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MCB 2010-11 Season What do you think? Whom woud you cast?


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According to a press release from the company, Reid Anderson -- former Stuttgart dancer and Cranko protege -- is in Florida to do early casting of next season's Romeo and Juliet. He observed company class and performances of Neighborhood Ballroom at the Broward Center. The press release comes with a studio photo of Jennifer Cronenberg and Carlos Guerra in R-and-J embrace, which may tell us something. They are the company's leading principal (and romantically involved) couple and have certainly earned a place in this production.

Anyone have any suggestions for R, J, or any other major character? Stagecraft and projecting emotions seems to be even more important than ballet technique in Cranko's version. Based on their development this year, I definitely would love to see what Jeanette Delgado and Patricia Delgado would do with Juliet. (Both seem to have some of the qualities that made Marcia Haydee such an unforgettable performer.)

Romeos don't come to mind as easily in this company, it seems to me. It would be interesting to see Daniel Baker get the chance. But paired with whom? Is Rolando Sarabia a possibility? And what about Tybalt? I wish Isanusi Garcia-Rodriquez were still with the company. Daniel Sarabia? Neil Marshall? How about Mercutio? Alex Wong? Sean Michael Breeden?

As for Lady Capulet the Nurse, and Friar Lawrence? Is it too much to hope that they will bring in dancers of the appropriate age?

Here's what the company has to say about the FULL SEASON:

Miami City Ballet's (MCB) milestone 25th Anniversary Season – perhaps the most exciting since its very first season – will feature a major Company Premiere in each of its four Programs – including Romeo and Juliet. Plus the return of the Opus One Orchestra at each of its Program I-IV performances. The 2010-2011 season in South Florida begins on October 15, 2010 and runs through May 1, 2011. [ ... ]

Program I features the Company Premiere of Jerome Robbins' Fanfare – a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, with its premiere having taken place on the night of her coronation in 1953. It is an enchantingly bright and goofy take on Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." Now it salutes the start of the 25th Anniversary Season, and the return of Opus One Orchestra to the pit. Also on this program are two George Balanchine pieces, which include the sensual Bugaku and the lively Western Symphony.

Program II will highlight the Company Premiere of Twyla Tharp's Baker's Dozen, where she flings a dozen dancers onto the stage – hustling, spinning, shimmying, yet romantically inclined – to the irresistible stride piano of the immortal Willie "The Lion" Smith. Also appearing are Balanchine's dramatic La Sonnambula and Balanchine's exceptional Stravinsky Violin Concerto – plus a Pas de Deux TBA.

Program III spotlights Paul Taylor's Promethean Fire – a work that has been suggested to be Taylor's response to 911. Set to Leopold Stokowski's magnificent orchestral transcriptions of Bach, it has been hailed everywhere as a masterpiece. The program also includes Balanchine's high spirited Scotch Symphony and Tharp's jazzy Nine Sinatra Songs.

Program IV is the Company Premiere of John Cranko's acclaimed full-evening version of the world's most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet. According to The New York Times, this is arguably the best dance treatment of Prokofiev's celebrated score. An unforgettable ballet. A major event!

According to a Miami Herald article, the company budget -- which was reduced from $13.8 million to $11.2 million this season, will go up to $15 million next season. That includes the $900,000 Knight Foundation matching grant for live music.


In addition to the premieres, this will be the first time I've seen MCB dance Western Symphony, Scotch Symphony, and Bugaku. Any comments on the programming?

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Well, bart, some of it is very exciting, i.e., Baker's Dozen, Stravinsky VC, and Scotch Symphony and especially Promethean Fire. These I am VERY anxious to see MCB perform. I am not a fan of full-lengths such as R & J, but find them to be a necessary "hook" for some audiences. It will be interesting to see who the stager picks for roles versus those in charge at MCB. That can always be a pleasant surprise as each sees something different that a dancer can bring to a role.

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Cristian, what do you think about casting Romeo and Juliet? I realize you are not familiar with the Cranko version, but it's fairly straightforward story-telling. Almost everyone at MCB could handle the leads technically, I should think. But whether they could express the emotions and "tell the story" is another thing. What, for example, do you think about the dramatic potential of the wonderful Delgado ladies in this kind of ballet? And what about Sarabia?

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The Cranko R&J seems a great great choice for younger companies like MCB and for any company with a system that requires them to prepare a ballet, perform it for fewer than 20 performances, and then put it on the shelf for years. Miami has Giselle, for example,but lacks the the coaching, style, or time to learn how to dance really well -- or even to remember it when they revive it. (Their Coppelia is better, because it's Balanchine, though not all casts have been able to handle the dramatic element effectively, it seems to me.)

O course, the Cranko R&J is no Giselle or Coppelia. It's the kind of work Villella frequently characterizes as "entertainment." This is actually an advantage in such a company. The Cranko has lots of very appealing dancing, a famous story clearly told, great but not over-subtle parts for the leads, and -- most important -- is effective and accessible as dance theater. I would imagine that it CAN be learned fairly quickly and doesn't have to be internalized and nurtured over years and years, as do greater works.

