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MCB Program I: Giselle.

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The very first ballet I ever saw...and the one that made me fell in love with the art form. Opening night is tomorrow, and I'm in of course. There are three different casts-(at least in Miami).  I assume there will be the same at Broward and WPB. Again...the Delgado sisters are absent.  I wonder why...


Here is tomorrow cast:


Giselle Simone Messmer

Albrecht Rainer Krenstetter

Hilarion Reyneris Reyes

Wilfried, Albrecht’s Squire Jovani Furlan

Berthe, Giselle’s Mother Callie Manning

The Duke of Courland Neil Marshall

Bathilde, His Daughter Adrienne Carter

Peasant Pas de Deux Jennifer Lauren, Kleber Rebello

Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis Jordan-Elizabeth Long

Moyna, Myrtha’s Attendant Nathalia Arja

Zulme, Myrtha’s Attendant Ashley Knox


I really don't know this dancer...Krenstetter.  I looked him up and it says he comes from Vienna.  Will report back! 

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Ok. First act is over, and I am sad to report that it was less than good for Messmer's role debut. She had a "Skorik moment" during the diagonal of sautees on pointe, and couldn't even advance more than a couple of music bars. She opted instead for inventing something to substitute-(she changed her mind twice at it)-i guess in a nervous attempt to mask the sequence for the less than connoisseur Miamian audience, but her nervousness at it was palpable. After that a very tepid mad scene followed. Not good...not good. :-(

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On 10/21/2016 at 9:12 PM, cubanmiamiboy said:

Ok. First act is over, and I am sad to report that it was less than good for Messmer's role debut. She had a "Skorik moment" during the diagonal of sautees on pointe, and couldn't even advance more than a couple of music bars. She opted instead for inventing something to substitute-(she changed her mind twice at it)-i guess in a nervous attempt to mask the sequence for the less than connoisseur Miamian audience, but her nervousness at it was palpable. After that a very tepid mad scene followed. Not good...not good. :-(


I found the first act bobble less of a distraction (given that it was a debut on opening night....) and the mad scene a bit more nuanced than "tepid."  It may have not played well to a large house, and perhaps it was more an unravelling of a young and sensitive spirit than a mental destruction painted with broader strokes.

The second act continued with the same delicate, entirely loving characterization---a perfect portrayal of Emily Bronte's "the loving spirit lingers long, and would not pass away" ...     

I think that Giselle works best if one views the ballet as a whole, after seeing both acts one often realizes why certain choices were made in the first act.   The characterizations often change as dancers become more comfortable in the role, as well.

I hope that the tempi remain a bit more consistent in future performances----the switch into zippy double time during Giselle's hops was a bit jarring.....


A great choice for a season opener, I think.  The audience  (connoisseurs or not!) certainly agreed.  The generosity of the audiences and the commitment of the dancers to a relatively uncommon genre for them, romantic classicism, is refreshing.







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20 hours ago, Juliet said:


 The audience  (connoisseurs or not!) certainly agreed.  



I must agree to that.  The big pockets were there, and they pay...and they applaude.  That they know or not about sautees on pointe done or not might be irrelevant-(ONLY in Miami...let's be clear about this). At the end the only thing that might matter-(at least here)-is to fill out the house.

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I just came from a fourth viewing of this season's Giselle, and the differences from opening night are from night to day.  Leads were danced by Tricia Albertson and Renan Cerdeiro with Callie Manning as Myrtha.  

I was thinking that memories from my last Giselle before the Miami run-(from the Bolshoi..this summer)-are probably still too fresh and engraved in my memory.  Of course...when you are inside that MAGNIFICENT architectural explosion of reds and golds...facing a Corps that resemble pretty much the Rockettes in terms of an almost military-like uniformity and ravishing physical beauty...well, it is sort of hard not to compare.  But even though having seen the Russian Giselle just as recent, and also weighting in a loooong viewing story of the ballet with its main bulk coming from the exquisite mid century Dolin staging for the Cuban company, I can ABSOLUTELY declare that MCB owns a wonderful, honest and VERY HUMAN production.

This is what I perceive.  This is a company that definitely has almost ZERO exposure to the XIX Century warhorses. Who are the staging hands in this particular production...? Who are the repetiteurs...? We are not offered any clues in the programme notes. Back when Villella was still in I could picture him teaching the ballet-(he did dance it...and back when the work still had some now almost lost details, both choreographically and stylistically speaking). If you add to that that this dancers are VERY young...the majority of them with no previous knowledge of this masterpiece, then one needs to really appreciate the very fine product they have been able to craft for us.

