Sunday
September 21, 2014
Monday, September 16, 2013

Ballet week at Colón: a farewell and a gala

The farewell of great ballerina Silvina Perillo was a moving moment for artists and audience alike.
By Pablo Bardin
For the Herald
Six performances with different casts showcase a beautiful Don Quichotte


Don Quichotte took some time taking root in the Colón repertoire, but in the last three decades it has been a frequent staple. As the illuminating programme notes of Enrique Honorio Destaville explain, there are two traditions: that of Marius Petipa and that of Alexander Gorsky. It was the latter that inspired Zarko Prebil, whose version was performed to great acclaim in 1980 with Vasiliev and Maximova and repeated innumerable times since then, at the Colón and elsewhere.
This year the Colón provides a choreography revised by Lidia Segni based on Petipa, more academic and with less humour and pantomime than Prebil’s; she cuts some fragments such as the one at the Tavern and adds some of her own, attempting more realism than Petipa.
The music by Polish composer Leon Minkus has been much maligned but among the best of its kind, especially in the Spanish-tinged scenes. The action, of course, takes the Don Quichotte topic as a mere reference, since, in fact, the whole thing is centred on the romance of Kitri and Basil. There are plenty of divertimento possibilities to upholster the thin plot.
The Colón has done a very handsome show for this season. Six performances with different casts, the sixth providing an ideal setting for the farewell of our great ballerina Silvina Perillo, with the curious feature of having three Basils, one per act: Alejandro Parente, Edgardo Trabalón and Federico Fernández. Stage designer Enrique Bordolini has a knack for beautiful pictures that give a feeling of splendour; probably this is his best ballet work and it provided splendid images as a frame for the dancers. No less attractive were the costumes by Eduardo Caldirola, and the lighting by Rubén Conde was always in character.
Javier Logioia Orbe has managed in recent seasons to demonstrate that as a conductor he understands the dancers’ needs while giving value and careful rehearsal to the music; the Orquesta Estable responded admirably.
I attended the Perillo farewell, and I found it moving as well as an object lesson of professionalism from all concerned but particularly from Perillo, leaving her career at 45 in full possession of her formidable technique and charming as ever in her favourite role. Although she would have preferred Prebil’s version (it allows more acting) she was completely at home in the Petipa/Segni, and was lovingly partnered by three of the best Colón dancers. At the ending there was apotheosis as she was showered with rose petals.
I’m happy that she was rendered the tribute she deserves, for Perillo is an outspoken lady and when things went very wrong in the relationship of the Ballet with both Segni (as director) and García Caffi (as general manager), she was the one who led a famous press conference explaining the legitimate complaints of the dancers.
Martín Miranda (Don Quichotte) and particularly Marcelo Antelo (Sancho Panza) were very adequate. There were first-rate contributions from Maricel De Mitri (Streetwalker), Vagram Ambartsoumian (Torero and Gypsy), Graciela Bertotti (Gypsy girl), Silvina Vaccarelli (Cupid), Gabriela Alberti (Queen of the Dryads), Igor Gopkalo (Camacho) and others who solved very well their variations. And the abundant Corps de Ballet was in fine form.
In Segni’s tenure, each year the Colón offers an International Gala, but the guests only dance in the first part; the second is occupied by our local Ballet; I don’t agree: the gala should occupy the whole night. That second part was occupied with Tango, again Segni as choreographer, this time on music by Piazzolla and with the tango dancing style assisted by Julián Galván. It worked well in its blend of steps from academic and tango dance and provided material for the brilliant execution of our artists.
Three selections were of time-honoured pieces: the pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty (Tchaikovsky-Petipa), beautifully done by soloists of the Bolshoi, Anna Nikulina and Semyon Chudin; the pas de deux from Don Quichotte (Minkus-Petipa), correctly executed by Ana Sophia Scheller (New York City Ballet) and Davit Karapetyan (San Francisco Ballet); and the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky-Petipa), again danced with magisterial command by Nikulina and Chudin. Glazunov’s Raymonda is a fine ballet, though less seen; its pas de deux was performed with wonderful precision by Tamara Rojo and Fernando Bufala (English National Ballet) on a fine choreography by Loipa Araujo.
Jewels is a three-part ballet by Balanchine; from it we saw the pas de deux from Rubies, on Stravinsky’s Capriccio for piano and orchestra. As usual, Balanchine renovates academic steps. It was well danced by Scheller and Karapetyan.
The most interesting things were two pas de deux by choreographer Alonzo King, with dancers from his Alonzo King Lines Ballet: Meredith Webster and the African-American Keelan Whitmore: the first, Migration, music by Leslie Stuck, a slow melodic line for strings; the second, Sposa son disprezzata, from Constellation, a lament by Vivaldi sung with fine taste by Maya Layhani but piano-accompanied. In both cases, the expressive artists with splendid bodies interlaced attitudes of modern dancing in almost constant contact.
The final selection was a well-choreographed experiment by Frederick Ashton: five Brahms waltzes danced in the style of that famous individualist of modern dance, Isadora Duncan. Nicely played on stage by Iván Rutkauskas, it allowed Tamara Rojo to show her versatility in flowing robes.
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