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A Ballet Gala Evening with Paloma Herrera

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Ballet Gala Evening with Paloma Herrera
26 & 27 October 2009
Esplanade Theatre, Da:ns Festival 2009

A Review by Penny V

Paloma HerreraIt was a splendid performance put up by the numerous Principal Dancers invited from several other ballet companies besides the main star herself. Unfortunately, she seemed to have suffered from a bad case of “it’s just really not my night” blues. Renown around the world since she was the youngest ever female principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre at the tender age of 19; she was also recognised for her fluidity, fantastic jumps and beautiful feet.

Opening the show with an almost yawn-worthy variation from the classical ballet Raymonda; she might have looked resplendent in a beautiful greyish tutu, but it came off feeling stifled and boring. The rest of her other performances carried on with the same lack of flair that always made her a pleasure to watch, when she performed with the talented Sascha Radetsky of Centrestage fame in a Sinatra Suite choreographed by Twlya Tharpe.

Her finale item had some unfortunate balance issues but she made it up with her fantastic turns, even though the entire excerpt of Don Quixote lacked fire sans Sascha who oozed charm and impressed with his highly elevated turns.

In any case, the night was repaired with a wholly enjoyable education on other Principal Dancers from renowned companies. A firm favourite of the night was Ashley Bouder and Simon Ball who performed an excerpt of Giselle and Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux beautifully.

For me though the contemporary pieces were the ones that stood out the most: Just Us, choreographed and danced by Lorena Feijoo and Tiit Helimets from the San Francisco Ballet and the stylish Not Anymore danced by Staatsballett Berlin darlings, Iana Salenko and Marian Walter. The couples had such chemistry and deftness that it was hard to tear your eyes away from them. The Ballet Gala also introduced Mizuko Ueno with her mesmerising legs and feet and the steadiness of Naoki Takagishi, both from the Tokyo Ballet.

All in all, after getting over the initial disappointment of Paloma’s performance, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night as part of this year’s da:ns festival 2009 that seems to be lacking in some quality productions.

What else we’re looking forward to:

Shen Wei Dance ArtsShen Wei Dance Arts performing Re-(I,II,III), which sheds new light on ancient cultures and of course a glimpse at a new generation of dancers from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, both happening 30 & 31 Oct at the Esplanade Theatre and Esplanade Rehearsal Studio respectively.

There are also some free performances available at the concourse, outdoor mass dances to take part in and workshops where you can explore a variety of genres for the very first time with the pros you see on stage.

For more information, visit the da:ns Festival site.

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