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Miami Herald's review...

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I thought it would be interesting to post the "official" view of the Herald...If in a wrong thread, please move it...


'Swan Lake' superb with new Cuban trio

Posted on Mon, Feb. 25


Cuba's loss of three ballet dancers is the world's gain -- and, at least for this past weekend, Miami's. Taras Domitro, Miguel Angel Blanco and Hayna Gutierrez, the young principal dancers who defected from the National Ballet of Cuba in December, dazzled cheering audiences at the Cuban Classical Ballet's performances of Swan Lake at the Fillmore Miami Beach on Saturday and Sunday. It wasn't political enthusiasm, but spectacular dancing.

Domitro in particular seems bound to be a star. He's a jaw-dropper -- impossibly high leaps, sky-high extensions, endless legs, landings that float, superb line, effortless power. When he soared out in the Black Swan pas de deux on Saturday, he seemed to defy physics by going even higher in midair. He's only 21, and this was his first Swan Lake, which meant his Prince Siegfried could have used more nuance and depth. But he largely made up for it with youthful intensity -- when he broke down to follow his Odette, fellow Cuban and Cincinnati Ballet principal Adiarys Almeida, into death, he broke your heart.

Gutierrez, who danced Odette/Odile on Sunday afternoon, was also a revelation. She's a superb physical and dramatic actress, with a beautiful finish and dignity. As Odette, the doomed white swan queen, she had the loveliest liquid quality, pouring like water into deep penche arabesques, arching backward in exquisite yearning. Her fervor made for potent chemistry with Blanco, her Siegfried and a fine, tender partner. As Odile, the Black Swan, she slipped between fey seduction and malevolent command; she has spectacular balance, and her fouetté sequence brought the house to its feet.

Tall, long-legged Blanco is elegant and powerful, with convincing emotional gravity, but he's not electrifying. The compact Almeida is tremendously strong and musical, but you could feel her working, and her quality didn't seem quite right for Odette.

They would not have looked this good if they hadn't had a substantial frame. It's easy to paste guest stars into a semi-amateur production. Instead, the Cuban Classical Ballet gave us a passionate and professional performance, which made up in commitment and understanding what it occasionally lacked in production values or technical achievement. It's the most artistically significant effort yet from Pedro Pablo Pena, the company's co-director and indomitable Cuban ballet supporter.

What has lifted him over the bar is co-director Magaly Suarez, the longtime Cuban teacher -- and Domitro's mother -- who choreographed this Swan Lake and coached these dancers into a company full of life and personality. The corps de ballet was energized and unified musically and stylistically. Suarez used her dancers' talents well, and compensated with entertaining staging and choreography when they didn't have top-drawer technique. There were lots of fine soloists, notably hilarious, high-flying Raydel Caceres as the Court Jester; exquisite Kate Kadow, willowy Jordan Elizabeth Long and smooth-spinning Joseph Gatti in the peasant pas de trois; Grace Anne Powers back-bending to the floor in the Spanish variation; and Gleidson Vasconcelos' sharp Neapolitan dance.

There were shortfalls, such as annoying noises from the National Symphonic Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, valiantly conducted by Jose Ramon Urbay, another Cuban ballet exile. But overall, this Swan Lake had more life than the lavish but turbid production that the American Ballet Theater brought us last winter. Cuban Classical Ballet is a company to watch.

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