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Miami City Ballet Program II


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Thanks so much, cahill. I love the promo video. Is this the first time they've done something so ambitious in terms of pre-performance marketing?

It's rare for West Palm to get the first weekend of peformances. Usually we're after Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

I wish I'd had a chance to watch Patrick Corbin setting Mercuric Tidings on the company. I really like this work and can't wait to see what Miami makes of it. They already have Arden Court in their rep.

I've just received a mailing with Jeremy Cox on the cover, photographed by Lois Greenfield. It's one of the most wonderful photos of a dancer caught while flying through the air I've seen. He's bare-chested, smiling enigmatically, wearing mottled raspberry colored tights, and performing a stylized version of what I think is called a stag jete en avant. The single shot conveys so many of Cox's qualities and strengths.

Ballet Imperial was last performed in West Palm in February 2006. The two principal couples I saw were Penteado and Catoya (shown briefly in the video) and then Albertson and the much-missed Mikhail Ilyin. I recollect some difficulties in the corps a couple of years ago. They seemed out of sync more than they should and a little uncomfortable with parts of the work. The corps has made big improvements, I think, in the 2-plus years since then, so I hope they do what they are now capable of. Facial expressions, too, please!

The Fox-Trot section of Villella's Neighborhood Ballroom was here in spring of 2003, with Jennifer Kronenberg and Yann Trividic. (He's in the video, I think. It's a fun piece which worked well as part of a full-evening presentation of all four of Villella's dance-hall pieces, preceded by the Waltz and the Quick-Step and followed by the Mambo. It may, I fear, suffer when on the same bill with the sharper, faster, more brilliant Taylor and Balanchine.

Anyone have any casting preferences for the Ballet Imperial leads this time around?

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Catoya, definitely. Like Cristian, I was also thinking of Jeanette Delado. She's reminds me somehow of the photos of Marie-Jeanne for whom the role was created back in 1941.

Jeanette Delgado has a remarkable musicality and joy. She ought to make an impression when Miami City Ballet comes to City Center in January.

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Sorry about delaying writing about the first weekend at West Palm. I saw Friday night, their first public presentation of the program, and have to admit that it looked a little tentative. But Saturday night was glorious as was the Sunday matinee.

I'll write more as others get involved from Fort Lauderdale and Miami, but here was the casting that I saw. (I use the term "first cast" for those who danced on opening night.)

"The Fox Trot: Dancing in the Dark"

Carlos Guerra as the Poet in all performances. Jennifer Kronenberg and Haiyan Wu alternating as the Movie Star. Alex Wong was the Pilot's buddy in all performances. My favorites in this piece -- the "Three Smokers" -- were Jeremy Cox, Renayo Penteado (surprisingly light, relaxed and funny) and Alexandre Dufaur. Alternate cast was Daniel Baker, Danile Sarabia, and Dufaur.

Mercuric Tidings:

-- First cast leads: Jeremy Cox and Patricia Delgado. Leader of the 4 women (a rather important role in the Adagio, middle section) Allynne Noelle.

-- Second cast leads: Daniel Baker and Jeanette Delgado. Leader of the 4 women, Callie Manning.

Ballet Imperial:

-- First cast. Principals: Catoya and Penteado. Second female lead: Jeanette Delgado, supported by Alexandre Dufaur and Didier Bramaz in one performance and Stephen Satterfield and Didier Bramaz in another.

-- Second cast: Principals: Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra. Second female lead: Tricia Albertson, supported by Stephen Satterfield and Marc Spielberger.

Biggest surprise: Mercuric Tidings. Everyone remembers -- and talks about -- the speed, intricacy, radical direction changes, and lightheartedness of the allegro movements. These are indeed wonderful, and Miami danced them thrillingly. I was most struck, however, by the middle movement -- an adagio -- which includes a beautiful, dreamlike and almost seraphic pas de deux, esepcially when danced by Cox and Patricia Delgado. Daniel Baker and Jeanette Delgado were fast, enthusiastic, brilliant, and full of "let's put on a show" enthusiasm in the allegro movements. But for mature artistry, look closely at Cox and Patricia.

I liked all the leads in Ballet Imperial. Jeanette Delgado as the second lead danced so joyfully, so precisely, so daringly that I think she could appear with any company in the world -- Mariiynsky, San Francisco, NYCB -- and still be a star in thss particular role.

For those who missed it, here's the Palm Beach Post review (originally linked by dirac on Saturday).


