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MCB Program II. Concerto Barocco...and then some other stuff.

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Well. Here I am.

"Barocco" is definitely very pretty. Even as a complete fan of the grand schemes of ballets with opulent sets, sparkling elaborate tutus and symphonic, romantic sounds of cymbals, trumpets and timpani a la T&V, Beauty, Diamonds and Black Swans with their fair shares of fouettes and pyrotechnics, I can also indulge in the elegant simplicity of something like this with its very structured score and restrained choreo. At some points, mostly when the danseur is onstage along with the women, it feels to me, choreographically, as an enhanced version of Apollo's dances with the muses. It was nice to see Katia Carranza come back to the Miamian stage-(she's now a company's guest dancer). The second ballerina was danced by Soloist Jennifer Lauren. Reyneris Reyes was the danseur. Two thumbs up.

Then there came something called "Chutes and Ladders" by Justin Peck-(NYCB), which was danced by Soloist Sara Esty and Principal Renan Cerdeiro to a Britten's score of a string quartet placed on a platform onstage. An uber generic "bleh" choreo of a PDD it was.

Duato's thing-(Jardi Tancat)- came next, a modern dance, senseless bore of barefoot dancers moving along chants in Catalan-(I understand that this can look very exotic for the Anglo audience, but for me it was boring to death). For a period of time in the beginning-(that seems like an eternity)- the dancers move to no sound...very 80'eesh.

Ratmansky's Symphonic Dances closed the program. Running and running...and more running all along. I was getting dizzy. Never liked it since I first saw it. The second movement-(the waltzing section)-is the most interesting, with its flowing multicolored tunics for the women and its mysterious flavor. But that's all. It doesn't inspire me more than a mere curiosity. The music, of course, is the saving card here.

P.D. I just posted something on Facebook and a friend just replied..."Same strange program of Friday evening...".

P. P. D. the same friend just commented-(about Duato's thing)..."Pseudo Martha Graham...it's been done better before...Why is a ballet company doing this...?"

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I won't have the chance to see this program until the weekend of the 31st, but I'm looking forward to it even more keenly now that the reviews from Miami are coming in. (Thanks, dirac, for the Links). I see the variety of programing as a plus, though of course MCB must remain (and will remain, according to Lourdes Lopez) basically a Balanchine (and to a lesser extent, a Robbins) company.

First, from Jordan Levin -- a long-time and astute observer of MCB -- in the Miami Herald:

Rich program reveals Miami City Ballet's strengths, weaknesses

And from Alistair Macaulay -- who also knows the company rather well -- in the NY Times:

Keeping Their Eyes on the Score: At Miami City Ballet Edward Villella's Tenets Live On

Both reviews are largely positive and convey a sense of excitement, though Levin feels that Concerto Barocco is not danced now with the "urgency" it once was, and Macaulay has no respect for Jardi Tancat.

One of the sadnesses of the season so far has been the absence due to injury of Jeanette Delgado and Patricia Delgado, Kleber Rebello, and Callie Manning, and the absence due to maternity leave of Mary Carmen Catoya. The good news is that Rebello, Manning, and Catoya are now dancing again. Can't wait to see the Delgados back in form again..

Among the joys of the season has been the from maternity leave of Jennifer Kronenberg (thrilling in Serenade in Program I, and praised by Jordan Levin for Jardi Tancat in Program II), and the new opportunities given to Tricia Albertson, Nathalia Arja, Jennifer Lauren, Sara Esty, and guest artist Katia Carranza. Another joy: the wonderful work of the corps, from Ballo della Regina, through Nutcracker (Snow Scene; Waltz of the Flowers), and -- according to Macaulay -- in Concerto Barocco as well:

The evening’s greatest pleasure was the most familiar. Dancing Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco,” the Miami dancers showed the company’s exceptional way of revealing the three-dimensionality of dance, contrasting open and closed positions with marvelous boldness.

Both performances were led by Katia Carranza, making phrase upon phrase spontaneous and compelling. But it was the corps dancers whose ardor carried the ballet. At the Sunday performance, a lighting gel fell onto the stage during the third movement, but nothing perturbed these young women, dedicated and rapt.


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Thanks for posting the links, Bart! It's always nice to see the company getting good press. I hope you write about your experience watching program 2. I missed your thoughts on the company's first program and I do always love to hear what you have to say since I can't attend the performances myself.

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Thanks, brokenwing. I was there for Program I and saw all casts. Somehow I never got around to posting about it, though I loved the programming and was thrilled by most of what I saw on stage.

Program I was the first we've seem planned entirely by Lourdes Lopez -- 2 major Balanchines and what some people consider Christopher Wheeldon's most successful work. Key dancers were out due to injury or, in one case, maternity leave. I can't imagine what it must have been like for a mid-sized company to have to start its season without four key principals Catoya, the 2 Delgados, and Rebello, What MCB pulled together was a miracle and a major achievement. In his review of Program II, Alistair Macaulay mentions that the replacements "flourished." This was true of Program I as well.

This is not the place to go into detail about Program I. But what astonishes me is the way in which so many of the dancers seemed to grow -- literally expanding and giving off greater light -- in response to the challenge of roles that might not originally have been planned for them. There's clearly a company style, a company esprit. This was a cohesive company, dancing its way beautifully -- and generously: to the audience and to each other -- through three very different works.

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Concerto Barocco is hard to resist because of the gorgeous music of Bach welded with Balanchine's choreography which looks so precise. It looks like such a hard ballet for dancers because if they are out of sync with this music even by a hair it shows! To me it looked like there were very minor mess ups (one corps girl was out of line at one point), but overall I loved getting a chance to see this ballet again. The middle section has to be the most elegant music ever written, and luckily it goes on and on. This little ballet has all the Balanchine trademarks (interweaving people, speedy footwork at times, etc.). Loved it!

Peck's pas de deux Chutes and Ladders was nice and classically based with quirky playful moments. Not sure it will ever be something I will run to see, but I won't mind if it is on a program I am seeing in the future. Supposedly Peck is going to create a bigger work for MCB next season, according to Lourdes Lopez in her letter in the program. Judging by this short work he has promise, but I hope some of the quirky modern moves are due to Chutes and Ladders being based on a children's game (that I never played so didn't see any connection to the game in the choreography).

Jardi Tancat: looks like the dancers worked hard.

Symphonic Dances: I like this work a lot. I had to keep reminding myself to stop looking for a story and just watch the choreography. Ratmansky even says it is plotless, but it doesn't feel plotless. There seems to be an "outsider" in each of the three sections. This work has a very Russian look to it. I don't know if this was intentional on Ratmansky's part, but so many moments had what I consider Russian style to it. Turns, falls into men's arms, fouettes, turns in air for males, drama, etc. The final moment had Arja (who created that role) crouch like a tiger, run, and leap into the male's arms reminiscent of Kitri's leap into Basilio's arms in the tavern scene of Don Quixote. There is a little too much "running" at times as Cristian says, but overall I like this work a lot! It has many beautiful moments.

The style of Symphonic Dances gives me hope for MCB's Don Quixote later in the season! I hope they use this more Russian-ish style for that!

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