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why is Spain turning out such marvellous dancers?

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Which Spanish dancers are you talking about exactly?

I've read that most of the Spanish dancers who have become famous recently (Lucia Lacarra, Tamara Rojo, Angel Corella, Joaquin de Luz...) studied with Victor Ullate in Madrid, so perhaps it would be worth studying what's happening there. :-)

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You can add Arantxa Ochoa, who's probably Pennsylvania Ballet's most popular dancer, to the list of former Ullate students. Ochoa has beautiful lines and extensions, without being hyper-extended. She's also steadily improving as an actress- lack of acting skills seems to be a common complaint about the Spanish dancers (maybe I am generalizing, but I know I've read that about De Luz and Lacarra before), so it's good to see she's working on it.

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The leading teacher in Spain over the last fifty years has been Maria de Avila, of Saragossa. She trained Trinidad Sevillano (principal with the Boston Ballet, the RB et al.) and Arantxa Argüelles (formerly principal with the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the RDB), as well as a number of other stars whose names escape me for the moment.

Maria de Avila is a glory of Saragossa, to the extent, that the Mayor has got her up on their Website as a separate "attraction". She was a well-known artist at the Liceu in Barcelona, until she married and had several children. Once her children were grown, she resumed teaching.

Maria de Avila is now nearly eighty, and was, for a too-brief period circa fifteen years ago, the head of the National Ballet of Spain, until pitched out by intrigants. She has her own school in Saragossa, and her daughter Lola de Avila has or had, a school at Madrid, which has trained several people who are now, if I'm not mistaken, in the POB's corps de ballet (perhaps Muriel Zusperreguy ????). To find Maria de Avila, type Zaragoza in the Spanish language, and her name, into a search engine.

I am too broke to travel to Saragossa to interview Maria de Avila, a thing I much regret. If anyone else could do so, it would be a "load off my heart".

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I remember seeing Ochoa at School of American ballet.

Re: A lot of dancers seem to be coming out of Ullate's school/company. However, unlike other schools, I can't really pinpoint a common quality, such as good feet or lovely arms. They do all seem to have a love of dancing that's palpable to the audience. But technically they're different - de Luz and Corella have all the big jumps and turns, Rojo has all the tricks (balance, turns), while Laccara is very shaky technically - she's all extension and seduction.

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I've often heard about Maria de Avila too. She was Ullate's teacher, and among her former students there was also Ana Laguna (Mats Ek's wife, who premiered many of his works).

In 1992, the theme of the Biennale of Lyon was "Pasion de Espana", and I remember reading some articles about dance in Spain; if I remember correcly, there is no real tradition of ballet in Spain (unlike in Italy, France or Russia, for example). There are other traditions, like flamenco, or danza bolera. The main classical company featured in that Biennale was not from Spain- it was the ballet of Cuba! (By the way, is there a "Cuban school"?) And even now there are not many ballet companies there- mostly Ullate's own company, and the ballet of Zaragoza, so many Spanish dancers have to go abroad to find a job...

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