Casino ballet marks Republic Day

Compagnia Balletto Classico Liliana Cosi brought an evening of Romantic dance to Casino du Liban Theater. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

MAAMELTEIN, Lebanon: Lights out. Applause. Draw curtains. Black met black, was usurped by a myriad of color, then lapsed back to black again. Of course there was much more than that to “Gala di Balletto,” a performance of ballet excerpts staged by Italy’s Compagnia Balletto Classico Liliana Cosi, at the Casino du Liban Theater Sunday evening.

For all 15 minutes of “Omaggio A Ciaikovski,” (aka Tchaikovsky), the opening set of “Gala di Balletto,” dancers alternated between expressive solos and harmonious ensemble work. The dancers illuminated the stage throughout – whether gliding swiftly in sync with the music or en pointe (on tiptoe), appearing to come to life with their partners’ touch.

The musical program for the evening drew exclusively from the Romantic tradition sampling works by Liszt and Scriabin – “Dawn of Peace and Harmony,” from his “Symphony No. 1” – as well as Tchaikovsky. The troupe danced the five set pieces gently but surely, conquering and containing the stage.

The event was organized by the Italian Embassy in Lebanon and the Italian Cultural Institute. It commemorates the 66th anniversary of the Festa della Repubblica Italiana – the Republic of Italy Day – when, in the wake of World War II and the overthrow of Mussolini’s fascist regime, the Italian people voted on the form of the new state.

The show served up musical eloquence and a silent articulation of beauty. During the “Homage to Tchaikovsky,” the soloists swayed with a playful wit – though it seems some audience members were frustrated when they would suddenly leave the stage, forcing them to focus on the ensemble dance instead.

“Nothing beats Tchaikovsky,” said Svetlana, who herself is a professional ballerina from Ukraine.

“No one can really tell how tiring a ballerina’s life is.”

“It is apparent that much work has been done and lots of time and energy have been invested in this performance,” she continued. “I enjoyed the acts, especially the second one where I believe the dancers were most in sync.”

Ballet allows “me to enter a dream state, strength and elegance combined,” said Joumana, a student at the Italian Cultural Institute in Beirut.

This “dream state,” according to Joumana, “flutters away then gently yet firmly lands back into our blah reality.”

The principal dancers performed the program’s remaining ballet extracts with color and sensuality, embracing common themes. Franz Liszt’s “Nostalgia,” from his “Seconda Rapsodia” and “Variazioni sul Tema Amore” (Variations on the Theme of Love), from Liszt’s “First Prelude,” transcend the material world to touch the sublime.

For more information about goings-on at the Italian Cultural Centre, see

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 05, 2012, on page 16.




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