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DANCE OF NATIONS

Jump at the chance to see dancers from around the globe at Brooklyn Center

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Center’s exciting "World of Dance" series will bring dance companies from as far away as Senegal and as close as North Carolina for performances spanning the next six months.

The series kicks off with Julio Bocca and Ballet Argentino on Nov. 10. This 12-year-old group performs a wide range of dances - from classical ballet to the fiery tango.

"I like to do different styles - Ballanchine, Graham and original pieces," artistic director Julio Bocca told GO Brooklyn in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires.

The two classical pieces the group will perform at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College (BCBC) are scenes from "Coppelia" and "Le Corsaire." The company will also perform two contemporary dances by Argentinean choreographers and, of course, their signature tango.

"I love to do the tango," Bocca said. "I don’t want to forget our base. And all over the world, people like it."

For Bocca, who remains a principal with the American Ballet Theater while he tours with his own company, Ballet Argentino is an important vehicle for spreading Argentinean culture.

"I want to show all over the world that we also have dancers, not just soccer players," he said.

On Nov. 23, BCBC will present the New York City premiere of Le Ballet National du Senegal’s "Kuuyamba."

Founded in the year of Senegal’s independence, 1960, by poet and national leader Leopold Senghor, Le Ballet National du Senegal performs traditional dances of West Africa. The troupe has been called the "true face of Senegal" because of the authenticity of its work - whether entertaining in local villages or on stages around the world.

"Kuuyamba means ’initiation,’" said artistic director Bouly Sonko, who not only choreographed the piece, but also sings and dances. "It traces the life of a man from adolescent to adult."

"Kuuyamba" is composed of three parts, explained Sonko: the sama, in which "the village chief asks the spirits for permission to perform the ceremony"; the djigui, when "the spirits agree and the good news is spread"; and the silimbo, "when the chief takes the young man into the forest and he learns about life," explained Sonko.

The performance then breaks into eight sections of the silimbo celebration, including two musical interludes on instruments native to West Africa - the kora, a kind of harp with 21 strings, the balafon dalinke, a xylophone-like instrument used to greet the king and queen in their palace, and the dan, a traditional stringed instrument from the Tambacunda region that was only played by men who have already gone through the rite of passage.

The dance scenes include the Peulh acrobats and the Amiran Miran, a dance that shows off the beauty of the African woman.

Heralded for its uniquely Russian style and embodiment of the traditions of Russian ballet, the 42-member Moscow Ballet is the official curator of Russian classics like "Swan Lake," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Don Quixote."

The company’s presentation of "The Great Russian Nutcracker" on Dec. 22 is a freshly staged version of Petipa’s original 1892 masterpiece - with Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score, lavish sets and more than 450 costumes. It combines this traditional presentation with a special prayer for peace by concluding not in the Land of Sweets, but in the land of Peace and Harmony.

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, the resident company of the Grand Teatro de Havana, and a sensation in their native Cuba, will present "Fuerza y Compas" on Feb. 1. The dance, performed by the ensemble of 22 women, accompanied by eight musicians, is a sizzling version of Spanish and Cuban dance - flamenco, ballet, Afro-Cuban and Cuban styles and rhythms.

The season continues with North Carolina Dance Theatre’s "A Streetcar Named Desire" on March 2. The ballet, choreographed by Mark Diamond, is based on Tennessee Williams’ play about the tragic Blanche Dubois, set in the decadent atmosphere of 1950s New Orleans.

Also on North Carolina Dance Theatre’s program is Alonzo King’s "Tango" - a high-energy piece that celebrates the music of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinean composer who revolutionized tango music.

The season ends on April 13 with James Sewell Ballet’s presentation of a work created in honor of the 2002 centennial of Richard Rodgers’ birth. The Minnesota-based company is led by Sewell, a former leading dancer with Feld Ballets/NY. It innovatively combines classical ballet, modern dance and the spirit of vaudeville.

What a great way to keep in step with cultural diversity!

 

"World of Dance" performances at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts take place at the Walt Whitman Theater, located on the Brooklyn College campus, one block from the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand avenues. For tickets, pricing and other performance information, call (718) 951-4500 or visit their Web site at www.brooklyncenter.com.

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