From the traditional choreography to exploring new ideas, Spain’s only classical ballet company presented a diverse program at the New York City Center. The relatively new company was founded in 2008 by former American Ballet Theater principal Ángel Corella and originally called Corella Ballet. When the company relocated to Barcelona earlier this year they adopted the city’s name, putting their Spanish identity at front and center.

Angel Corella in Pálpito © Erin Baiano
Angel Corella in Pálpito
© Erin Baiano

Representing Spain has been an overarching goal for Corella. He wanted a place to showcase the talent within the country. The new ballet Pálpito uses the iconic music and dance of flamenco to create an entirely Spanish piece. Corella specifically asked choreographers Rojas and Rodríguez to use this dance vocabulary, supported by a score by Luis Perdiguero. But while Pálpito is entertaining and has many beautiful moments it can be overwhelming. Corellla is in his element as the star protagonist, whose journey of self discovery is dramatic. In another section Momoko Hirata has a breathtaking solo and achieves the tension that makes flamenco so exciting. Incorporating fans into the choreography was in keeping with the overall theme, but as the last in a series of props including lanterns, capes, chairs, and a thick fog filling the stage proved too much distraction for my liking.

In contrast, Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 focuses entirely on the movement without any plot. Comprised of four pas de deux, Clark Tippet’s choreography is all about partnerships and uses each couple to show a different style. The first pair, Aqua, show incredible strength especially when Kirill Radev extended one arm to lift Yuka Iseda from his shoulder to over his head. Barcelona Ballet navigated Tippet’s complex choreography to captivate the audience.

Christopher Wheeldon’s For 4 was originally created for the Kings of the Dance, and featured Ángel Corella. Kirill Radev, Alejandro Virelles, Aaron Robinson, and Dayron Vera get a chance to shine in this piece, enjoying the some of the bravado inherent to an all male dance. As each dancer takes his turn in the spotlight, one or more of the other men enter to join him in unison for a phrase before quickly exiting. This sense of chasing and catching builds momentum and like the dance is constantly moving forward. Aaron Robinson, the only one in For 4 to perform all four nights, burst onto the stage for his solo, switch leaps hanging in the air. Internalizing the movement, his performance felt natural, every thought complete.

Corella’s four-year-old company isn’t holding back with this program, asserting themselves in the world of classical ballet. It will be exciting to watch the Barcelona Ballet grow as they settle into their new home.