Charles Passy, though not trained in dance, is one of south Florida's more observant and thoughtful writers about the performing arts in general His point about Miami's artistic aspirations in the Taylor piece is right on target.

It's a rare choreographer who can appreciate the art form in such profoundly simple terms. And it's a rare dance company that can embrace that vision, letting athleticism and technique serve such a noble purpose. In other words, this is show business without the show.

So is his feeling, based on the Friday opening night, that MCB is going to grow significantly -- "take full ownership" -- in the Taylor and Balanchine as time goes on. (I saw this happen during the course of a single weekend!)

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Thanks, cahill. I was delighted by the review, but not by the reference in the first paragraph to further cutbacks in the company due to economic difficulties. In West Palm we are already going to shift to performances without an orchestra. I hope that dancers aren't cut as well.

Levin's tribute to Catoya in Ballet Imperial is right on target, it seems to me. It was good to hear that Katia Carranza, also dancing in Ballet Imperial, is now back from Mexico for a couple of programs. She has been missed.

Although I understand where Levin is coming from in his criticism of the way that the company danced Taylor, I agree with it only partially:

But the dancers also sometimes bring an unnecessary ballet prettiness to Taylor's choreography, a flourish of the hands, an elegant tilt of the head. It dilutes the simplicity and human gravity that can make Taylor's work so powerful. At one point in Mercuric four women lying on the floor fold up from their elbows and knees, like some strange animal-flower growth, beautiful and odd. Those moments need no decoration.
I don't think the word "prettiness" is what he really means. These are ballet dancers trained to the highest standard. They bring expressive elegance and precision to this piece that modern dancers do not. I believe this enriches it, revealing aspects that might not be visible even when Taylor's own company dances the piece. Something may be lost, but something is also gained.

MCB is NOT the Taylor company. It is a tribute to the richness and strength of Taylor's choreography that it shows so well when both of these quite different companies perform it.

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Nice facts:

This dance-(new to me)- featured beautiful red outfits that fade to white-(or more precisely, skin tone)-at the top. The dancers looked very energetic, smiling, and profusely sweaty by the end. The work didn't appear to have a theme. I perceived it as an exhibition of pure movement. Overall, the visual offering was very pretty, including the postures and the costumes design. The dancers were very pleasant to look at, both the men and the woman. The men danced shirtless, revealing a cut and well defined physique. The choreography offered an opening with dancers in two lines leaning to the sound of a flute. The score-(set to the beautiful Schubert's Symphonies # 1 and 2)- was bold and dramatic, and while I liked the energy the dancers put out in response to the energy of the music-(in the fast sections)-sometimes the music seemed a little too much against the dancing, at times much of the dance feeling like a grand finale. Facts...there were nice leaps, lifts and precise rapid turns across the stage, along with several passages where a dancer's movements were nicely offset within groupings, followed by in sync movements. In a slower passage in the middle of the work, the dancers leaned their legs, echoing the opening of the dance, and I specially liked a sequence where one group of dancers performed a series of rotating lifts going left while another group of dancers rolled on the floor going right. The dance returned to a fast passage with leaping legs that revealed a picture of exuberance...Lines forming and reforming leading to the grand finale-(quite effective, IMO)-with a pretty ending ensemble pose with one female dancer raised high.

On Friday the leading couple was Patricia Delgado and Jeremy Cox. Delgado was-(as always)-sharp, sparkling and beautiful. Cox was-(as usual too)-THE savior soul of the night. Saturday night performance was lead by Delgado’s sister, the always impressive, strong Jeanette. She was wisely paired with the best ballerina-lifter of the Company, the Soloist category-deserving and physically impressive bailarin-(WHEN is he going to get promoted?!?!)-Daniel Baker. The two couples were excellent.

On the other side...

...I wish my knowledge and taste of the dancing spectrum were wider. If I have to say that the whole work didn’t displease me , I must be totally honest and mention also that it neither did it completely for me. There was “something” missing…and I’m thinking, and thinking. Then, one of my two friends/companions-(a totally ballet “non connoisseur”)-made the following interesting comment: “It looked to me like a ballet rehearsal…” And then, I got it. I remembered somebody on this board mentioning Scheherezade and asking me what my position was towards it. Well, I actually went to review my Liepa DVD with his reconstruction...founding myself knowing what was that Fokine’s masterpiece had in common with Taylor’s work. Of course… it had to do with an absence…

