Corella Ballet—Castilla y León

March 17, 2010

Corella Ballet—Castilla y León
New York City Center, NYC

March 17–20, 2010

Reviewed by Susan Yung


Corella Ballet in Wheeldon’s
DGV. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, Courtesy City Center.


Launching a top-notch national ballet company is difficult at any time; to do it in the current economic climate might seem Sisyphean. And yet judging from Corella Ballet’s U.S. debut, Ángel Corella has managed to do just that. New York balletomanes are fond of Corella, a principal with ABT, for his sheer love of dancing, his bravura leaps and turns, and his princely gallantry. Now, as artistic director of this new Spain-based company, he has shown he clearly has other skills.

Corella chose the repertory wisely for his troupe’s opening-night program. He also contributed a work of his own—String Sextet, to Tchaikovsky. It stands to reason that this dynamo, who looks irrepressibly happy when moving at top speed, would incorporate athletic prowess into his choreography, although at times the dancers look slightly under-rehearsed. Not so with Joseph Gatti, a dancer in Corella’s virtuosic mold, who has springs in his legs and spins like a top, his precise physical control matching his musicality. Corella hews to the ballet canon closely, although certain moves—fouettés with the free leg held in front attitude—are welcome novelties. White and black high-necked tutus added a dash of elegance.

Three short ballets made up the middle act. Walpurgisnacht, choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky, featured Gatti with Kazuko Omori and Kirill Radev. Suspended leaps and one-armed lifts displayed the men’s skills, and the perpetually cheerful Omori paid consummate attention to the placement of her hands and feet. In the Black Swan pas de deux, Adiarys Almeida was rock-solid; her developpés displayed remarkable attenuation, and she tossed triple and quadruple turns into her fouettés. Herman Cornejo’s ease belied the power of his technique—a reason why he’s one of ABT’s favorite principals. Corella partnered with his sister Carmen in Soleá, stylized flamenco by María Pagés. The siblings made a striking dual image, and each performed with sizzle and ferocity in this hybrid drama.

Christopher Wheeldon choreographed the 2006 DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse for The Royal Ballet to Michael Nyman’s score, on the occasion of the inauguration of the high-speed train in France. Plentiful imagery evoked that experience—side-to-side rocking, advancing lines, mechanical movements. Frozen lifts hinted at the suspension of time and movement at high speeds. Jean-Marc Puissant’s set—curved steel waves uncoiling from the upstage marley, and a stripped back wall—contributed a sense of unstoppable power and an industrial feel. Four couples performed unique duets, each ending with a signature lift, interspersed with corps sections. Wheeldon’s ingenuity in these background phrases—simple partnered ports de bras clicking through geometric configurations, or dancers plunging between others like push rods—underscored the ballet’s themes and ended a program that showed off this fledgling company well.