Steps into the Season with a Variety of Dance Styles
By Iride Aparicio

Photos Credit: Alejandro Gomez
JUNNA IGE & MYLEL SOLAS as “Diana and Acteon”

San José, CA – Energized by a three-week triumphal tour to eight cities in Spain, SILICON VALLEY BALLET (SVB) opened its Season on February 19th,  at the Center for the Performing Arts in San José, with a display of its best dancing ever.

DIRECTOR’s CHOICE” the name of the night’s program, included four ballets:”Diana and Acteon,” a Virtuoso Cuban Pas de Deux choreographed by the Company’s Artistic Director, JOSÉ MANUEL CAREÑO after MARIUS PETIPA. It was danced to the music of  CESARE PUGNI.  “Glow - Stop” choreographed by JORMA ELO, danced to the music of WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART and PHILLIP GLASS. “Prism” choreographed by ANNABELLE LOPEZ OCHOA, danced to the (part 1) jazz music of KEITH JARRETT  (Played at The Köln Concert, January 24, l975, and “Minus 16” choreographed by OHAD NAHARIN danced to a medley of  Various composers’ songs.

It was a fascinating program to watch, because each ballet from the Director’s “choice” demonstrated to the audience a different style of dancing, performed, masterfully, by each one of the dancers using their broad repertory of  body movements, dance steps and techniques in classical and modern dance. All in a single night.

Because this dance is a Virtuoso Pas de Deux, it is a very difficult ballet to execute. Most of its steps are classical and being a dance for two, each one ot its two dancers requires precise technique. On that night, Both JUNA IGE and MAYKEL SOLAS, who danced it, had what the ballet required.

The dancers represent two Greek mythological characters:  Diana, (heavenly or Divine) the daughter of Jupiter & Latona, known as Artemis in the Greek Mythology, is the Goddess of the hunt, the moon, and birthing, loves nature and is able to communicate with the animals. She is a virgin and  have promised to herself to remain a Virgin and never marry.

Acteon is a hunter and a Thegan hero. No story is clear in what  he did to Artemis, some stories tells us that he fell in love with her and either raped her when she was bathing  or tried to rape her. All we know is that the story ends with her converting him into a deer and ordering  his own hunting dogs to maul him and kill him.

“DIANA and ACTEON” the ballet, represents their courtship in a dance that requires refined movements, puntes, fast spins and the perfect synchronization of the dancers' movements when dancing together. Both dancers on that night represented well  their parts and their different “fish” figures of their different Pas de Deuxes, looked majestic. In their "dance solo" at the end,  JUNA executed her fast spins in punte flawlessly, and MAYKEL his high athletic jumps and turns with the speed and mastery only seen in the famous Russian ballet dancers.


A group of GLOW STOP dancers

Choreographed by Finland’s choreographer JORMA ELO, this ballet danced by AMY MARIE BRIONES/CINDY HUANG/ALEXSANDRA MEIJER/OMMI PIPIT-SUKSUN/ANAll ROSE/JING ZHANG /RUDY CANDIA/RYAN DeALEXANDRO/ALEX KRAMER, FRANCISCO PRECIADO/ AKIRA TAKAHASHI and KENDALL TEAGUE,  is a rhythmic dance that separates the dancers in small groups, and  in  Pas de Deuxes of one couple, two, three or more dancing together in perfect synchronization.  The technique of the dance is to show the audience the freedom of  body movements: open, or raised arms over their heads, lifting of legs, open legs, legs walking, legs jumping, or legs bended or stretched with the dancers in constant movement,  in different posses, yet perfectly synchronized, as if to demonstrate the flexibility of the human body.  ELO’s masterful choreography, made GLOW–STOP  a vivid and visual ballet.


A Pas de Deux from LOPEZ-OCHOA “Prism”

Choreographed by Belgian/Colombian choreographer ANNABELLE LOPEZ OCHOA to the actual recording of Jazz composer KEITH JOREFF, recorded during his Köln Concert (part 1) on January 24, l975, “Prism” debuted in Santander, Spain, during the BSV Spanish tour of the ballet. 


