Jose Manuel Carreno will move to San Jose, California

20 Jun

The spring signs have been confirmed with Allan Ulrich’s post in the San Francisco Chronicle  that Jose Manuel Carreno will join Ballet San Jose September 3 as its new artistic director, his contract specifying an initial three years.  Carreno also stated that he would not be dancing but would concentrate his energies  on the company.

When I refer to the spring signs Carreno was at the San Jose Performing Arts Center for Ballet San Jose’s final set of performances and was sighted in the lobby with his usual smile.  Rita Felciano and I wondered at the time if this was a signal regarding a new artistic director.  Surprise, surpise.

Ulrich also mentioned that Raymond Rodriguez has been promoted to associate artistic director.  This may mean that Karen Gabay will be named ballet mistress.

I was lucky enough to have been at Jackson to cover the U.S.A. International Ballet Competition when Carreno won the Prix de Jackson, 1990 if my memory is correct.  German Juror Dietmar Seyffert remarked to me at the time “He has such an erotic body”; that sunny sensuality has pervaded his entire career.  He was immediately offered a contract with the English National Ballet which at that time was directed by former American Ballet Principal Ivan Nagy. It was the first time Cuban dancers appeared at the Competition with such distinction and their beautiful training would continue to impress subsequent competitions and jurors.  Carreno’s partner joined The Cleveland Ballet, invited by artistic director Dennis Nahat who was responsible for the Competition’s practice of wielding the seeded dancers into an ensemble which opened the Awards Gala in a  grand splash.

Unless Ballet San Jose’s practices change, and another Gala ensues in the fall,  the repertoire for the 2013-2014 season will be announced only when the company starts its ticketing for their annual Nutcracker.  A summer effort is being made to resurrect Michel Fokine’s Paganini, and this may figure in the spring season.   Paganini was a work  created for the de Basil Ballets Russes which featured Dmitri Rostov in the title role and Tatiana Riabouchinska as the Divine Spirit, and in its final U.S. tour Tatiana Stepanova.  For the Festival del Sole, Tiit Helimets is slated to take over the violinist’s portrait and Amy Marie Briones as the Divine Spirit.

What is remarkable in this announcement is the consistent referencing of American Ballet Theatre personnel for an institution which was created by an earlier American Ballet Theatre alumni, Dennis Nahat.  Clearly, the tradition of dance theatre was firmly established by Nahat,, and one  which Carreno will likely  carry on.

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