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Ballet of Theatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro

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An upcoming business trip will be taking me to Brazil, including Rio. I have a ticket to upcoming mixed bill that includes LES SYLPHIDES and RAYMONDA A3. Any ballet-related tips, such as local principals or soloists of note (beside what I can research on YouTube)? Calling all Brazilian Ballet Alertniks.

Needless to say, I'm going to the Plataforma samba show on another night. (Ha-ha!)

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The box office rep of Theatro Muni-Rio reminded me that the Bolshoi will be in town one week after the local troupe's season...but I'm not so sure that I'll want to stick around for two Grigorovich works, including SPARTACUS. Besides, I don't want to give away my "2nd round" SLEEPING BEAUTY tickets at ABT...Boylston 's Aurora or Bust! :)

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To bloody heck with ABT and SB, for a while. I've been in Rio de Janeiro for a week, allegedly 'working' but, of course, attending the ballet at the magnificent Theatro Municipal, the main opera house here, boasting an exact-duplicate of the Paris-Garnier's grand staircase. The facade is more intricate than that in Paris (if imaginable!) and the interior is totally different from Paris, being rather Art Nouveau-ish with a painted ceiling of nude nereids in Gibson Girl coiffeurs.

The mixed bill on Friday night (June 5), allowed viewers a chance to savour a plethora of up-and-coming principals and soloists, particularly in the first two works, Tatiana Leskova's treasured 'pure' staging of LES SYLPHIDES (Fokine/Chopin) and Galina Kravchenko's mounting of Yuri Grigorovich's RAYMONDA A3 GRAND PAS HONGROISE (after Petipa/Glazunov). The evening ended with one of my non-favorites, LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS in the Hodson/Archer staging that we've all seen interpreted by the Mariinsky, Joffrey, etc. As we say in Spanish: Al que no quiere caldo, tres tazas...."Whoever doesn't like the soup gets three servings..." This friggin' ballet follows me everywhere! :)

Going in reverse order of presentation (and preference, least favorite first):

SACRE - The Brazilians gave it the most energy I've seen.almost a carnival pounding and stomping! (Or perhaps giving it a twist of Candomble, the local 'witchcraft'?) Company 2nd soloist Vivian Barreto's fear and desperation were palpable. I don't think I've seen a Chosen Maiden jump as high as she did.

RAYMONDA A3 - Danced in beautiful traditional costumes against a blue background, the G-P Hongroise showed off the generous Moscow style that is being taught at the top ballet academies of Brazil, including the Bolshoi's filial academy in Joinville, south of Rio. Stager Galina Kravchenko has been a leading professor of that school, imparting her style on a beautifully immaculate corps of eight classical couples and star pairing of Karen Mesquita (Raymonda) and Cicero Gomes (Jean). Mesquita danced with aristocratic aplomb as the heroine...but the evening's loudest 'bravos' were reserved for Gomes -- any relation to our Marcelo? -- whose elevation in jumps and centered, never-ending pirouettes are among the best seen anywhere on earth. Best of all, he has that "Gomes Stage Presence" that makes everyone in the auditorium want to adore him. Bravo!

LES SYLPHIDES - I'll never forget this gem of an ultra-traditional version of this beloved Diaghilev ballet, here danced as audiences saw it in the 1930s and 40s, as Tatiana Leskova -- Rio's balletic treasure -- was one of the last Original B-R ballerinas who was personally coached by Fokine! This is the finest staging that one can now see, along with The Australian Ballet's edition by the late Irina Baronova. Exquisite. This in and of itself was well worth my trip, I had tears of joy and chills down my spine as the Brazilian SYLPHIDES progressed. This is THE old pre-Vaganova version with just 14 corps ladies + 2 choryphees, 3 female soloists and the male lead.

Top kudos go to the gorgeous, Obraztsova-like Marcia Jaqueline in the PDD and Mazurka. So light and luscious...no wonder she's already a Gaynor Minden model in NY. Look out for her in international galas soon! As the Poet, Felipe Moreira offers a beautiful long line and elegant legato dancing. Dainty fair-haired Mel Oliveira enunciated every move in a delectable Waltz, while Deborah Ribeiro was appropriately dreamy in the Prelude, before surprising us with her mighty grand jetes in the Coda.

Bravi to all, especially Leskova. What a difference a staging can make!

Kudos also to the Orquestra Sinfonica do Theatro Municipal.

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p.s. Next week's Bolshoi tour consists of two Grigorovich works/stagings: SPARTAK and GISELLE. Tickets selling on the black market at 'Misty Copeland-style' mark-ups.

If Jennifer Homans would like evidence that ballet is not 'dead' (as she claims), she should visit major companies in Latin America, such as in Rio.

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P.s.s. In addition to ballet, I recommend the beaches over here. I've tried three so far: Ipanema, Copacabana and my personal fave, Leme, closest to Sugar Loaf. Leme is more family friendly, one sees 'regular bodies' in swimsuits, the waves are more exciting AND the vendors' starting prices here are lower than at the other two beaches. Same guys selling the same sunglasses, shrimp-on-sticks and colorful sarongs...but at half the starting prices at Leme.

Did I mention that this is mainly a business trip? 'Working' on my tan!

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Important Belated Kudo: in last Friday's (June 5) performance of RAYMONDA, my eye caught the extraordinary ballon and élan of one of the four male demi-soloists performing the famous male pas de quatre; he stood 2nd from the right...ie, 3rd to jump during the jump sequences. Of medium height (compared to others) and boyish good looks, I asked for his name. A local fan told me: ALEF ALBERT. Very young (21?) and still in the corps, he danced Jean in two earlier performances. I checked his bio and it looks like he is a graduate of Harid Conservatory!

A name & dancer for our radars: Alef Albert. Very special. :)

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