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Corella Ballet, Castilla Y León, Has a US Debut at City Center

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Corella Ballet
Castilla y León
(Corella Ballet Website)

Artistic Director: Angel Corella

US Debut Performance
City Center
(City Center Website)

Principal Dancers:
Adiarys Almeida, Carmen Corella, Natalia Tapia,
Angel Corella, Herman Cornejo, Joseph Gatti

First Soloist:
Kazuko Omori

Cristina Casa, Ashley Ellis, María José Sales,
Fernando Bufalá, Kirill Radev, Yevgen Uzlenkov

And the Corps de Ballet

Press: Helene Davis:

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 17, 2010


String Sextet (2009): Choreography by Angel Corella, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (“souvenir of Florence”, 1892), Performed by the Company.

Walpurgisnacht (1956): Choreography by Leonid Lavrosky, Music by Charles Francoise Gounod (“Faust”), Performed by Kazuko Omori, Joseph Gatti, Yevgen Uzlenkov.

Sunny Duet (1973): Choreography by Vladimir Vasiliov & Natalia Kasatkina, Music by Arno Babajanian, Performed by Adiarys Almeida & Herman Cornejo.

Soleá Pas de Deux (2010): Choreography by María Pages, Music by Rubén Lebaniegos, Performed by Carmen Corella and Angel Corella.

DGV: Danse À Grand Vitesse (2006): Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Music by Michael Nyman, Performed by the Company.

A star was born tonight, and it was not a dancer but a dance company: Corella Ballet, Castilla y León, Spain’s only classical ballet company. Corella Ballet is directed by Angel Corella, reviewed often in this magazine at American Ballet Theatre, where he’s been a Principal dancer since 1996. The Angel Corella Foundation in Spain, formed in 2001, whose mission is to promote classical dance in Spain, with a dance school and a residence, funds the company. There was much anticipation prior to tonight’s US debut of Corella Ballet, and New York was the right choice for such a three day event. Before the curtain rose, the air was thick with animated conversation and intense focus.

The first work, choreographed by Mr. Corella, a surprise in itself, as he’s not been known for dance design, was String Sextet, with a Tchaikovsky string score, “Souvenir of Florence”. Most of the Company was introduced during this four movement piece, and I noted in my program, “fresh faces, fresh style, fresh costumes, fresh ideas”. Everything seemed new at once, and even with the taped music there was dynamism, exuberance, and impeccable timing and technique. Fouettés were danced with the knee left open, another fresh innovation, and an ambiance of spring passion seemed to herald the imminent season. The costumes were quintessentially classical white tutus and male princely refinement, and some of the structured figures were evocative of Balanchine, Petipa, and MacMillan, with geometrical balance and rhythmic choreography on the beat. But the impassioned leaps into arms, scissors shaped legs, aerobic jumps, and joyful partnering made this a work that left its mark.

In the first movement, an “introduction to Florence”, Kazuko Omori and Yevgen Uzlenkov, plus Ashley Ellis and Luca Giaccio, were astounding in their virtuosity, and all the while I kept thinking that we’d never seen these dancers before. Again, everything was fresh and somewhat different. In the second movement, “peaceful and quiet”, María José Sales and Sergey D’yachkov were featured, as Ms. Sales was spun about by seven male dancers. The third movement, a “burst of energy”, was danced by Joseph Gatti, who was reviewed when he won the Gold at the 2005 New York International Ballet Competition, and he still dazzles and causes even more of a sensation, as he has expanded on his artistry. The final fourth movement, bringing together the “Florentine splendor”, was led by four dancers from the Soloists and Corps, and the entire Corps, eleven females and ten males, called “Girls” and “Boys” in the program, was sparkling and vivacious.

Walpurgisnacht, choreographed by Leonid Lavrosky in 1956, is based on Walpurgis Night, an early spring, European holiday. The Gounod score is delightful, and the trio of dancers, Ms. Omori, Mr. Gatti, and Mr. Radev, was fascinating. In my notes I wrote, “I hope large companies don’t steal his stars”. These dancers are truly precious, nurtured and trained by Mr. Corella and his sister Carmen, a former ABT Soloist, who also manages the company in Spain. This was a high hormone, high energy, high jumping performance, with two men seemingly competing for the primal Ms. Omori. It reminded me at times of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Diana and Acteon, Le Corsaire, and Sylvia. Mr. Gatti leaped about as if gravity no longer existed, and Mr. Radev grabbed the imagination and flew with it. This ballet should be seen more often, hopefully with Mr. Corella’s company again soon.

Sunny Duet was a slight disappointment after the previous enthralling work, with its faint original Babajanian recording, barely audible in the orchestra seating. And, to add to my distress, Herman Cornejo, the outstanding Principal dancer from ABT, was partnering Adiarys Almeida. Mr. Cornejo executed dashing one-arm partner lifts and leaps that leave you breathless. Unfortunately the original score was no longer available, but another work would have better suited this duo. Music needs to be heard.

Soleá, danced by Carmen Corella and Angel Corella, to Maria Pagés’ exciting flamenco-infused choreography, was commissioned just for this brother-sister partnership. To see Ms. Corella en pointe, stamping her toes to flamenco rhythms, followed by Mr. Corella, spinning wildly to the same echoing rhythms, was a moment to be treasured. While Ms. Corella stamped en pointe, Mr. Corella was the palmera, clapping his hands to the beat, a virtual synthesis of Spanish culture and classical ballet, the exact mission of the Corella Foundation. Spain is so lucky to have this Company in residence.

DGV: Danse À Grand Vitesse was choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to Michael Nyman’s “MGV: Musique à Grande Vitesse”, music commissioned on the opening of a high speed train line in France. Wheeldon premiered this piece at the Royal Ballet of London, and tonight was the Corella Ballet Premiere of the work. It was infused with much propeller-like frenzy of arms and rapid motion. Jean-Marc Puissant’s black steel set rolls in like a train at rear stage, and the center stage seemed like the station. The audience reaction to this piece was measured, to say the least, especially after the splendid, refined, and dancer-showcased works seen tonight. This final work was choreographer-showcased, and Mr. Wheeldon jumped onto the stage for curtain bows, somewhat upstaging the company’s debut applause.

Tonight was all about Angel Corella, and the final piece should have been choreographed or danced by him, or at least highlighted by his dancers. DGV… kept the dancers in dim rear lighting, and the piece had a gestalt quality that was all about its great design, not about these newly discovered dancers in Mr. Corella’s newly discovered company. The newness, the freshness, the surprise of tonight ended after Soleá, which would have been the ideal closer. Kudos to Angel Corella, Carmen Corella, the Corella Foundation, and the Corella Ballet, Castilla y León.

Adiarys Almeida & Herman Cornejo
in Vasiliov and Kasatkina's "Sunny Duet"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Angel Corella & Carmen Corella
in Pages' "SOLEA"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Corella Ballet Corps de Ballet
in Wheeldon's "DGV"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at