The cover photo is of principal Mary Carmen Catoya, and there are a number of effective performance photos, including one of 6 women in Push Comes to Shove which is almost like a snapshot: caught at an awkward moment, but full of life and movement.
The starting point for the piece is the move, at the start of next season, to the Miami Performing Arts Center, where MCB will be one of 4 resident arts organizations. There's some interesting information about Villella's original proposals for a ballet company in Miami, and the master plans he prepared that led the company to its current size, reputation, and recent financial strength.
Here are some of the highlights:
For his part, Villella selects dancers by focusing on the individual. 'The firsts thing I look for is quality of movement. Each of us has that singular fingerprint of how we move,' he says. 'The second is how we move to music and if we have the ability of physicalize music.' And while Villella also looks for 'compatible, willing human beings,' he believes that an important factor in developing a company is 'that people have artistic information that is common througout the ranks.'
To further this goal, Villella teaches company class every day, so that his singular approach can create a more unified look for a company made up of dancers from more than a dozen countries. He hires young dancers, often early in their careers, and promotes from the corps de ballet. 'We are not a company that hires or rents superstars,' he says. 'We develop from within,. It's part of my great satisfaction to look at young kids who came here straight out of schools and academies and are now principal dancers.'
For a company of its size, MCB peforms a relatively large number of times for each program, with regular venues in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Naples, and several tours around the country each year, as well as a few visits abroad. This provides a lot of stage time for the dancers, and some ballets have up to 5 different casts.
'You perform a lot, and that's what makes a dancer. I love to dance; that's why I'm here," says Catoya.
"When dancers have opportunities, it eliminates -- to put it delicately -- interpersonal problems,' says Villella.
Just as interesting as the article is what the author leaves out.
The impression is given that Villella started out at Miami with an almost exclusively Balanchine repertory. There's no mention of the large number of ballets of quite a different style by resident choreographer Jimmy de Gamonet, who left the company and took his ballets wtih him a number of years ago.
I wasn't in this area at the time, and have never seen one of Gamonet's ballets, but I notice that audience members continue to ask about them during Villella's curtain-raiser talks and Q&A. Villella usually sidesteps these questions.
Last March, however, during one of the curtain raisers at West Palm, he responded by saying that, although he has not spoken much in public about the reasons for Gamonet's departure, he felt that the Gamonet ballets had served their purpose when the company was establishing itself, but were not of the kind or quality that presenters wanted when MCB went on tour.
Sims's article, however, gives the "official" historical revision of MCB history, in which Gamonet is a non-person. This doesn't effect the enormous achievement of Villella and MCB , but it does, IMO, make me a little suspicious of journalism which relies entirely on information provided by the subject of the article.