16-07-01, 04:29 PM (GMT)|
"Dance marathons at the Spoleto festival 2001"|
The dance marathons at the Spoleto Festival 2001 had been titled "Diamond shoes" and the list of dancers invited for the galas was shining indeed, even if some of them were not the ones the audience expected since the presentation to the press. The 14 dancers came from USA, Canada, Japan, Denmark, Italy, Austria and Russia. Alberto Testa, who conceived the shows, wanted a celebration of love through the pas de deux but this theme was partially lost when a couple of interpreters chose to dance solos.|
There were two different programs. The first one began at 8 p.m. with the sun still painting the front of the Duomo with a golden light. The voice of Stefano Napoli read a poem by Baudelaire and then Laura Contardi and Rex Harrington danced "Nuages" by Kylian. The dark mood of the piece was somewhat lost in the daylight but the dancers were magnificent. I thought that the beauty of the place (the stage had the Duomo as backcloth) with the old buildings and the blue sky were perfectly matched by the beauty of the performance.
Then came the disappointment. The galas make sense with the right amount of style, feeling between the partners, virtuosity. The second pdd was taken from "Raymonda" and maybe it was wrong picking numbers out of context, especially when they came partly from Act 1 while the variation for the ballerina was from Act 3. At the entrance on stage of Galina Stepanenko and Nikolai Tsiskaridze the audience was brought back to the Soviet era, with old fashioned makeup and a ridiculous costume for Jean de Brienne. At the very first lifting they couldn't accomplish it and she was nearly falling. From there on the atmosphere was tense, the dancing uneven and everyone was relieved when the suffering was over at last.
Again a poem by Baudelaire introduced the following pdd from Act 2 of "Swan lake". Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Belotserkovsky danced it with a remarkable pureness of style and didn't perform the lifts we are used to see.
A poem by Anne Sexton introduced "In the middle somewhat elevated" by Forsythe. This was a most welcome surprise in the gala as Marta Romagna joined Roberto Bolle. I didn't know that she wasn't touring USA with La Scala Ballet. The two studied together at La Scala Ballet school and in the past were praised for their performances of Mac Millan's "R&J" and choreographies by Balanchine. She is tall with very long limbs and the pdd was a pleasure for its perfect rendering. I know that RB will perform this ballet next season and I wonder if Bolle is scheduled to dance it: if yes, don't miss him.
Gregor Alexander Hatala danced the solo "Les bourgeois" by Ben van Cauwenberg which is always a favourite for the audience but was misplaced here.
"Le corsaire" brought on stage the usual amount of virtuosity thanks to the jumps and turns of Tetsuya Kumakawa. But for me it was another disappointment. His partner was Yukako Sakakibara, the only dancer who doesn't appear on any picture on the booklet. She never went fully on pointe, a technical weakness one doesn't see even at school performances. After the achievements of Kumakawa in Japan with his K Ballet I expected more maturity and artistry. No wonder there was no magic at all.
Laura Contardi danced the solo "Tentazioni" choreographed by Diego Ciavatti and was soon forgotten.
In the meanwhile the sky had darkened and the spotlight shone on the carved stones of the Duomo. The first program was closed by Gudrun Bojesen and Thomas Lund in Balanchine's "Tarantella" and we were back to paradise.
The second program started at 11 p.m. and there were no poems. It opened with a great performance of "Flower festival in Genzano" by Gudrun Bojesen and Thomas Lund, summing up the qualities of such an evening: virtuosity, style, partnering.
The following ballet was "Ciaikovsky pas de deux" by Balanchine. Greta Hodginkson danced for the first time with Roberto Bolle and I was particularly sceptical about his performance. The previous time I had seen him dancing this role I found him quite dull, perhaps because that gala in Florence was one of the lowest points in MaggioDanza history. On the contrary the evening in Spoleto was so sparkling that Bolle found the right atmosphere and made precious every step. In the coda, while other dancers make tour à la seconde, sometimes doubling them every now and then, he inserted incredible triple fouettés which drove mad the audience. It seems that the partnership also worked well and they will probably dance again together in the future.
Yukako Sakakibara and Tetsuya Kumakawa danced again "Le corsaire" and it was a photocopy of the previous performance.
Then came a pdd from "The kingdom of the shades" of "La bayadère". Galina Stepanenko and Nikolai Tsiskaridze were now gorgeous, erasing the unlucky episode in the previous marathon. I would write they were perfect if only they didn't cross so much the passé on the supporting leg, which is a small technical feature but something so old fashioned nowadays.
Greta Hodginkson and Rex Harrington received the warmest tribute from the audience for their "Summer pdd" from "The four season" by Kudelka. Again virtuosity, style, partnering at the highest level.
The evening ended with the pdd from Act 3 of "Swan lake" danced by Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Belotserkovsky. They didn't push the virtuosity to the limit, keeping a low profile through their solos. In the coda she made only two double fouettés, one in the middle and one at the end of the 28 she managed. Another lesson of pureness in style. Great success of this starry night where the stage matched the sky.
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