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MCB Program III

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I just got back from Catoya-Penteado #2. It was an almost perfect performance -- glowing, happy, confident throughout. No sign of tiredness (which in some dancers shows as clenched jaw and screwing up the forehead.) Balances were amazing; lifts and descents perfectly secure. Just about everyone on stage was in character and in tune with the story and music. The audience -- and Saturday night is the most sophisticated ballet audience down here, it seems to me -- went wild. (Well, for Palm Beach County it was "wild.")

Cahill, RE Mark Lynch's review: I saw the same performance and do not agree with him about Don Q and Sancho Panza, something which takes up almost half the review. Marc Spielberg's performance as a befuddled and rather sad Don Q had great subtlety, I thought. Alex Wong's Panza gave an amazing comic turn, but he also brought across the character's touching concern for the welfare of his bewildered master. Didier Bramaz's father could not have been better. My only criticisms concern Jeremy Cox, who made Gamache so air-headed and silly that he becaome inconsequential. It doesn't have to be that way.

I missed the Saturday matinee, so I'll see either Kronenberg or Delgado tomorrow. Will report on performances after that.

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Yeah, I can imagine Kronenberg doing sexy. Warm sexy, I gather, not cool, dominant sexy, like her Siren in Prodigal?
Yes, warm sexy. Tonight's Mercedes was Patricia Delgado. Her take on the character was a faster, brighter in tone, and slightly devilish. Really good dancing, though.
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Thanks for the comment on Alex Wong's Panza. I have so enjoyed his dancing and thought he would have done a great job in this role. IMO he is one of those dancers that is hard to take your eyes off when he is on stage, no matter what role.

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Sunday matainee: Jennier Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra in the leads, with Carlos Quenedit as Espada ((Guerra's other role) and Deanna Seay as Mercedes (Kronenberg's other role).

I was hoping to see Jeanette Delgado, but the surprise chance to see Kronenberg again more than made up for my disappointment. Her's is a wonderful Kitri, though possibly too smart, seductive, and charismatic character to make the character really plausible. All three principals have technique to make Kitri work. Catoya and Delgado have the speed and the precision; Kronenberg has the charisma and sex appeal. Take your pick: there are only winners in this group.

Guerra's attractive and winning Basilio has improved since the first run a few years ago. He is more confident in jumps, stronger in partnering, and has become quite a good comic actor. His training is Cuban, but in Camaguey, not with Alonso. The years with MCB have helped him gain strength, and speed, and have give greater authority and "weight" to his dancing.

I finally got to see Carlos Quenedit in a significant role: Espada. Quenedit is a former principal of Ballet Nacional de Cuba (before his defection 2 seasons ago) and has recently been promoted to soloist You can see a bit of Cuban Espada on YouTube.

Quenedit's thighs and calves are powerful. He's good looking, though his face lacks vivacity. His lift in jumps is amazing; his landings, soft and soundless. He brought to Espada an Old World flavor which I associate with Alonso's training.

Unfortunately, Quenedit is -- at this stage of his career -- far from being an interesting stage performer, even in a role he must know by heart. Jumping, running and generic arm-waving will take you only so far. Eventually you have link the steps and gestures into some kind of style. You have to play your part in the story with conviction and spontaneity. You have to give the appearance of paying attention to and caring about the other dancers around you. You can't just switch off the energy when you're not in the spotlight.

Quenedit isn't there yet. I hope that Villella makes sure this young man gets the assistance he needs to develop and expand, stylistically, what is clearly a serious natural talent.

I've already mentioned some of my favorite performances. Here are a few more.

-- Jennifer Lauren's Amor: quick, pert, witty, eye-catching. A member of the corps, Lauren held her own in the Dream scene with two principals, Catoya and Albertson.

-- Daniel Sarabia's Gypsy King. Sarabia has a devilish beard and an aquiline nose. His dancing has the Cuban weight and power, with a speed and attack that I associate with MCB's Balanchine emphasis. The partnership with Patricia Delgado was passionate and compelling. I hope they will continue to dance together.

