Thanks, cubanmiamiboy...and it was great to have met your lovely mom too!
Whew, that was probably the quickest trip I've taken but definitely one of the most satisfying. Cubanmiamiboy already knows that I had major issues with the dancing of the female lead (Ms Arja) in Ballo, who changed/watered down many steps to help her get through the piece. I find it really hard to believe that Merrill Ashley approved this; such sloppiness cannot be blamed just on opening-night jitters. Nathalia Arja is a pretty dancer, blessed with the ideal physique of ultra-long and willowy limbs, in relation to a tiny torso but...this part requires steel pointes, not sponge pointes (for starters). This ballerina role requires a strong, straight back...not tipping the torso forward, making a rounded 'C' shape by sticking out the ribs, in every arabesque. Limp wrists in port de bras....etc, etc. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Everything that I write henceforth is uphill...
pause - pause - pause...deep breathing...
I arrived at the Arsht Center, straight from the airport, about an hour before curtain. Those Miamians sure know how to put on a party and dress to the nines -- it was Friday Night Prom amid the coconut palm trees! The entryway to the theater had been turned into an outdoor nightclub, with live DJ, cocktail tables, special lights, etc. All beautiful young gals in Miami seemed to be there, wearing size-0 prom dresses, some cut like tutus. All I can say is: I'm glad to have traveled in high heels and not the usual sneakers.
So on to the show:
Ballo - beautiful, beautiful staging by Ms Ashley. We already know that the MCB corps de ballet is one of the world's best in Balanchine, but they truly outdid themselves here in Ballo, as well as in Serenade. Bravi! The leading man, Renan Cerdeiro, was phenomenal, with a huge jump and very musical. The four demi-solo ladies were commendable but I especially loved the steely footwork of the first (Zoe Zien) and the bouyant jetes of the third (Nicole Stalker).
Polyphonia - A powerful work to Ligeti solo-piano pieces, this is considered one of the greatest ballets of the 21st C (so far!). One of the reasons why I made this trip was precisely to see this, as I'd previously seen only the other two of Wheeldon's 'Ligeti Trilogy' works, Morphoses & Continuum. [I always seem to be away when NYCB or Pa Ballet do it.] To me, it is definitely the strongest of the three Wheeldon-Ligetis, in its composition -- how the 10 pieces flow from one to the other -- and due to the beautiful innovative shapes made on the 8 dancers (4 male-female couples). All 8 dancers were fantastic...including Ms Arja, who was fine in the more 'freeform' demands made by Wheeldon, compared to Balanchine. The other dancers also deserve mention: Tricia Albertson (who dances the two most mysterious pdds, with Reyneris Reyes), Jennifer Kronenberg (extraordinary in her solo within Part VI), Sara Esty, Renan Cerdeiro, Mr. Reyes, Renato Penteado and Kleber Rebello.
Serenade - Now I totally understand why this work was programmed last, even though it is 'softer' than the zippy Ballo. The corps was breathtaking. Sheer perfection, in delivery and nuances. I have rarely seen this ballet so magnificently performed. And those soloists - WOW to Jennifer Kronenberg. I've never quite understood the 'full story' behind this ballet but, whatever the story, Kronenberg's leading character had me in tears well before the famous death ending. This is a great artist - true ballerina. And the other soloists were just as swell: Sara Esty, Emily Bromberg, Carlos M. Guerra (as Kronenberg's partner) and blonde 'angel' Chase Swatosh.
So I came for Polyphonia but had Serenade in my heart as I exited the Arsht Center, with a huge full Moon Over Miami. Yes, it was full...how ideal is that?