Angel Corella's Farewell

Swan Lake
June 28, 2012
American Ballet Theatre
Last night, among a stream of confetti, bouquets, and bravos, the veteran and much-loved dancer Angel Corella bade farewell to his colleagues and friends at the ABT. His colleagues, one by one, brought out bouquets and wreaths. His partner for the evening, Paloma Herrera, cried openly during the curtain calls. The eternally boyish Corella during the curtain calls dazzled his audiences one last time with a series of his trademark lightning fast turns a la seconde. He came out before the curtain time and again as audiences continued to stay and cheer, even after the house lights were turned on. He picked up the countless flowers and bouquets thrown in his direction. He waved, smiled, blew kisses, and then he was gone.  It was a very nice tribute to a dancer who has given so much not just to ABT, but to the ballet world in general.

There were other reasons to be sad. Corella at 36 is still in great shape. He still looks like a boy, and still dances with the endearing eagerness of a puppy dog. Although his appearances with the ABT had become rarer in the past few seasons, it was lovely last night to see that boyish grin, that sweetness and ebullience that really seems to come from within and yes, those trademark lightning turns. He's leaving the ABT because his focus is now on the Barcelona Ballet, and that's wonderful. It's still a loss though to see a dancer retire when he still has much to give on the stage.
As someone who's seen Angel for almost 10 years, ever since my first days going to the ballet, I knew he had his limitations. For one, yes, his boyish charm was irresistible (the words inevitably used to describe his stage persona), but if he never grew old, in many ways he never grew up either. He was best in the comic roles, like Franz in Coppelia, Colas in Fille mal gardee, and Basilio in Don Quixote. He was  fantastic Romeo, where his youthful ardency was perfect. But in roles where more introspection and melancholy are required, I often found him strangely disappointing. I saw his Albrecht three times, and each time he was professional but not transcendent. It was strange that he made his farewell in Swan Lake, because Siegfried is perhaps one of his worst roles -- it utilizes none of his talents. Still, the things Corella did have in spades (besides his dazzling spins and even more dazzling smile) are hard to replace. Warmth, sweetness, fun -- those are the words I think of when someone mentions Angel Corella. He will be missed.

Last night's performance of Swan Lake was "very ABT" -- professional but not poetic. Part of it is Kevin McKenzie's staging. I could write a whole post ranting about his production, but we won't go there. But Paloma Herrera is one of those weird time capsule dancers. She was a technical wunderkind maybe about 16-17 years ago, and many things about her have remained frozen. Yes, she's still an impressive turner. She's good at fast footwork. She has lovely legs and feet. But her Odette was more routine than inspired. Her upper body is absolutely stiff, her back un-pliant and her arms don't have fluidity. Her face and neck don't move along with the rest of the body -- they are held at an exaggeratedly forward angle. Her sissones in Odette's variation never got very far in the air. But what was the most disappointing about Paloma's technique is that as of now she does not have a very good arabesque. It's low, and I see the struggle to get her legs to even a 90 degree angle. Once there, she is unable to hold the shape for long enough of a time to make an effect. I remember Alexandra Danilova in a documentary stressing the upwards motion of the leg in arabesque, and how it should be held so audiences can see the position.  As Odile, the flashing high arabesques that are part of the pas de deux didn't have their intended effect because of Paloma's technical weaknesses. She almost fell off pointe in the 32 fouettes, surprising for someone who's usually a solid turner. The role of Siegfried doesn't have much dancing, but Angel was a good partner, and he dazzled the crowd one last time with those fast pirouettes in the coda of the Black Swan pas de deux. The ovation afterwards was deafening.

But in the end, no one was really there to see the performance. Everyone was there to show appreciation for an artist who's given so much to the company. And this is his farewell, but hopefully not his goodbye -- the Barcelona Ballet will continue to tour, hopefully to NYC, and maybe we'll get to see Angel dance some more. Gracias.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

COVIDammerung -- The End of the World in Met Streams

Comparing Nutcrackers Across the Pond

Camelot: Knight Errors