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Jack Anderson

Ballet de Monterrey

Claudia Bandín and Yosek Prieto. Photo by Grapatango

Ballet de Monterrey
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, Chelsea
February 26-March 2, 2008
Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.,
Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., $38, $25 Sunday night
Tickets: (212) 242-0800 or www.joyce.org
Reviewed by Jack Anderson, February 29, 2008

Ballet de Monterrey aroused curiosity. Here was an unfamiliar company in eight unfamiliar works, all on Latin American or specifically Mexican themes. Moreover, when the curtain rose on the Mexican troupe's first ballet, there was the pleasure of watching sleek dancers moving precisely. But they did so in slick choreography, not just in this piece, but throughout the evening.

Consider that first ballet: Edgar Zendejas's "Callejeadas," a set of torrid dances for five couples, during which the men at one point removed the women's shoes and ran off with them. The action moved briskly, but the program note promised choreography about "the street, the place where encounters, gossip and relationships develop. In vignettes we glimpse brief exchanges between lovers, friends and strangers." Such words might well inspire a vivid ballet. But no such vignettes crystallized.

Although program notes are sometimes peculiar or even misleading, they can serve as signs of artistic intentions. Unfortunately, in many of this company's efforts, stated aspirations were not matched by on-stage actualities.

Luis Serrano, Ballet de Monterrey's current artistic director, filled "Huapango" with rhythmic energy. But although the program note for his "Perfidia" promised a tale of "lost love, seduction, corruption, rapture," what he presented was a duet for Katia Carranza and Carlos Quenedit which, though intense, never really developed dramatically. And Vicente Nebrada's "Sin Tí," a solo supposedly expressing a lover's sadness and pain, did little more than reveal Ángel Laza to be lithe and supple.

Jorge Amarante's tango ballet, "Grapatango," did have some of the tango's earthiness; but other choreographers have handled such material more imaginatively.

Two ballets came from Yanis Pikieris. Whereas "Danzón" sent seven couples moving exuberantly, "Volver" was a surprisingly bland evocation of Mexico's traditional Day of the Dead celebration. Despite grotesque masks and a stalking death figure, the work conjured up little sense of the supernatural, and its festivities were tame.

Ann Marie DeÁngelo, the company's founding director, contributed an excerpt from "La Noche," a work-in-progress. But this fragment looked meaningless out of context.

Whatever they did, one could enjoy the dancers' high spirits. But high spirits are not always enough.


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