-- Twins Leigh-Ann and Sara Esty, dancing together as the lead Flower Girls and in a variety of roles, including a delightful Amor for Sara. They bring joy to anyting they do. They pay attention to the small details, too: epaulement, the placement of feet, etc. Individually and side-by-side, they are a class act. They've grown tremendously since joining the comany as Student Apprenatices only 3 seasons ago.

--- The MCB corps, and the soloists who joined them from time to time: I am getting to know most of these young dancers by name, and I'd like to have the space to say something about almost everyone. Let's just say that they have learned to speak the vernacular language of this ballet: its movement style, its company comaradery, its high spirits.

-- Santo Loquasto's costumes, from ABT. Village girls, toreodors, gypsies, tutu'd spirits: everything worked well for dancing and blended harmoniously. The costumes for the Dream Scene were among the most beautiful I've ever seen.

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. The costumes for the Dream Scene were among the most beautiful I've ever seen.

True, true. I got to manipulate one of the Driadas tutus post performance, and the embroidery and design were exquisite. The tones were very flora/Forrest/autumn inspired, with leaves and everything...the works. Usually I was used to see the white semi-romantic Driadas of Alonso's production, which were very pretty with their pearls and white gowns, but I couldn't tell that this were spirits living in trees. These looked more like Sylphs. Villella's Driadas costumes were very nice designed.

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You may be interested to know that these costumes were recycled. They were originally designed for the Baryshnikov-Tchernicheva staging of Le Jardin Anime as a free-standing act, back in the '80s. If anyone has the video of ABT's Petipa evening* (also including staging of Raymonda Act III, the pdd from La Fille Mal Gardee and Aurora's wedding), you'll see them.

I rather wish they'd use them again for the JA scene in ABT's current Corsaire, instead of the bright, garish, cheesy tutus they now use.

*Broadcast as a "Live from Lincoln Center" just as home video recorders were becoming popular and, I believe, never released commercially.

Edited by carbro
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His training is Cuban, but in Camaguey, not with Alonso.


Well, not with Alicia bart, but with that of the original Alonso, who was undoubtly the real force behind the modeling of the Cuban style: Fernando Alonso. He was kind of forced-exiled to the province of Camaguey after divorcing Mme. and then and there he created a wonderful Company while implementing his teaching method. At some point I will open a thread to aknowledge this troupe, which along with that of Laura Alonso-(Mme's daughter)-are to be the basis of the Cuban classical ballet.

so wait...does it mean you didn't get Delgado in West Palm Beach...? :o

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Carbro, thanks for that information. I also love the costumes for the girls in the wedding scene: 3 in pink tutus of the sort that look like tent marquees -- and 4 in pale tangerine. (The rst were in something less striking -- which I've forgotten.) Without being garish, the specialized costumes and colors helped one to see quite clearly the intricate interactions of the various groups within the corps.

Cristian: very interesting information regarding Camaguey. I really urge you to share more of this Cuban background with us. Who knows, perhaps with political changes here and in Cuba, we'll be seeing a lot more of these dancers in the context of their home companies. You can really help us by sharing your experiences and knowledge.

Guerra, by the way, strikes me as being very different from the other Cubans I've seen, who tend to dance BIGGER. I can't speak about technical details, but Guerra definitely had a greater reserve and even tentativeness stage when I first saw him. His development at MCB has made into a dancer quite different from, let's say, Isanusi-Rodrigez, Daymel Sanchez and the Sarabias.

RE: Jeanette Delgado. I missed the Saturday matinee, so I assume she danced then. When I bought the tickets long ago I didn't want to sit through Don Q four times. After Friday night, however, I realized I had made a mistake. But by then all the good Sat. matinee seats were gone. :)

Edited to add: There's a nice little tribute to Don Q in the Palm Beach Post.

It’s the perfect ballet for the Miami group, who are my biggest source of cultural discovery of the last several years.
Scott Eyman is almost the only cultural reviewer left on the Palm Beach Post following extensive layoffs. His specialty was books, originally, and certainly not dance. But now he's assigned to almost everything. It's nice to see him going through the process of learning about -- and coming to appreciate -- ballet, and MCB in particular.

Thanks, dirac, for the link.


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