The last two premieres of the Cuban Ballet's season at Kennedy Center were choreographed 120 years apart, but both showed the technical endowment of the company's dancers more clearly than anything else in the repertory.
In the new "Pulsations," Vittorio Biagi's extrapolation of classroom work to Rembert Egues' percussion, the cast is dressed in blue, red and white unitards. One could see clearly that the Cuban dancers come in a variety of shapes. There are some of the streamlined anatomies which our companies prefer, but strength rather than line seems the common denominator. Biagi's metronome combinations and isolations are perfect for tough or taut bodies and a forceful style.
The piece itself, except for excessive length and the naive humor of one part, is in Bejart's manner of culling ecstacy from the vigorous execution of repeated movements.
The big celebration dance from August Bournonville's 1858 "Flower Festival at Genzano" should be casual in manner, clearly phrased and - above all - light. Maria Elena Llorente and Fernando Jhones, who performed its familiar central duet, are short and frontal dancers - very much like the Danes for whom Bournonville orginally choreographed the roles. They, especially Jhones, had no difficulty doing the steps. But both soloists were mannered, blunt and - their Cuban style - far too forceful.
The corps of 10 women with tambourines, usually omitted in other versions, had a little of the ease the soloists lacked. This revival was staged by Elsa Marianne von Rosen, the swedish ballerina who set our late National Ballet's fine "La Sylphide."
Last night's program concluded with "Rara Avis," Alberto Mendez's three miniatures with bird imagery, and Brian MacDonald's "Remembrance" for Alicia Alonso and Jorge Esquivel - which is less a duet than an indiscretion from which neither old nor young are immune. Ballet Nacional de Cuba's season ends on Sunday.