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Transitioning from Villella to Lopez in 2012-2013.-- developments, challenges, opportunties


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#76 bart

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 05:31 AM

Regarding "West Palm Beach." It might be better to think of this as "Palm Beach County," since MCB's audience during their visits to the Kravis Center (2000-plus seats) attracts audiences from a number of prosperous, culturally involved communities within a 30-minute drive of West Palm. The population of the country is 1.3 million, most of whom are full-time residents or people who spend 6 or more months a year in residence here, which includes the entire MCB "season.". A great many are transplants from the Northeast, especially the New York metro region and are familiar with the Balanchine tradition favored by Edward Villella.

"Palm Beach" itself, though the focus of most of the big-donor appeals, is actually a relatively small part of the audience. They donate less to MCB, in toto and as percentage of total donations, than one might think. MCB's biggest subscription audiences at any of its venues are the Saturday and Sunday matinees at the Kravis, whose audiences are made up mainly of ballet-loving women from other communities, from Boca Raton (to the south) to Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter (to the north).

Palm Beach County is primarily a touring stop for MCB. For each Program, the trucks pull in late Thursday night; there's a tech rehearsal on Friday afternoon; they are on their way home to Miami Beach right after the Sunday matinee. What's missing is the sense that MCB has a real, meaningful, visible, ongoing commitment to ballet in this community. Some of this has to do with the fact that MCB is merely a "renter" at the Kravis Center. They make use of Kravis facilities but are not "presented by" it. That is an important distinction, one of the results of which is that they don't get full attention in the Kravis's advertising and promotion.

It seems like the new management at MCB is seriously re-evaluating its efforts in venues like Palm Beach County. That is wonderful. A couple of things I hope they will consider are ....

-- a closer alliance between MCB and the Kravis, with a sincere effort by both to define the Kravis as MCB's "home in Palm Beach" and MCB itself as "a ballet company for the Palm Beaches";

-- effective use of Loudes Lopez, an attractive, articulate advocate for ballet. Lopez will have a lot on her plate during her first season, but being visible here is the best way to put to rest negative feelings about Edward Villella's treatment by the Board, and to convince people that MCB is safe in her hands;

-- a visible physical presence on the Kravis campus itself, an expanded role for the Palm Beach Liaison (former NYCB principal Philip Neal has done a great job with relatively scant resources), and possibly more involvement of the MCB Guild (which seems to have been allowed to lapse), student apprentices, and other volunteers;

-- regularly scheduled workshop performances (lecture demonstrations, or versions of Open Barre, possibly, or performances by the School, with younger dancers as soloists) in the Kravis's smaller theater, the Rinker, or its black-box Helen Persson space); each performance could be a fund-raising opportunity, with basic costs covered by a local donor; low ticket prices, with mailings to all donors on the PB MCB list);

-- more effective use of the large and beautiful Kravis lobby prior to performances or during intermission (displays of costumes and artwork; videos; dancers in costumes interacting with the public; mini-performances or even a mini-barre; this could be something that utilizes students from the school as well as some of the younger members of the company.

-- a formalized, regular lecture/demonstration series at one of the smaller venues at the Kravis, bringing in Lopez, and key members of the artistic team; an example could be the presentations Villella and Haydee Morales gave at the Society of the Four Arts 2 seasons ago).

-- consider extending these small-scale events to other venues in the county, including the Society of Four Arts on the island, but also campuses of P.B. State College, the clubhouses of some of the larger residential communities, etc.;

-- consider joining and working with the Palm Beach Cultural Council;

Michael Kaiser seems willing to think outside the box in order to preserve the box itself. Having people on the ground who get to know (and be known by) the community might be a good way to start.

