The Balletto Classico Company In Bucharest

Should we try to mark on the map of Europe the places where, during the last twenty years, the first Romanian ballet masters have been shining, whose names figure in international dictionaries of dance, we would have to cover the map from Stuttgart to the Canary Islands and from Rennes to Rome. However, Italy beats the record as far as density is concerned: it is here that most Romanian dance artists have made a name for themselves. In Rome, Gheorghe Iancu partners prima ballerina Carla Fracci; in Verona, the most celebrated premier danseur – whom we met again last year while he was completing his studies – proved to be Cristian Crăciun, while in Reggio Emilia, another Italian prima ballerina, Liliana Cosi, has Marinel Ştefănescu for a partner. More than ten years ago Liliana Cosi and Marinel Ştefănescu left La Scala together and founded in the above-mentioned small town a ballet troupe – alongside which functions a ballet school – that has gradually grown into one of the most prominent Italian ballet companies: "Balletto Classico" from Reggio Emilia. Some of the Romanian dancers and choreographers living abroad contacted their colleagues in the country immediately after the fall of the dictatorial régime. The first and most enthusiastic in reviving the relations, as well as the most generous – they offered the Opera Ballet practice and performance props and technical equipment – were Marinel Ştefănescu and Gigi Căciuleanu, manager and choreographer of the "Théâtre Choréographique" company in Rennes. The selfsame Marinel Ştefănescu was also the first to return to the country to give performances with his Italian company on the stage of the Romanian Opera House in Bucharest, the very stage where he matured and asserted himself as an artist. Fifteen years ago, in the spring of 1973, Liliana Cosi, prima ballerina of La Scala Theatre in Milan, came to Bucharest for the first time to dance in Swan Lake with the Romanian National Opera Ballet. Fifteen years ago I was writing in a review of the show or the "România literară" magazine: "Liliana Cosi's interpretative style reveals her double formation: the elegance, precision and refinement of the Italian and French ballet schools and the resoluteness, the impetus and the technical correctness specific to the Soviet dance school." The same elegance and precision are to this day characteristic to the Italian prima ballerina's style, but they are now complemented by a certain severity of the expression and a dematerialization which steal away some of the warmth, adding instead a touch of ethereal ineffable. Her roles – embodiments of Nature, of Peace, of Art – are partly responsible for this dance manner. Marinel Ştefănescu, known to Romanians mostly as an interpreter – a dancer with a classical style and technique, but also temperamental – comes now before the public as the producer of the two shows performed in Bucharest – The Awakening of Mankind and Roots – as a librettist, choreographer, director, co-designer of costumes and lights, as well as main protagonist. The choreographer takes a first step towards shaping his creative personality through the librettos tackling at once universally human and contemporary themes, filtered through his interpretation. In The Awakening of Mankind, to music composed by Igor Stravinsky, Bedrich Smetana and Adrian Enescu and with stage design by Hristofenia Cazacu, Marinel Ştefănescu chose to approach both the suffering and crises in the world today and the universal desire for peace. In the ballet entitled Roots, to music by Franz Liszt, Adrian Enescu and Alexandr Skriabin and benefiting from an inspired stage design signed in turn by three stage designers – Basilio Chalkidiotis for the first tableau, Hristofenia Cazacu for the second, third and fourth tableaux and Mihail Gyorgy for the last two – the choreographer approaches the idea of the original matrix and the stamp it leaves on every artist's creation, and also the issue of the matter-spirit dualism, manifest in any artistic creation. Still, the themes overwhelm the creator. But to turn a review into a discussion of the coherence of certain philosophical concepts would mean transposing it into a different register. This is why we leave aside the abstractions and focus on the creation proper, which is self-sustaining and capable of generating in its turn countless general meanings.Marinel Ştefănescu has an original way of putting an idea, a dance on paper: he places himself in the center, like a novelist telling the story in the first person; he is the Man in The Awakening of Mankind, as well as the Artist in Roots. All the characters – abstractions personified – evolve around him or together with him. The language oscillates continuously between pure classical in some tableaux and modern neoclassical in others. The tableaux devised in the classical style are dry; whereas modern-neoclassical ones are succulent, like for instance the final part of The Awakening of Mankind, called "Dialogue with the Infinite", or the tableau entitled "Nostalgia", with a tinge of character dance, in Roots. It is along this road that the choreographer stands a better chance. The variations created for the male ensemble are the most beautiful in both shows, while some of the jumps, both for the girls – very much like saltant deer – and for the boys, are remarkably plastic in both dances. The entire "Balletto Classico" company has a high technical level. Besides, the male troupe – foremost of whom are the solo dancers Francesco Tagliabule, Faliero Bonacci and Luca Bassi – stands out by their expressive bodily plasticity; in the "Nostalgia" tableau, solo dancer Paola Masi adds a special touch of poetry to the show.The performances given by the company managed by Liliana Cosi and Marinel Ştefănescu constituted, in a certain way, a restitution of some artistic deeds occurring throughout the world, but whose origins go back to the Romanian dance school. România literară, no. 20, May 17, 1990

by Liana Tugearu