Done with this. Again, I liked it…overall speaking, but I wish it would had been a performance by the Miami Contemporary Dance Company, instead of MCB…

Ballet Imperial-(oh yes…, THAT was beautiful… :off topic: ) coming next…

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There was “something” missing…and I’m thinking, and thinking. Then, one of my two friends who I was with-(a totally ballet “non connoisseur”), made the following interesting comment: “It looked to me like a ballet rehearsal…” And then, I got it. I remembered somebody on this board mentioning Scheherezade and asking me what my position was towards it. Well, I actually went to review my Liepa DVD with his reconstruction...founding myself knowing what was that Fokine’s masterpiece had in common with Taylor’s work. Of course… it had to do with an absence… {Bold-face added.]

I think you have put your finger on something that goes to the heart of why we "love" certain forms of artistic expression but feel let down by or even angry at others. When we grow up associating "art" and pleasure with one school or style, it can be uncomfortable trying to respond to others that are different. This is true even when we know that the unfamiliar work is of high quality.

You grew up immersed in the Cuban School. I, from very early on, saw Balanchine as a kind of artistic God.

Peple with backgrounds like that frequently experience(d) difficulties in moving out and responding fully and openly to new aesthetic experiences. When Alonso's company danced in in NYC in 2003 the Times review was headlined: "Latin Passion and Drama Meet Academic Precision." I can promise that you find EITHER of those qualities in MCB's version. But you (we) will, I hope, find a damn good show put on by some pretty wonderful dancers. "Too little"? "Too much"? Or just: "different"?

There are some differences between growing up with Alonso and growing up with Balanchine, however.

-- As you watche the Taylor piece (danced by MCB with a distinct Balanchinian accent) you feel that something has been left out. An "absence."

-- I, on the other hand, while watching choreography in Ballet Russe tradition out of which Alonso developed often find myself feeling that something extraneous and unnecessary has been added TO, or imposed upon, the work.

I guess the best we can do is recognize this pattern in ourselves. And try to approach all high-level dancing, whatever the style, with open eyes and open hearts.

Can't wait to hear your response to Ballet Imperial. And -- of course -- to the MCB Don Quixote coming up in Program III.

As a native of Havana, you must know that ballet by heart.

When Alonso's company danced Don Q in NYC a few years ago, the NY Times headlined its review: "Latin Passion and Drama Meet Academic Precision." I'm not sure how MCB will compare with that. Inevitably there will be something missing as compared with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba -- and and also something added. "Too little"? "Too much"? Or, "Vive la difference"?

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Sorry that I misunderstood your point, Cristian. I was focused of other issues.

I know this is :wink: ... but you picqued my curiosity. How strictly is the pointe-shoe v. soft-shoe maintained defined by Alonso, the company, etc. Is it really a matter of as ballet=pointe shoes and contemporary = soft shoes? Does BNdeC include repertory in which they dance without pointe shoes?? If so, do they call these dances "ballets"?

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...but let's get back to business.


OK, so on the first performance-(I know…last Friday, but better a late review than none, right…?)-I was a little bored by the second Intermezzo-(after “The Fox-Trot” and “Mercuric Tidings”, until the reward came at its most exuberant form under the name of “Ballet Imperial”. Another new-(for me)- BALLET… and definitely another visual pleasure. This was surely Balanchine at his most imperial mode, and needless to say, after the first two minutes of it I was loving it already. Now, IF I was to compare-(based on my very limited knowledge of Balanchine to what I’ve seen so far)-BI doesn’t really go to the top of the list. La ValseBourree FantasqueSerenade…all those come first in my humble list. Nevertheless, BI was everything I expect from a BALLET as far as my devouring/amateur eye could see: the demanding technical feats for the soloists, the fluid Corps’ choreography, the powerful score…the big tiaras-(Karinska’s?), the beautiful footwork…on pointe.

On Friday night solos went to everyone’s favorite Mary Carmen Catoya who, looking as regal as ever, was singularly impressive in the performance. Catoya’s technique was, again, once of sharp attack and sparkling details. She danced with her usual partner, Brazilian Renato Panteado, who has proved again to know exactly how to get the best of this girl when paired with her. This sympathetic partner was given a few moments of glory and took full advantage. Panteado is a dancer of gentle, shapely phrases and a welcome lightness.

