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Tampa performance

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I saw the Tampa performance of the National Ballet of Cuba's Giselle last night (May 23). It is the one and only Florida appearance in this tour. A Chicago friend said a local orchestra performed with the company in their Chicago performances the other week, and I hear that the Kennedy Center Orchestra will play for their DC performances. Unfortunately, in Tampa there was no orchestra, so they danced to a recording.

Sadaise Arencibia danced the title role, and she did a good job. Her looks reminded me of Alicia Alonso (nose, eyes) that I have seen in pictures and video. There was nothing wrong with her performance, but I am used to more ethereal Giselles. Arencibia was much more earthy. The ballones or hops on pointe were the ones where the ballerina hops and then the working leg is moved toward the body and then more regular hops and then the leg is moved toward the body again, etc. (so sort of like an about face)  showing off control and balance. That caused her to only move 8 feet or so.  I have to admit I love how the Russians cross the entire stage (at least Somova and Tereshkina do, and the others go pretty far). This sort of summed up my experience. I enjoyed the performance very much, and I knew I was seeing a great company, and the dancers and corps were great, but I think I prefer the Russian style and the attempt by Western companies to create a more ethereal Giselle. For me this Giselle was very grounded and earthy, and that worked in the first act, but I felt the second act of this Giselle was too human and less like a spirit. However, I can't say I disliked Arencibia's Giselle. It had great moments. An interesting tidbit is that Giselle does not throw the flowers behind her like in Giselles we are used to....she holds the flowers and Albrecht comes jumping behind her and grabs each one.

Raul Abreu was fabulous as Albrecht gaining strength and excitement as the performance progressed. He proved that the National Ballet of Cuba continues to produce amazing male dancers with strength and bravura dancing. Great leaps and acting. I wouldn't mind seeing him again, although I probably never will unless he defects or if the company starts to tour more often.

Claudia Garcia as Myrtha had such smooth bourrees as she entered. Like butter. These are the type of bourrees I like.

The second of the two soloist Willis showed off amazing renverses that had the leg circling around very high all the way through. This is how I love the renverses, and I have to say I rarely see them done this way. I think that was Barbara Fabelo.

Basically, this is a company with a great reputation and well deserved. However, there are differences in style compared to Western and Russian companies, and that is not a criticism. I wouldn't mind seeing the company again and getting used to this more earthy style. The Tampa audience applauded every little thing that isn't normally applauded. I suspect many were not ballet lovers, rather there to see the Cuban ballet and feel proud (many Cubans live in Tampa). According to news articles it was a huge effort to make it happen in Tampa (many trips to Cuba and lots of red tape).

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Thanks foir your review. Your comments echo almost exactly Edwin Denby's reaction to seeing Alicia Alonso's Giselle so many years ago:


"Alonso is a delightfully young and a very Latin Giselle, quick, clear, direct in relation to her lover. She is passionate rather than sensuous. She is brilliant in allegro, not so convincing in sustained grace. Her plie is not yet a soft and subtly modulated one and this weakens her soaring phrases. She has little patience for those slow-motion, vaporous effects that we Northerners find so touching. But there is no fake about her, no staginess. Her pointes, her young high extensions, her clean line, her lightness in speed, and her quick balance of are star quality."


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Oh, btw, I also meant to mention how the Willis are much more aggressive and threatening in the Cuban version. I wasn't used to that, but it is a legitimate interpretation that makes sense. Afterall, they want to kill men who betrayed them.

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I love the Cuban Giselle!  Anette Delgado is one of my all time favourites in this role.


Thanks for your report.


(I saw 2 performances in Paris last year with hideously expensive tickets and recorded music!)

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