#77 Birdsall

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:59 AM

In case anyone is curious I will clarify what I think about the whole South Florida concept......the whole West Palm, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami (South Florida) area is considered as a Megalopolis by geographers. At least that is what it was called when I took a geography course years ago. It is urban sprawl big time, and one city spreads somewhat into the next. It is not uncommon for someone to live in Palm Beach County and work in Miami, although the traffic is horrendous and public transportation is not good (in my opinion). It is a driving area. It is close to impossible to live in South Florida and not have a car. With all this said these three cities are their own cities. They are three cities one after another (with smaller towns in between actually). But when I was young living in West Palm it was common to drive down to Miami to go clubbing at the wild clubs like Warsaw Ballroom on South Beach (Miami Beach). When you live in that area you think nothing of driving 1 1/2 hours to get to a club, especially when you are young. There is such a driving culture and you drive everywhere, so driving 1 1/2 hours to Miami is no big deal. I usually crashed at a friend's house or sometimes drove 1 1/2 hours at 4am after all night partying!!!! I can't believe I did it!

It is hard to understand, unless you have lived in that area. Now I live in Gainesville, FL, and I die if I have to drive 30 minutes anywhere. But when you live in South Florida it is part of the culture to drive all over that area. When I was younger Ballet Florida was the Palm Beach County ballet company, but I have to say it does not feel strange that Miami City Ballet performs in Palm Beach County. Miami has been a part of my South Florida life always. I have friends who live there, I have gone to shows, gone clubbing, etc. So Miami City Ballet performing in West Palm never made me think that it is unusual. It still feels like a South Florida company even if its actual name is Miami City Ballet.

I have a subscription with my mother on Fridays, but I sometimes go to an extra show by myself while down in Jupiter (just north of West Palm) for the weekend, and I often strike up conversations with people next to me, and they are often from New York and well acquainted with New York City Ballet, and they are happy that Miami City Ballet performs in West Palm. In fact, I think West Palm is almost New York South!!! You could probably stop people wherever you go and ask them where they lived before West Palm, and probably 80%-90% would say New York or New Jersey.

#78 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 06:51 PM

I think West Palm is almost New York South!!! You could probably stop people wherever you go and ask them where they lived before West Palm, and probably 80%-90% would say New York or New Jersey.


Same here. This visitor's perception is that southeast Florida is culturally descended from the New York area and southwest Florida, i.e. Naples, where I've also seen MCB, is culturally descended from Chicago and the Midwest. Simillar "feel" to those places.

#79 Jayne

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:00 PM

I have heard the joke "what's the biggest city in Cuba? Miami." But I've also heard the joke "The South stops in Jacksonville. Everything beyond that line is New York's colony"

#80 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 09:17 PM

I have heard the joke "what's the biggest city in Cuba? Miami."


And now we have a Cuban AD at MCB...task completed. I hope a little more effort-(compared to the non existent so far)- is made to finally accept-(and address)- what Jayne just mentioned. I hope Miss Lopez could make good use of her bilingual background and transport its significance to other levels all in favor of the community.

#81 Birdsall

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 09:37 AM

I have heard the joke "what's the biggest city in Cuba? Miami." But I've also heard the joke "The South stops in Jacksonville. Everything beyond that line is New York's colony"


Jayne,
I pretty much agree with that assessment. People unfamiliar with Florida think all of Florida is like the Old South. South Florida definitely has a New York sensibility in some respects simply because so many people are originally from the New York area. Many have homes in both places. There isn't much "Old South" in South Florida. Jacksonville still has an Old South element. So you are correct.
And, yes, Miami is sort of like the biggest city in Cuba! LOL That is why when I studied at UF in Gainesville and now have returned to Gainesville (2 years ago), I can't stand the Cuban restaurant here in Gainesville. It is a joke!!! I know what REAL Cuban food is like. I also can not get a REAL Cuban coffee this far north, so Cristian is always ragging on me that I buy lattes (double shots and sometimes even three or four), which I consider the next best thing if you can't get Cuban coffee! LOL
Birdsall

#82 Birdsall

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 09:40 AM


I have heard the joke "what's the biggest city in Cuba? Miami."


And now we have a Cuban AD at MCB...task completed. I hope a little more effort-(compared to the non existent so far)- is made to finally accept-(and address)- what Jayne just mentioned. I hope Miss Lopez could make good use of her bilingual background and transport its significance to other levels all in favor of the community.



When I was young the Cuban influence in Miami was considered negative by many prejudiced people, but I think nowadays most people consider it a huge POSITIVE. It makes Miami a much more interesting and cosmopolitan city and gives it a special feel. I have not heard negative comments about the big impact Cubans have had on Miami in a long, long time which is good. When you get to know Cubans you find out they are more cultured than the average American. At least that has been my personal experience in Florida.

