lunes, 9 de julio de 2012

Farewell, Angel Corella

Ángel Corella as Sigfried.
Photo by Rosalie O`Connor

  by Kazumi Imasaki

For the past 17 years–come spring–Angel Corella has been an iconic figure at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.  It was here that he began his career with American Ballet Theatre, first as Soloist in 1995, then moving up quickly to Principal in 1996. 

Early in his career, technical excellence set Mr. Corella apart.  That, and his boyish charm and seemingly unending exuberance.  Later, maturity brought passion and artistry into more dramatic ballets like Romeo and Juliet, Manon, La Bayadere, Swan Lake and Giselle.  Depth and dimension helped to mold characters that were believable and real, bringing tears of sorrow, joy or whatever the scene called for, to the eyes of those fortunate enough to watch him in the audience.

Some notable roles to showcase Mr. Corella’s dramatic side were from a couple of Kenneth MacMillan ballets: Manon and Romeo and Juliet.  As Degrieux (Manon) and Romeo (Romeo and Juliet), Mr. Corella took on a dichotomy of expressions—as Degrieux, elation followed by the excruciating pain of his loved one’s death in his arms, and as Romeo, genuine joy and excitement in the famous balcony scene pas de deux, followed by inconsolable sorrow at the end.  Another memorable scene from Romeo and Juliet is the duel with Tybalt.  During the sword-fight, Mr. Corella fought with such intensity that he would inevitably end up with a broken sword, or at the very least, a bent one.  Props are evidently not made to withstand such emotional outbursts!

Thus, for seventeen years, Mr. Corella has brought excitement, joy and drama to the Met.  He was a dancer and artist who had the gift of sharing his joy and passion with those who saw him, often times bringing a smile to their faces.

When the confetti had settled, Mr. Corella gave us one final pirouette by which to remember him.
Photo by Rosalie O`Connor
Sadly for many, that came to an end on June 28 when Mr. Corella took his final bow at the Met, in front of a full house, amid much fanfare.  His last role was Prince Siegfried in Swan Lakea role he has become well known for since the release of a DVD in which he starred. 

On his final evening with ABT, Mr. Corella brought with him his boyish charm, his effervescent smile, his soaring jumps and whirlwind pirouettes.  Youthful, spritely and energetic, it was difficult to believe that this beloved dancer was hanging up his tights and walking away from full-length ballets.  He danced so well, in fact, that this appeared to be just another day at the Met for him—no weariness or weathered look that one might expect from a dancer who had made the decision to bow out.  Instead, Mr. Corella left on a high note, saying farewell his way, and on his time.

The audience responded by showering him with thunderous applause every opportunity he gave them.  The illumined look on the other dancers' faces also indicated that this was indeed a special performance.  Mr. Corella, for the most part, appeared unfazed.  Perhaps that came from the knowledge that his next career was firmly in place—for four years, he has been juggling his career at American Ballet Theatre with the dual role of Artistic Director and Principal Dancer at Corella Ballet (now Barcelona Ballet) in his home country of Spain.  In fact, there were several dancers on stage this night that had danced with Corella Ballet/Barcelona Ballet at one time or another. 

For starters, there was Paloma Herrera, who was not only Mr. Corella’s leading lady on his final evening with ABT, but also his leading lady at Corella Ballet's inaugural performance in Madrid four years ago when she danced Nikiya opposite Mr. Corella’s Solor in La Bayadere. She is also the ballerina that Mr. Corella has probably danced opposite the most during his years with ABT.

Then, there was Sarah Lane. Ms. Lane had danced Odette/Odile to Mr. Corella's Prince Siegfried when Corella Ballet re-emerged as Barcelona Ballet this past February at the Liceu Theater in Barcelona.  On Mr. Corella's final evening with ABT, Ms. Lane danced the role of the Spanish Princess who almost catches Prince Siegfried's eye in Act III. 

There was also Alexandra Basmagy, who had spent three years with Corella Ballet before earning a spot in the Corps de Ballet at ABT last fall.  Born in New Jersey and trained at the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT, Ms. Basmagy has returned to dance in her home country, much like Mr. Corella has returned to his.

Corella received the send-off that so many had wanted for him. 
Photo by Rosalie O`Connor
After the performance, Mr. Corella's colleagues from ABT joined him on stage. One by one, they entered with bouquets in their arms.  There was no denying now that this was a farewell after all.  Mr. Corella received each person with a hug and a smile.  It wasn’t until Mr. Corella's sister Carmen–formerly a Soloist with ABT and now a Principal dancer at Barcelona Ballet–entered and gave her brother a long embrace that Mr. Corella’s countenance finally broke, though but briefly. As they loosened their hold on each other, he pinched his eyes to keep any wayward tears from falling. 

In the end, Mr. Corella received the send-off that so many had wanted for him. The hugs, the kisses, the mound of flowers and swirl of confetti took care of that. When the confetti had settled, Mr. Corella gave us one final pirouette by which to remember him. 

Now that he has his retired from ABT, Mr. Corella will have one less hat to wear, giving him time to focus his energies in Spain, where Barcelona Ballet is expected to start a community school this fall. They are also holding summer intensive courses, the first of which began only a few days after Mr. Corella's return to Barcelona. If Mr. Corella can pass on his most endearing quality to the next generation of dancers, the world will be blessed with dancers who dance from the heart.

So, although Mr. Corella has officially retired from ABT, he will not be sipping piña coladas on the beach any time soon (or ever, for that matter as Mr. Corella does not consume alcohol).

Barcelona, Angel Corella is all yours now.  Take good care of him.


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