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BALLET DE LA COMUNIDAD DE MADRID VICTOR ULLATE.

BALLET DE LA COMUNIDAD DE MADRID VICTOR ULLATE

CITY CENTER OCTOBER 13-18, 1998

REVIEWED BY GUS SOLOMONS JR

On its triumphant return to City Center, Madrid's Ballet Ullate brought its evening-length Don Quixote [see Reviews/International, January 1998, page 116] plus a mixed bill of works by director Victor Ullate and Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. Ullate's choreographic vocabulary is classical flavored with Spanish folk and flamenco styles. Occasionally, a surprising asymmetrical phrase or odd enchainement reveals the influence of Maurice Bejart, in whose company Ullate danced for a decade.

While his movement choices are unremarkable, Ullate's choreography provides a splendid showcase for the extraordinary technical talents of his meticulously trained dancers. They spin like tops; their beats are pristine; and the extensions of both men and women routinely strike six o'clock high. The young dancers are committed and daring, and perform with an expansiveness and generosity that's immediately winning.

The mixed program opened with Ullate's Ven Que Te Tiente ("Come To Be Tempted"), a suite of emotion-soaked folk songs sung by Carmen Linares that depicts predictable emotions and male-female relationships, and closed with his Jaleos. In between, van Manen's 1991 In & Out, to music by Nina Hagen and Laurie Anderson, sets six couples at play in and around three closet-sized compartments in two-couple canons. Its cuteness doesn't age well.

But it's easy to see why Jaleos was a showstopper in its 1996 City Center premiere. It's an unmitigated celebration of the technical prowess and vibrant personalities of the dancers, who train under the discerning eyes of Ullate and Cuban master teacher Menia Martinez. Carlos Lopez is small and athletic, with a noble, gracious manner and breathtaking turns. Eduardo Lao, the associate director, has tighter hamstrings than most of the men, but his presence is strong and his dancing sure, and he also designed the ballet's attractive costumes and set--a shimmering black backdrop and side curtains. Ana Noya is tall, aristocratic, and softly lyric, and Rut Miro, smaller, more sturdily built, is warmly expressive. In the company hierarchy, these four, termed "premiere dancers," affirm their ranking.

Principal soloists include Victor Jimenez, in whose torso every muscle is etched. As the King of the Gypsies in Don Q, he swaggers like an Ailey dancer of eighties vintage--just oozing animal sensuality. Marta Rodriguez-Coca is a tall, dark, angular Wood Nymphs Queen in the Dream section of Act II, and Carlos Pinillos, with narrow hips and supple, compact muscles, has miraculous ballon as Cupid. Feisty Barbara Garcia dances on sheer willpower, it seems, but her skill is indisputable, and her series of double fouette turns that climax Jaleos is bravura ultissima.

Among the soloists, Laura Pereda radiates youthful freshness. Antonio Ruz, one of the taller dancers in this small-statured troupe, has spectacular arches. In a duet with Miro in Ven Que Te Tiente, his powerful, fluid dancing shines. And hypermobile Jose Carlos Blanco ripples his torso and lets his legs fly with a vengeance. His jeweled navel and devilish panache make him one to watch out for as he climbs the ranks.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:SOLOMONS, GUS JR
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jan 1, 1999
Words:509
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