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Highlights (or not) of 2004-05 SeasonWhat impressed you?

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#1 bart


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Posted 09 April 2005 - 06:44 AM

This is an all-call to everyone who's seen the Miami City Ballet season at home or on tour. What do you most remember (good or needing improvement) about the season? Those of us living in this distant peninsula far removed World Ballet Central have to keep in touch.

For me:

Joyous, technically strong ensemble work in Divertimento No. 15, Ballet Imperial, and La Valse. What a thrill to see so many dancers performing their hearts out at the conclusion of Ballet Imperial, impeccably in sync. :clapping:

Rapid growth in skill, stage confidence, and versatility of Tricia Albertson, Jeremy Cox, and Jeanette Delgado -- everybody's favorite substitutes: they can dance anything and are still so young.

Miami Ballet's mini-series of classes for adults at the Kravis Center in West Palm. Learning barre exercises, positions, steps, and then putting some of it together in the center work at the end of the session was an incredible experience -- and one which has really helped me to "see" what dancers are doing on the stage. :thanks: to former NYCB dancer Steve Caras, our teacher, and to Miami soloists Callie Manning and Didier Bramaz for setting such a pure example of each combination.

Giving to Paul Taylor's Arden Court a lightness, energy, and flight that stay in my visual and emotional memory.

Giving us La Valse, to remind us that Balanchine could descend (or rise) to the slightly tacky and sensational end of the sensual and emotional spectrum.

And esepcially Jennifer Kronenburg's airy yet grounded moves as the Sleepwalker.

Less successful: a Nutcracker that tended towards the lifeless, with the most conlused, crowded, and non-dramatic battle between the Nutcracker and Mouse King that I have seen. :)

That's just me. How about your impressions?

Edited by bart, 11 August 2005 - 12:51 PM.

#2 koskoff


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Posted 09 April 2005 - 09:19 AM

What has most impressed me over the 9 years I have been attending the MCB's performances has been the extraordinary work of the corps. Shortly before I moved to Florida I saw the Kirov, Bolshoi, Royal Danish, and other leading companies in what must have been the single most incredible dance season in Washington, D.C. The first time I saw MCB, the uniformity of the corps impressed me and I have to echo Bart's comment "impeccably in sync." I saw Program IV three times, once in Miami and twice in Fort Lauderdale. Every performance of Ballet Imperial left me (and others with whom I spoke afterward) speechless. There are simply no words in our language to describe the overwhelming impact and joy of these performances.

I've often wondered if Edward's Villella's avoidance of a "star system" doesn't contribute in large measure to this. The dancers in this company are so supportive of each other. They applaud in the wings as those on stage perform and as they exit. There seems to be a closeness that would be difficult to maintain in the more competitive environment of other companies.

Another highlight for me was Trey McIntyre's Reassuring Effects... I found the movements striking and novel and well suited to the Dvorak score. Impressive was the company's ability to master such a different movement vocabulary. Similarly, I am enjoying the added dimension that other choreographies bring to the company's neo-classical background.

Edited by koskoff, 09 April 2005 - 09:38 AM.

#3 Justdoit



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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:07 AM

A much needed topic for this forum, thanks bart. I also feel the highlight for me this season after only seeing programs I and IV, multiple times, was the Trey McIntyre piece. I too was impressed with the ability of the dancers to learn such a variety of movement in such a short period of time and to make it so easy to watch and completely enjoyable. MCB seems to have ballet dancers who are more than just ballet dancers, but can crossover to other dance genres while giving standout performances as well. I hope we get to see more ground-breaking choreography such as McIntyre's in the seasons ahead.

#4 Helene



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Posted 10 April 2005 - 02:08 PM

Welcome to Ballet Talk, koskoff! We hope you'll post about MCB performances you see and any other topics on the board that strike a chord.

#5 bart


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Posted 10 April 2005 - 03:53 PM

I echo Koskoff and Justdoit on the McIntyre. The (more than) inadequacy of the recorded music really mushed up the Dvorak score -- but the dancing was clear, with beautiful flow. A great illustration of Villella's version of Balanchine's insistence on moving seemlessly without visible preparation for the steps, even difficult steps. And the amazing mixing of soloists, principles and advanced corps members -- artistic democracy works best when ALL are encouraged to be as good as they can be. One sad tradeoff for the star system in other companies is that you rarely get to see this kind of regular and sustained interaction.