“To me, the most important thing in choreographing “Prism”, was its rhythm, the “breath of the piece, so I paid special attention to the transitions from one section to another, and because movement has a certain power of emotion, I also paid attention to the dancer’s intention before the movement. What I wanted was for the dancers to choose their own intentions, (before entering the stage)  to ask themselves “Why am I here?  (their motivation) and after completing their dance, "Why am I leaving it the stage?" The reason my transitions are so fluid in this work, is because I worked very hard on those transitions. I think that the reason the piece works, is because of the “breath” (rests created by the dancers) between its sections.

“My inspiration in creating the choreography of  “PRISM” was really the music that is iconic. It is a Jazz solo played in  piano that JAREFF played at the Concert Hall in Cologne, Brussels in l975. Everybody knows thst Jazz is in the moment, When you go to a jazz concert, you just surrender to what the musician inspiration is in that moment. What the composer did on that night (l975 in Cologne) was to start his piece with the five sounds of the chimes that the Concert Hall in Cologne uses to call the audience to their seats. He then made the piece out of these five notes.  Yet, his genius (as a Jazz musician) was such, that his music changes from lyrical, to percussive to rhythmic.”

“As I was listening to him on that night, I view him as a prism, which is a glass, and I view his music, his inspiration, as the light that was coming out of  him, in a rainbow of colors (the different  sounds of  his melody). In the choreography of this piece, I really wanted to honor what happened to me, on that night in Cologne.”

Ms. LOPEZ-OCHOA succeeded. As a dance, “Prism” is varied in dancing styles, yet perfectly synchronized in its movements, rhythmic, and beautifully choreographed. The dance starts in a darkened stage, but as it progresses the stage gets lighter and lighter and it ends with the stage bathed in light, displaying a backdrop painted in bright orange, green and Magenta to simulate the colors of the rainbow. As for the music, the style of the dance changes with each change in the Jazz rhythm. All the dancers following every nuance in the jazz music with their movements. 


Dancers in OHAD NAHARIN’s ballet “Minus 16”

Since nothing was more perplexing to the audience on that night, that a man, dressed in a suit and regular shoes, standing in a corner of the stage for a few minutes in complete silence, then walking across the stage slowly and going to stand on a different place, CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL needs to explain “Minus 16”. the last ballet.

When OHAD NAHARIN, the young renown choreographer and Artistic Director of the Batssheva Dance Co. since l990, was a child in Israel, he was raised in a KIBBUTZ, (A collective farm or settlement in modern Israel) where all the children were bathe together, sleep, ate, play and study together. Later in his life, this aspect in his upbringing, served him as inspiration in the choreography of his ballets.

Eight years in the making, NAHARIN, also called "Mr. GAGA",  created a dance using “Gaga”  which may be described as a new way to get self awareness of our bodies by using movements. Because some of the movements are created by the dancers themselves, these movements have names such as  “fly” (which may mean Flapping both your arms) “Minus 16”  is one of his choreographed dances. 

The ballet starts with 19 men dressed in black  suits and white shirts sitting down in chairs on the stage chanting in Hebrew: a song that describes the 13 things that unite the Jewish people, naming them one by one with one of the men falling to the floor from his chair on each round of the song.

The lyrics of the song sang in Hebrew, describe the things that define the Jewish people  by asking: “Who knows one? And the chorus responding: I Know one. One is our God in heaven and earth.  Then the song repeats by asking  “who knows two? And the chorus responds “I Know two. Two are the tablets of the Covenant” (The tablets of the ten Commandments) “Who knows three? Answered with “I know three. Three are the Fathers of Israel.”  

As the song adds the new answer, it repeats all the previous ones  until it reaches:  “who knows 13? “  ending with the answer: “I Know 13, they are the attributes of God.” The simplicity of the song and repetitions of its lyrics  may indicate that it is Jewish catechism, taught to the children as they sing it and that the man (in the ballet) who falls from his chair to the floor after each question,  represents, a Jewish man that falls, because he does not know the answers.


After another sequence in the ballet, in which the dancers toss their clothes and shoes on the stage floor, the ballet turns to another facet, when the men dressed again in their suits and with songs like  “Perfidia,” and “Over the Rainbow,” playing in the background come down the stage, and invite female members from the audience to learn  “Gaga” while dancing with them on the stage. Each one determining how to move her body, and dance, by listening to the  rhythm of the music.