Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Two more new works, in a season that is giving Washington a taste for Cuban choreography, were danced Wednesday night at the Kennedy Center Opera House. They were the final premieres of Ballet Nacional de Cuba's run, which continues through Sunday.
From the sampling brought here, and it is only a sampling, Cuban ballets seem to be made of equal portions of realism and stylization. Both new pieces, like several of their predecessors, use explicit action and mime for the principal roles but, instead of secondary characters or naturalistic crowds, a formal chorus.
Ivan Tenorio's "House of Bernarda Alba" depicts the sexual deprivation imposed on five sisters by their mother and by the traditional Spannish society of which she is a part. The strong, often unconnected gestures and steps have little of the subtlety of the Lorca play on which the ballet is based, but there is some of the power. Missing is that shot of Spannish folk dance that makes the best of the Cuban ballets so vital.
As usual in this company, the cast was utterly rehearsed and boasted some potent performances. Josefina Mendez was a mother made of white-hot iron. Rosario Suarez had the difficult role of the engaged eldest, accepting daughter. Miriam Gonzalez, as the most jealous daughter, was a fury. Only the one man was miscast; Lazaro Carreno looked too juvenile as the eldest's fiance.
Alberto Alonso's "Carmen" is a fun piece that becomes a blockbuster when performed by ballerinas like Russia's Maya Plisetskaya, for whom it was created, or Alicia Alonso who danced it here. As in Bizet's music (adapted by Rodion Schedrin), folk rhythms are never far below the surface of Alberto Alonso's choreography.
Alicia Alonso's Carmen, in red lace with rhinestones circling her left ankle (over a bandage?), was a shimmering vision of shoulders and hips in her first, and best, solo. She plays Carmen lightly, as an irrepressible flirt, whereas Plisetskayawas sexually driven.
Caught in the symbolic arena between death and her desire for three men - with the tall Jorge Esquivel, in splendid white as the bullfighter, being her first choice - this Carmen is a character really created out of motion.
A repeat of the "Grand Pas de Quatre," with Lopia Araujo doing her best dancing of the season in the Taglioni role, was an appropriate Victorian delicacy between the two Spanish dramas.