As a dancer at American Ballet Theatre, Angel Corella was known for his gyroscopic turns and joyful leaps. So when he names a program Speed and Precision (Oct. 22–25), you can already feel the energy he transmits to his dancers. And the word is, he’s upped the speed, precision and technique of Pennsylvania Ballet in less than a year.
Corella directing PA Ballet dancers in a rehearsal of Wheeldon's DGV.
Speed and Precision is the first evidence of Corella’s own choice of programming: Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Wayne McGregor’s Chroma and Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse. As he said when I spoke to him last week, “It’s very classical, then very modern, and then in between—the balance that Chris can bring in.” No matter what the style, he always tells his dancers, “Take a risk.”
As Dance Magazine reported in the April issue, Corella immediately dove in to teaching and coaching. In doing so, he calls upon his years of experience as both a longtime ABT star and as director of Barcelona Ballet (originally Corella Ballet) from 2008 to 2013.
In Philly last week, I got to watch him coach a large group rehearsal of the fast-paced DGV. When the dancers ran a complicated, crowded section, he didn’t mince words. “OK, that was a disaster,” he said with a good-natured lilt. Clearly, he was confident that they would improve. With springy energy, he showed the guys how, when they are behind the woman, they have to keep the side-to-side movement very flat to stay out of their partners' way.
I also got a glimpse of Antoine Vereecken, rehearsal director for Wayne McGregor, working on a seemingly impossible duet from Chroma. He showed the dancers, as only he can, the easily rippling spine that reacts to the movement of the limbs for the crazy choreography of this 2006 masterwork.
Meanwhile, former New York City Ballet stars Kyra Nichols and Charles Askegard have come to PA Ballet as the new ballet masters—just another reason why the company is fielding hundreds of applications by young ballet hopefuls.
For tickets to see Speed and Precision, Oct. 22–25, click here.
PA Ballet dancers in Balanchine's Concerto Barocco. Photos by Alexander Iziliaev