It’s been a few days since jumping to my feet to applaud Angel Corella and his company but when a ballet performance is that good, you are still talking about it days and days later. There are still moments in the mind’s eye where a physical movement conjures the same emotion in your soul as the moment that you saw it happen in real time.
The first offering for the night was Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 choreographed by Clark Tippet to, obviously, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 Opus 26. Costumes by Dain Marcus. The costumes were of the traditional ballet fair and beautifully done. Tutus with miles of underskirts were driving me nuts as I am a tactile person and was dying to examine them up close! Gorgeous for both the soloists and the corps. This piece was created for ABT; it shows, it reflects a number of different attitudes and a substantial level of athleticism. One could imagine if they were a choreographer creating for a company with a number of great but very different stars, something similar would be the result.
The first two PDDs were danced by Kazuko Omori and Yevgen Uzlenkov and Maria Jose Sales and Sergei Diyachkov were danced well, not spectacularly so, but technically well. The choreography for these two PDD’s was not exciting and it seemed a sort of odd way to start a performance. However, the final two PDD’s of the four PDDs offered were much more substantial. Natalia Tapia and Aaron Robison danced a beautifully sensual PDD, very sexy, very human. Cristina Casa and Fernando Bufala danced an exciting and youthful PDD, full of energy and life. On the whole, Bruch Violin Concerto was a nice piece and well received. Basically, it was an appetizer.
Following an intermission, the company presented Clear, a piece choreographed by Stanton Welch set to a work by Bach. Costumes were done by Michael Kors for Celine. Let me reiterate the appropriateness of the costuming for the entire presentation, the costumes were very simple, a pale nude pant for the boys and a pale nude pant and shorty tank top for Carmen. Let me also state for the record that I am an immense fan of Bach. Bach, for me, typifies intensely deep felt passion, not necessarily overt or obvious, but thick with feeling. Which is most appropriate to the fact that this piece is a reaction to the crisis following 9/11. Welch was looking to convey the notion that love and family are what bring you out of crisis and into healing.
Having read the synopsis, I began looking for some sort of correlation to 9/11 and just as I was thinking to myself that I didn’t see it at all, two male dancers began a segment where one dancer began his movement and other began the same movement in shadow. There was a lump in my throat as I watched them rise and fall, one then the other, one then the other. The dancers were solemn and beautiful, the movements sometimes painful, sometimes pure, sometimes in love, sometimes alone. I was glad to have attended this performance as it would be the only night in Los Angeles that Clear was being offered. Christopher Wheeldon’s For 4 was on the program for the other performances.
Now came to the moment that I and most of the Los Angeles audience were waiting for! Solea. Let the word roll off your tongue, let is linger there like something sweet, something savory, something rich and decadent. Solea. Solea was choreographed by Maria Pages for Angel and Carmen. The music is by Ruben Lebaniegos. Solea is a piece that was intended to be a collaboration between flamenco and classical ballet. A (professional) reviewer said that Solea lacked a true integration of flamenco and ballet. I agree and for this I am glad! To hold the integrity of each discipline is to respect each as equally strong and equally worthy of the stage.
I am Spanish by ancestry. Three of my four great-grandfathers came to the new world from Spain, and three of my four great-great-grandmothers came to the new world from Spain. After leaving Madrid, Segovia, Seville, and Pamplona, my family settled in Southern California, the place we now consider our “home.” I am proudly an American, but I am also proudly and in some ways inexplicable even to me, strongly Spaniard. There is something that is born in every Spaniard’s soul and it is released in the cante (song).
Solea is born slowly with brother and sister sitting in chairs next to each other but not facing each other, the adjust their seating and take turns placing their heads, one then the other, on each others shoulders as the music rises. And I tear up. It’s a Spaniards response. They snap their fingers, they roll their shoulders, they crack the heel to the floor, they clap their hands, and they dance like Spaniards who happen to be classical ballet dancers.
It is clear that Angel and Carmen love to dance. Let me correct myself, Angel and Carmen make it clear to the audience that they love to dance. They make it clear that they love each other. They make it clear they love being Spaniards. Angel dances with abandon, he doesn’t need to concentrate on the difficulty of his steps, he knows what needs to be done and that he can do it. Instead he dances with a pride and a joy that fills the theatre. He flies across the stage. Carmen too dances freely, openly, her long skirt flowing and swirling around her long legs in perfect timing to the music. The stage is too small for them, for their joy, for their energy, for Solea.
The very moment that Solea comes to a bright and brilliant end, the audience jumps to its feet, they cannot love Angel and Carmen enough. And just as the dance began, I find tears in my eyes as it ends. There are rare moments of perfection in life, for a Spaniard it is best summed up in a cante because a song is never without a dance and a dance is never without family and friends and family is never without a cante! Bravo, Viva!
Come back to Los Angeles soon, Angel!