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Changes affecting Miami dance scene including MCB

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Today's LINKS includes two articles about the resignations of the 2 founders of Maximum Dance Company in Miami from its recent merger with Ballet Gamonet. Mentioned in the article below is the defection of Miami City Ballet's most (IMO) charismatic male dancer, Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez, to the Gamonet company.

I will personally miss Garcia-Rodriguez, who added dramatic impact and stage presence to a technically accomplished but occasionally bland male line-up at MCB.

In addition, Maximum has at least one other striking and powerful male dancer, Paul Thrussell (formerly of London City Ballet and Boston Ballet) whom I saw this spring when a group from the company guested with Ballet Florida) as well as Spencer Gavin and Cristian Laverde Koenig, whom I liked a lot.

I'm not familiar with the Miami dance scene (attending MCB performances here in West Palm Beach). Any comments from Miami? On the change-over? Gamonet's influence (I know he's controversial abut has a big following in Miami)? Last season? Plans for the 2005-06 season?

Here's the article that mentions this aspect of the story:

http://www.southflorida.com/sfl-maxdance0a...0,6310682.story

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For those who follow the Miami City Ballet and Miami dance politics in general, much is happening.

This includes (a) the withdrawal of former MCB dancers, David Palmer and Yanis Pikieris, from their own company, Maximum Dance, now that Jimmy de Gamonet has taken over; and (b) Palmer's and Pikieris's movement back to MCB as part of a move to develop new contemporary and childrens' dance series, designed to perform in smaller (non-opera-house) venues.

Here's the story (courtesy of dirac's LINKS column). Miami City Ballet

The company roster is up on MCB's website. It omits Isanusi Garcia-Rodrigues. But -- other then a few arrivals on the corps level -- it adds no new ranking male dancers. MCB's young male contingent can do quite nicely when promoted to the big roles now and then, but there's still a big need (IMO) for someone with a large-scale dramatic as well as classical stage presence.

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Looks like the crossover virus is spreading. I'm sure we can count on Villella to handle it right, but.

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Yes, I agree with dirac. It is going to be interesting watching these most recent events play out during the upcoming season. I do think MCB needs both a Children's Outreach Program and a contemporary dance program as part of the usual season offerings. It appears MCB plans to use their studio/theater for both new programs. If so, I wonder if seating for 250 will be enough?

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Their email notification said only 200 tickets to be sold per show!

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Thanks for calling my attention to the email notification. It mentions a Contemporary Dance series of 2 programs (January 27, 28 and April 7,8 -- both 2006) at the company's studio theater in Miami Beach.

David Palmer and Yanis Pikieris are listed as administrators of the program -- which will be danced by MCB dancers.

Sounds like a great idea for a small theater and for touring in the area-- including, I hope, West Palm's Rinker Playhouse. I'm looking forward to seeing what the rep will be.

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More on the Gamonet upheavals in the Miami dance scene. According to Southflorida.com, MCB has lost its new co-ballet mistress, Iliana Lopez, who is moving to the Gamonet company.

Lopez retired as a principal dancer after a long career (17 years) with MCB. During much of that period, de Gamonet was the company's resident choreographer. Lopez is no longer mentioned on the MCB website, but there's now a listing for an "Assistant to the Ballet Mistress": Joan Latham, a former MCB Soloist who I believe retired in 2004. Roma Sosenko, former NYCB soloists and long-time MCB ballet mistress, remains in her position.

So ... the most popular of all MCB dancers (now retired) moves to Gamonet -- and the co-founders of Maximum (now Gamonet) move to MCB. Meanwhile, MCB takes baby steps towards introducing a new contemporary ballet season. It makes the plot of Sylvia seem simple by comparison.

Any further news? Or reactions?

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The loss of Iliana Lopez is quite a loss, both for the company and the school. I am too far removed geographically to know any more than I read hear, and was not aware of her move. We see MCB in WPB. This past year,at the Sat evening performance at the Kravis --Program III-- I accompanied my daughter--a student of ballet. We were sitting in Orchestra level seats in the second to the last row. There were a few empty seats just behind us. Just as the curtain went up, Iliana and two others sat down in the empty seats to take in the performance. I believe she had "set" one of the performances that night. I recognized her immediately. At the first intermission, before she left to go back stage, I very discretely leaned back and simply asked her if she "missed it, being on stage performing." She smiled and nodded, but added that she enjoyed teaching and coaching.

I remember reading on Ballet Talk for Dancers how many young students found her audition classes for MCB's summer program to be enjoyable. She did many of the off site auditions, and was teaching at the school.

