Alberto Mendez makes ballet miniatures. Even so, he subdivides their brief time spans and focuses on a few dancers at a time. This was apparent on Sunday night when the Cuban Ballet performed three of his pieces, two for the first time during its current Kennedy Center season.
"Paso a Tres" was the most successful. Mendez takes off on the business of partnering in classical ballet, but with such careful attention to detail that even the distorted poses of his two ballerinas and their beleaguered cavalier make interesting designs. If memory serves, there have been a few changes in it since last year.
"La Peri," an exercise in the exotic romantic manner for two dancers of different capacity - virgorous Jorge Esquivel and fragile Alicia Alonso - is missing a coda. The choreographer skirted spoofing the extreme period style. "Rara Avis," had a smoother performance than an opening night. Its routine moments detract from much that is novel, such as when a balancing ballerina is supported at the waist by the heads of two men.
With a good new second cast for "Canto Vital" and a neater performance of "Prologue for a Tregedy," Sunday night's program was lively, but the repeat performances of "Swan Lake" on Saturday suffered from the "day after" syndrome. Musical tempi were erratic and there were many pauses, sometimes in mid-measure. Marta Garcia and Orlando Salgado, whom I saw only in the Black Swan at the matinee, were strong but stodgy. At night, Aurora Bosch and Jose Zamorano were warmer performers than their predecessors, but technically uneven. The company needs a young Alonso to fill the difficult ballerina role.
Alicia Alonso, director of the Cuban Ballet, will appear in an interview and demonstration with Walter Terry tonight at 7 in Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.