Miami City Ballet inaugurated its new season with works that underscore the company’s profound and diverse dramatic range. The program also ushered in a seismic shift from the departure of ballet founder and artistic director, Edward Villella to the debut of Lourdes Lopez, MCB’s new artistic director. As Lopez states in the program notes, this season is in many ways not hers. It is Villella who selected the ballets and rehearsed the dancers until his sudden departure in early September of this year, several months earlier than planned.
Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Lopez spoke enthusiastically and graciously of her return to her old home after decades in New York City and her enthusiasm for her new position as artistic director. Lopez’s vision and plans for MCB remain to be seen. This opening night illuminated the brilliance of Balanchine and Taylor, and celebrated the MCB dancers skill and verve.
The evening opened with Les Patineurs (Skating Party) choreographed by Sir Fredrick Ashton. The movement is crisp and pristine, albeit oddly out of place in an otherwise erotically charged evening. However, true ballet lovers will appreciate the clean technique and the dancers’ bobbing about added playfulness and whimsy to the evening.
Villella’s hand could best be seen in Renan Cerdeiro’s portrayal of Apollo. George Balanchine’s Apollo has been called by many the choreographer’s first great ballet (Villella was a dance star under Balanchine back in New York). Statuesque and fierce, Cerdeiro is a revelation as the god of beauty and light. With long chiseled arms outstretched, the dancer embodied the majestic power and prowess of a hawk. Muses Patricia Delgado, Tricia Albertson, and Jeanette Delgado were breathtaking not only in their form and execution of the choreography, but equally so in their dramatic portrayal of the muses of poetry, mime, and dance – all to the music of Stravinsky.
Most impressive were the forms the four dancers took as they bent and intertwined in sculptural formations. As the muses embrace Apollo, their legs extend and burst forth in a series of arabesques, creating the outline of sun, fire, and the golden chariot that will carry the Greek god to his destiny. Balanchine’s Apollo is a reminder that movement inspired will always feel contemporary.
Paul Taylor’s choreography in Piazzolla Caldera uses Astor Piazzolla’s iconoclastic blend of classical music with tango to create a sultry tango-inspired jaunt through the dive bars and dance halls of early 20th century Argentina. Dressed in black and dark lace, the dancers prowl the dimly lit stage, circling and seizing upon one another in erotic fits of pleasure and pain. Didier Bramaz and Kleber Rebello were sensational in their acrobatic and erotic pas de deux for two men. Carlos Guerra and Callie Manning complimented each another wonderfully in long sensual lunges and powerful lifts. Jeanette Delgado displayed her theatrical chops as the lusty dancer who never finds the right partner.
Whereas Apollo’s lines feel precise and measured, Taylor’s moves in Piazzolla Caldera spill over the edges as the dancers use their athleticism and virtuosity to bare the soul of tango’s debauched and daring origins.
MCB takes Program I to Broward this weekend, and to Palm Beach next month.
Program I: Les Patineurs, Apollo, and Piazzolla Caldera runs Oct. 26 at 8:00 p.m., on Oct. 27 at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., and on Oct. 28 at 2:00 p.m., Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Ft. Lauderdale; and then from Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; www.miamicityballet.org. - By Mia Leonin, artburstmiami.com