Ángel Corella’s Barcelona Ballet Company
The world premiere of the Barcelona Ballet’s Pálpito at New York City Center was a masterpiece of Ángel Corella’s incredible force in dance. Former American Ballet Theater (ABT) principal dancer and founder of the Barcelona Ballet (formerly known as Corella Ballet), Corella showcased the Spanish-influenced choreography of Rojas & Rodriguez and of his own cultural roots. The dramatic opening sequence of flamenco rhythms and styles led the company on a passionate and visually incredible journey through morphed and extreme Spanish accents. With a Les Misérables-esque chorus of dancers, a scene of Lady GaGa-inspired lace body suits and oversized peinatas, matadors and ladies in waiting, Pálpito, meaning hunch in Spanish, kept the audience completely mesmerized with scene after scene of high-energy ballet mixed with traditional style of the company’s homeland.
Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, a beautifully choreographed neo-classical ballet piece originally choreographed for ABT, featured star principal Momoko Hirata, whose Pink Pas de Deux with partner Alejandro Virelles wowed audience members and moved them to their first ad hoc applause. Never a rubato moment in her execution, Hirata nailed every pirouette, jump, and lift with a spare second to smile. She was not a mechanical dancer, quite the contrary, however her exactness in the music was effortless and perfectly fitting with Virelles’s similar style. The two were a match made in ballet heaven, and their duet was the spotlight of the company’s opening piece.
For 4, a Christopher Wheeldon piece originally choreographed to feature Corella, showcased four male soloists in the company and their powerful grace and athleticism. One of the first choreographers to incorporate modern dance in the ballet setting, Wheeldon’s piece is timeless and beautifully juxtaposed with the Romantic music Death and the Maiden by Franz Schubert.
Corella’s personal story was woven throughout Pálpito, closing the evening’s show. What could be seen as semi-autobiographical, the ballet’s story is of the main character trying to free himself of the past role as a dancer and desperately seeking the freedom to see what other opportunities lay ahead. When Corella’s revelation and transformation occur in the ballet, after a dramatic solo and some dark duets, the music brightens along with the lights, costumes and choreography. There was a magical moment where Carmen Corella, Ángel’s sister, embraced him, elated of this beautiful piece’s reception by the audience and proud for her brother’s success. With such a young and ambitious company under Corella’s belt, his impressive, quick climb up the classical form’s hierarchy deserves the standing ovation that it received.
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE:
1. Ángel Corella: Corella was best known for working with legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins. His recent founding of the Barcelona Ballet (originally Corella Ballet) was to foster the Spanish classical ballet talent in Spain and grow what is now the only classical ballet company in all of Spain.
2. Music for Pálpito: The original score for Pálpito was composed by Héctor González and was heavily influenced by the dramatic flamenco singing and wailing. For similar styles, albums like Absolute Flamenco and Best of Gypsy Flamenco from Andalusia will help you get started!
3. New York City Center: The NY City Center constantly holds amazing performances – check their listings for upcoming events!
4. American Ballet Theater: ABT‘s spring season starts in May – be sure to get your tickets now to some of the best ballet performances that originally featured Ángel Corella!
5. Ballet Hispanico: For more Latin-inspired dance, Ballet Hispanico is performing through April 29th, 2012 at the Joyce Theater.