#83 bart

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:14 AM

While driving, I just happened to hear an interview with Lopez on the Miami public radio station ("Cultural Connections," WLRN)

It appears -- from this interview, the press releases, and what is turning up on the website -- that a new company "message" has formed as to the past and future of the company. Lopez, charming and articulate, handled things very well.

-- stressing the similarities between Villella's and her own background, especially having worked with both Balanchine and Robbins;

-- praising Villella's work "as an Artistic Director" and focusing on all the continuities;

-- expressing enthusiasm for the 2012-13 season Villella put together;. Lopez mentioned three works in particular -- Apollo, a ballet she learned from Balanchine himself; Dances at a Gathering; and Piazzolla Caldera;

-- emphasizing that Balanchine/Robbins and Tharp/Taylor will remain the core rep of the company;

-- expressing delight that the company will be working a second time with Liam Scarlett this season;

-- stating that her "main interest" in terms of new directions is allowing MCB's dancers the opportunity to experience choreography that contains new styles of movement, mentioning the works of "Nacho" (I think she said "Nacho" and assumed she was referring to Nacho Duato), Forsythe, Wheeldon, and others.

#84 Helene

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:06 PM

I think I hate you people: now all I can think about is this:
http://www.versaille...aurant.com/menu

;)

#85 Birdsall

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 02:06 PM

I think I hate you people: now all I can think about is this:
http://www.versaille...aurant.com/menu

;)



I go there almost everytime I am in Miami!!! Great place!

#86 Jack Reed

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 04:26 PM

Thanks for the recommendation, Birdsall. My own experience with Cuban restaurants is limited to two in Miami Beach, Puerto Sagua and another one a few blocks northeast of the Roca Center, the MCB headquarters building. They're both good, and very good value. Maybe Puerto Sagua is the better one. Ever been there? Versailles doesn't look expensive, either.

I would have thought from the name that Versailles would be French. Interesting. In any way French techniques applied to Cuban traditions? The online menu doesn't look like it. Another restaurant, in Raleigh - another place I visit in pursuit of Balanchine - does apply French finesse to traditional North Carolina ingredients with results that even pleased some of my French friends...

#87 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 05:41 PM

I think I hate you people: now all I can think about is this:
http://www.versaille...aurant.com/menu

;)


Ha,ha..! Posted Image Well, Helene...if you ever want to come and visit-(and maybe catch a performance of MCB in its first season with Lopez)- you're more than welcome to stay at my little place-(next to the ocean). And Versailles...well, what can I tell you...it is a symbol, and a place of gathering also. At any random day of the week one can stop by and see the hardcore right wing old timers screaming at one another-(Cuban style...we scream rather than talk)-over the imminent return of democracy in Cuba. Thing is, the predicaments have been happening for the last half century...Posted Image .
About the food...have you ever had "ropa vieja"..? (yum!)

Posted Image

#88 Birdsall

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:01 PM

Thanks for the recommendation, Birdsall. My own experience with Cuban restaurants is limited to two in Miami Beach, Puerto Sagua and another one a few blocks northeast of the Roca Center, the MCB headquarters building. They're both good, and very good value. Maybe Puerto Sagua is the better one. Ever been there? Versailles doesn't look expensive, either.

I would have thought from the name that Versailles would be French. Interesting. In any way French techniques applied to Cuban traditions? The online menu doesn't look like it. Another restaurant, in Raleigh - another place I visit in pursuit of Balanchine - does apply French finesse to traditional North Carolina ingredients with results that even pleased some of my French friends...


Actually, Helene brought up Versailles, but that is an institution in Miami. I haven't been to the places you mention. My Cuban friends always took me to Versaille or La Carreta which is near Versailles but more like a diner. Versailles is great value for what you get!!!!

#89 Helene

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:30 PM

I had ropa vieja all four times we ate there! I swoon at the thought...

#90 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 01:01 AM

Transitioning from Villella to Lopez and from Lopez to "ropa vieja"...I LOVE it..! Posted Image


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