Posted on Monday, 05.27.13
Cuban defectors show promise in debut at Fillmore Miami Beach
By Jordan Levin
The six Cuban dancers who defected from the National Ballet of Cuba in
April made their U.S. debut as independent artists Saturday night at the
Fillmore Miami Beach, in a showcase produced by the Cuban Classical
Ballet of Miami. What these young dancers want, of course, is not to
remain free agents, but to get jobs with ballet troupes here.
Judging from Saturday's performance, three of them have excellent
prospects. Randy Crespo, in the Le Corsaire pas de deux, and Victor
Santana, in Diana and Acteon, danced with exciting athleticism and
flair. And Arianne Martin, with a lovely physique and line, glowed with
potential in Corsaire. The other three were less exceptional.
While the new exiles have said one of their reasons for defecting was to
dance repertory other than familiar classics, the program consisted of
well-known pas de deux and excerpts from famous ballets. The Cuban
Classical Ballet, directed by Pedro Pablo Peña, produces the
International Ballet Festival in the fall, but as a separate entity
exists primarily to showcase Cuban dancers and style. Saturday's show
also included several generations of Cuban guest artists from various
companies, performing for a sparse but enthusiastic audience. But the
quality and styles of these varied Cuban dancers were so different there
wasn't much to be gleaned about classical dance on the island.
With her long, beautifully shaped legs and line, exactly placed
technique, and joyful lyricism, Martin was lovely in Corsaire. She was
somewhat uncertain and passive in the opening Bayadere Suite, seeming
more like an accomplished student than a full-fledged ballerina –
perhaps a case of nerves or youth (she's only 20). Her partner Edward
Morgado's performance also seemed tense and unfinished.
Annie Ruiz Diaz, who had been a soloist with the Ballet Nacional de
Cuba, was less compelling. With sturdy thighs and torso, Diaz is quick
and strong, showing 180 degree extensions, sharp turns and steady
balance in the coy Harlequinade pas de deux and the bravura Diana and
Actaeon, where she whipped off an impressive series of attitude turns
and fouettes. But she showed little in the way of movement quality or
Josue Justis Brito was elastic, clean and witty in Harlequinade. Crespo,
as the high-leaping spirit invading Analay Saiz' dreams in Spectre,
needed a richer sculptural quality throughout his body, not just his
spiraling arms, and cleaner feet to go with his strong jumps. But he was
exciting in Corsaire, with thrilling leaps and smoothly spinning turns.
Santana was even more dynamic in Actaeon, carving body-tilting shapes
into high-flying leaps, with one or two wild finishes.
Veteran guest ballerina Alihaydeé Carreño, niece to famed Cuban danseur
Jose Manuel Carreño, was stiff, stilted, and entirely lacked the
necessary buoyancy for the spritely Flower Festival in Genzano (though
her partner Raydel Caceres was exact and clean), and she was painfully
tense and melodramatic in Dying Swan.
The most accomplished performance was by Brazilian ballerina Roberta
Marquez, of England's Royal Ballet, in the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux,
partnered by the confident and powerful Arionel Vargas (another Cuban)
of the English National Ballet. Marquez danced with rich
characterization and purity, showing us a delighted and regal young
woman glowing with joy, illuminated through beautifully detailed
classical style. The young Cuban defectors would be lucky to end up like