Later in the season, seeing the company bring so much balleticism (word?) to Taylor's Arden Court, I reallized that the McIntyre was not just a cross-over fluke. Villella really works at selecting choreography suitable for his dancers and their style.

Incidentally, all three of us so far have used the word "impressed" (with a slight suggestion that we were surprised and delighted to find a level of performance we had not excpected). I hope we can all continue to communicate -- reporting, sharing opinions, asking questions -- about future MCB performances. And that we will be joined by many others. :thanks:

A question: did anyone share my disappointment with the Nutcracker, especially the battle scene? Even the production looked a little shabby compared with Ballet Florida's on the same stage. Was I just having a bad day?

#6 Jack Reed

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Posted 30 April 2005 - 03:48 PM

I haven't yet seen MCB's Nutcracker, although if I lived in south Florida I would be sure to. Balanchine's is the most magical treatment I have ever seen, and friends here who have seen MCB's say it's faithful to the one we saw under Mr. B's direction in the good old days.

But as to the main question in this topic, just off the top of my head, I'd say Ballet Imperialwith Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado was such a high of the season, it was a high for many seasons and even compared to some other companies! I haven't seen anything so good so fully and beautifully achieved in a while. But La Valse with Deanna Seay and Mikhail Nikitine was literally wonderful, full of wonders; it's just not quite as great a ballet, in my book. And then there was Afternoon of a Faun with Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra; that was memorable, too.

Cheating a litle now by consulting my "notes" - my scribbled-over casting sheets - I'm reminded of two very fine and very different Sonatines, Caytoya's gleaming one and Seay's luxurious one, and Francisco Renno's directly expressive playing of the piano. And the opening-night cast of Divertimento No. 15, in which Catoya, Penteado, and Kronenberg were outstanding, gave a performance on such a high level it left me a little unhinged.

For me, an unreassuring low came with Trey McIntyre's The Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry, in which the tricky choreography didn't seem to me ever to go with the direct and flowing music, but at least the dancers always looked good (or better) in it. (I hope they enjoyed its challenges.)

#7 bart


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Posted 30 April 2005 - 07:15 PM

Jack, I wish I had liked this Nutcracker better, especially since my first exposure to the Balanchine version long, long, long ago is still very vividly impressed in my visual memory. And the slowly rising, quivering Christmas tree is still a brillliant touch. (Even when it once got stuck on the old City Center stage, requiring the entire production to come to a halt.)

Going back over my cast sheets -- I also need to scribble reactions -- I find that I was especially touched by the use of children as Marie (Christina Ibarra), Drosselmeier's nephew (Rafael Ibarra) and Fritz. They were wonderful, as were the other children at the party and the poor, hard-working Bunny later on. I find that I circled (in soloist roles) Renato Penteado, Mary Carmen Catoya, Tricia Albertson (Dew Drop), Patricia Delgado and Callie Manning as having made an special impression on me. The Sugar Plum Fairy in the performance I saw was Jennifer Kronenberg, who always impresses me with her strong, graceful presence.

Recorded music for this is an even bigger downer than for ordinary programs.

#8 bart


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Posted 11 August 2005 - 01:07 PM

As a follow-up, I recommend Carol Pardo's review of MCB's 2004-05 season: "Building a Repertory Museum, One Ballet at a Time," in the Summer 2005 issue of DanceView.

Her comments about Edward Villella's long-term strategies for developing the MCB's rep both interesting and praiseful.

Here's an example that relates to some of the comments above:

QUOTE: "In his pre-performance discussion of La Valse , Villella threw out so many things to think about -- the New Look, the perversities of the port de bras, the possibility that the three women who cover [their] eyes know what is in store -- that the imagination of performers and audience alike could not help but be stimulated. As a consequence, evereyone on stage seemed to understasnd their importance and their relation to the work as a whole. Consequently, La Valse grew in stature, suddenly a great work, multilayed and beautifully constructed, not just a chic and beautifully costumed one."

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