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Stars of the 21st Century International Ballet Gala 2007
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Stars of the 21st Century
International Ballet Gala
(Stars of the 21st Century Gala Website)
Element 21 Golf Company
Presents a Solomon Tencer Production
Solomon Tencer, Executive Director
Nadia Veselova-Tencer, Artistic Director
Marguerite Mehler, Production Stage Manager
Penny Jacobus, Lighting Director
Russell Tencer, Financial Director
Audrey Ross, Press
audreyrosspub@aol.com

At New York State Theater
Lincoln Center
www.lincolncenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 12, 2007

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com

Program:

New York City Ballet: Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz
Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux (Balanchine)
Tarantella (Balanchine)

Hamburg Ballet: Silvia Azzoni
Paris Opera Ballet: Benjamin Pech
The Lady of the Camillias Act II Pas de Deux (Neumeier)
Romeo & Juliet Pas de Deux (Neumeier)

Kiev Ballet: Anastasia Matvienko
Bolshoi Ballet, Kiev Ballet: Denis Matvienko
Diana & Acteon Pas de Deux (Vaganova)
Radio & Juliet (Clug)

Royal Ballet: Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg
Manon Pas de Deux (MacMillan)
Footnote (Brandstrup)

Complexions Contemporary Ballet: Desmond Richardson
Moonlight Solo (Rhoden)
Showman's Groove (Rhoden)

Kirov Ballet: Olesia Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov
Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux (Balanchine)
Don Quixote (Petipa)

Berlin State Opera Ballet: Ronald Savkovic
H20 (Savkovic)
Jack (Savkovic)

Tous les Danseurs
Defile (Veselova-Tencer)

By time the 2007 Stars of the 21st Century Gala was presented at State Theater, tonight, I had already interviewed its Producer, Solomon Tencer, a well as his wife and Co- Producer, Nadia Veselova-Tencer. I had heard, first-hand, of the challenges and rewards of mounting such a versatile and successful Gala, and I knew that this year's Stars Gala would be especially compelling, with the introduction of Kirov stars, Olesia Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov. As this event is in the midst of the NYC Ballet Winter Season, I looked forward to something extra from City Ballet's two dynamos, Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz, and to various stars of the Royal Ballet, the Munich Ballet (who, last minute, could not leave Germany, due to injuries in the Company), Complexions, Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Kirov Ballet, and Hamburg Ballet. The replacement for the two Munich stars was a dancer from Berlin State Opera Ballet, Ronald Savkovic.

My expectations were realized many times more. One of the highlights of the star-studded evening was the husband-wife team from Russia (Bolshoi and Kiev Ballets), Anastasia Matvienko and Denis Matvienko. Their Diana & Acteon Pas de Deux, choreographed by Vaganova, brought the house to extended, vocal accolades. Mr. Matvienko wore a leopard skin and muscles. He bolted and spun and leaped mid-air, lifted and carried his partner shoulder-high, as if she were feathers, and exuded more hormonal stage presence than an entire ballet company combined. Ms. Matvienko was of a different build, long-limbed, narrow, and more fluid and refined. Each time he re-appeared, his primal breath was palpable. This is a must-see-again-soon premier danseur. Their Clug Radio & Juliet, a repeat from last year, was not of equal stature, as Mr. Matvienko wore a formal suit jacket, and the duo's motion was structured in electronically choreographed detail.

A second highlight was, of course, Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz, NYC Ballet principals. Their dances were part of the season's repertoire, and they embellished each step with pulsating pizzazz. Balanchine's Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux was over the top, with Mr. De Luz catching Ms. Bouder in self-tossed propulsions, and the two each took dazzling, aerodynamic solos, one after the other. The dance energy was similar in another Balanchine favorite, Tarantella, with Mr. De Luz shaking the tambourine's tiny cymbals loose about the stage. Their partnership is exciting to experience. Another highlight was the pair of principals from the Kirov, Olesia Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov. They chose two classical favorites, Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and Petipa's Don Quixote Pas de Deux. Mr. Sarafanov bears a slight resemblance to Nureyev, with fair, princely features and muscular presence and power. Ms. Novikova is an equally striking and seasoned dancer; yet, both are youthful and exhilarating in motion.

In another magnetic performance, the dancers from the Royal Ballet, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg, performed Manon Pas de Deux and a contemporary work, Brandstrup's Footnote. As with the Matvienko team, the traditional ballet work was far more persuasive than the contemporary one, but, in both, they displayed impassioned chemistry and style, with Ms. Cojocaru's tiny backward steps and Mr. Kobborg's attentive partnering. The second piece, although modern, brought Ms. Cojocaru out in flowing fashion, and they seemed to create a sense of desire, loss, and abandon in a clinging, charismatic work. Silvia Azzoni, of Hamburg Ballet, and Benjamin Pech, of Paris Opera Ballet, were stylistically effective in their two Neumeier pas de deux, The Lady of the Camillias and Romeo & Juliet, both explosively passionate and dramatic, with the second work including upside-down lifts and Ms. Azzoni's legs grasping Mr. Pech's chest.

There were two male soloists, Desmond Richardson of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Ronald Savkovic of Berlin State Opera Ballet. Mr. Richardson danced two Rhoden works, Moonlight Solo, to Beethoven's Sonata, and Showman's Groove, to music by Buble. I found both works quite mesmerizing, but too repetitive, and I could not help wish he had been partnered, for once, with a dancer of equal muscularity and magnetism. Mr. Savkovic was a substitute for the couple from Munich, and his self-choreographed, electronic, near-naked solos did not generate interest or imagination.

But, what did generate even more excitement and enthusiasm was the coup de théâtre, the defile, with all dancers leaping about the stage, stunningly and daringly choreographed by Nadia Veselova-Tencer, to Sousa music, with Denis Matvienko returning in his leopard skin, lunging and leaping about in this exotic parade. Ms. Bouder and Mr. De Luz returned like fireworks, and Mr. Richardson was ebullient. Kudos to Solomon Tencer and Nadia Veselova-Tencer for another superb, and perhaps the best yet, Stars of the 21st Century International Ballet Gala.


The Matvienkos in "Diana and Acteon"

Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone


Anastasia and Denis Matvienko in "Diana and Acteon" pas de deux from Stars of the 21st Century

Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone


The Matvienkos

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Benjamin Pech of the Paris Opera Ballet and Silvia Azzoni of the Hamburg Ballet in Romeo and Juliet pas de deux by John Neumeier

Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone


Ashley Bouder & Joaquin De Luz in the Stars & Stripes pas de deux

Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone


Backstage with Joaquin De Luz and Guest, NYC Ballet Dancer, Amar Ramasar

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Joaquin De Luz and Guest, NYC Ballet Dancer, Sara Mearns

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


NYC Ballet Stars, Joaquin De Luz and Ashley Bouder

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Joaquin Signs Photographs for Fans

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Nadia Veselova-Tencer, Artistic Director

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Roberta and Guest, Julienne Viola, Freed of London,
With Salon Ziba Hairstyles at Amarone Ristorante

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Julienne's Caesar Salad

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Roberta's Remy Martin Cognac

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Tony, Amarone Ristorante Proprietor, with Roberta and Julienne

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Stuffed Radicchio with Ricotta and Goat Cheese

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Risotto with Tomatoes and Sausage

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Jumbo Shrimp on Capellini and Tomatoes

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net