By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
The Slovak Dance Theatre (SDT) took Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” to new emotional and dramatic heights on Saturday, Dec. 2, with a contemporary choreographed interpretation of the classic opera at the National Center for the Arts’ (Cenart) Teatro Raúl Flores Canelo.
The one-time-only performance in Mexico of the hour-long modern ballet by the nine-member SDT troupe was both spellbinding and intense, as Katarína Kaanová (Carmen) and Miroslav Martinovič (Don José) reenacted the passionate love story through a forcefully compelling intimate duet.
Under the creative direction of SDT founder and chief choreographer Ján Ďurovčik, the couple and the supporting cast offered a austere but highly charged dance performance that mixed elements of classic ballet with Slovakian folklore.
There were no lyrics and a minimum of sets and props in the performance, but the passionate tale of a rejected lover who in a jealous rage kills the woman he desires clearly captured the audience’s attention with an undeniable tension and corporal will.
The patent chemistry between Kaanová and Martinovič – as well as the unabashed charm of Matej Oškera (who played the arrogant toreador Escamillo) and the fervent devotion of Ivana Kučerová(portraying Micaëla, Don José jilted girlfriend) – created a visual force of nature and brazen passion that compelled a standing ovation from the theater’s full-house audience.
The Slovak Dance Theatre was founded in 2005 and was formerly known as the Bratislava Dance Theater.
The troupe stopped off in Mexico to present the single performance after a two-month whirlwind global tour of the modern ballet interpretation of Bizet’s renowned 19th century opera based on the Prosper Mérimée’s 1845 romantic novella.
In the SDT interpretation of the tale, the plot was developed in a nondescript location that allowed Ďurovčík and his troupe to incorporate elements of Eastern European culture and dance techniques.