed partnership with fellow dancer and husband Franklin Gamero. I never thought that she would still dancing. Wrong. Ms. Lopez danced last night, and she danced beautifully.

First things first. The program consisted of “Divertimento Espagnol",“Grand Pas Classique” and ta-dah..CARMEN!!.

"Divertimento Espagnol" featured Gamonet’s own reinterpretation of “Paquita” ,using some of its music, basically from the Grand Pas and including new arrangements for soloists and corps in an effort to launch parades of dancing without argument and dazzling choreography a la Balanchine’s "Pas de Dix" . The result wasn’t that satisfactory. There was a mish mash of steps all over the place, and an obvious neo-Balanchinized atmosphere that didn’t quite work, due to, I think, choreography overload, maybe more successfully achieved if being done by more experienced dancers. Still, there were highlights on this performance, and there were during the PDD, danced by Hiroko Sakakibara and Andres Felipe Figueroa. Ms. Sakakibara brought the house down with her series of fouettes at the coda, doing doubles and triples and little traveling , finishing with dignity on pointe. Mr. Figueroa, despite having an extreme boyish look and petite complexion, showed nice pirouettes a la second and clean cabrioles. He also performed a series of jete menages, trying to dazzle to a maximum, but the steps tired him. Still, overall, they made a nice impression, and the audience rewarded them with lots of applauses. The corps, as I said earlier, was due to perform complex steps the whole time, and although sometimes uniformity wasn’t totally achieved, its general impression was that of a dignified work.

Then we had "Grand Pas Classique". I really didn’t like Gamonet’s own bland version of Gsovsky’s work , and while Paul Thrussell did a great job on his variation, Jessica Colina wasn’t up to the choreographic demands, even being altered and slowed down to better suit her. Specially disappointing was the famous sequence of fouettes.

Thankfully then we had Gamonet’s own version of "Carmen" to invigorate us after the intermission. This was very special, because as soon as I opened the program, there it was, Ms. Lopez would be performing the infamous character, so of course , the night had been set to be all about her, the star of the show. Before writing anything else, I want to note that it is difficult and almost unfair to compare any ballerina in this role to those who have made it a masterpiece via the two most famous choreographies, Zizi Jeanmaire from Petit's version and then Maya Plisetskaya and, of course, Mme. Alonso from Alberto Alonso’s take on the work. In the case of Petit he was quoted as saying that only "a few" dancers have achieved the ideal of "Carmen" after Jeanmaire. About Alonso, well, i think by now everybody can imagine what do i think about her interpretation, which can be found on Youtube.

Still, as soon as Ms. Lopez erupted onstage, she immediately took over the whole space with her powerful projection, in which I could detect right away the “diva” gene on her. The audience ovationed her right away with devotion, and she seemed to be pleased about the immediate recognition. During the entire ballet she totally exuded her own brand of contrastingly delicate and fiery sexuality against Simon Silva’s arrogantly passionate Don José. Specially beautiful was their languid dance during the Bedroom scene, which they performed with high doses of subtle suggested eroticism , without vulgarity, something that is not always achieved nowadays on this type of scenes in modern choreographies. Iliana Lopez' performance left me reassured on my theory that every company needs, like it or not, its own set of “primas” and "primos", (if i may). I know this is something that many directors try to avoid,specially here on the States, perhaps after Balanchine's own concept, but based on my own experiences and growing watching a company where the star system is emphasized and praised, (NBC), and after seeing the way Ms. Lopez’ electrifying presence totally won us last night, it made me crave for such a figure to be part of MCB. Sarabita was, back on the days, one of the kind, but for some reasons, he doesn’t seem to be part of that philosophy anymore. Who knows why…

Kuddos to Paul Thrussell for his Escamillo . This guy is still a powerful dancer, and one can tell that a good schooling has been part of his formation.

I’m very happy that I went to see this performance. Last night, I could really say that I saw, more than a dancer, a truly BALLERINA. :)

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