First things first.  I absolutely LOVED company veteran Tricia Albertson in the role.  This is the second time I see her as Giselle this season, but today she truly excelled in her interpretation. Let's not forget that she is, by now, the troupe's oldest ballerina, having just celebrated her XX anniversary with the company and probably pushing 40.  A very nice tribute was done at the Arsht Center stage post performance, where large bouquets were delivered along with a sweet announcement.  The whole company then came out onstage to give a huge round of applause to a visibly overwhelmed Albertson.   I often talk about how I enjoy experienced ballerinas who are capable of bringing a deeper knowledge of the art form to certain roles.  She really transformed herself in the heroine, and by dancing with a very young Cerdeiro she really reminded me of the way I got to cherish this ballet in Cuba, with its ample array of older, wonderful ballerinas who were paired with younger, more inexperienced guys.  Albertson pulled out a very sensitive Giselle...trembling with fear and insanity during the Mad Scene.  All the required choreographic elements she did conquer...the sautees on pointe and series of pique turns on her Pas Seul...the tricky developpes a la seconde and arabesque devant into penchee in the beginning of her Act II's solo and so on, although the filet mignon of tonight's performance was without a doubt the dreamy pas de deux in act II.  The conductor slowed the tempo here and you could tell this two were luxuriating in their dancing.  It was fantastic.  Albertson also did a great exit during the segment in which she is being chased by Albrecht and got into the wings almost as if floating with a series of beautiful tiny burres advancing backwards.

Renan Cerdeiro was a lovely, attentive Loys/Albrecht...deprived of many mannerisms we see so often in this role, particularly among Russian dancers.  His dancing has been refined throughout the years, and during the Willis section in act II he went for the series of entrechat sixes-(Renato Panteado opted, the night before, for Misha's diagonal of brisés volé devant).  Cerdeiro is a very vivacious, elongated dancer who really shines through every single performance he dances in. He is not a super technician, but definitely a pleasure to watch in partnering sections.

Callie Manning-(one of the VERY few tall dancers of the company)-danced Myrtha.  She was also beautiful to watch.  Manning is a very voluptuous dancer, and with her great make up and voluminous romantic skirt she truly looked as if out of a Ballet Russes de Montecarlo vintage postcard. 

Summarizing...the company looked GREAT onstage dancing in a very-(for them)- alien element, and heir joy onstage was palpable,  I must say I was really moved by this performance.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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Thank you cubinmiamiboy for your reviews of MCB Giselle. I was able to attend the Sunday matinee at the Broward Center. Giselle: Simone Messmer, Albrecht: Rainer Krenstetter, Peasant Pas de Deux: Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello, Myrta: Jordan-Elizabeth Long.


I was so very sorry to read your previous review and the review in the Miami Herald of the Messmer/Krenstetter pairing that it peeked my curiousity. My experience was quite different than yours. I was sitting orchestra center, behind the lighting booth (so unfortunate this booth must be center of the orchestra). While Ms Messmer did not complete the famous diagonal of hops on pointe from up left to down right, her performance was superb, in spite of an orchestra that repeatedly played poor notes at very dramatic times in the ballet and the score. She is technically, musically and artistically well suited for this role. Both Acts were technically, musically and artistically remarkable (if one is able to forgive the diagonal, as most in the audience had no idea she had difficulty). I do agree, her 2nd Act is stronger than her 1st. There is so much room for growth. Wishing her the best as she develops in this role.


The scenery was too large for the Broward Center reducing much of the dancing of the corps de ballet to barely moving at all. I will not say more about the corps de ballet than you have already addressed, training and good ballet mastering is imperative in doing such a classical piece. The principal dancers can only carry a classical piece so far. One might be able to dress a stage and costume the dancers but without the physical training necessary and the caring eye of a knowledgeable ballet master, it becomes a bit of a recital.


I will go to West Palm for my final viewing of the Messmer/Krenstetter pairing. I am not a fan of Albertson, neither when she was in her prime nor now. I am hoping for a different Peasant Pas de Deux couple as I was not enthralled with J. Lauren. K. Rebello is well suited for the role and danced it with aplomb and strength. As Myrta, I found J-E Long to have a strong, high jump however her landings were brittle and her port de bras unsuited for the role. 


I salute Ms Lopez for challenging her ballet company to a classical piece and for bringing classical dance to South Florida. We need it. May their continued efforts reap frankly, more classical results. Onward to West Palm Beach. I encourage all in the South Florida area reading this commentary to attend any performances of this wonderful ballet. Miami City Ballet deserves our support. It has grown in leaps and bounds under the leadership of Ms. Lopez.

