Publicado en: 19 de Junio de 2006
One of the most significant cultural expressions of our times is the delightful art of ballet. A form of art which requires discipline and perseverance, sensitivity and composure, balance, proportion and many other qualities, ballet permits dancers to exteriorize the principal elements of the genre by means of stylized movements.
Ballet is a theatrical art form that uses dance instead of words in order to tell a story. It first appeared in the 16 th and 17 th centuries in the courts of European royalty, first in Italy , then in France . The elegance and precision of ballet were dictated by the etiquette of the court. Louis XIV of France, a great admirer of ballet, founded the Royal Academy of Dance, the Royal Ballet, in 1661. Its first director, Pierre Beauchamp, compiled a list of positions, steps and movements used in ballet, defined and identified them with great care and confirmed them in writing. His are the steps and the positions that comprise the basis for ballet technique as we know it today. That is why the universal language of ballet is French and the word ballet itself is defined as a classical dance of a group, represented on the stage . It is also is applied to the group of artists that represent it (the company).
Since it is an artistic expression that dates back many centuries, ballet is an legacy that has endured thanks to the love of this art and the generosity of teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing their wisdom and experience with their disciples. Such is the case of Bertha de la Peña , Director of the Centro de Arte , here in Mérida.
Visiting the Center evokes the canvases of Degas, in which the Master is seen working with his students in a relaxed but respectful atmosphere transmitting knowledge, correcting, sharing, and motivating his students to enhance their skills.
It is said that a picture paints a thousand words. Observing the ballerinas represented in Degas´ works of art, a question may come to mind…Why are these young girls so interested in learning a discipline that is so outdated? Perhaps, it would be safe to say that for many of them, ballet is the realization of a fantasy, or a fairytale, where innumerable magical moments exist. Perhaps too, ballet represents living out a marvelous story where everything is radiance and splendor, in an enchanted world where knights-in-shining-armor and fairy godmothers still exist.
However, none of that brilliance and glow come to mind when visiting the Centro de Arte . The fantasy of the elegant ballet of fairy tales simply is not to be found. What CAN be observed are groups of hard-working young girls exerting themselves tremendously, concentrating on their technique and style, eager to perfect their movements. Some look very tired, while others rest in a standing position and still others check themselves in the mirror in order to identify an erroneous foot position or to reconfirm the correct movement of a step practiced so many times before. There are also those who stretch at the barre again and again in order to achieve greater flexibility. Of course, the soloists practice in the center of the floor under the experienced gaze of their companions and their Ballet Mistress. Far from the dainty, elegant ballerinas that fill center stage in the events we cherish, all of these girls are drenched in sweat, immersed in arduous preparation and limitless dedication. Sacrificing their leisure time, they are attentive to the positive criticism and council of their mentor.
Perhaps the response to the inquiry posed above lies in the passion that these young women share for an art form handed down from generation to generation and jealously guarded by wise Masters and Mistresses. That passion and tenacity will be transformed by the grace of their movements, into an outstanding work of art.
On Thursday, May 26 at 8:00 P.M. in the Teatro José Peón Contreras , Bertha de la Peña will offer an evening of Ballet in honor of the 20 th anniversary of the Universidad del Mayab . Her group of 21 soloists have been working since September to offer a quality performance of grace, style and precision. Four of the soloists are graduates of the Universidad del Mayab (Mariela Romero, Mary Paz Duarte, Mónica Osorno, Ana Elena de la Peña ) and two are current students (Cecilia Esquivel, Mariana Moreno). As a student of the Mayab, Mariela Romero had the honor of inaugurating the Auditorio Gomory 18 years ago with a fine interpretation of “Death of a Swan”. She is currently a teacher and choreographer in the Centro de Arte and one of its principle dancers.
May 26 th promises to be an exhilarating evening where the Universidad del Mayab will be accompanied by its Board of Trustees, benefactors, alumni, faculty and friends in a grand celebration commemorating its 20 years of forming leaders in the Mexican southeast. Congratulations to the Universidad del Mayab and many thanks to Bertha de la Peña for her ongoing contributions to the performing arts in our community.
Alicia Jankiewicz-Castellanos es licenciada en Lengua Francesa por Florida Southern College y la Université de Neuchatel (Suiza) y Maestra en Lengua Francesa por Middlebury College Language Schools y la Sorbona. Cuenta con estudios de Doctorado en Lenguas Modernas por Middlebury College Language Schools. Actualmente funge como Directora del Departamento de Lenguas y Programas Internacionales de la Universidad del Mayab y forma parte del Comité Organizador del Vigésimo Aniversario de la Universidad del Mayab. Correo electrónico: [email protected]