She will be missed.

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Thanks for the reply, nlkflint. I also attend MCB in West Palm. Lopez and her husband, Franklin Gomero, came to a class given by Steve Caras at the Kravis and participated in what I guess you would call a dance demonstration, also dancing something from (I think) Diamonds. I was charmed. She also spoke, substituting for Edward Villella, at one of the curtain raisers last year.

I really hope that that this works out well for her, MCB, the former Maximum artistic directors, and the excellent Maximum dancers. (I arrived down here after the departure of Gamonet from MCB and don't really know anything about him or his work.)

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bart,

I echo nlkflint's sentiments about Iliana. I still remember her as the Siren in Prodigal. She was riveting. I know she will be a major loss to the company and the school, as she is a class act. I have seen some of Gamonet's ballets and have liked what I saw. Glad he will have a vehicle to display his wares, so you can have an opportunity to see them. Can't help but spectulate on the soap opera quality of the most recent events at the same time. Also wondering how all this will effect the Miami dance scene now and into the future?

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I agree about Lopez, she was a very fine dancer, and I got a little choked up at her retirement; it was her Terpsichore with her husband's equally good Apollo at Ravinia here years ago that made me remember MCB and eventually start visiting Florida to see the company.

But, Justdoit, which Gamonet ballets did you like? Two which come immediately to my mind are ones which didn't please me at all: La Casa de Bernarda Alba, after the Garcia Lorca story, in which someone gets struck by a cane, someone breaks the cane, and someone hangs herself, too brutally outshocked Tudor for me, and the only MCB ballet I ever sat out on further visits to the theatre (for the rest of the program); and something Espagnole, in which the main Spanish ingredient seemed to be the red and black costumes, and in which the girls looked awkward most of the time, a cardinal sin for a choreographer, as far as I'm concerned. (Tudor's dancers never looked awkward or clumsy that I remember.) I did see a Grand pas Classique, which Deanna Seay made look like good choreography, but I wonder what you thought of these and maybe what favorites you had I didn't see.

I don't begin to know enough about the ballet world to guess what these off-stage movements will mean until something changes on stage, and someone explains it to me. But I have enormous faith in Edward Villella to use whatever resources he has to make MCB continue to improve. Thinking back over the performances of Ballet Imperial I saw this past season is enough to make me excited about that, and then I think of what I heard about that ballet's preparation - the people who said, No, don't try it, they're not ready, and the fact that rehearsals began early last Fall and continued on and off until the Spring season, by which time the company was ready. And how!

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Jack, your descriptions of 2 of the Gamonet pieces raised a question. I really can't see the current crop of MCB dancers handling something llike that today, especially the Bernarda Alba. (Although I love their style, it seems far removed from that sort of drama.)

I guess my question is for all long-time MCB watchers. I know the current company seems quite young. When I look at cast lists of 5-10 years ago there are lots of people who are gone. In the past, when Gamonet was a major figure in the company -- and his works a major selling point in its repertoire -- was there a different dancer type and company style at MCB than today?

P.S. I'd travel far to see a ballet based on Casa de Bernarda Alba, Lorca's most dramatically effective play (I think).

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Jack,

I am a newer viewer to MCB rep and Gamonet in his last years with the company. I have not seen the Gamonet ballets of which you speak. However, I did see his Carmen which I was lukewarm about due to it's present day setting and complete lack of classicism. However, I did like his Movilissimanoble, Big Band Supermegatroid and Prokofiev Piano Concerto, all set on MCB dancers, many of whom are still there.

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However, I did like his Movilissimanoble, Big Band Supermegatroid and Prokofiev Piano Concerto, all set on MCB dancers, many of whom are still there.

Justdoit, do you recall individual dancers whom you liked doing Gamonet's choreography?

Maybe we'll see another side of the company -- or some of its dancers -- when the new contemporary series begins. (If it ever gets to West Palm. The Rinker, Eissey or Duncan Theaters await.) I'd actually like to see some character-based centemporary story ballets at MCB, if they can carry them.

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bart,

Looking at old programs, I was able to come up with the following dancers still dancing with MCB who I think stood out in Gamonet choreography: Tricia Albertson, Callie Manning, Andrea Spiridonakos, Katia Carranza, Jennifer Kronenberg, Jeremy Cox, Bruce Thornton, Didier Bramaz, and Renato Penteado. I am sure these senior members as well as the newer talent will get a chance to show what they can do with the new contemporary program.

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Thanks, justdoit. The biographies in current MCB progsrams are remarkably brief and unhelpful when it comes to the performing background of their own dancers.

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