An encompassing and fulfilling evening of dance with the Miami City Ballet (MCB) opened Program II at the Adrienne Arsht Ziff Ballet Opera House at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22. Encompassing because the range of dance was extensive. The program included a very traditional, Bournonville pas de deux, from the mid 1800s, two well established Balanchine works, one from the 1940s and one from the 1970s, and a more current look at dance in Justin Peck’s 2015, “Heatscape,” which was the title of the entire program. It was a smorgasbord of dance, united, as Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez said "by ballet technique."
It was fulfilling because each ballet was meticulously presented and well executed. Under Lopez, who spent her dancing career with New York City Ballet, it is no surprise that the dancers have a more streamlined, New York City Ballet look. They are immaculately trained and the diverse repertory pushes them in all sorts of directions through their daily rehearsals and performances. Most importantly, the dancers are warm and gracious. They have not diminished what is engaging in communicating their spirit and their joy through dance. This “offbeat” program did just that.
Balanchine’s epic, “The Four Temperaments” premiered in 1946 to a commissioned score by modern master, Paul Hindemith. Probably one of Balanchine’s most well known pieces, 4T’s (as it is lovingly called) was created during his black and white period, with the females wearing simple black leotards and pink tights and the men wearing white tees against black tights with signature white socks and slippers. World wide, when one thinks of ‘Balanchine’ choreography, it is usually a theme, a position, a broken wrist, or a thrust pelvis influenced by 4Ts.
The four variations of Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic and Choleric represent emotions that are present in each of us. The ballet is an abstract, yet classical feast for the eyes with innovative movement and an always interesting and surprising structure. Nothing goes on too long or is predictable and it builds to a wild climactic, memorable finish.
Emily Bromberg and a dashing Reyneris Reyes were gracious and fluid in the third opening duet. Helen Ruiz, replacing Samantha Hope Galler, was a strong technician. Alexander Peters, who seems to be used more and more, was a soft and angst ridden virtuoso in Melancholic. Not disappointing were the signature battements and hip thrust of the four women. Nathalia Arja seems to enjoy dancing and makes every role her own. Her performance with Chase Swatosh in Sanguinic was lively and had an internal point of view that was, at once, curious and engaging. Kudos to Swatosh for a smooth manége of jeté lifts (circle of carried lifts with Arja’s legs stretched out).
Rainer Krenstetter, mastered the timeless intricacy of Phlegmatic with aloof authority. Powerhouse Lauren Fadeley was confident and strong with a contrasting velvety richness. The final theme, that includes everyone, was a kaleidoscope of switching arms, canons, angles and swooping lifts crossing the stage. This is, ultimately, a masterwork.
Switching gears led to the soft elegance of Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant,” choreographed in 1972 to the musical score of lifelong Balanchine collaborator, Igor Stravinsky.
Concertant is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a 17th or 18th century musical composition for orchestra with parts for solo instruments or for several solo instruments without orchestra." "Duo" speaks to the two dancers and the two musicians that are seen on the stage. Each individual is a soloist yet each person is a part of the group. MCB pianist, Francisco Rennó and Mei Mei Luo were as much a part of the choreography as the dance itself. Sometimes simply standing and listening to the music, Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro, both well established artists, told a story that moved from childlike innocence to a mature and knowing relationship. The five movements, while simple in theory, were rich in drama. The arm gestures and lighting effects leading to the final blackout had a small touch of theatrics and humor.
Almost out of place in this mix of repertory was “The Flower Festival in Genzano Pas de Deux.” Using traditional Bournonville technique comprised of fast footwork, many jumps and batterie (beats), and peasant costumes, the pas is a well known excerpt from the full length ballet, Napoli. Jennifer Lauren and Shimon Ito, both known for whippersnapper technique were capable and charming. There could have been more softness and rapport between the two to make a more enchanting relationship, but one thing is consistent about this very traditional technique. It is hard. There is no fudging any of the demands. This couple made it look easy.
To close the program was a repeat of Justin Peck’s 2015 “Heatscape.” Inspired by Wynwood’s Art district and the camaraderie of the MCB dancers and set against a bold mandala backdrop created by visual artist, Shepard Fairey, Peck’s second commission for MCB has become a gem in the MCB repertory. Peck’s choreography is complex with a whimsical organic flair. He has a musicality and structure to his work that can be trusted. You know it’s going to work out and will be pretty cool in the process.
In this performance, the dancers appeared to be "wearing" the choreography as opposed to executing it. There was a freedom, a comfort, an assurance, perhaps, that was not present in the prior performances of “Heatscape.” While the choreography was very balletic, there were multiple arms, organized chaos, and an edgy flair that made it look very contemporary.
Crowds evolved to duets, couples came sliding onto the stage, lifts had shooting legs, there was even a contemporary take on a Swan Lake ensemble. A zesty Cardeiro was shining with Bromberg, Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado, swirled in a pas de deux that was as difficult as it was organic. The gracious Jeannette Delgado had two dynamic partners in Ito and Peters in its crafty trio. It was fun to see this artful romp after seeing him in the difficult Bournonville pas. The playful music was by Bohuslav Martina's Piano Concerto No. 1 and excellently played by pianist, Ciro Fodere. “Heatscape” was all good fun swirled with a little romance.
Performances continue at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9 and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 10 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 SW 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. For tickets, www.ticketmaster.com or www.browardcenter.org. Call 954.462.2222 for information.
Performances at 8 p.m. Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16 and 1 p.m. Sunday, March 17 at The Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Boulevard West Palm Beach, FL 33401. For tickets, www.kravis.org. Call 561.832.7469 for information. MCB Box office: 305.929.7010
Toll free: 877.929.7001
Group sales: 877.929.7001