Azul Ibáñez Fernández
6:30pm Tango (Pre- Int) and 7:30pm Tango (Int)
Azul is a professional argentine Tango dancer and teacher. She has taken an active role in major theatre performances, TV shows and advertisements in Buenos Aires and Europe. Azul’s technical training with some of the most outstanding teachers in the genres of Tango, Ballet and Jazz Dance has allowed her to work on prestigious national and international touring productions. As professor Azul has taught for several years in Buenos Aires iconic sites like the Museum House of Carlos Gardel in Buenos Aires. In her teaching role, she also runs her own Dance Academy in Buenos Aires since 2001 and today she continues to offer workshops and classes in our distinguished tango school “Dardo Galletto Studios” in the heart of Manhattan, New York City.
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Surprises at Every Twirl
Vail International Dance Festival’s Evenings of Dance
Published: August 6, 2012
VAIL, Colo. — Each year a central feature of the two-week Vail International Dance Festival, high in the Rockies, is its two consecutive International Evenings of Dance. Organized and introduced onstage by the festival’s artistic director, Damian Woetzel, this year’s presentations were distinguished above all by catholic taste and brilliant programming. They merit superlatives.
Erin Baiano for The New York Times
Vail International Dance Festival
Fang-Yi Sheu in “Oneness,” part of this showcase in Colorado.
Erin Baiano for The New York Times
Carla Körbes and Eric Underwood in “Agon.”
Erin Baiano for The New York Times
Linda Celeste Sims in “Cry.”
Though these evenings aren’t called galas, that’s what they are, and unusually fine examples of that difficult format, in which highlights and short showpieces can whet or blunt the appetite. (Hooray! Only one set of 32 fouetté turns per evening!)
Friday’s was simply the best gala I have attended in decades. And though Saturday’s was patchier, several of its items were even more historic. Established stars performed in unfamiliar partnerships and repertory; one of George Balanchine’s very last works of choreography, not seen for 30 years, was revived; young ballet dancers at soloist or corps level received prestigious breakthrough opportunities.
Any American balletomane would be excited by the way the programs showed several of the country’s foremost ballet dancers (Herman Cornejo, Carla Körbes, Misa Kuranaga, Cory Stearns, Daniel Ulbricht, Wendy Whelan) performing with partners from other companies and in new repertory. But almost as fascinating was the chance to see junior dancers — Lauren Lovette and Zachary Catazaro (both New York City Ballet), Beatriz Stix-Brunell (Royal Ballet at Covent Garden) — making important debuts. History kept being made in one way or another. Deeper than that, though, these programs were pervaded by an infectious love of dance.
On Friday one sequence of three pieces proved an object lesson in virtuoso footwork: the Argentine tango stylists Gabriel Missé and Analia Centurión in “El Flete”; the Memphis jooker Ron Myles in “The Legacy Continues”; and the City Ballet principals Ashley Bouder and Mr. Ulbricht in Balanchine’s “Tarantella.” Audience excitement during each number was audible; to this devotee of footwork, all three were astounding.
They were immediately followed by Brian Brooks in his body-rippling solo “I’m Going to Explode,” in which he scarcely moved his feet at all, and by Ms. Whelan and Craig Hall in Christopher Wheeldon’s “Liturgy,” where footwork plays only a secondary role; both items, rightly, won ovations.
The two evenings showed the range of several dancers wonderfully. In particular they demonstrated the exceptional diversity of one dancer, the Brazilian Ms. Körbes, a former soloist with City Ballet and a principal with Pacific Northwest Ballet since 2006. There’s no question that she is one of the finest ballerinas appearing in America today; some think her the finest, and last weekend I felt in no mood to contradict them. Physically and artistically, she is in peak condition. (Her sole mannerism is a distracting way of breathing as if taking tiny bites of air.) The decisive naturalness of her phrasing has utter authority without a jot of diva ego.
