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Julio Bocca with Ballet Argentino.

Internationally acclaimed Julio Bocca, a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, has attained the stature of a national hero among his countrymen for his leadership of Ballet Argentino, an ensemble of fourteen youthful dancers from Buenos Aires who appeared for the first time in New York City in November. Founded in 1990 and partly underwritten by Bocca, the troupe has some very attractive dancers and an uneven repertoire. But with Bocca at center stage, spectators get the full measure of his technical brilliance and the young performers receive invaluable professional exposure. Lidia Segni, a former principal dancer with the Teatro Colon, directs the company with Bocca.

The opening Pulsaciones by Vittorio Biagi has more kinship to ballet aerobics than classicism, with steps laid out to a throbbing beat and little flow between sections. The music, slick costumes, and lighting are also by Biagi, who created the piece in 1970 for Ballet du Lyon, under his direction at the time, Rather like a floor-show version of classroom steps (what Harald Lander's Etudes might look like as produced by a casino), the choreography allows the dancers to disguise shortcomings in nuance and detail with robust bursts of energy and verve.

Excerpts from Marius Petipa's Don Quixote, danced to Leon Minkus's Don Quixote suite as recorded by the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra, were more interesting, Bocca has built much of his well-deserved fame on appearances as Basil, the ballet's hero. To see him execute highlights from this role is worth an evening in the theater. His ardent tours en l'air and the overhead, single-arm lifts of ballerina Stefania Vallone were, as always, gallantly dazzling. Vallone, like the rest of the cast, has been well schooled, but lacks the depth of experience, technique, and musical phrasing to galvanize an audience with this international chestnut.

The entire ensemble, however, excelled in Oscar Araiz's Tango, presented with Atilio Stampone's arrangement of traditional tangos played onstage by Argentinean musicians. Araiz made the original version of this piece in 1975 to celebrate the quadricentennial anniversary of Buenos Aires, and he restaged the work expecially for Ballet Argentino.

Not surprisingly, Bocca was riveting in a life-threatening encounter that visualizes the metaphors of sex and death inherent in the tango form. For the first time all evening, the women, especially Erika Cornejo, dared to take the kind of risks that make memorable performances. And the men - Dario Franconi, Hernan Piquin, Matias De Santis, Christian Alessandria, Herman Cornejo, and Manuel Martinez - matched Bocca's fire in an impassioned tribute to manhood in the Argentine.
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Title Annotation:City Center, New York, NY
Author:Hardy, Camille
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Feb 1, 1996
Previous Article:Toronto Dance Theatre.
Next Article:North Carolina Dance Theatre.

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