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MCB Don Q (Program IV)

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I confess I wasn't looking forward to this is much as the other programs this season. Don Q done in a way that is "not quite right" can be tedious. Fortunately, the opening night cast -- performing on sets provided by ABT that are a big improvement on what I remember from the past -- swept away my hesitancy. Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado were brilliant as Kitri and Basilio, with Catoya dancing better than ever, in my opinion.

Catoya's characterization of Kitri hasn't changed much since the last time MCB did this a couple of years ago, except in the sense that seems to be freer, warmer, more spontaneous. It is in the classical sections -- the Act II Dream Scene and the grand pas de deux at the end of Act III -- that her clarity, speed, musicality, and confidence were so striking. And what amazing balances. Penteado was just as good. He's such a consistent classical dancer that I sometimes forget just how brilliant he is. Catoya and Penteado are a dream couple in this kind of work.

This production succeeds in two areas where previous MCB efforts been problematic. Both have to do with "Spanishness." Movement quality and humor here seem genuine and organic to the score and libretto, not cultural caricature which occurs too often even on the most eminent stages. Friday night highlights for me include ....

-- Jennifer Kronenberg (Mercedes) and Reyneris Reyes (Espada). Kronenberg, like Catoya, is back from maternity leave. Mercedes, as she dances it, is a ballerina role: sensuous, glamorous, with a hint of sly humor and the assurance that comes from knowing just how alluring she is. Reyes has the enormous advantage of Cuban training, which no doubt included watching and performing many, many, many Don Q's. When it comes to stylish male swagger, generous partnering, and the ability to make difficult dancing seem easy, he's the real thing.

-- Sara Esty 's Cupid. This season Esty has had the chance to demonstrate her versality in a variety of big roles. . It's fascinating to watch her return to the kind of speedy, cheerful, soubrettish classical dancing in which she first caught everyone's eye. . The Dream scene, my favorite section of the ballet, was beautifully danced by Esty, Catoya, Christie Sciturro, and the women of the corps. Ashley Knox's variation as the "Lead Bridesmaid" in Act III. Several of the senior members of the male corps -- Michael Sean Breeden, Bradley Dunlop, Neil Marshall -- who danced with conviction and intensity. Often i notice, even in the greatest companies, a loss of concentration and energy in the back rows of big classical ensembles. Not with these guys. The other, newer members of the corps seemed to pick up energy from them. Andrei Chagas's Sancho Panza. One of the worst features of this production in the past has been to turn Sancho into a cartoon figure; Chagas got the humor, but also the humanity.

There are three separate casts during the Kravis Center run. Saturday matinee: Jennifer Lauren and new principal Kleber Rebello, back from an injury. Saturday night: Natalia Arja and Renan Cedeiro. Sunday matinee: the return of Catoya and Penteado. I'm sorry I'll miss Lauren/Rebello, but very glad to be able to catch the other performances.

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Thank you for the report, B. I saw Catoya's debut in the role, and really enjoyed it. She and Panteado have had a steady partnership that has lasted quite a few years. I will try to catch different performances, although I'm disappointed not to have THE Quiteria of MCB: Jeanette Delgado. She would had been wonderful if paired with Reyes' Basilio. Rebello sounds exciting. I wish they would had paired him with Arja instead of Cerdeiro.

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Sara Esty's Amour was the most beautiful and exciting dancing last night for me! Very, very impressive! Her arms were gorgeous and her bouree-Ing so smooth. Loved her!!! I think the way she danced Amour could have been transplanted onto any world stage.

Penteado had much more flowing arms than I've ever seen from him and he was impressive. Catoya was great too.

More later....busy weekend with parents!

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curious who was the stager for this production? Did anyone keep their programs?

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"Adapted and staged by Geta Constantinescu with Edward Villella"

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I went to tonight's performance. I think MCB does a decent job with this war horse, considering the very little, almost non existent exposure the company has to Petipa. The ballet went thru with no major mishaps, but in general I perceived a generalized lethargy onstage, particularly among the framing members during the crowd scenes. We all know this is a small company, and so we won't see the stage filled out to full capacity the way we see the Russian companies, or even ABT. Still, the interaction among the onstage spectators was sort of mechanical...not very alive. And then there's the technical aspect. Just as every other Petipa-(and unlike contemporary "floor rolling" choreo)-, here there's not too much hiding or inventing to rely to if a dancer is not up to the technical demands of the choreography. If the Queen of Dryads can't finish her 15 Italian fouettes, or Kitri her entire fouettes sequence, it will show. This is what happened tonight with Emily Bromberg-(Queen of Dryads).

Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Panteado were the substitutions of Nathalia Arja and Renan Cerdeiro in the lead roles. Catoya looked a bit tired throughout the ballet, unlike Panteado, who was up to his game. Still, she very much came alive in the grand PDD. Her fouettes were ambitious-(plenty of triple pirouettes in between singles)-but they became a little unstable and off center toward the end.

MCB keeps renting ABT's sets and costumes. We still don't have our own. The orchestra and director helped tremendously with their "following the dancers" tempi...

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And BTW...shame on, Miami.... No bouquet for Catoya...? (expected though, given the geographical circumstances...)

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Don't worry Cubanmiamiboy! Catoya got an enormous bouquet of flowers on Friday, opening night.

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Yes, Friday night was her and Penteado's performance. Saturday night was supposed to be Arja/Cerdiero but they had to be replaced.

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Was an injury announced or listed in a slip in the program?

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All that was announced was that Catoya/Penteado would be replacing Arja/Cerdiero.

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Our long-term policy has been, official news only. Any speculation or insider information about injuries, etc. is not permitted.

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I was about to go on Sunday-(it was probably Jeanette Delgado's performance)-but I decided instead for Seraphic Fire and Haydn' Seven Words. I keep praying for a moment in history where someone in this company will look at the classics with keener eyes, hire better coaches for them and give some of this dancers the oportunity to carry on the grand roles. I just have the feeling this is not Lourdes "Morphoses" Lopez. Just sayin'...

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Having seen PNB's Midsummer on Sunday (will write up my review tomorrow), I walked home wondering "why isn't MCB doing this very Balanchine ballet? they could easily rent the sets from Pennsylvania Ballet or Boston Ballet". They could also do the Balanchine Coppelia.

But to echo Christian's point, that wouldn't be very "Morphoses" of Madame Lopez. If they can rent ABT's sets, then surely they can rent sets for a Balanchine full-night story ballet.

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Having seen PNB's Midsummer on Sunday (will write up my review tomorrow), I walked home wondering "why isn't MCB doing this very Balanchine ballet? they could easily rent the sets from Pennsylvania Ballet or Boston Ballet". They could also do the Balanchine Coppelia.

But to echo Christian's point, that wouldn't be very "Morphoses" of Madame Lopez. If they can rent ABT's sets, then surely they can rent sets for a Balanchine full-night story ballet.

Without knowing much about the Miami City school, I'd wonder if they had the kid population for these two works -- they both require a fairly large corps of kid performers.

Nonetheless, I do think that some of the Balanchine program-length works are becoming the same kind of milestone ballets (we do them to prove that we can) that the Petipa warhorses have been.

(looking forward to hearing about your Sunday experience -- I couldn't go to that performance!)

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I think MCBS is fairly large, and they would be fine. However, MCB tours around Florida, so that might be an issue for children in performances.

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