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MCB's Program 3: Embracing The New

World Premier Takes Chances

Cameron Basden

MCB dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Photographer:

MCB dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Miami City Ballet dancers in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Photographer:

Miami City Ballet dancers in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Miami City Ballet, known for its immaculate interpretations of the Balanchine and Robbins repertory, took on a new challenge with the world premier of “One Line Drawn” by choreographer, Brian Brooks. Friday evening was the opening performance of Program Three at the Adrienne Arsht Center's Ziff Ballet Opera House, and included the timeless and difficult George Balanchine classic, “Theme and Variations,” as well as the Jerome Robbins comical ballet, “The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody)”.

As artistic director, Lourdes Lopez, remarked at the beginning of the show, it is important to honor, reimagine and execute the masterpiece works of Balanchine and Robbins, but it is also imperative to keep exploring new voices with choreography that challenges MCB dancers and enables audience members to view dance possibilities in a different way. This program was indicative of all: something classic in tutus, something humorous, and a new piece that was as challenging for the dancers as it was for the audience.

The masterpiece, “Theme and Variations,” set to familiar music of Tchaikovsky was originally created for American Ballet Theater (then called Ballet Theater) in 1947 for then ballet super stars, Alicia Alonzo and Igor Youskevitch. It is technically challenging for the ensemble in skills, but also in musicality, cohesiveness and effortlessness. Similarly, the lead couple must be captivating, technically virtuosic, who cann charm the audience with the sheer elegance of the difficult Balanchine choreography.

Honoring the Russian Imperial style of ballet, “Theme” is a grand ballet, grand in structure, grand in carriage and grand in the atmosphere created. Having just seen the company dynamically sail through an all Robbins evening in Program Two, and my personal favorite, the enticing “Jewels” in Program One that was executed to near perfection, MCB raised the bar in taking on Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations.” It was danced well, and in time, could carry the dazzle that the choreography demands. As a first performance, the ensemble showed an  edginess that opening night might bring. Jennifer Lauren was a proficient, technical lead with her very adept partner, Kleber Rebello. Both were new in the roles and with more performances, could embody the effortless grandeur, the joy, and the exuberance of the lush Tchaikovsky music. Everyone seemed to come alive in the final Polonaise where they exhibited the excitement that will eventually hold true all the way through.

LEFT: Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. The George Balanchine Trust. <br>
RIGHT: Miami City Ballet dancers in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. <br>Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Photographer:

LEFT: Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. The George Balanchine Trust.
RIGHT: Miami City Ballet dancers in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins.
Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Kudos to MCB for embracing a challenging new style in the world premier of “One Line Drawn” by Brian Brooks, his first piece for MCB and his first work on a classically trained company using pointe shoes.

The work was commissioned by the Harris Theater of Music and Dance in Chicago as part of a three year project where Brooks will also work with the contemporary company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the bombastic company of Elizabeth Streb.

With a grid of solitary lights that rose floor to ceiling, bare legged dancers clad in androgynous gray trunks and drippy silver shirts, moved out of a smokey room in singles, couples and ensembles then disappeared back into the veil of smoke. The fleeting and random choreography seemed to move every which way, with the occasional split jump that seemed to stop mid air. The movement enabled men to partner men, women with women and ensembles that morphed into larger and smaller groupings. Weight changed easily and fluidly, while turns seemed to go backwards out of nowhere. It was interesting movement and the dancers seemed at home. At one point the dancers kept rotating in a circular pattern while individuals broke off before fading back into the abyss of darkness. It was mesmerizing. The piece just happened. It was driving and relentless, set to a magnanimous score by American composer and Miami Beach native Michael Gordon. Dancers worked tirelessly at intricate and complex, showing a different side of what the company can do.

LEFT: MCB_Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. The George Balanchine Trust. <br>
RIGHT: MCB_Tricia Albertson and Francisco Renn in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. <br>Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Photographer:

LEFT: MCB_Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. The George Balanchine Trust.
RIGHT: MCB_Tricia Albertson and Francisco Renn in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins.
Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

The final piece of the evening was “The Concert,” Robbins' humorous take on attending an outdoor concert, relationships that unfold, dancers laughing at themselves, the audience laughing with them. A witty and quite visible role for the persnickety pianist, Francisco Rennó started this enjoyable saga off right. Tricia Albertson was delightful, Reyneris Reyes was a dapper comedian and Callie Manning was a humorous wife. All in all, a fun cast in a fun piece.

Miami City Ballet will spread its wings in May as it goes out on the road. The company will open Charleston's 42nd Spoleto Festival USA on May 25 in South Carolina before traveling to Paris for performances with Les Etés de la Danse Festival at the end of June (June 28 - 30).

 

Performances for the Miami Ballet continue:

 

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, 701 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 3340, Friday, March 2, 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday, March 4, 1 p.m.

561-832-7469

Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, 201 SW 5th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, Saturday, March 17, 8 p.m., Sunday, March 18, 2 p.m., 954-462-0222.

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