There's another advantage. When watching the Cranko you won't have the burden (which you have with the MacMillan) of competing with powerful memories -- from life or video -- of transcendent performances by dancers like Fonteyn and Nureyev, Ferri, Bocca, etc.. Some will, of course, remember how wonderful Haydee and Cragun were so long ago. I certainly do. But Cranko's choreography works well even with lesser stars, who can be young and relatively inexperienced without appearing jejune or out of their their league.

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re: Romeo/Mercutio...

It would be interesting to see Daniel Baker get the chance.(...) Is Rolando Sarabia a possibility? (...) I wish Isanusi Garcia-Rodriquez were still with the company.(...) Daniel Sarabia? (...) How about Mercutio? Alex Wong ?...

I just bumped into this thread...wow, bart... :wink:

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re: Romeo/Mercutio...
It would be interesting to see Daniel Baker get the chance.(...) Is Rolando Sarabia a possibility? (...) I wish Isanusi Garcia-Rodriquez were still with the company.(...) Daniel Sarabia? (...) How about Mercutio? Alex Wong ?...

I just bumped into this thread...wow, bart... :)

All gone !!! WHAT are the statistical probabilities of that??? I feel as though my wish list has turned into a curse. :o
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Wait until the season starts, bart, and we find out who's back!

Back? Coming back? Now there's a positive idea, a pregnant thought! Vanishing favorites are one of the things we fans have to tough out sometimes; ballet's not just hard for the dancers, although of course it is hardest for them, they give it the most, when you think about it. (I've just lately seen Ballet Chicago's Spring Repertory season, going partly in hopes of seeing again one or another of three dancers who had distinguished themselves there but who weren't to be seen anywhere. Gulp.) But returning from wherever? Well!

But as to the season, I'm the odd man out here: The Prokofiev score for R & J has always seemed awfully heavy to me, unlikely for choreography, though I still hope to see the Lavrovsky someday. Cranko's not a favorite either, frankly. (Nor is MacMillan, FWIW; Bejart, in the case of R & J, made my favorite, but he chose a different score, some of the most beautiful music ever written for any purpose IMO, and he had Farrell, of course, to inspire him, too.) But -- brace yourselves for my standard remark, contemplating the upcoming MCB season -- if you live in Chicago, you already have a reason to visit Florida in the wintertime -- so I hope to see some of the season, but not the full-evening entry this time. Giselle, maybe; or Balanchine's Coppelia. I think so.

(Justdoit's familiar point about a full-evening ballet hooking part of the audience bothers me, having read Michael Kaiser on the subject. He seems to me to be the living authority on performing-arts marketing, and IIRC, he inveighs against adjusting the art to make it salable but rather keeping the standard high and selling that effectively. That said, there's surely more to it than I know or understand, though.)

Bugaku is something of a curiosity -- when Villella was in it (with Allegra Kent, who looked, as someone put one evening, "filleted", that is to say, "boneless", in it), he developed such fierce power it was frightening; another time MCB put on one of his powerful roles -- powerful in a different way -- it was the third most effective performance of Prodigal Son in my limited experience, after Villella's own and Baryshnikov's. I mean what Jeremy Cox did. I don't know if Villella coached him, but if Cox were among the returnees, we might see something rare again. (We might anyway, of course. That's part of the fun of it, and compensates us for those sad surprises.) Just who MCB has for the vulnerable contortionist Kent was, I can't think at the moment. (bart, do you want to say it's unfair to think this way? Point taken, if so, but my point is, it happens! The remembered past becomes resonant in the present, or some other such silly thing.)

Western Symphony had a fourth -- or, third, to be precise -- movement. Maybe we'll see that. Maybe we'll find out why Mr. B. discarded it. But it has some Broadway-Western characterisation in it that may challenge some of the young technicians on hand today but not go missed by today's audience if it doesn't get realized, although they'll have a better time with it if it does.

It's certainly an interesting-looking season -- a little less strong in Balanchine for my tastes than when they've presented, say, Symphony in C, Ballet Imperial, Symphony in Three Movements, Square Dance, Serenade, his Swan Lake, or La Valse, even, to give examples which are too recent, I suppose, and need to "rest" -- but celebrations are full of variety. Happy Twenty-Fifth!

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Thanks, justdoit, for offering hope. And thanks, Jack, for your thoughts about the program. I also recall Kent in Bugaku. There has been no one like her in the history of NYCB. Completely fascinating in the quirkier Balanchine roles. MCB and other companies will have to re-invent the role. The current MCB principals don't seem right. Perhaps someone from the corps?

