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Youth America Grand Prix "Legends in Dance” Presents: Julio Bocca: Tribute to a Dance Legend
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Youth America Grand Prix "Legends in Dance” Presents: Julio Bocca: Tribute to a Dance Legend

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Youth America Grand Prix
“Legends in Dance” Series Presents:

Julio Bocca: Tribute to a Dance Legend
(Bocca Bio)

David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Creative Director: Natasha Gamolsky-Radinskaya
In Conjunction with Youth America Grand Prix
Larissa Saveliev: Founder and Artistic Director
Gennadi Saveliev: Founder and President
Blair Hartley: Executive Director

Press: Jonathan Marder + Company

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 14, 2017

If only there were more of these ballet “Tribute to a Dance Legend” events. In recent years, Youth America Grand Prix added to its annual Gala event another for Natalia Makarova. Tonight’s was for a beloved retired Principal of American Ballet Theatre, whose 2006 Manon Farewell ballet was emblazoned on dance history, Julio Bocca. In fact, Bocca’s 2006 Farewell Giselle was also memorable, as he chose to remove his blue ballet slippers at Giselle’s grave, in the finale, and walk off, rear stage right, instead of toward front stage center. On many occasions, in those heady days of thrilling, virtuosic stars, I would meet friends at the stage door to greet the performance leads on their exit. I brought Bocca a bouquet of white roses for his last Albrecht in Giselle. I recalled his effusive warmth tonight, as he sat in the audience absorbing countless accolades and praiseworthy comments and tribute performances.

The most fascinating addition to tonight’s event at Koch Theater was the stage set and backdrop, with imagery like a palatial theater, projections of Julio’s biography and stage career, and entry spaces that changed shape and size for performers to arrive and depart. Kudos to Natasha Gamolsky-Radinskaya, for Creative Direction of tonight’s Tribute gala. Highlights of tonight’s performances included a solo by another retiree of ABT and one of Bocca’s favorite partners, Nina Ananiashvili, who now heads the State Ballet of Georgia. Years ago, when Nina and Julio lit up the stage, the rafters would shake from audience accolades. Nina danced “Lekuri”, choreographed by Gia Marghania, and, in rare form, she flew about the stage with speed and fervor, in black pointe shoes and leotards, with a white-black Georgian costume. Another highlight brought out Maria Riccetto, a former ABT Soloist. After thirteen years at ABT, Riccetto returned to her homeland, Uruguay, to join the national ballet company, S.O.D.R.E., directed by the Argentinian ballet star, Julio Bocca, tonight’s honoree. So Bocca watched his beloved Maria, who dances in his Uruguayan company, perform the Balcony Pas de Deux from MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, with ABT’s Marcelo Gomes, a longtime Principal and colleague of Bocca. Passion, lifts, and joyous, rushed embraces brought the audience to vocal fervor.

Tamara Rojo returned from her incredible performance last night (Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire) with yet another partner from the English National Ballet, Isaac Hernandez, for the Pas de Deux from Don Quixote. She outdid herself beyond expectations, triple turns in another set of 32 fouettés, with her fan, and Mr. Hernandez lifted her with one arm, on high. Luciana Paris and Marcelo Gomes, from ABT, danced “My Way” from Tharp’s Sinatra Suite with pizzazz and panache, and the ballroom stars, Cecilia Figaredo and Hernan Piquin, danced to Piazzolla’s “Michelangelo 70”, choreographed by Ana Maria Stekelman. The tango aficionados in the crowd loved this stunning, edgy, sexy performance.

Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz, well known in New York as City Ballet principals, danced Robbins’ Suite from Other Dances, with charm, freshness, and stage chemistry. The long-limbed Yuan-Yuan Tan and her partner, Vitor Luiz, both from San Francisco Ballet, danced the Final Pas de Deux from Yuri Possokhov’s Bells and then returned after intermission to perform the Black Swan Pas de Deux from Swan Lake. At all times they were graceful, sensuous, and romanticized. Mr. Luiz later danced a contemporary, pulsating solo, Bob Fosse’s “Percussion 4”.

Remaining Act II performances included Gonzalo Garcia’s (City Ballet Principal) stylized Solo from Stekelman’s “Mambo Suite”, Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino’s (Bavarian State Ballet) US Premiere, the magnetic “Spiral Twist” by Russell Maliphant, and Luciana Paris (ABT) and Rodrigo Colomba’s (Teatro Folklorico Nacional – Argentina) “Presente”, a World Premiere, danced to another powerful Piazzolla score. Isabelle Guerin and Manuel Legris, both Étoiles from Paris Opera Ballet, danced a US Premiere, “Farewell Waltz”, by Patrick de Bana. As a finale, Kevin McKenzie, ABT’s Artistic Director, staged a Pièce D’Occasion, with all of tonight’s performers taking a bow, before bringing the guest of honor, Julio Bocca, onstage for a solo showcase.

Throughout the evening, Bocca was heard on video excerpts, appearing in the backdrop projections, talking about how much he loves ballet, his colleagues, his Uruguayan company, his teachers, his friends and family, and especially American Ballet Theatre. In fact, throughout the video clips, Bocca wore a shirt with a prominent ABT monogram. Also, throughout the evening, performing ABT stars, like Marcelo Gomes and Joaquin De Luz (a Former ABT Soloist), paid tribute. Marcelo spoke of tonight’s honor to be part of this tribute and of his longtime admiration and respect of Julio. Joaquin De Luz did an imitation Bocca walk about the stage, walking in an arc with one arm raised, chest puffed out, as if in preparation for an athletic display of virtuosity. And, on videos, there were numerous tributes, as well. But in tonight’s final bows, Julio did not take the microphone. Instead he climbed onto a table, surrounded by the performers, and they all raised glasses of champagne. What class acts, Julio Bocca and his YAGP Tribute. Kudos to all.

Luciana Paris and Marcelo Gomes of American Ballet Theatre
in "My Way" from "Sinatra Suite"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Cecilia Figueredo and Hernan Piquin
in "Michelangelo 70"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz of New York City Ballet
in Suite from "Other Dances"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Marcelo Gomes (ABT) and Maria Noel Riccetto (Ballet Nacional SODRE)
in Balcony Pas de Deux from "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Yuan Yuan Tan and Victor Luiz of San Francisco Ballet
in Final Pas de Deux from "Bells"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez of English National Ballet
in Pas de Deux from "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Gonzalo Garcia of New York City Ballet
in Solo from "Mambo Suite"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Nina Ananiashvili of State Ballet of Georgia
in "Lekori"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Lucia LaCarra and Marlon Dino of Bavarian State Ballet
in "Spiral Twist"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Luciana Paris (ABT) and Rodrigo Colomba (Teatro Folklorico Nacional - Argentina)
in "Presente"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

Isabelle Guerin and Manuel Legris of Paris Opera Ballet
in "Farewell Waltz"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

The Full Cast of Artists after the Bocca Tribute Finale,
"Piece D'Occasion"
with Julio Bocca Toasting and Rousing His Fans.
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

The Final Chiaroscuro Image of Julio Bocca and Cast of Artists
after the Bocca Tribute Finale, "Piece D'Occasion".
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM Productions

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at