The title may make serious fans of ballet balk: Gran Gala Il Cigno Nero – Black Swan Gala. If Daniele Cipriani, the producer, wants to cash in on some of the publicity from the Darren Aronofsky film of the same name, the content of the gala has nothing to do with the superficiality of the film. Although climaxing with the Odile-Siegfried Swan Lake pas de deux, beforehand there is a rich mix of dance choreography, and no shards of glass or sprouting feathers to be seen.
The pretence is to show black and white, light and shade, good and evil… but then without the pull and push of drama, its conflicts and subsequent restoration of harmony, the stage would be a boring space to watch, so these elements are evident in almost all ballet pieces, even plotless works. Whatever, it provides a good opportunity to witness some excellent dancers in fine choreography.
New York City Ballet Principal Joaquin de Luz dances the solo devised for him by Mexican choreographer David Fernandez, Five Variations on a Theme. The piece was created to take on the Kings of the Dance Tour in 2009. City Ballet's Ashley Bouder will dance the black swan pas de deux with de Luz as the grand finale of the gala, but beforehand she'll interpret Michel Fokine's far gentler The Dying Swan.
The evening also includes Ben Stevenson's 1969 piece Three Preludes which will be performed by Italy's Giuseppe Picone and the young up-and-coming ballerina, Flavia Stocchi.
Other excerpts from Swan Lake are the white swan pas de deux with Picone and Marianna Suriano preceded by an entrée and 2nd act solo with Picone's own choreography, the jester's solo with the young Alessio Rezza, the four cygnets, and the Spanish dance with members of the Rome Opera Ballet and the La Scala company.
Video artist Massimiliano Siccardi provides the visual backdrop.
The Gala will be on tour in Assisi, Milan, Florence, Roma and Leghorn from 28 March.
28 March ASSISI (www.teatrolyrick.com)
29-30 March MILAN (www.teatrodellaluna.com)
1 April FLORENCE (www.teatroverdionline.it)
2-3 April ROME (www.conciliazionelive.it)
5 April LEGHORN/LIVORNO (www.goldoniteatro.it)
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.