Miami City Ballet Opens Season with Stunning Performance
All eyes were on the Miami City Ballet this weekend at the Arsht Center as the company opened its first season under the leadership of Lourdes Lopez.
The Ballet has been in the news for months, the subject of speculation and intrigue. First, activist board members forced the announced retirement of Edward Villella, the company’s founding artistic director, scheduled for 2013. The search for a replacement this spring yielded Lopez, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, rather than Villella’s pick, Miami principal dancer Jennifer Kronenberg.
Then, just four months ago, Executive Director Nicholas Goldsborough, a reputable fundraiser hired in November 2012, was ousted amid a reported "cash crunch" and Villella’s departure hastened. A new management team has since been put in place, led by a former Kennedy Center executive from Washington, D.C.
If any instability remains within the administrative or fundraising functions of company, it wasn’t apparent on stage as the dancers gave stunning performances to an enthusiastic audience.
Program I, selected before Lopez’s appointment, began with Les Patineurs (The Skating Party). The temperature inside the Ziff Ballet Opera Theatre immediately dropped as the curtain rose to reveal a Victorian-era ice skating rink, surrounded by stark trees. Set to traditional romantic music by Giacomo Meyerbeer, Sir Frederick Ashton’s ballet introduces groups of skaters, effortlessly gliding across the floor with precision and grace that could earn an Olympic medal in fur-lined, sequined jackets designed by William Chappell.
Renato Penteado offered some comic relief as the "boy in blue" who dazzled all with his athletic jumps and spins only to take a spill at the end, and Mary Carmen Catoya and Carlos Miguel Guerra danced a beautiful pas de deux as young lovers on a date at the skating rink. The ballet appropriately ended with a light dusting of snow.
Renan Cerdeiro took the stage next as the title character in George Balanchine’s Apollo, a 1928 ballet created for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes and set to music by Igor Stravinsky. Cerdeiro ably tackled the iconic role, opening the ballet strumming pastoral tunes on his lute. He later encounters three muses: Calliope, with her scroll and pen (Patricia Delgado); Polyhymnia, the mute muse of mime (Tricia Albertson); and finally, Terpsichore, muse of the dance (Jeanette Delgado).
The ballet demonstrates some of Balanchine’s most clever choreography as Apollo must dance first with one and later with all three muses simultaneously. Cerdeiro maneuvered the intricate chains and complicated lifts with strength and grace.
To close the program, the fiery rhythms of tango heated up the theatre. Turning to the choreography of Paul Taylor, the company presented Piazzolla Caldera, a four-act ballet set to tangos by Astor Piazzolla and additional music from Jerzy Peterburshsky. While the work is not staged in the strictest sense of ballroom dance, the essence of the tango survives in a series of ensemble and couples numbers. It was interesting to see a male couple paired during the sizzling ensemble numbers, proving the raw emotion of the tango is not limited to traditional gender roles. The energy of the performance was accentuated by sultry costumes by Santo Loquasto and inventive lighting effects from Jennifer Tipton.
Miami City Ballet is at Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, running Nov. 30 - Dec. 2
Tickets begin at $20 at www.MiamiCityBallet.org.