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Future MCB plans

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A "Dear Friends of Miami City Ballet" letter from the Chairman of the Board gives additional economic details.

In the fall of 2008, when the economic downturn was becoming dramatic, single ticket sales declined 10% and contributions were down 20%.

On a postive note:

-- 2 contributors gave a total of $1,000,000 extra at the end of 2008

-- subscription renewals for 2009-2010 are "actually keeping pace with last year's."

-- unsolicited gifts by renewing members are up over last year.

The real focus seems to be on the 2010-2011 season, the company's 25th. The Board has established a 25th Anniversary Task Force. Among the premieres for 2010-2011:

-- John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, for which $1,250,000 has already been pledged;

-- Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream, for which $1,000,000 has already been pledged;

-- ballets by Robbins, Taylor, and Tharp.

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During his pre-performance talk for Program IV at the Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, Edward Villella mentioned that they have reduced touring in 2009-2010. Goal is to maximize money and effort for the 25th anniversary season in 2010-11.

There are two tours planned:

-- the Vail International Dance Festival (August 1-3). The program will include Serenade.

-- their first visit to Chicago. This will take place during the regular season. He mentioned the theater, but I regret that I don't remember its name. (Jack, you will know, I'm sure.)

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I do and I don't. I haven't seen official announcement, either on MCB's own website, or on the websites of venues I thought they might use, the Auditorium Theatre (seating just under 4000) or the Harris Theatre (seating around 1500). I've heard talk, but, ironically, considering our name, I don't think I can post that. Plenty of time until Fall, though.

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It's good to know that they will dance in Chicago, introducing themselves to large and sophisticated dance community with a long history related to Balanchine via Tallchief and others. :)

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Oh, I don't know about that... Tallchief's efforts didn't really quite "take" here. She furnished dancers for the major opera company's productions and managed an occasional show on her own over a period of several years, but ballet seemed better established in Salt Lake City and certainly San Francisco.

And Mr. B. furnished some choreography. I went to a Lyric Opera (as the company is called) performance of Gounod's Faust when I learned he was providing the ballet (which later became Walpurgisnacht Ballet, I think, though without the heart-stopping conclusion his own great company could do), and I sat where I could see the monitors in the TV cameras scattered about the theatre (the Civic Theatre, not the Auditorium; Chicago has two opera houses, you'd think we were cultured or something).

I concluded that RM Productions, the name on the van parked outside, had done a much better job getting the ballet onto videotape than they had done in the earlier program shown on PBS as "Three by Balanchine" (where the same production company name turns up in the credits, I think), where they turned the camera on a stepladder in the wings and other nonsense, but when the PBS broadcast came and my recorder was all warmed up and waiting, there was no ballet in it at all!

In those days, there was an annual Nutcracker given in Airie Crown Theatre at McCormick Place, the convention center on the Lake, on a stage intended for automobile shows, I always thought; it's very wide. Anyway, Mr. B. sent a couple of his dancers in for the first four performances, and I went and watched those (the rest of the show, staged by Ruth Page, was pretty amateur). Patricia McBride and Helgi Tomasson came one year, Violette Verdy and Peter Martins another. All I had to do was get on the train downtown! No trips to the airport, no New York hotels. And it was the only place I thought you could see Mr. B's Cavalier's Variation then, because he had retired it from his own company's Nutcracker.

It was in earlier years Balanchine's own NYCB toured here; I saw them downtown in the mid-50's (Tallchief danced Firebird) and then several years in the 60's at the Chicago Symphony's summer home in Ravinia. ("The only train station with its own concert hall," conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos is supposed to have complained.) They returned to re-open the Auditorium, and then again once or twice.

I've rambled on here a bit, but I think that's about the extent of Chicago's involvement with Balanchine and Tallchief; they had some following here, but didn't prevail, and nothing really took root, although Tallchief stills lives here, I believe. In other words, Chicago has maintained its provinciality in the ballet world for a long time until recently, when the Joffrey company cut its sinking fortunes in New York and moved here. (I don't have the book No Fixed Points handy. When I checked, it had a good account of local ballet history, as far as my knowledge goes, which isn't very far.)

Sure, I'm glad they're coming, but sophisticated audiences? I haven't really recovered from their reception in New York, where they finally got their due, in terms of applause. That's your sophisticated audience, IMO.

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Sure, I'm glad they're coming, but sophisticated audiences?
Oh dear. I guess it's too much to hope that the Chicago ballet lovers all come down to south Florida in the winter ???? :clapping:

It's good, though, to get that dose of reality. I guess we'll learn soon enough about venue, presenter, program, etc. I hope it works for them .... and, based on what you write, for Chicago as well.

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NYCB [. . .] returned to re-open the Auditorium, and then again once or twice.

1979 for two weeks, when I first saw them, and I'm pretty sure again in 1980. Thanks for the history, Jack; as a former Chicagoan, I enjoyed reading it. Was Chicago always so "provincial" a ballet town? As I remember the dance scene from '75 to '86, ABT was no stranger. And you probably remember Ruth Page's festival better than I do. She brought in the Royal Danish Ballet for at least a couple of programs one year (including a La Sylphide w/ Martins). I don't remember any other non-American companies.

But this is :clapping:. I can't wait to read what MCB brings to town and how gratefully and enthusiastically they're received. One can hope and dream that Tallchief will be well enough to attend, and to be honored.

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Jack, what about Chicago's affinity for great design -- Wright, Sullivan, etc.? What could be more beautifully designed -- and eleganty, briskly, authentically executed -- than the MCB Concerto Barocco and Symphony in C, both of which were on the current Program 4?

I am praying Villella doesn't go for something like Neighborhood Ballroom, which they're reviving for next season. I hope NO ONE in the company gets the idea: "Hey, Chicago is all about clubs and jazz and things like that." Chicago deserves Balanchine (and Robbins).

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About Vail, I just realized that Helene reported this date earlier in March:

This summer, Miami City Ballet will be in Vail for two performances:

1 August: Rep TBA

3 August: Up Close: Edward Villella with Miami City Ballet

This program is described as:

Hosted by festival director Damian Woetzel, this evening will feature full performances and excerpts of Villella\\\'s roles in works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, including The Prodigal Son, Rubies, Tarantella, Afternoon of a Faun, Dances at a Gathering and more.

Sorry, Helene, for having forgotten this post.

I've starting my imaginary casting already:

Prodigal Son: Daniel Sarabia

Rubies: Daniel Baker

Tarantella: Alex Wong

Afternoon of a Faun: Jeremy Cox

Dances at a Gathering: Can't think of anyone, but I'd give Rolando Sarabia a try.

Anyone else?

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