Stairway to Paradise?

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  October 26, 2006

Karine Seneca and Pavel Gurevich were well matched in the Caniparoli excerpt, making Euro-virtues out of its Euro-clichés, bodies driven by urges only half understood, but there’s more to Bartók’s music than Caniparoli finds in it. Joel Prouty reprised his “Gopak” virtuoso turn from last May’s “Russian” program, then new principal Erica Cornejo and Reyneris Reyes did Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Cornejo detailed and distinctive, with delicacy in her entrechats and ronds de jambe and speed in her manège, Reyes a supportive partner but blurring his double tours. Jared Redick’s solo to the “Lacrymosa” from Mozart’s Requiem was a piece of studied melodrama, the orchestra’s no-nonsense tempo notwithstanding; it got the biggest applause of the night to that point.

Tina LeBlanc and Gonzalo Garcia in Apollo
Two guests from San Francisco Ballet, Tina LeBlanc and Gonzalo Garcia, performed Other Dances. Garcia, already in town to partner Cornejo in Don Quixote, again showed an easy authority and technique in reserve; LeBlanc’s thoughtful understatements conveyed both the salon superficiality and the mystery of Chopin’s four mazurkas and one waltz. Freda Locker’s on-stage playing of the music was admirably forthright. The first half ended with the Carmen excerpt, a fireworks display from the lead men (Sabi Varga and Joel Prouty, the latter with another eye-popping revoltade) and women (Karine Seneca, Kathleen Breen Combes, Melissa Hough) and a reminder to the audience that dance is not all tulle and tutus.

The Don Q Fandango that followed intermission, with Tai Jiménez and Carlos Molina (substituting for Mindaugas Bauzys), was a little short on sizzle. Not so New York City Ballet principal Damian Woetzel in Jerome Robbins’s Suite of Dances, to movements from Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. More of a Huck Finn type than Mikhail Baryshnikov, for whom Robbins made the work in 1994, Woetzel exudes confidence, and, sporting red sweats, he seemed to be making it up as he went along. But as in Other Dances, Robbins’s choreographic inventiveness ran out before the music did, and the on-stage cello performance, by Wendy Sutter, at times languished. The excerpt from Heather Myers’s One Constant, for four men and four women, looked like a middling Jorma Elo knock-off, but perhaps this is a work-in-progress. In the abbreviated pas de deux from Don Q, Larissa Ponomarenko conveyed a sense of the occasion, articulate and aristocratic in a truly gala performance. With no solo variation, her Basilio, Nelson Madrigal, was solid throughout.

The défilé

Thom Willems’s ear-popping electronic score for In the middle, somewhat elevated was a reminder to the audience that dance music is not all Tchaikovsky. Yury Yanowsky hinted at mean streets and paranoia; Romi Beppu was angular but insufficiently violent. Returning to do the Apollo-Terpsichore duet from Apollo, LeBlanc and Garcia were idiomatic and pleasing but didn’t erase this observer’s memory of the Apollo Boston Ballet staged in 1993. Lorna Feijóo finished it off with a reprise of her melting Dying Swan from last May. And then the défilé, which suffered from the absence of some injured principals and soloists (Roman Rykine, Mindaugas Bauzys, Misa Kuranaga) and even more from the weight the members of the school would have given it. Maybe next time.

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