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But....what's going on eith Messmer's sautees on pointe...?!?! I REALLY hope that the "it is ok not to do them if you are beautiful to watch for the rest of the performance" mantra-(so masterly implemented by Skorik)- doesn't take roots in this ballet for the unforseen future. Sppesivtseva and Markova would be rolling on their graves, for God's sake!!-(rolling eyes)

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3 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

But....what's going on eith Messmer's sautees on pointe...?!?! I REALLY hope that the "it is ok not to do them if you are beautiful to watch for the rest of the performance" mantra-(so masterly implemented by Skorik)- doesn't take roots in this ballet for the unforseen future. Sppesivtseva and Markova would be rolling on their graves, for God's sake!!-(rolling eyes)

Videos of any number of recent Skorik Giselles show her doing the hops--and ballerinas before her (and since) have tried and failed to do them or not even tried but danced a pre-prepared variant of the choreography.  Though they may not have been caught on video in the era of youtube or, indeed, caught on video at all. She didn't exactly implement anything here.


I don't think it will ever be the norm in a traditional production of this ballet to leave out the hops, but one can safely assume that there will always be occasional exceptions that some fans tolerate--and others find intolerable. As for Spessivstzeva and Markova: who knows? perhaps they are resting happily in the knowledge that the standard they set still remains elusive for some ballerinas ... and their legends are intact.

Edited by Drew
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Unfortunately, I believe we have come to difference of opinion cubanmiamiboy. It is fine. The ballet needs differering points of view. We prefer different things. No biggy. I wish you much joy at the ballet.


You ask what went wrong? I saw it once. A stumble and onward she went with a combination of ballonnés with plié/relevé. I would need to be up close and watched it closely to know. I had no time. I suppose I was astonished that the ballonnés on pointe did not happen, much less the hops in attitude front. I never expected it, so I was not looking with the analytical eye of a teacher. I was immensely impressed however that she went onward and upward from there. I must say however, having done that most difficult passage, my heart goes out to all who have to courage to even approach them onstage.


Wonderful points Drew. Ballet has changed so, even from 25 years ago. To reach back to Markova, not one of my favorites, requires more knowledge than I have as I have read of her work however what I have seen on YouTube was far from what I like to see even as a ballet child of the 1960s.

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I was not able to be at these performances and may not be able to see any MCB this year. Still I would like to add  a comment about Simone Messmer. There are several ballerinas that absolutely fascinate me. Simone Messmer is one of them. Olga Smirnova (Bolshoi) and Veronika Part (ABT) are two others. These are ballerinas that I would rearrange my necessary travel plans to see. I did so last year for Simone Messmer. I hope to be able to see much more of all of them.

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I saw MCB's Giselle last night at the Kravis Center.

In my opinion, Rainer Krenstetter's two tone hair has got to go! I have always thought bright blond hair on top of dark short hair looks cheap. So many barflies from my younger days dyed their hair that way. Not a fan of that look at all. It doesn't look like the hairdo of an aristocrat to me. Enjoyed his dancing very much, but the dye job was so distracting, in my opinion.

During her ballones, Simone Messmer traveled maybe 3 feet and stopped  and continued to beat her working leg while staying in one place for most of the music. I had read above that she had trouble in Miami, so I was hoping she would do them better last night. To me it looked like she was having trouble staying up on pointe (she stayed up but looked shaky) so after hopping a few feet she stayed put, I assume, out of fear she would come down off pointe if she continued to move. At the Mariinsky Tereshkina and Somova travel an entire diagonal across the stage from upstage to downstage and must make larger hops to make it across the entire stage by the time the music stops. It makes it such a thrilling moment in the ballet even if it is not a must that the ballerina go that far. But last night was disappointing in that one moment.

Messmer has thick legs and strikes me as a very earthy dancer. In Act 1 her arms were stiff, but she made more flowing movements with them in Act 2, so maybe it was an interpretive choice. Her earthiness in Act 1 made me think I would not like her Act 2, but she won me over for the most part in the second act. She was a very human willi to me though as opposed to an otherworldly being. Her acting was decent if not astounding. I think she could become a good Giselle eventually. I would like to see higher jumps during Act 2's jumping entrechats. She barely got off the ground.

Nathalia Arja in the peasant pas de deux had the flowing arms I like, great elevation...this pdd made me want to see her as Giselle. I think she would be fabulous. Renan Cerdeiro partnered her well and was exciting in his solo making some interesting beats at times.

