After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

El Ultimo Adios

It made all the papers, even the weeklies of tiny U.S. backwaters.
Julio Bocca gave his final farewell performance in Buenos Aires last month. It was huge (in more ways than one). A temporary stage built at the Obelisco on the "widest boulevard in the world," 9 de Julio, showcased his last and final final performance after a year of touring his farewell show. With the help of giant video screens, the 12 blocks of viewers filled the avenue to see the ultimate leaps and lifts of Argentina's superhero ballet icon.

I'm sure he doesn't like to be called "the Baryshnikov of South America," but newscasters around the world liken Bocca to the Russian dancer who became a household word in the United States.

Bocca is his own man. He doesn't need references. From the time he won the 1985 Gold Medal in Moscow at age 18 in the International Ballet Competition, he's gone for it. Baryshnikov, himself a gold medal winner, immediately grabbed him for American Ballet Theatre.

A huge success in the United States and around the world, Julio remained a superstar in his own country. After performances in Buenos Aires, fans mobbed him as if he were Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney.

I didn't attend the free outdoor show, but I was so glad the city was coughing up to give back to the people who idolized one of their own. One week later it was televised, and I suppose the city got their money back.

I watched the televised performance, but sadly it was only a souvenir of previous greatness. I've been tracking Bocca since the '80's, I've seen him at his most amazing: Manon, Hermano Cruel, classical roles, and above all, the fabulously original, El Hombre en la Corbata Roja. His ultimate farewell showed it was time to go. Low camera angles tried to make him soar higher, black tights camouflaged cellulite, unfortunately male ballet dancers are over the hill at thirty-five, and Bocca has managed to make it to forty.

Congratulations all around, and he will continue, not as Nureyev as a sad echo of his former glory, but more like the Baryshnikov of the "Western Hemisphere," intelligently choosing time and place and appropriate roles to continue his artistic growth.


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n a n c y said...

I saw him in Hermano Cruel in May. We all were crying at the final curtain. Don't think my heart could have taken it when he was in his prime.

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