Oh, but back to the choreography. I want to mention a moment that I found particularly beautiful, in which I had a “deja-vu” from SL's Love Duet . At some point during the PDD, Panteado positioned himself behind Catoya, who was standing on one foot on pointe, and leaning slightly backward, she rested her body against him, while he slowly took one of her arms…then the other one…to finally embrace her in the most romantic gesture. Just like Odette and Siegfried. So beautiful…Right after this, he took her by her hand and they slowly walked around the stage...Panteado showing off his ballerina to an encircled group of girls, who took turns bowing before the couple as they were passing by. I will never forget this delicate choreographic detail. It was right there that I thought: “Petipa…and Balanchine…and back to Petipa”

On Saturday the solos were given to Tricia Albertson and Yang Zou-(a very promising boy…let’s watch him), the third girl given to Katia Carranza, who also danced the role the night before-(as I was just informed). This season I've noticed Albertson's dancing more bland, kind of slowed down. I don't know what happened to the fire machine I saw dancing "Rubies" with Jeremy Cox a while ago. Carranza is always a pleasure to watch, usually kind of a secure ticket to any performance. On Saturday she shined more than the night before, where she was more contained. I’m glad she’s back this season.

The end presented an exuberant mass finale in which the Corps, which has become one of the real strengths of the company, was given a lot to do. Here again, Villella’s boys and girls succeeded with accuracy and poise. I want to note the challenge of having watched this ballet on Saturday night from the 5th Ring…the upper level. It was a totally new experience from the the night before. The groupings and re groupings of the Corps were hypnotic from up there.

The sets displayed a set of elegant blue drapes flying across the stage against a plain backdrop . I just was wondering how could it had been with the old tutus and the Saint Petersbourg-rendering sets...

Yes...BI had all my blessing. :)

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Another new-(for me)- BALLET… and definitely another visual pleasure. This was surely Balanchine at his most imperial mode, and needless to say, after the first two minutes of it, I was loving it already. Now, IF I was to compare-(based on my very limited knowledge of Balanchine to what I’ve seen so far)-BI doesn’t go first. La ValseBourree FantasqueSerenade…all those come first in my humble list.

I agree, Ballet Imperial (with Theme and Variations and maybe one or two others) is one of Balanchine's most striking evocations of the old Imperial ballet he knew in his youth. It's a piece I'm fond of too.

OKThe sets displayed a set of elegant blue drapes flying across the stage against a plain backdrop .

I just was wondering how could it had been with the old tutus and the Saint Petersbourg-rendering sets...

Well, when I last saw ABT do it, about 3 years ago, they used classical tutus with the jeweled headresses. Their scenery isn't very elaborate though. I don't know what the odds are of their bringing this piece to your neck of the woods though.

I tend to think the classical tutus are a better match with the style of the piece but I guess the flowing gowns reflect Balanchine's later thoughts on the piece, as TPC2

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Thanks, cristian.

(1) I also wondered about the costumes. I prefer what MCB actually did (tending to like a sleeker, more "modern" look in things). But you are right that it would have made more sense, if you're reverting to the Ballet Imperial name, to give it more of the "ballet imeprial" look.

(2) Interesting point about Albertson. I've also noticed a change in her dancing this year. Blander. You mention, "slowed down," which may be it. She always struck me as having the potential to be one of those wonderfully quirky versions of the really exciting Balanchine dancer, one who makes the choreography seem risky, newly invented and unexpected.

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The Kirov-Mariinsky also calls it BI but uses the modern costumes. I saw the ABT production Richard53dog refers to a few years back and though the scenery was minimal I definitely remember it evoking a ballroom or large hall in a Czarist era palace – and remember a backdrop with a blue-white frozen landscape that placed it in a wintery Russia.

I was lucky enough to see a cast that included Nina A, Gomes and Monique Meunier in the second ballerina role. The combination of the costumes (tutus & tiras), scenery, brilliant choreography and performances that combined steely technique with theatrical inclination added up to one of those performances that will live on in my memory forever. There was no scenery chewing involved, but layers and layers of meaning revealed through the dance. You got the feeling that this was more than the interaction of 3 dancers and a corps but a look at the fading last days of the era, a glimpse into a world that was on the verge of extinction. There was certainly a sense of loss in the relationship between the 2 principals but there was also a distinct sense of time passing them by. It was pure poetry, Balanchine style.

