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Points of Departure

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Last night I attended Miami City Ballet's "Points of Departure" (final show of the season) at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. I was glad this show coincided with a trip to visit my parents there, since I have been unable to attend any of MCB's shows this season.Last night's show included Balanchine's Raymonda Variations, Justin Peck's world premiere Heatscape, and Robbins' The Concert.

Watching Raymonda Variations I kept thinking, "This is why I go to ballet!" The ballet really has nothing to do with Petipa's Raymonda except that it uses excerpts of Glazunov's lush score. Balanchine totally choreographed his own thing but kept a very classical and elegant look which harks back to Imperial Russia. The structure is like a grand pas with 2 variations for each lead (male and female).

It was announced that Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello were the leads instead of the printed sheet that listed Catoya and Penteado. I was actually thrilled by this change, because I consider them to be exciting young dancers in the company. Both had wonderful flowing arms that I like. In fact, Glazunov's glorious music seems to have inspired a more Russian style to Miami City Ballet's upper bodies. Arms unfurled and lingered on phrases. At moments it almost felt like I was watching Mariinsky dancers. Not quite but almost. The big difference is that Mariinsky dancers tend to have a much prouder stance when arms are in third position. The American style seems to have more forward shoulders and less arched backs. Even the corps at MCB had more flowing arms than I have seen in the past.

Justin Peck's Heatscape was a world premiere set to Martinu's Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, and I enjoyed it. Very beautiful and pleasant. My only complaint is that it was so fast and busy at times that you felt you were missing things. This seems to be common among new choreography. Ratmansky often does this too. As much as I enjoyed this piece I had the feeling it was not adding much to the ballet vocabulary. It was definitely grounded in classical ballet with little modern moves applied here and there. A fairly "conservative" piece which pleases people like me but Balanchine actually seems more avant garde than Peck!!!! It is contemporary ballet for people like me who dislike modern dance, but are works like this really saying anything new? New works should say something new! Of course, I probably would have hated it then!!! LOL

Robbins' The Concert looks like great fun for the performers and was probably fun for Robbins to create, but I hate it! I find it so silly and not funny at all. The audience roared as I sat there wondering, "People find this slapstick funny?" It simply isn't my taste in comedy at all. So blatant and over the top. I can tell I am in the minority by hearing all the laughter around me. I feel Robbins showed great skill choreographing this and MCB's dancers executed it very well, but I hate this work.

Anyway, a nice show but Raymonda Variations made it a great night. More of this grand Balanchine, Lourdes Lopez!!!!

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Thanks for your description of the evening, Birdsall! Hard to believe that Balanchine would be more avant garde than Peck but ballet audiences are not being asked to accept more adventurous choreography. I believe I was the only person I know who enjoyed the Mariinsky's "Young Choreographers" evening that was livestreamed. Until audiences get used to seeing new movement, they won't accept it. Given that, I'll be interested to see how the audience reacts to David Hallberg's "Legacy" evening.

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Leigh Witchell at danceviewtimes was also filled with praise for this wonderful program..


Miami City Ballet has got a brand new bag. The company made its reputation on high-quality performances of Balanchine, and it has a strong corps, one of the most cohesive in the country. But while it once stuck with proven masterworks and the infrequent commission, it’s also becoming a lab for new works...

“Whether "Allegro Brillante," or “Raymonda Variations”, when you've seen MCB dance Balanchine with clarity and a sense of ensemble, you’ve really seen the ballet....

“But now, MCB does more than impeccable Balanchine. Peck, Scarlett and Ratmansky have now done some of their best work in Miami, often better than they do on their home turf. What is the company doing right? ... Whatever it's doing, the company is now one of the best incubators for ballet choreography in the country.”

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I missed this very last program, which would had been my very first time watching "RV". Sadly, the program that preceeded it had a sad looking rendition of "Carmen" , which made me cringe, so I gave up MCB for the rest of the season.

I will try to re charge myself for next season.

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