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Miami's "Open Barre" program at their Miami Beach studio

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MCB has three performances coming up as part of their "Open Barre" series at the Miami Beach studio.

Dates: Friday, April 17 (6:30 p.m.)

Saturday April 18 (2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.)

The times given are those of a pre-performance reception for all ticket-holders. Actual performance times are 30 minutes later. Open seating.

Program: Balanchine's Serenade and the "Quick Step" section of Edward Villella's Neighborhood Ballroom. (This will be a preview of their upcoming run at the Vail International Dance Festival, August 1-3).

Anyone going? I'm no fan of long drives down the I-95, but we'll be there for the Saturday matinee.

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Cristian, I know that you went to Ailey, but I hope you can get to Open Barre tomorrow.

The smallish studio setting, with bleacher seating, is part of it. We try to sit in the center of the first row, just one step from the dancer floor -- no more than 15 feet from what would be, on a real stage, the footlights.

This location has drawbacks. It wasn't possible to capture the whole picture of either work, or the fascinating and intricate floor patterns of Serenade.

BUT -- the advantages were amazing. If you work at it, details of choreography become etched in the memory. The same is true for details of technique and stagecraft. You see the way Jennifer Kronenberg's fall to the floor is accomplished -- the way Carlos Guerra, as the first man, catches his breath between a jump and a lift -- the way Tricia Albertson jetes up and forward before arching her back and raising her arms -- the reverential look on the faces of the three men as they kneel to lift the upright Kronenberg before carrying her out for the finale.

I've seen Serenade many times. For me this performance -- seen from this angle and at this degree of intimacy -- was the single most amazing and emotionally powerful Serenade I've ever experienced.

The cast I saw included:

The corps: I don't believe I've ever seen the first few minutes done better or more movingly. Whoever rehearsed this ballet on MCB this time around deserves much praise. Earlier, I re-ran the video of the Mariinsky performance in 2006. Miami's corps dances Balanchine better.

Jennifer Kronenberg in the principal role -- always beautiful and mysterious, seemed even more so when seen in closeup. .

Tricia Albertson -- back on form: fast, light, delicate, and quite lovely, especially in the allegro parts and as the leader of the pas de cinq in the Tema Russo section.

Amanda Weingarten -- a member of the corps and a real beauty, a smaller dancer than Kronenberg, pure and understated as the "Dark Angel."

Carlos Guerra as the first man -- a girl's dream partner.

Didier Bramaz, the man who is led blindfolded by the Dark Angel -- beautifully serene and classical. His series of lifts of the corps women as they sail by were textbook examples of secure and seamless partnering. I like Bramaz more and more every season.

I even liked the Quick-Step section ("Unspeakable Jazz Must Go!") from Villella's Neighborhood Ballroom. Every dancer was in character, was able to projectd the feel of the period, and seemed to be having a hell of a time.


Carlos Guerra's Poet. Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado, usually the classical leads, seemed to have been born to the Bell Bottom. They were almost unrecognizable: she in a black wig, he with a shaved head. Penteado looks great -- much better than the old, unnaturally black, and very slick helmet of hair he wore before. Jeanette Delgado and (wonderful to behold!) a light, humorous, jazzy and joyful Rolando Sarabia. What a couple they were!

I don't like leaving anyone out, especially when the corps was so fully in sync. Sitting so close I had the chance to spend some time watching every dancer on stage, at least for a while. Daniel Baker with Sara Esty, Callie Manning and Daniel Sarabia, held my eye most among the dancers with smaller roles.

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bart, I couldn't make it for any of the performances :dunno: . I didn't double checked the showtimes, and I got confused thinking they would start at 8. Yesterday I went after work and got there almost flying on Palmetto by 7:50, just to realize they had started at 7. Today I got out of work at 7...so no luck either....

I'm glad you enjoy the performance... Oh, well, another time...

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