A Portrait of a Dancer

Eddy Tovar, Los Angeles Ballet Permanent guest artist, takes on a leading role of La Sylphide

By Ann Haskins
Published on LatinoLA: May 14, 2009

A Portrait of a Dancer

Trained by Alicia Alonso at the legendary Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Eddy Tovar represents a second wave of Cuban ballet dancers poised to conquer international ballet.

Over the past two decades, Cuban dancers like Jose Manuel Carreno and Carlos Acosta both trained and performed with Ballet Nacional de Cuba before finding stardom outside of Cuba--Carreno with American Ballet Theater and Acosta with Houston Ballet and now Britain's Royal Ballet.

That first generation of Cuban transplants quickly claimed the lead roles in classical ballets, but sometimes found the very different demands of contemporary choreography outside their comfort zone. This new wave of Cuban dancers exhibit the same strength, technique and passion that characterize Cuban ballet training, but many, like Tovar, gained their performance polish outside the Cuban ballet company and were introduced at an early age to styles outside classical ballet.

As a result, Tovar exemplifies the best of his Cuban ballet training, but can move seamlessly from the full-length classics to the quick attack of Balanchine ballets to the modern dance-infused moves favored by contemporary choreographers, traits that make Tovar a rising star and a very busy one.

Typical of his crowded schedule, Tovar completed three performances as Romeo in Orlando, Florida where he is principal dancer with the Orlando Ballet. After the final Sunday matinee of Romeo and Juliet he boarded a plane for Los Angeles where over three weeks he will dance the lead in La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet where he is a permanent guest artist. After the final LAB performance, Tovar hops a plane to an international ballet competition in Helsinki, Finland.

Tovar started ballet because his sister was taking class, but the tag-along little brother found his own calling and is the first to give credit for his current success to his initial training in Cuba.
"No question that my training in Cuba laid the foundation for my dancing. It gave me strength, endurance and an appreciation for technique as something important but something to be used to create a character or share the music with an audience. " What about his ferocity and passion which the critics continually praise? The dark haired Tovar touches his hand to his heart and laughs lightly, "I am Cuban." He says simply.

At age 14, the family immigrated to Brazil where he continued ballet and became aware of ballet beyond the classics. He began entering and winning ballet competitions, some of which required contemporary variations as well as classical dancing. After his sister joined Orlando Ballet, Tovar also accepted an invitation to join just as Orlando Ballet gained a new artistic director, the legendary dancer Fernando Bujones. Bujones mentored the young Cuban dancer over the next four years as Tovar rose to principal dancer. After Bujones' untimely death, the new director, internationally recognized choreographer Bruce Marks brought in Colleen Neary from the Balanchine Trust and Tovar was introduced to Balanchine.

Tovar's talent and his affinity for Balanchine's ballets caught the eye of Neary who invited him to guest with the Los Angeles Ballet. Tovar welcomed the chance to dance with LAB, something else to juggle with guest artist engagements in Japan and South America, as well as his principal dancer duties in Orlando. Tovar likes keeping busy and especially likes being in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Ballet audiences and critics have responded warmly to Tovar's performances with LAB especially in Balanchine ballets. LAB artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Neary have a strong commitment to Balanchine having danced for Balanchine at the New York City Ballet and Balanchine designating Neary to stage his ballets for other companies. In his first LAB guest appearances, Tovar danced leads in Balanchine's Tarentella, Allegro Brillant and Who Cares?, one section of which he was invited to perform on the popular television show So You Think You Can Dance?. Earlier this year, Tovar received rave reviews in the demanding title role in LAB's company premiere of George Balanchine's Prodigal Son .

While he continues to guest with other companies, Los Angeles is the only place Tovar has agreed to accept a permanent guest artist position which means Los Angeles can look forward to seeing much more of him, starting with the upcoming performances of La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet.

Information on Tovar's the upcoming performances of La Sylphide here and here.

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