|BALLET REVIEW | INTERNATIONAL BALLET GALA|
BALLET REVIEW | INTERNATIONAL BALLET GALA Leaps of Faith, by Dancers and DonorsBy ANNA KISSELGOFF
ew and impressive talent from Russia and Portugal studded the annual International Ballet Gala on Monday, a single-night event that was presented for the third year at the New York State Theater.
The evening was again subtitled "Stars of the 21st Century" and featured various pas de deux and solos from a mix of 13 American and foreign dancers.
For the first time, the evening was also a benefit for Seeds of Peace, an organization that has brought together teenagers from Israel and Arab countries. Queen Noor of Jordan joined John Wallach, the founder of Seeds of Peace, for onstage remarks and expressed her fervent belief in the value of such contacts.
Leen al-Almi, a young woman from Jordan and two young men, Yehoyada Mandel from Israel and Hassan Halta, a Palestinian from the West Bank who noted that his great-grandmother was Jewish, spoke of their past participation in the program. Each had an individual viewpoint, but all said mutual trust within their own generation was still possible.
Nadia Veselova-Tencer, the program's artistic director, introduced the evening with a thematic note by calling attention to the "cultural diversity" of the dancers. All are excellent but few are genuine stars in the old sense. Yet occasionally star quality blazed, especially in the performance of Daniela Severian, a Brazilian newcomer with the National Ballet of Portugal, and in the familiar power of the American dancer Desmond Richardson.
In the revelation category, there was not only the fiery Ms. Severian but at the opposite and lyrical extreme, a very pure classical dancer from the Bolshoi Ballet, Dmitri Gudanov.
Mr. Gudanov was not featured with the Bolshoi in its recent visits, but his partner, Svetlana Lunkina, triumphed in New York as a young and fresh Giselle two years ago with the Moscow company.
Both have an eye-riveting classical style, and there is a certain paradox in the sight of Bolshoi dancers, once known more for their passion and bravura, embodying purity of Russian style, while the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg opts for a more idiosyncratic and contemporary look.
Svetlana Zakharova of the Kirov came back to dance Michel Fokine's "Dying Swan" as she had at the gala last year. This time her stretched, eloquent silhouette was deliberately broken up by arms with oddly angled wrists.
Mr. Gudanov, blond and slight, and Ms. Lunkina, dark haired and delicate, gave the evening artistic depth with their superb performance of the pas de deux from Act II of August Bournonville's 1836 version of "La Sylphide." Unusually for Russian dancers, both captured the right phrasing in Bournonville's Danish style. Both also appeared in Fokine's "Spectre de la Rose," in which they were too academic in choreography that was not always correct.
Ms. Severian, the other find of the evening, walked out hunched over in a dark dress and proceeded to whip around in a variety of turns on toe or on a flat foot. At other times her body seemed to break apart, right down to every vibrating finger. The image matched Édith Piaf's words on a recording by a singer called Dumont- Vaucaire. Piaf assured all in the title song, "No, I regret nothing," and Ms. Severian and Ben Van Cauwenberg, the choreographer, put across the right mix of bravado and vulnerability.
The evening began with the New York City Ballet's Charles Askegard, in brilliant form, and Alexandra Ansanelli, somewhat unsteady, in the duet from George Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes," to Sousa. At the end, the same music accompanied a leaping finale for all the dancers against a star-spangled projection.
Mr. Richardson used his muscular nuance with his power in a collage of movement in a solo announced from the stage as "Growth." Rut Miró of Victor Ullate Ballet Madrid moved sharply through "Arrayan Daraxa," a brief solo choreographed by Luis Delgado, and she joined Lars Van Cauwenberg, of the Belgian dancing family, in a heavy performance of the "Don Quixote" pas de deux.
Two couples from previous galas returned. Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre from San Francisco Ballet were easy on the eye in Val Caniparoli's "Lady of the Camellias" and Norbert Vesak's "Belong."
Agnès Letestu and José Martinez of the Paris Opera Ballet offered a routine "Black Swan" pas de deux and then raised the audience's pulse with a duet from William Forsythe's "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated."