Julio Bocca's Final Performance

December 22, 2007

Julio Bocca’s Final Performance

Buenos Aires, Argentina

December 22, 2007

Reviewed by Victoria Looseleaf

This city really knows how to throw a farewell bash. Under a full moon at the foot of the Obelisk monument—where Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world, and Avenida Corrientes, the Times Square of Argentina, come together—an estimated crowd of 300,000 people worshipped at the altar of Julio Bocca, as the superstar gave his final performance.  

    A free concert featuring titans from the worlds of tango, jazz, and pop, as well as other celebrated ballet figures, the event was Vegas-worthy in terms of spectacle and panache. As cell phones flickered like fireflies in the night, Bocca, still at the top of his game at 40 and donning more costumes than Cher throughout the 2-1/2 hour performance, pulled out all the stops.

    Beginning with the pas de trois from Le Corsaire, which also featured long-time colleagues Maximiliano Guerra and Eleonora Cassano, the firebrand leaped and turned with abandon. Whether dancing with The Royal Ballet’s Tamara Rojo in the pas de deux from Don Quixote, or partnering Nina Ananiashvili in the Black Swan duet, Bocca looked as fabulous as he did when he first burst onto the scene in 1985 after winning the Moscow International Ballet Competition.

    Dancing a sexy number with Cecilia Figaredo and accompanied by the great Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa, Bocca then ceded the stage to American Ballet Theatre’s Jose Manuel Carreño, who majestically paired with Figaredo in a pas de deux from Diana and Acteon. Paris Opera Ballet’s Manuel Legris nailed a fervent solo from L’Arlesienne, while his coupling with Cassano’s Manon emanated ample heat.

    Bocca blazed, too, with his own troupe, Ballet Argentino, dancing the more flashy, female role with partner Carlos Rivarola, while Ana Maria Stekelman’s company, Tangokinesis, joined forces with Ballet Argentino on her exhilarating Concerto for Bongo. As Argentine pop icon Diego Torres crooned “My Way,” Bocca gave breezy grace to Twyla Tharp’s choreography from Sinatra Suite before performing an extraordinary encore, a Stekelman-choreographed solo with an eight-foot high ladder.

    When the lights finally dimmed, fireworks lit up the sky, and Bocca returned—in his well-worn ABT bathrobe—for 25 minutes of wild cheering. The large group of dancers onstage showered him with kisses, flowers, and champagne. Then, lifting up the back of his robe, Bocca turned around, mooned the audience, and jauntily walked offstage. Now that was a fond farewell. Gracias, Julio.