Jordan-Elizabeth Long as Myrthe was tentative at first especially in her penchees, but was surprisingly good when the music got faster. She looks very tall so I would think she would excel at the slower movements and have trouble with fast footwork but it was the opposite. Her bourees were nice and buttery.

Ashley Knox did some great renverses as Zulme! The leg stayed high the whole way around. Love seeing that!


I sort of agree with some posters above that some of the details I mention in this layman's review do not necessarily make or break an entire performance, but they are details we look forward to....I think last night was a decent Giselle but not heartbreaking. Even at ABT or the Mariinsky or the Bolshoi there can be minor flubs, so I think this was not a bad performance at all, rather a decent one that can be improved upon.

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Wow! What a difference tonight!!! I fell in love with Giselle all over again!


Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello made their role debuts as Giselle and Albrecht, and, in my opinion, they were sensational!  Lauren had such a sweet and delicate stage presence along with musicality. She did the ballones without problem going farther than any MCB Giselle I have seen (this is the third run I have attended....over the years they have done it every few years)...she didn't go the entire length of the stage like Tereshkina or Somova tend to do at the Mariinsky, but she went far enough and even alternated the position of the working leg the way some Giselles do. There were very minor quibbles in the performance (like her high extension a la seconds in Act 2 was not very a la seconde...more like toward the audience), but her sweet and delicate demeanor made her an absolute joy to watch in the role. Those who know me know I love flowing arms, and Lauren had enough flow to satisfy me!


Kleber Rebello's flowing arms could probably rival any Mariinsky ballerina, yet he still has this masculine energy that he exudes which is no small feat. To keep beautiful, flowing arms yet make the dancing and character masculine is difficult but he does this fabulously. He is my favorite male at Miami City Ballet. And I think I counted 30 or 31 entrechats sixes by him in Act 2 which was thrilling. Last night Krenstetter did the brises voles instead. 


Renato Penteado was an aggressive Hilarion (I mean that in a good way). Great acting.


Ashley Knox and Simon Ito were both great in the peasant pas de deux, even if she had to put her foot down after the first pirouette where her arm links with Ito. She kept it up in the second one.


Jordan-Elizabeth Long did well as Myrthe again. Her penchees were better if not perfect but her bourees are beautiful and otherworldly.


Ashley Knox returned in Act 2 as Zulme and repeated her terrific renverses like last night. Nathalia Arja was a delicate Moyna. I think Arja should get a debut as Giselle the next time they do Giselle (probably in three years).


Anyway I felt under the weather today and almost skipped the show but took a nap and made it to the performance and I am glad I did. I felt like, "This is what Giselle is all about!" The acting was great and the dancing was lovely. So glad I went tonight!


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Lauren and Rebello also danced the second night in Miami. I really loved their pairing, particularly due to the fact that after the departure of Catoya it has been very hard to find a super short ballerina for him-(Rebello is a GREAT but VERY short dancer). I have enjoyed his dancing since his early beginnings with the company, and his usual partner is Arja, with whom I would had loved to see him with in this ballet. Rebello, by now, is with no doubt one of the most technically proficient dancers I have seen ANYWHERE in the world. 

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The casting paper inserted into the program indicated it was their role debuts (asterisk that then said it was a role debut), but I guess that was a mistake or it meant the entire run (Miami to WPB) included their debut or maybe it meant their debut at the Kravis. Very strange.

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31 minutes ago, Birdsall said:

I believed you when you said it but was explaining why I had originally called it their role debut.


It is strange MCB labeled it that way in their program.


I think they just had the same booklets from West Palm that they had here...no new prints...so the info that you saw was originally intended for the Arsht.

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They always have an insert (one sheet) that they hand out with the actual program (can't remember if they do this in Miami) that lists casting. It is always a separate paper they hand out with the program booklet. I assume they do this so if there are last minute changes they can still use the booklets but prepare a new paper insert. The paper for last night says Kravis Center and Saturday, Nov. 12 8pm and the cast with some asterisks. And at the bottom of this page it says the asterisk means "role debut."


I'm not arguing, and I believe you that they performed in Miami and the picture you sent but just surprised they made such a mistake. To me a role debut seems like a big deal so they should try not to make that mistake.

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16 hours ago, Birdsall said:

Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello made their role debuts as Giselle and Albrecht, and, in my opinion, they were sensational!  



I'm so glad to hear this and that you and Cristian enjoyed them so much. I've always liked Kleber Rebello. Great poetry in his performances.


As I wrote earlier this year, Jennifer Lauren's Divertissement from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (with Kleber Rebello) was, for me, perhaps the most beautiful performance of the three days in Miami.

Edited by Buddy
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