Ms. Körbes danced both the pas de deux from the 1957 Stravinsky-Balanchine “Agon,” a hard-driving peak of modernism, with Eric Underwood (an American soloist with the Royal Ballet), and the radically dissimilar, serenely surprising divertissement pas de deux from Balanchine’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1962) to the celestialAndante from Mendelssohn’s Symphony for Strings No. 9, with City Ballet’s Tyler Angle as her partner.
On Saturday she and Mr. Stearns danced the pas de deux and solos that form the climax of Act II of “Giselle”; after intermission she danced the first performance in 30 years of the “Élégie” solo that Balanchine made for Suzanne Farrell for City Ballet’s 1982 Stravinsky Festival.
These facts alone say much. Now let me add that though “Agon” is often danced by many companies, this was the most superb account of its pas de deux I have seen in years. City Ballet’s Tiler Peck is possibly the only rival for Ms. Körbes in musical phrasing in the “Midsummer” divertissement, and the “Élégie” (accompanied onstage by Nicholas Cords on solo viola) was revelatory. This melancholy, soulful solo begins with the ballerina seated on the floor. She makes a series of hand gestures that slowly build; then she rises with them, reaches a climactic array of grand positions on point, and in a diminuendo returns to her opening gestures.
The two evenings also provided four distinct opportunities to the great tango exemplars Mr. Missé and Ms. Centurión; if I could see this couple dance every day of my life, I would die happy. In “Los Mareados” you could watch them stretch their style to its most glamorous, even flamboyant, with no loss of wit.
Friday evening concluded with Mr. Cornejo of American Ballet Theater in the “Don Quixote” pas de deux with Ms. Kuranaga of the Boston Ballet; on Saturday the same two danced the pas de deux from Acts II and III of “Swan Lake” — the Act III closing the evening. It’s hard not to wonder what Mr. Missé and Mr. Cornejo, Argentina’s two greatest male dancers today, make of each other; I find them both intoxicating.
Quickly let me mention the nice touch of swagger with which the handsome Mr. Catazaro danced Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” pas de deux alongside the sparkling Ms. Bouder; the springtime charm of Ms. Lovette in the pas de deux from August Bournonville’s “Sylphide” (and in “Tarantella,” both times partnered by Mr. Ulbricht at his most vivid, though his “Sylphide” kilt is inches too short); the ardor of Linda Celeste Sims in Alvin Ailey’s “Cry”; and the mesmerizing control with which Fang-Yi Sheu, in solos by Lin Hwai-min and herself, isolated or connected separate body parts within a continuous current of motion.
There are, inevitably, times when I feel I see too much dance. These two evenings made me feel I can’t see enough of it.
The Vail International Dance Festival runs through Saturday in Colorado; vaildance.org.
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Away From Stage, the Tango Turns Revealing and Intoxicating
Gabriel Missé and Analia Centurión at Dardo Galletto Studios
Published: March 7, 2012
Gabriel Missé, a master of Argentine tango and one of the most exciting dancers of our day, made his New York debut in 2008 at Symphony Space, with his partner at the time, Natalia Hills. Over the next two years he and Ms. Hills refined the give-and-take of their collaboration. This was, as several clips of their dancing on YouTubeconfirm, among the most compelling of all dance partnerships. The breakup of this team in 2011 was cause for real grief.
Ian Douglas for The New York Times
Analia Centurión and Gabriel Missé The duo performing in a milonga, a casual gathering of tango dancers, at Dardo Galletto Studios.
Mr. Missé, however, is now back in New York, teaching tango at theDardo Galletto Studios on West 46th Street for three weeks, and partnering Analia Centurión in a series of three milongas there. Tango can be ravishing in a theater: Mr. Missé ’s appearances at Symphony Space, the Vail Festival and the City Center Fall for Dance festival were intoxicating. Making the tango project theatrically, however, changes its emphasis.
