This is your new host, Anne Polajenko, signing in.
It's been a pretty wild Summer and Fall here at So'Danca - much to do, much to tell. So, let me start with one of my fondest memories of the summer.
Carreño Dance Festival 2013:
The city of Sarasota, Florida boasts at least three theaters: the large capacity Van Wenzel, the historic Asolo (located on the grounds of the Ringling Estate and Museum) and the Sarasota Opera House. The latter is a lovely but aging small theater equipped with rehearsal rooms and a stage large enough to accommodate a ballet company. It serves as home to the Carreño Summer Intensive and gala performances.
Now in its second year, the Carreño Summer Intensive doubled the previous year’s enrollment, casting doubt on how long they will able to continue operating in what was clearly a confining space. Already, classes had to be divided between the theater facility and the new Cuban Ballet Academy nearby. The upside however is that the enrollment doubled, and for good reason. The faculty is the main attraction.
Anne Polaenko with Loipa Araujo, on right
Headed by ballet star José Manuel Carreño and former Sarasota Ballet director Robert de Warren, the faculty included Cuban master teachers Loipa Araujo, Magaly Suarez and Eduardo Veitia (for Flamenco dance). They were joined by Rimat Imaev and Gennadi Saveliev of American Ballet Theatre, as well as Carlos dos Santos from Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. Yuri Fateev, director of the Mariinsky Ballet, put in a brief but memorable appearance. Prima Ballerina Julie Kent provided the icing on this stellar cake.
The three-week program culminated in the Festival of the Stars, two performances showcasing the talents of the young hopefuls of tomorrow alongside such dance luminaries as Ms. Kent, Mr. Carreño, Mr. Saveliev and the incomparable Rubinald Pronk.
A question arose over the wisdom of placing too much emphasis on the concluding show. Whether one approves or not of a summer intensive focused mainly on the performance, it has undeniable benefits. Witness Ms. Araujo’s re-staging of “Giselle”, Act II. With all due respect to the superb Principals, the real stars of the ballet were the corps de ballet girls. Act II is hazardous at best. Style, ensemble work, port de bras, precision of movement and interpretation all come into play. Where professional companies are known to falter, this rendition was accomplished in a few short weeks on very young dancers with diverse training and levels of technique. Honestly, I don’t know who deserves the loudest applause, the young dancers or Ms. Araujo. Her ability to communicate the nuances of the ballet to a group of diverse teenagers was matched only by the same teenagers ability to absorb the material. The young ladies have learned invaluable artistic lessons from the very best and are clearly the better for it. Not to mention they shared the stage with Ms. Kent and Mr. Carreño, an inspiration in itself. This was arguably the event of their young lives and will clearly impact their development as dancers.
Other ballets on the bill included works staged by Magaly Suarez, Eduardo Veitia and Carlos dos Santos. Dancers were able to explore beyond the classical style into Flamenco and Contemporary dance. Clearly they enjoyed it, putting bounding energy and enthusiasm into their performances. Hopefully they had the time between costume changes to admire the work of Rubinald Pronk, a solo performer who brings modern dance to new heights.