For some reason, I can't remember Villella in Bugaku, even when looking at the still photos. It needs someone like Cox but with a good shot of Villella's testosterone. The MCB males right now are so ... how can I put this? ... polite. Or, possibly, too anxious to do things correctly. Or, like the promising Cerdeiro, too young to have developed a personality that captures the stage.

I'll be home tomorrow, with access to a REAL keyboard (not this itty-bitty notebook). I'll respond more then. In the meantime, I look forward to discussing more -- and to the ultimate revelations from EV's office.

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bart's points about casting the male lead in Bugaku are very well taken, I think. "Polite" is an especially good word for MCB's men. But it's not impossible to cast that role today, although the proof I'm thinking of wasn't in south Florida, but Jared Redick of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, in Washington (whose alternate lacked some of the weight of his effect).

But lest Kent's reputation get distorted here, I want to mention her performance in a role no one would think of as quirky, I'm pretty sure, the second movement of Symphony in C, which I never saw her do on stage but have seen recently in a good 70's video, with Conrad Ludlow. It's like so many videos from those days in that the role is fully realized, making a strong, gripping effect; you almost don't believe it, but you can play it again, and it becomes more -- not less -- incredible. And not the faintest hint anywhere in it of Kent's effectiveness in "quirky" roles, like Bugaku or in La Sonnambula (which happens to be another one on the upcoming MCB schedule).

I wouldn't put it past "EV", as you put it, and his associates to have noticed the "politeness" of his men, or the, um, un-quirkiness of his women (fair term?), and that went into his thinking. But then, I wouldn't put anything past Villella. Remember what that unnamed New York critic told him when he announced Ballet Imperial a few years ago? "You can't do that, the company's not ready for that." But come the premiere date, they did themselves proud, because by then they were ready! October is a long way off in those terms.

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But lest Kent's reputation get distorted here, I want to mention her performance in a role no one would think of as quirky, I'm pretty sure, the second movement of Symphony in C, which I never saw her do on stage but have seen recently in a good 70's video, with Conrad Ludlow.

Some of the most stunning dancing I've ever seen, live or on tape.

It's hard to think of any men anywhere who would look right in Villella's role. Even Kent's: while many women have the flexibility, very few have that way of yielding and yet remaining separate. (In this day and age, to find the yielding part is hard enough. Maybe Part.) Olivier Wevers at PNB would be great in it, even if he's taller than Villella. Maybe with Korbes, since Nadeau is no longer dancing.

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re: Romeo/Mercutio...
It would be interesting to see Daniel Baker get the chance.(...)

All gone !!! WHAT are the statistical probabilities of that??? I feel as though my wish list has turned into a curse. :o

Starting with the 2011 season, Daniel Baker is in the corps de ballet at SFB. Your comments make me anxious to see him. Sounds like your curse is our luck!

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Great look for sure, but difficult to read online.

It helps if you use the little magnifier near the foot of the page. Unfortunately, when you "turn" the pages, it reopens to the smaller, unreadable size. Small (no pun intended) inconvenience.

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I like all your choices. It's a work that seems generous to many kinds of dancers. I've just been watching a video of Darci Kistler and Igor Zelensky. She's serene; he's great-looking, though maybe not yet comfortable with the choreography.

Kronenberg and Guerra performed "selections" from T&V at the Open Barre performances last April. She has great warmth and was something of a goddess. I can still see Kronenberg's openness -- it was a rich, plush performance. For some reason, I was reminded of the actress Ava Gardner.

The name "Rodriguez" in your list confused me for a second. Is he dropping "Garcia-Rodriguez"? I'd actually like to see him get the chance to partner in a work like this, and why not with Patricia Delgado, who has not had much opportunity to dance with such powerful stage animals. Or, why not pair her with Yann Trividic, more elegant but just as magnetic in his own way?

I would love to see Carranza with Reyneris Reyes. Carranza seems to draw energy and gain freedom when dancing with a strong partner. However, T&V is on Program I, and Carranza for the past few years has not participated in Program I.

Jeanette Delgado. YES. But right now I can't think of a perfect partner. She deserves to have one with whom she can work with regularly and build a shared history.

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Looks like this is VERY early days for the fencing choreography. Sara Esty has an MCB blog post mentioning company activities right now:

Hi all! We have just completed our second week back to work, and boy has it been tough. Between trying to learn all of Romeo and Juliet, and keeping up with The Golden Section for City Center, it seems as though everyone is exhausted! Nothing like a weekend to cure that though. Nonetheless, rehearsals are going well and I can feel the excitement for our New York trip growing!

I can see why they are working on The Golden Section, given the upcoming performances at the Fall for Dance Festisval in NYC. But why, I wonder, are they starting so early on R&J, which isn't on the performance schedule until next spring?


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Just speculating, and it could be a scheduling decision, but if I were worried about safety, I'd start the sword-fighting lessons when the dancers were fresh and focused and when the schedule was a bit clearer, not later when dancers have a bunch of different things in their heads, including last minute rehearsals to cover injured colleagues.

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