Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Miami City Ballet… Better than a Holiday!

Jeremy Cox & Katia Carranza in SYMPHONY IN THREE MOVEMENTS, photo by Joe Gato Happy almost-end of January dancers! Ok, so maybe I just miss the holidays right now and that was a pretty sad attempt at creating one . . . But let’s just say that if I HAD to create a holiday in the dance world, it would be January 23, the night I went and saw Miami City Ballet perform in its NYC debut! This week, the Miami City Ballet (and entourage) made the trip from Florida to NYC with guns loaded, ready to astonish! Truly, this was some of the most amazing dancing I have seen this year. . . don’t let the fact that it’s only January fool you! These technicians DEFINE discipline. The marks of these ballet masters? Perfect lines, impeccable control, layered choreography, and a unique combination of flawless unison and stark individuality. Absolutely stunning.

New York City Center in Midtown Manhattan was buzzing with  activity before the 8 o’clock curtain this past Friday night! A sold out house welcomed Edward Villella’s company to the stage. Villella, founder and CEO of the MCB, danced for Balanchine’s New York City Ballet (NYCB) in his younger years, and never lost his love for the NYCB, where he was a principal. His ballet brought three pieces to the forefront on Friday night, and I have no problem going back and thinking about them all over again!

PIECE ONE: SYMPHONY IN THREE MOVEMENTS, CHOREO: Balanchine MUSIC: Stravinksy

A curtain rises and a diagonal line of corps de ballet dancers (in ponytails, pointe shoes and white belted leotards ) is elegantly posed in unison and looking MCB-Balanchine's LA VALSE (4)Kronenberg & Guerra, photo by Joe GatoFABULOUS! Such a clean look, and interesting to see ponytails! No tutus. The corps wore white, a smaller corps wore black, and the principals stood out in pink, orange, and magenta. I loved the costuming. It basically screamed, “Look at us and our perfect, perfect technique and to-die-for bodies!” It was interesting to note Balanchine’s early choreography boasting a modern edge with parallel work…quick walking and what I like to call “Kick your butt” runs! The piece was beautifully layered and introduced their killer principals! Kudos Mr. Balanchine.

PIECE TWO: LA VALSE, CHOREO: Balanchine MUSIC: Ravel

Another classic work by Balanchine, La Valse sets the scene of a mysterious, dark, ballroom. I felt like I was a bat looking in on a haunted masquerade ball! (No masks though…) This piece had AMAZINGLY beautiful costumes — completely opposite the first piece, these were exquisitely ornate, detailed, and extravagant! Women wore grey bodices with rhinestone embroidery, rhinestone earrings, decorative netted headpieces, topped off (or should I say bottomed off) with flowing romantic tutus in muted, smoky rainbow colors.

The stage was filled with smoke and crazy cross-lighting. I can’t say I’m a lighting expert but the effects were awesome! Eventually this piece leads to a dark male figure “death” , taking the life of the girl in white . . . he puts black gloves on her and a black sheath which was a very interesting acting moment. In the end, this “lady in white” is raised up in the center as the corps swirls around her in a speedy whirlwind! The curtain falls while the action is still happening!

PIECE THREE: IN THE UPPER ROOM, CHOREO: Twyla Tharp! Music: Philip Glass

No words. Unbelievable. Choreography to watch again and again. See this. Ms. Tharp., I applaud you. I know my applause may not have much weight, but I was just entranced by this. Tharp shows herself to be a true pioneer in the integration of Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, and Ballet with this display of sheer genius! The pulsating music was to die for…(can you tell I loved this?)

Miami City Ballet, In the Upper Room (3), photo by Joe GatoThe costumes were very unique, yet simple. Navy blue and white stripes against red body suits and red pointe shoes/socks. Over and over, new movements and patterns were introduced and then weaved together like a quilt . . . every strand different but fitting perfectly. The men showed strength and agility- the women showed that they could get down and dirty and still be a ballerina! Lots of jazz influence in this! By the finale, you are jumping out of your seat. Dancers being thrown upside down and all around, pointe dancers flying at the speed of light across the stage in unison, and unique head isolations keep you wanting more.

Tharp’s piece was an amazing way to end the night. If the MCB really did have a holiday, that was the apple pie with whip cream that you treat yourself to right before you take a nap and dream of sugarplums! MCB, can’t wait to have you back for more!

Peace, love, and dance,

SHEENA D

IDANZ Critix Corner

Official Dance Review by Sheena DiMateo
Performance: Miami City Ballet, Program A
Venue: City Center, New York, NY
Date: Friday, January 23, 2009
www.iDANZOnline.com

Photos by Joe Gato

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