It’s best appreciated in the context of a milonga, a casual gathering for amateur tango practitioners to come together and dance, and an event where a nondancing observer like myself is the exception.
The milongas of New York resemble nothing else in the city. Enter a different world! People of all ages and races come together to form couples in this most formally sensuous genre. (The women’s shoes alone could be a separate art form.) The city has milongas year-round, some in ground-floor bars with dance floors and others in small studios. It’s affecting just to watch the basic beauties of tango style there, with the upper bodies nestling so intimately above the wide range of dynamics and vocabulary shown by the feet, legs and pelvis.
On some evenings the floor clears for a visiting star couple, who then dance about three numbers, hungrily watched and eagerly applauded by the audience of regular participants. When the floor then refills with other dancers, the star man and woman usually join in, taking different partners now and then.
On Tuesday at the Dardo Galletto, Ms. Centurión and Mr. Missé danced three duets. Ms. Centurión — a less virtuoso dancer than Ms. Hills, but still lovely — was all honey, blond and gold in hair, earrings, dress and shoes. Mr. Missé wore a black suit, black shirt and broad red tie. He had recently injured his right hand, which was in a cast.
But he was much as I remembered him. He carries his elegance with a sweet, charming, boyish enthusiasm — until he dances, when those qualities become transformed by music into marvels of phrasing and intense absorption. Ms. Centurión, though without his technical brilliance, is a beautiful dancer; their partnership is felicitous.
It’s tempting to concentrate on the technical highlights of Mr. Missé’s dancing. The roomful of other tango dancers burst into applause at marvels like the rapidly traveling footwork, with heel and toe in rapid trill, as he guided Ms. Centurión across the floor, or the dazzling flourishes of one foot in the air before the dancers took off in a new direction.
And yet, as I remembered from the first time I saw Mr. Missé in a milonga in 2009, some of his footwork is all the more bewildering, even when seen at close quarters. One top-speed coloratura cluster of steps on the spot stops you from analyzing even as you watch, because its arrival is so sudden that its impact is that of an exploding cloud.
Best, though, is to concentrate on the basic beauty of his style, which is essentially legato: gliding, lingering and sweeping across the floor in currents stronger and calmer than the firestorms they often contain. Early in their first duet, he and Ms. Centurión simply paused, together, midphrase: the suspense was masterly. She, her feet moving fast, was marvelous at turning him, he holding a pose while she did so.
The overall mood was one of ardent courtesy, in which he repeatedly helped her glow. In one tiny moment she simply swayed softly from one foot to the other, as if in the most gorgeous kind of indecision. She shares his warmth of personality. Their second duet, in which the fast stitchwork of his feet was at its most amazing, was one of mutual delight and shared wit.
Milongas with Gabriel Missé and Analia Centurión run until March 20 at Dardo Galletto Studios, 151 West 46th Street, 11th floor, Manhattan; (212) 575-0222,dardogallettostudios.com.
Dance gets into your veins. It’s more than something to do – it’s something to be. Once you’re a dancer, you don’t stop being a dancer, even if you have lapses in the actual dancing. A Tango Dancer. A Salsa Dancer. A Swing Dancer. A Dancer, full stop. It’s a skill; a craft; an art; a way of being. Dance stays with you.
Think back to when you took your very first dance class. Did you just randomly wake up one morning and say, “hey – this feels like a good day to learn tango”? Or were you inspired by someone in your life, whether it be a friend, coworker, significant other, parent, child, street performance? For many of us, we might not have ever tried had we not had just that little bit of inspiration. And for many of us, a life without dance is hardly conceivable now.
This is why we think the gift of dance is so meaningful. It outlasts the orange chocolates, tinsel, or Hanukkah candles. It outlasts a beach vacation or fancy dinner on the town – lovely as all these things are, they can’t help but eventually fade to memories. But learn to dance, and you always have somewhere to go. And instead of trying to recapture old memories, you keep making new ones. This, we think, is a truly special gift. For anyone and everyone.
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