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BNC to visit NY in June 2011

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I just got home from an exciting evening at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This was a night of firsts for me. This was my very first time at BAM, it was the first time I had been to Brooklyn in years (sorry - growing up in the Bronx, Brooklyn was always a foreign country to me) and it was the first time that I saw the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, although I did have the pleasure of seeing Viengsay Valdes when she guested with the Washington DC Ballet in Don Quixote in the Fall of 2009.

All I kept saying on my ride home was how happy I was that I went tonight. I saw the Mixed Bill Program (La Magia de la Danza) and I will try to describe what I saw tonight.

Act I started with an excerpt from Act II of Giselle. Just having watched two ABT Giselles (Hee Seo and David Hallberg/Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes) this was very familiar territory for me. The curtain opened with Hilarion (Ernesto Diaz) kneeling in front of Giselle's grave while a group of men are warming themselves by a camp fire. Suddenly - there were twinkling lights in the forest (!) and the Wilis approach, led by their Queen (a very imperial looking Veronica Corveas). The men run away, but Hilarion of course is captured. Tonight's Giselle was Barbara Garcia (very sorrowful looking) and Albrecht was Ernesto Alvarez. The Pas de Deux between Garcia and Alvarez was beautiful. Garcia did her solo part lightning fast.

Next was the Act III Pas de Deux from The Sleeping Beauty with Anette Delgado and Dani Hernandez. For me, as beautiful as Giselle and The Nutcracker were, this was the highlight of Act I. The fishdives were perfect and Delgado's legs were almost beyond a 90 degree angle. Hernandez was tossing off double pirouettes in the air like they were nothing. Everything was done so clean and perfect.

Act I ended with the Waltz of the Flowers and the Act II Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker. The Waltz was led beautifully by Grettel Morejon and Aymara Vasallo. The Pas de Deux was danced by Yanel Pinera and Alfredo Ibanez. This was so beautifully danced. My only complaint was the set for The Nutcracker looked awfully cheap (compared to what was seen in Giselle and The Sleeping Beauty).

Before I move on to Act II, I would like to make two observations. I noticed that the male principal dancers (particularly Alvarez and Hernandez) looked very young. And the Ballet Nacional de Cuba showed the best I have ever seen of the man spinning the ballerina. (This season at ABT I have seen a few ballerinas fall off point or lose speed while being spun).

Act II began with the Mazurka and Wedding Pas de Deux from Coppelia. The Mazurka was led (beautifully) by Mercedes Piedra and Javier Sanchez. And the Pas de Deux by Amaya Rodriguez and Jose Losada was brilliant! Rodriguez and Losada were incredible in their solos and they partnered each other so beautifully. Rodriguez radiated joy to the very last row of the Opera House. (Unfortunately, like The Nutcracker, the backdrop for Coppelia looked very cheap. The backdrop for Don Quixote and Swan Lake was much, much better).

Don Quixote had the Act I Dance of the Bullfighters. Mercedes was played by our Wili Queen, Veronica Corveas (a lot of versatility!) and Espada was Osiel Gounod. I was looking forward to seeing him after reading the post for the Kennedy Center performances. Unfortunately, Espada is more of a flashy posing role than a virtuoso role, but what he did was great (I was hoping to see more!). Then, the Act III Pas de Deux was done by the beautiful Sadaise Arencibia and Alejandro Virelles. I think that the audience was holding its breath through the first part of the Pas de Deux and then erupted when it was finished. In the solo part Arencibia did not do her solo with a fan and it looked like she was thrown off by something, but then she aquitted herself with an amazing set of fouettes. Virelles is an incredible spinner.

The audience oohed when the curtain opened to reveal a corps full of swans and a bird like von Rothbart standing over them waving his wings back in forth (no SWAMP THING here). The Act II Pas de Deux was danced by Viengsay Valdes and Camilo Ramos. When I read the program, I was honestly hoping that Valdes would do the Act III Black Swan Pas de Deux, but she was so heartstoppingly beautiful as the White Swan. Every pose she hit was just picture perfect.

The night concluded with an exciting Gottschalk Symphony. The lead parts were taken by most of the dancers who performed solos tonight (Garcia, Virelles, Arencibia, Losada, Pinera, Alverez, and Delgado). The audience at first gave a partial standing ovation and then everyone rose when they brought Alicia Alonso out on stage. She seemed genuinely moved by all of this.

Again - I was so happy that I went. Hopefully, they will come again.

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I was at BAM tonight, too and must mostly concur. For me, the highlights of the evening were also the pdds from Sleeping Beauty and Coppelia. The romantic lyrical excerpts didn't really work for me, but I'm madly in love with Anette Delgado and Amaya Rodriguez. Of course, dancing a pdd in a mixed bill and doing the whole role in a full-evening ballet are two very different things, but still, I wish ABT would give both these ballerinas a chance to show their virtuosity at the Met. Another prime candidate for ABT roster is Alejandro Virelles.

All IMHO, naturally.

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