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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
Symphony Space

Les Ballets Grandiva at Symphony Space

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 10, 2006
Symphony Space
2537 Broadway
New York, NY 10025
(212) 864-1414

About the Author:

Les Ballets Grandiva at Symphony Space

Les Ballets Grandiva
Victor Trevino, President and Artistic Director
Noriko Miyazaki, Treasurer and Production Manager
Paul Boos, Ballet Master
Peter Anastos, Choreographer
Marcus Galante, Choreographer
Jose Coronado, Costume Designer
Philip Carroll, Musical Direction
Whit Kellogg, Guest Pianist
Brian Sciarra, Lighting and Stage Manager
Kevin McAnarney, Press
Eliran Murphy Group, Marketing

Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
NY, NY 10025

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 10, 2006

Ballet Grandiva is the newest and largest all-male ballet company in the world. Victor Trevino founded the Company in 1996, and it consists of 19 dancers and a repertoire of over 30 ballets and 60 scheduled performances that will take it to Japan, Italy, St. Barths, and South Korea. It takes a detailed approach to comedy as well as a technical approach to en pointe skills. (Program Notes).


Serenadiana: Choreography by Peter Anastos, Music by Tschaikovsky (Serenade for Strings in C), Costumes by Jose Coronado, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Ginger Snapps, Pearl Lee Gates, Tiffany Ann Cartier, George Callahan, and Company.

Le Corsaire: Choreography after Mazilier, Music by Adolphe Adam, Costumes by Jose Coronado, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Momchil Mladenov (A Pirate) and Tatiana Deblockova (Medora).

Nightcrawlers: Choreography by Peter Anastos, Music by Frederic Chopin, Costumes by Christina Gianini, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Special Guest Pianist, Whit Kellogg, Performed by Nina Minimaximova, George Callahan, Natalia Macabre, Momchil Mladenov, Palomina Carrera, Emanuel Abruzzo.

Dying Swan: Choreography by Allen Dennis after Fokine, Music by Camille Saint-Säens, Original Arrangements by Philip Carroll, Costumes by Jose Coronado, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Karina.

Star-Spangled Ballerina: Choreography by Marcus Galante, Music by John Philip Sousa, Costumes & Hats by Oswaldo Muniz, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by the Company as First Regiment "Go-Go Cheerleaders", Second Regiment "Our Boys in Blue", Third Regiment "Duet", Fourth Regiment "Bombs Bursting in Air".

I cannot remember laughing like this in some time, as I and the audience both enjoyed and admired this superbly crafted production with so much warmth and wit. Every single moment was priceless, and, at first, I found it hard to believe that some of the dancers were actually men. There was heavy makeup, plus lean or muscular legs, false eyelashes, tutus, ruffles, tiaras, feathers, and genuinely hilarious affectations. And, these men were en pointe! Dancing, leaping, usually costumed as women, occasionally as themselves. Their stage names are takeoffs on famous ballerinas or just puns, such as Nina Minimaximova (for Nina Ananiashvili), Alicia "Havana" Bialonso (for Alicia Alonso), and Tiffany Anne Cartier.

Some examples of these dancer's extensive qualifications are Allen Dennis' 24 year touring history as Karina, Ari Mayzick's Princess Grace Award of Excellence, Momchil Mladenov's current position as soloist with Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Emanuel Abruzzo's work with Julio Bocca's ballet companies, and Bart De Block's experience as Principal with Berlin Opera Ballet. Symphony Space is a bit more casual than other ballet company venues, and we could see dancers watching or warming in the wings, à la Degas. It was a warm night, but the dancers were always energized, effervescent, and elated. The audience related in kind.

Tonight's program consisted of works in the style of Balanchine, Fokine, Robbins, and Mazilier, with the same music used by these choreographers and outsized takes on the original choreography, sets, and costumes. A perfectly realized combination. Three of the five works are tributes to New York City Ballet repertoire. In Serenadiana, a takeoff on Balanchine's Serenade, dancers in grey strapless leotards, long tulle tutus, and stylish hair pinned up (Kudos to the wigmakers) danced about with arm affectations that were right out of vaudeville. In fact, each ballet had a helping of vaudevillian vivaciousness. The Grandiva divas love to work the audience, at every moment, so there are hand, face, and foot gestures in accented abandon, and, in this ballet, two dancers lying onstage touched fingers in religious symbolism. Tiny red/yellow flags were flipped around toward the end, in a tribute to Balanchine's Union Jack.

Le Corsaire, a favorite of American Ballet Theatre fans, was expertly performed by Momchil Mladenov, as A Pirate, and Tatiana Deblockova, as Medora. Momchil carried off Mazilier's requisite, back-bending leaps and lunges, and his spins and style were serious and sensational. Tatiana raced around en pointe with muscular, but long, lean legs, and she managed to jump into Momchil's arms and be carried and lifted about, even though she was larger in physique than her partner. Nightcrawlers, a riotous rendition of Robbins' In the Night, complete with Chopin and the star-lit night backdrop, had three sets of partners in high emotion and wanton behavior, dashing to and fro, rushing toward and away from each other with open emotions, and the athleticism of male dancers catching and carrying other male dancers was quite incredible. Toward the end, two Principals of NYC Ballet took cameo appearances, Wendy Whelan, as a furry bear, and Nikolaj Hübbe, as a piano assistant. This was very inside the ballet circles, New York humor.

Allen Dennis, aka Karina, choreographed her own Dying Swan, and her rippling arms were just as stylized as those of Nina Ananiashvili, in her ABT Swan Lake performances. Karina dances as a pro (24 years of touring the world), totally en pointe, wearing FREED toe shoes, as were the other Grandiva divas. There was hilarity and elegance in this performance, albeit as brief as the Fokine ballet, designed for Pavlova in 1905. Karina's hair, jewels, and makeup, with Coronado's white costume, were quintessentially swan-like, in balletic terms. The final work, Star Spangled Ballerina, a takeoff on Balanchine's Stars and Stripes, brought the entire company of "females" out in skimpy costumes of red, white, blue, and pinks, and the "males" out in Navy bellbottoms. A large American flag served as backdrop, very Balanchine, and John Philip Sousa never sounded better.

Kudos to Les Ballets Grandiva for a grand night at the ballet. A champagne reception with cast and staff followed.

Ballet Grandiva
Photo courtesy of Eduardo Patino

Ballet Grandiva
Photo courtesy of Eduardo Patino

Ballet Grandiva
Photo courtesy of Eduardo Patino

Ballet Grandiva
Photo courtesy of Eduardo Patino

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