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Hoping for lots & lots of Catoya
nysusan, I'll be very interested in your comments on her performance. I've seen Catoya since we moved down here in 2001. She was always an excellent dancer. However, something seems to have have happened last season: she flowered. Everything that once seemed to have been accomplished through technique and a kind of will-power seemed to become natural and, if not quite joyful, at least full of life and the apperance of a deep and highly personal pleasure in moving. At times she even seems to possess what old-time Spaniards used to call "duende," a spirit often associate with the greatest flamenco artists, though of course Catoya is ultra-classical.

Last year I attributed this change to the influence of dancing with the magnetic Rolando Sarabia. But I notice that THIS year Catoya's regular partner, Renato Penteado, has also begun to look freer, happier, more expansive on stage. His variation in Ballet Imperial was a revelation for me. It's amazing how someone who has always been able to DO cabrioles, entrechats, and that whole armoury of steps, all of a sudden seems to be living and enjoying them. This freeing up has made him a significantly better partner. He was a good Sanguinic in November. As one of the 3 Pilot's Buddies in Villella's Fox Trot, he was better good: as jazzy and ineresting as Jeremy Cox.

It really is nice to watch dancers growing. :)

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(from Fort Lauderdale, FL) Me, too, nysusan! And not just Catoya. We've haven't seen Deanna Seay this weekend yet. Her Girl in White in La Valse really makes me hold my breath, the way she shows us how at first she's intrigued and a little frightened, then how she warms to Death's blandishments; and finally how she knows she's trapped and doomed. She doesn't dance big, though, you have to go to her; and when you do, you are rewarded.

But now for some thoughts on what we have seen here so far:

This being MCB we're talking about, the dancers can often make their material look better than you realize it is when you think about it, so for me Fox Trot's justification depends on what the dancers can make of it; Kronenberg, as "Ava", gave what she had to do everything she had, including her restraining dance intelligence (she never overdoes, or substitutes), but it still wasn't enough for me, and early parts of the second pas de deux had downright embarassing moments. (If I had never seen her dance anything before, I would really want to see her in a real ballet after this one.) Alternating, Wu merely gave it her large, classic simplicity. Guerra's easy aerial elegance was the most effective in making something of "The Gal from Joe's", the second of the eight numbers, and Wong's ease in the spectacular tricks of "St. Louis Blues March", the fifth one, have been justifiably praised here, not to mention the four men with walking sticks who back him up, but the best-inspired and most musical number for me was the next one, "Back Bay Shuffle", where Villella's invention finally just flowed and flowed and looked like he really felt the music. The ensembles along the way were okay.

In Mercuric Tidings, though, everybody looked very good in everything, from the first moment to the last, although as the lighting was dimmer for the second movement, it was harder to see. This ballet uses three movements from the first two Schubert symphonies, two allegros to open and close and an adagio, or andante in between; sensitively musical, which Fox Trot did not seem to me to be, except for that one number, it's not exactly purely abstract: The slow second movement has two pairs of principals, one who dance early and then another later to a musical recapitulation; a soloist woman, and a three-girl corps, with everyone visible briefly at the end. In the first pas de deux especially, there's a bit of something, yearning or a quest of one for the other; human involvement of some kind.

Then in Ballet Imperial, the evening rose to its greatest height. (This is not just my idea; Villella made clear in his remarks Saturday afternoon that one of his ideas for the program was "build": Each ballet was at a higher level than the one before! That's a magnanimous thing to say, considering the first one was his own, right? Well, he's always seemed like someone with a large and generous spirit.)

Saturday afternoon Tricia Albertson, with Yang Zou, was large , clear, secure and lovely in the lead, while Zou was rather correct, hardly a sin in a ballet which depends so much on technique, as Crista Villella reminded us Saturday evening, filling in for her father in the pre-performance remarks. But, good as she was, Albertson was no phenomenon. That was Mary Carmen Catoya, who was at something like her old high level in this ballet on Friday night and then bettered herself, I felt, Saturday night. Renato Penteado was as classically clear as Zou but more than that; he brought just the right panache to his role, as Catoya's companion would need to. They are a superb pair.

And Francisco Renno seemed to outdo himself Saturday evening too. His playing throughout the weekend was distinguished, not least by investing what he plays with his left hand with as much life as what he plays with his right. From first to last, the concerto glowed with color, and sang.

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(If I had never seen her dance anything before, I would really want to see her in a real ballet after this one.)

That's just what I had in mind. Some of the lifts during the PDD were just plain wrong-(choreographically speaking).

And yes, one just wants to see a real ballet after this kind of..dance...On my second night I even got to the theater after the first Intermezzo. No...no patience.

Ballet Imperial was my reward.

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