Erica Cornejo will retire from Boston Ballet this coming season. Her final performances will be as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty in May. Boy oh boy, doesn't that news make the bones feel old. It was an unhappy decade ago that Erica walked out of ABT when she was one of its most promising soloists. She left at the precise time that McKenzie was revving up his guest artist Star Strategy that stole careers from ABT's own talented dancers. But she and Carlos Molina refused to sit idly by and watch their best years waste away, and they decamped for Boston.
One of Haglund's favorite videos is this clip of La Sylphide where the very young Erica and her even younger brother, Herman Cornejo, danced the leads:
Other than Herman and soloist Luciana Paris, both of whom are in the latter stages of their careers, there are no other dancers at ABT from Argentina. Not a single one in the corps de ballet. Where else on the planet do they make dancers like the Cornejos and Julio Bocca, Marianela Nunez, Paloma Herrera, Ludmila Pagliero, and Ana Sophia Scheller? If ever there was a good artistic reason (as opposed to a cheap branding-related reason) for ABT to forge a sibling relationship with the Instituto Superior de Arte at Teatro Colón, that time is now. Our supply of their great, great dancers is nearly depleted.
Haglund really doesn't ever expect to see another Julio Bocca in this lifetime. The circumstances aren't likely ever to collide for that type of miraculous artistry. Julio came about because of (1) his own natural, extraordinary talent, (2) Baryshnikov's tough but brilliant mentoring, and (3) Julio's desire to match and exceed the example that the still-dancing Baryshnikov set for him on a daily basis.
We won't see another Julio, but there are some young men in ABT's corps who if they were to consume this video and other Cornejo/Bocca videos for breakfast every morning, might develop the inspiration they need to be much greater than anyone thought possible. Heaven knows, they're not likely to get inspiration from McKenzie.
By the way, Herman and Ludmila Pagliero will star in Makarova's staging of La Bayadere at the Teatro Colón in November. Our fingers are crossed that this might be one of Teatro Colón's livestream events. We'll keep our ear to the ground for any such news.
Three weeks until the start of NYCB's fall season. It seems like it has been an eternity since the end of spring. The Stravinsky/Balanchine black & white program with Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Symphony in Three Movements as bookends is going to be a vitamin-packed blockbuster evening. We can also cheer about the four performances of Jewels and that our favorite Firebird will return from nesting duties.
Let's go let's go let's go.