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Les Ballets Grandiva

Self-presented at Peter Norton Symphony Space's Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway, NYC, April 11–13.

The male grand divas of Les Ballets Grandiva descended on Symphony Space with a grand program of choreography, meticulously suited to feet that have to climb up on pointe shoes with effort. That is not to say all of them have lackluster arches. Pearl Lee Gates (Ari Mayzick) knocked out countless fouettes on the proverbial dime and Tatiana Deblockova (Bart Deblock) pulled off a memorable "Don Quixote" pas de deux—both right up there on their pointes—giving new meaning to the word "balance."

In the opening "Happy Birthday Variations," adapted from Gerald Arpino's ballet "Birthday Variations," the divas and their lone escort cavort in a candied ode to pretty much nothing except toothy smiles and fluttering lashes. Still, it introduced the company, with lots of running around and weaving in and out.

Nina Minimaximova (Victor Trevino) and Yetta Nadalyfta (George Callahan) spared no effort in a "Spartacus" pas de deux unlikely to be forgotten. Choreographer Trevino duplicates every impossible Bolshoi-inspired, upside-down, hang-by-a-toenail, wrap-around-the-neck lift. Minimaximova as Phrygia clings to her peasant warrior, Spartacus, and he to her, before he bravely marches off to battle, sword in one hand and ditty bag in the other. This is a piece of rare tragicomedy and a Grandiva treasure. Be alert for the Plisetskaya-inspired bows.

"The Square's Dance" takes its motivation from Balanchine's "Square Dance," in which he mixes hoedowns and pointe work. Choreographer Marcus Galante gives the same slant, but with a little more slapstick, perhaps less clever than the other repertory pieces.

Karina (Allen Dennis) danced in "Dying Swan" with the most astounding arms imaginable. That she is a contortionist with arms that disconnect at the shoulders became increasingly apparent. But for complete delight, it is "Minkus Gala" that allows the company ladies to pull out all the stops. One realizes how tough and gifted these dancers really are. Yes, they make you giggle, but it isn't easy to polish off the technical demands, stay within the dictates of the classical choreography, and have fun. As a takeoff on the ubiquitous star-studded ballet gala, "Minkus Gala" is simply divine.

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