No one knows the original steps any longer, and the music has changed at least twice, but "La Fille Mal Gardee" may validly be one of the oldest ballets in the repertory. The distinctive character of the dancing seems to have survived.Its qualities - intricate footwork, vibrant bounce and a modest yet open manner - can be recognized at the Kennedy Center in the recreation by Alicia Alonso that Ballet Nacional de Cuba presented here for the first time last night.
Alonso concentrated the action into three brief scenes, but the comic tale of a widow's badly guarded daughter came across clearly. It was delivered in broad strokes that sacrificed the delicacy found in Frederick Ashton's famous version. There was plenty of dance Embroidery, though, with beats, brushes, leaps, jumps and a few fast turns.
Maria Elena Llorente, as Lisette the daughter, was at her best in the turns. She is short, solidly built and pert. Though endowed with a jump, her dancing isn't light. Lazaro Carreno, as her lover Colin, soars. Atop exciting footwork, his torso is tense. Fernando Jhones, as the simpleton betrothed to Lisette, danced with classical ease because of his nearly perfect body placement and line. The tall Hugo Guffanti provided the caricature of the widow. There is no clog dance for this travesty role in Alonso's production.
Last year's great favorite, "Blood Wedding," was also on the bill. It is the Cuban Ballet's strongest modern work. With economical use of Spanish dancing, Antonio Gades portrays the proud tension and tender weakness of characters from Lorca's play about lust and honor. The "Grand Pas de Quatre" with yet another cast, opened the program.