USAIBC Round III, Session II June 25, 2014

15 Aug

What lingers in my memory from Session II, Round III, were pas de deux from both junior and senior ranks, the first being the junior couple from Brazil, Yasmin Lomondo and Gustavo Carvalho in the Nutcracker pas de deux. Garnered from the website of the company where they are members, their performing record is substantial; it clearly shows. Beyond this practice, however, their demeanor was something of a revelation;courtesy was present, courtliness by Carvalho was consistent, and Lomondo was not only demeure, she was secure enough emotionally and technically to relate visibly with Carvalho. Theirs was a dancing dialogue, making me sigh with pleasure, even remembering two months after the start of that two-week marathon.

Yue Shi and Paulina Guraieb Abella chose the Nutcracker variations also, the run of three such proving informative, Shi the male variation, with reticence but essentially elegant, Abella the female solo, quite confident with nuance missing.

Mackenzie Richter elected the third act variation from Sleeping Beauty. Secure, precise and nicely phrased, I did not get the feeling she was celebrating Aurora’s marriage. Jumping ahead to her second variation, the variation from Grand Pas Classique, she looked just fine in that sang froid display of technique, if her fragile frame emphasized the difficulties.

After Ga-yeon Jung and Ji-Sook Ha danced the Le Corsaire pas de deux, Medora and the Slave, both Mengjun Chen and Ivan Duarte danced the male variation from Raymonda, Chen emphasizing the correctness and precision while Duarte amped up the elegance and panache.

For their second variations Yue Shi and Mackenzie Richter chose their respective variations from Grand Pas Classique with Paulina Guraieb Abella in between dancing Diana’s variation from the Diana and Acteon pas de deux from Esmeralda. Abella’s confidence did not include those small, telling touches I remember Tatiana Legat instilling in Sarah Lamb’s beautiful rendition in 2006.

The second of the senior couples competing included Aaron Smyth, representing Australia with non-competing partner Cara Marie Gary, both dancing with the Joffrey Ballet. It was Grand Pas Classique again with Gary solid footed; Smyth, the finalist, partnered well, but for all white satin with gold trim and double tours, looking like other roles suiting him better.

The fourth finalist to elect Grand Pas Classique, Mengjun Chen, provided a correct rendition, followed by Ivan Duarte in minimal clothing as Acteon in that Esmeralda pas de deux Diana and Acteon, and giving it his all.

Closing the second part of Session II saw the two Cincinnati Ballet dancers, Sirui Liu and Rodrigo Almarales in the Diana and Acteon pas de deux, with Almarales looking like the fleetest hunter that ever stalked for deer. Liu was a lithe, attractive Diana if sketchy where a few details would have enhanced her interpretation. Almarales, an example of power in pause, or stillness, executed a daring horizontal stretch in the finale, adding to his exciting presence; the audience just roared.

Coming to the Contemporary section, most finalists danced a further demonstration of their own special capacities, the musical choices ranging from classical music to lesser known pop tunes, doubtless favorites in other countries, the choreography created by someone else. Paulina Guraieb Abella’s solo created by Alberto Mendez, and titled Soledad, used a score by Ernesto Lecuona, an effective preening, hair-tossing, arm-stretching set of postures, the mood increasingly stormy.

Yue Shi’s Clown of a Backstage, choreography by Aimin Cui, and Ivan Duarte’s Field Boy, created by Marissa Marttin to Mikis Theodorakis’ Sirtaki Zorba’s Dance, displayed comic/frantic qualities, each dancer thoroughly absorbed.

Choreographically, the two most interesting pieces of the evening were danced by the finalists from the Cincinnati and Joffrey companies, interpreting pieces by skilled choreographers familiar to me. Nicolas Blanc fashioned Rendez-vous for Aaron Smyth and Cara Marie Gary to Rene Aubry’s Apres La Pluie, and Sirui Liu and Rodrigo Almarales to Val Caniporali’s Caprice, a take on one of Nicolas Paganini’s compositions to the same name. Blanc’s pas de deux was a swaying, torso-moving exposition of encounter, flirting, ultimately connecting, while Caniparoli’s was more chic, in dress and approach, tongue in cheek. Elizabeth Tienkin Sullivan, a one time dancer with San Francisco Ballet when Michael Smuin was co-director, remarked to me, “It was just like Val.” With both these choreographers having affiliation with San Francisco, it felt like a fitting close to the evening.

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