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30th Anniversary Opening

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
10/23/2015 -  & October 24, 25* (Miami), November 7, 8 (Fort Lauderdale), 10 (Naples), 13, 14, 15 (West Palm Beach), 2015
George Balanchine/Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
Jennifer Lauren, Reyneris Reyes
Liam Scarlett/Lowell Liebermann: Viscera
Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Carlos Miguel Guerra, Patricia Delgado
Jerome Robbins/Leonard Bernstein: Fancy Free
Renan Cerdeiro, Kleber Rebello, Chase Swatosh, Rebecca King, Simone Messmer, Jordan-Elizabeth Long
Principals, soloists and members of the Miami City corps de ballet
Francisco Rennó (Piano), Opus One Orchestra, Gary Sheldon (Conductor)
Zack Brown, Oliver Smith (Scenic Design), Haydée Morales, Liam Scarlett, Kermit Love (Costume Design), John Hall, Les Dickert (Lighting Design)

Swan Lake/© The George Balanchine Trust (© Gene Schiavone)

Can it be that Miami City Ballet has reached its 30th birthday? Who would have thought that would ever be possible. Opening this anniversary season are major works created in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. It is a great achievement that Miami City Ballet has not only presented major beloved works from the past but continuously commissions new ones by some of the world’s most respected contemporary choreographers.

Swan Lake has not been offered at Miami City Ballet for a number of seasons (perhaps this explains the sold out performances; it was thrilling to see so many young people and even children in the theatre). Balanchine’s one act version of the world’s most beloved ballet is a knockout; no wasted moments. Jennifer Lauren was a most touching and elegant Odette, but what really makes this work soar is a corps that matches Odette’s intensity. Once again the company shows that every member is of equal significance. And though Reyneris Reyes makes a dashing Siegfried, in this version he is basically a supporting player. Samantha Hope Galler and Nathalia Arja take such command as the leaders of their divertissements that their contributions are incredibly vital considering how little stage time they are given. Bravo, ladies. This performance was an example of how, yet again, less is more. There is no need or attempt to overwhelm the audience with anymore than just the simplest décor and lighting. This subtlety continued with what was the most tender and subtle interpretation of this famous score that I have ever heard. Opus One Orchestra led by the great Gary Sheldon reinforces that this is first and foremost Tchaikovsky’s ballet. The movement might be stunning, but it is the composer’s vision that inspired it. It is difficult to imagine this performance’s enormous success given with the recorded music that Miami City Ballet once used for many seasons.

But this opening was only the beginning. Next up was Liam Scarlett’s Viscera which the company premiered in 2012. I recall a very enthusiastic response to this work when it was new. The same principal couple repeated their roles here. Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg’s performance has naturally deepened so that her long duet with Carlos Miguel Guerra is even more riveting. Patricia Delgado’s powerful stage presence is emphasized with a facial vehemence that is every bit as significant as her commanding movement. Francisco Rennó’s interpretation of Lowell Liebermann’s powerful Piano Concerto No. 1 with its energetic first and third movements provides the dancers the perfect foundation for taking the audience on a spellbinding journey.

Like Swan Lake, Fancy Free is a repertory staple which Miami City Ballet has not offered in probably at least a decade. As I have aged, I see things in this work that I never before noticed. Prior to the girls’ arrival, the boys, though on their shore leave, are already getting restless with boredom. The tossing of the gum wrappers has an almost lonely feeling by the last time. The sailors are given the challenge of impressing the girls with their power, suavity and sexy confidence. The hilarious fight that ensues is followed by an incredibly touching reaffirmation of their deep friendship only to be challenged again by the next encounter with an alluring female. It is hilarious and oh so human. Renan Cerdeiro, Kleber Rebello and Chase Swatosh make a believable trio whose immaturity challenges them to even greater heights (or depths, depending how you look at it). Rebecca King and Simone Messmer are funny and sexy as the girls who get these boys’ motors racing. And these young women are smart tough New Yorkers who know when it is time to get out of the way. In the 21st century it is interesting to consider how the innocent play with Ms. King’s red purse might be seen as a form of harassment. Again Opus One Orchestra mines the riches of Leonard Bernstein’s swaggering score magnified by Jerome Robbins’ brilliant fully developed characterizations.

Once again Miami City Ballet is off to a thrilling start. And what a program to bring newcomers to the art form.

Program One will be offered on November 7 and 8 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, on November 10 at Artis-Naples in Naples and from November 13 through 15 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.

Jeff Haller



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