Alicia Alonso's production of the venerable comedy "La Fille Mal Gardee" for the Ballet Nacional de Cuba places its emphasis on light-hearted dancing and heavy-footed humor. Mirta Pla and Orland Salgado played the two young lovers whose romance is almost ruined by an ambitious mother in a sparkling performance at the Kennedy Center Sunday night.
A tall dancer, Pla makes a willful Lisette, in turn smiling and pouting, depending on whether her mother is spoiling her plans or willingly abetting them. She dances with a refreshing lightness, her balances and turns secure. Salgado is a good-natured Colin, who dances his difficult solos with ease, remarkable elevation and precision. Gabrel Sanchez nearly stole the show with the high-jumping, grinning, vacant-eyed Alain, the unwelcome suitor with a thing for butterflies.
Saturday night's program featured two local premieres, Ivan Tenorio's "Leda and the Swam" doesn't attempt to tell the myth of Zeus's seduction of Leda by assuming the guise of a swan. Rather Tenorio presents Loipe Araujo and Jose Zamorana barefoot and wearing white unitards, in a pas de deux which, but for its title, would be in the abstract category.
It is clear that he is a swan by his arm movements and that they are in love by the way they're locked together like Tinker Toys, but no other questions the choreography is mute. What makes the ballet worth watching is the smooth and secure performance of the dancers.
The other new work on the program, "Song for a Strange Flower" choreographed by Alberto Mendez to a prelude and etude of Scriabin, is more successful.Dance with delicacy and assurance by Alicia Alonso and Jorge Esquivel, this yearning duet about a love just out of reach is a minor work, but a beautiful one.
Esquivel has little to do but partner, and that he does marvelously -- strong, gracious and self-effecting. Although Alonso's solo is a brief one, she exhibits a tremendous range of emotion, from a wistful lyricism to passion, all conveyed by varying the tempo and tension of her dancing.