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New York Cool - Feature

The Times, They are a’Changing
Ballet Grandiva

 

 

Written by William S. Gooch, III
Photographed by Mary Blanco

(Opposite Photo: Victor Trevino (Nina Minimaximova) in "They Who Wore White Flowers")

Click here for the Ballet Grandiva Review
Click her for the Victor Trevino Interview


Sylvie Gruyere (Scott MacDonald) and Adam Cargo in
"They Who Wore White Flowers".

Everything is beautiful at the ballet. Graceful men lift graceful girls in white. Or, so the song goes in A Chorus Line. In 1975, when A Chorus Line opened on Broadway, graceful men did lift girls in white. Today, men still do the lifting, but sometimes they lift other graceful men. And at a Les Ballets Grandiva performance, the graceful men in white are so convincing as ballerinas that it really doesn’t matter that they probably will have to shave in the morning.

For an artform—and yes it is an artform—that started out with just a few unemployed ballet dancers putting on a ‘drag’ comedy performance in the East Village in the early 1970s, this ballet genre has exceeded everyone’s expectations of what men could accomplish dancing female roles on stage. Traditionally, men have always done female roles en travesti in classical ballet. Carabosse, the evil fairy in Sleeping Beauty, is sometimes portrayed by a man, as well as Madge, the vengeful witch in the romantic ballet, La Sylphide—sometimes a man can be more malicious on stage than a woman. But most often these en travesti roles are character parts with very little dancing.


Imelda Hartos (Carlos Garcia) in "Who Dares"

What Les Ballets Grandiva aims to do and has accomplished is creating a new genre of dance theatre in which dancers are free to reinterpret traditional ballerina roles. In other words, the dancers in this company have more opportunity to put their personal stamp on a role, no matter how twisted that interpretation is. “I look for dancers that can bring interesting characterizations to roles, as well as have good technique,” says Victor Trevino, artist director of Grandiva.



Rehearsing at the 42nd Street Studio

And speaking of technique, some of Grandiva’s male ballerinas can actually rival some female ballerinas in more traditional ballet companies. They certainly have the technical storehouse to pull out all the stops in the more pyrotechnically heavy pieces as Grande Pas Classique, Don Quixote Pas de Deux, Paquita, and Harlequinade Pas de Deux. And even though some of the male ballerinas are ‘thick of calf’ and ‘broad of shoulder,’ it cannot be denied that the interpretations are authentic and the technique is solid. This expanse in the technical abilities of the dancers is due to the fact that Grandiva is now attracting dancers from such reputable companies as American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, Bejart Ballet Lausanne, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. Also, Grandiva employs notable choreographers such as Brian Reeder, formerly of New York City Ballet and ABT, and Robert La Fosse, former principal dancer at NYCB and ABT, to create new works for the company.

So, everything is still beautiful at the ballet. Although, sometimes it is not ballet as we once knew it, we still get to see those spectacular lifts to the high heavens. The times are a’changing, and in Grandiva’s case change is a good thing.


Carlos Garcia During Rehearsal

Roberto Forleo in Pointe Shoes Roberto Forleo in Flight
Artistic Director Victor Trevino Cast in "They Who Wore White Flowers"

 

 

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