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BALLET SAN JOSÉ’S GALA

Was a Showcase to Future Attractions

By Iride Aparicio

Photos by: ROBERT SHOMLER

MAYKEL SOLAS and JUNNA IGE in DON QUIXOTE Pas de Deux
MAYKEL SOLAS and JUNNA IGE in DON QUIXOTE Pas de Deu

SAN JOSÉ, CA—After months of internal turmoil during which BALLET SAN JOSÉ lost its Artistic Director, several dancers and a part of its autonomy when it associated with The American Ballet Theater (in New York City) it resurged victorious last Saturday at a Gala Performance that displayed its dancers performing selected numbers from the ballets of its upcoming season, at the S. J. Center for the Performing Arts. The purpose of the event was to raise funds for the Live Music Fund and to bring dance and music to local elementary and Junior High Schools.

All the ballets at the Inaugural Gala performance were danced with the orchestral accompaniment of Symphony Silicon Valley directed by GEORGE DAUGHERTY, B.S.J. Music Director & Conductor. Also presented at the Gala were acclaimed guests musical artists. 

In technique and  performance, most of the ballets selected by Artistic Adviser WES CHAPMAN and Principal Ballet Master RAYMOND RODRIGUEZ, were perfect, yet some had mistakes. The opening number, THE NUTCRACKER – Waltz of the Flowers, choreographed by KAREN GABAY, danced by 16 dancers, eight women and eight men, the choreography was good, but the ensemble lacked synchronization. If this dance is going to be included in Ballet San Jose's world premiere of  THE NUT CRACKER (December 8-23) this dance needs more rehearsal.

The following number, however, a Pas de deux  from MÉDITATION FROM THAIS, choreographed by Sir FREDERICK ASHTON (1904-1988) Staged by BRUCE SANSOR and danced by ALEXSANDRA MEIJER and RUDY CANDIA, in spite that conductor DAUGHERTY could have used more feeling in directing the JULES MASSENET (1842-l912) sensual music, was interpreted with such grace, and fluidity by MEIJER and CANDIA that the dancers gave the impression to be floating on air. As violinist, RACHEL LEE, played her solo in tune and with a lot of feeling.  

The show stopper on that night, however, was another pas de deux,  the Grand Pas de Deux  of Act III of  the ballet DON QUIXOTE the ballet in four acts with music by LUDWIG MINKUS (1826-l917). The dance was  interpreted on that night by JUNNA IGE and MAYKEL SOLAS.
Saturday’s night version was Staged by WES CHAPMAN, after the choreography of  famous choreographer MARIUS PETIPA (l8l8-l910)

The reason why this ballet was considered by many the best number at the GALA, was because in every aspect of the dance, IGE and SOLAS were magnificent. Aside from IGE’s  spins and graceful steps in Pointe around the stage, contrasting with the energetic high jumps and fast spins of SOLAS, what made this dance unforgettable to the audience were the variety of shapes both dancers formed using their bodies (Called “FISH”). When during the dance their bodies met, and IGE was either lifted in MAYKEL’s arms or  simply wrapped around his body, they created the perfect aesthetic lines of  a piece of art. But this piece of art was not motionless, it was fluid, ethereal, even  poetic in the shape of their arms, their hands, even in the position of each one of their fingers.

Since the complete Don Quixote ballet interpreted by the same dancer is going to be presented next year by Ballet San José, we have something in the future to look forward to.

Another exceptional ballet that night  was LACRIMOSA or LACRYMOSE written by WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (l756-l791) from his Requiem Mass. It was choreographed by EDWARD STIERLE and danced by JOSHUA SEIBEL

JOSHUA SEIBEL in LACRYOSA
JOSHUA SEIBEL in LACRYOSA

The solo dance with SEIBEL  wearing flesh colored tight shorts, in the darkness of the stage gave the audience the impression the dancer was naked. The  slow movements of the dance made it erotic, it also allowed to dancer to display his marvelous physique as he rolls on the floor or bends his body in a free dancing style more closer modern dance than classical. This dance was accompanied by the powerful voices of  THE GOLDEN GATE BOYS CHOIR MASTER SINGERSthat contrasting with the dancer, were dressed like acolytes standing at his left and at his right.

The two ensembles CELEBRATION POLONAISE, composed by PETER ILYCH TCHAIKOVSKY (l840-l893), the Polonaise from the The Sleeping Beauty Ballet,was danced by the students of Ballet San Jose School. The dance was choreographed by Dalia Rawson. Because of the number of students on the stage to keep it synchronized was a difficult, but it was perfectly synchronized and rhythmic to the delight of the parents.

The next assemble, STARS AND STRIPES – The Fifth Campaign, with march music by composer John Philip Sousa (l854-l932) was visual and had marvelous solos danced by MARIA JACOBS-YU, RAMON MORENO, KAREN GABAY, JING ZHANG and RUDY CANDIA. The work was danced in in punte executed at march rhythm.  The best solos were the ones of  JACOBS-YU and GABAY spinning rapidly as they moved around the stage and MORENO and CANDIA  jumping high stretching their legs in the air.  The best moment for the audience, however,  was the end of the dance with an enormous American flag stretched on the back of the stage  At the sight, the audience cheer and started applauding.

STARS AND STRIPES ENSEMBLE
STARS AND STRIPES ENSEMBLE

The GALA included an aria by soprano KRISTIN CLAYTON singing Chi Il Bel Sogno di Dorettafrom the opera La Rondine de Giacomo Puccini. Her rendition allowed us to hear her beautiful sweet tone in the middle of the song, after beeing overpowered by the orchestra at the beginning.

The largest ensemble and the longer dance was THE BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO No 1, composed by MAX BRUCH (l838-l920) that was choreographed by Clark Tippet (l954-l992). The work is designed for four pas de deux  interpreted in four different styles by four different couples and a group of sixteen dancers dancing in the background. That night the couples of dancers JUNNA IGE and MAYKEL SOLAS, AMY MARIE BRIONES and MAXIMO CALIFORNO, ALEXSANDRA MEIJER and JEREMY KOVITCH  and MIRAI NODA and RAMON MORENO, gave the audience four different superb styles of dancing

As conductor, GEORGE DAUGHERTY needed more feeling, but the orchestra played in tune, the dancing was superb and everybody enjoyed the GALA. It gave the audience pieces of jewelry from Ballet San Jose's treasure trunk of coming attractions.