It’s a wrap!

With another year with MCB under her belt, principal dancer Patricia Delgado sat down with us to wrap up the season. With roles in Company B, “The Golden Section”, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, The Neighborhood Ballroom, and Who Cares? among others, Patricia spent lots of time onstage. She shares her highlights from each program and what she plans on doing during her time off.

Patricia Delgado’s Season Wrap Up from Miami City Ballet on Vimeo.

Deanna Seay – 21 years with MCB

“Ladies and gentlemen…Ms. Deanna Seay.” The curtain came up to reveal the principal dancer standing onstage about to bid farewell after 21 years of dancing with MCB. That was how this Saturday’s Open Barre: A Dancer Tribute to Deanna Seay began. It was a very emotional event filled with tears, laughter and great performances of some of Deanna’s favorite ballets. Tricia Albertson, her friend and fellow dancer, put together a video tribute about her that was screened during the show. For those of you who missed it, here is the video tribute to Ms. Deanna Seay.

Sharing Stage

Post by Principal Dancer Deanna Seay

When I was a student, my teacher, Melissa Hayden, used to tell us that, “Change is the only constant.” Indeed, change is what happens, and sometimes it happens faster than you can blink an eye. Plans have changed for me this week, as in the final performance of Who Cares? at the Kravis Center this past weekend, I landed from a jump and wrenched my left knee. This in and of itself was quite an experience, having to leave the stage in the middle of a variation, the instant (and since, continuous) replay of the series of events leading up to the moment of impact, the surreal moment of not knowing what my leg would do, and not really being able to control what was happening. If there is a bright side to this sort of thing, it would be that I can now add this rather dramatic exit to my list of experiences as well as using it as a tool to learn more about myself.

The uncertainty of my prognosis doesn’t change the fact that there will still be performances this weekend, but I am hoping that, on April 24th, I will still be able to share the stage, in some way, one more time with some of the dearest people in the world. I was really looking forward to these shows- to be able to visit and rediscover these three ballets one more time. “Emeralds”, with its watery green world and romantic movement, is the one I have known longest. When I first danced this role sixteen years ago, Edward introduced me to the idea of “the man who isn’t there,” to help me create a narrative that would link my steps together. The music, as well as the beautiful green costume, led me to a mysterious world of aura and nuance. I thought of the long solo as a Shakespearean soliloquy, with the curving gestures of the arms telling a story of longing, memories and loss. The choreographic marvel of the related pas de deux is the constant walking that links the steps together. The ballerina floats across the stage, guided by a man she cannot see, and perhaps isn’t really there except in her memory.

Allegro Brillante
, which I was fortunate enough to revisit earlier this season, is an exhilarating essay on being a Balanchine dancer. This ballet came to me shortly after I became a principal dancer, and I remember being daunted by its sophistication at first. But who can resist Tchaikovsky’s piano works? Where else can you fly and feel as free as in Allegro Brillante? This ballet holds a strange power- with its sweeping choreography it creates a very romantic mood. In the seconds when you look deep into your partner’s eyes, you also have to trust that he will be there to catch you in the next daring moment. This powerful combination of trust and romance eventually worked its magic on me, as I married the man with whom I first danced Allegro.

Theme and Variations, also set to Tchaikovsky, is probably one of the most difficult ballets I ever danced, and one of which I am sincerely proud of what I accomplished. The technical challenges are formidable for both the man and the woman, and to be truly effective, these challenges should be delivered with as much beauty and joy as is held by the music. Balanchine choreographed many beautiful ballets, but Theme is particularly special to me. It represents the pinnacle of classical dancing- a perfect fusion of choreography and music coupled with an untouchable sense of purity. The restraint of the movement speaks volumes about the drama behind the choreography. With such purity, a mere sous-sous becomes a dramatic statement, and the presentation of the ballerina’s hand tells an entire story. To dance, this ballet feels as if it is part fairy tale and part real life. I think that dancing Theme was part fairy tale for me, considering my memories of watching Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov dance Theme with American Ballet Theater during the “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcasts of my childhood. The fairy tale continued for me, as it was after my third performance of Theme and Variations that Edward told me that he was making me a principal dancer.

Yes, I was looking forward to exploring these ballets again, but I was most looking forward to sharing the stage one more time with this wonderful family that surrounds me. I have never been able to write enough about the people that I dance with, to tell whoever may read this what a wonderful group my colleagues are, and how much they inspire me and how much I learn from them. It is amazing the things they go through to be able to dance everyday…aside from the usual aches and pains that come with this career, I watch as one of my colleagues painfully refits her pointe shoes every morning. Others experience the death of someone close, but this does not keep them away from the studio. Sometimes it seems that lives outside of the studio are falling apart, and yet everyone shows up each day with unfailing determination to create beauty out of whatever they can. Between the injuries, the issues and the difficulties, I admire all of these dancers more than they can ever know. Their singular dedication to this company and to ballet makes me proud to have been a part of this group, and honored to have been able to share the stage with them.

Tricia’s Q&A

Principal dancer Tricia Albertson answers the questions we all want to know about having roles in both Dances at a Gathering AND Who Cares?.

MCB: Tricia, Program IV is a pretty challenging program for you. You dance the “Yellow Girl” in Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and the “Blue Girl” in George Balanchine’s Who Cares?. What’s it like to be on stage for both ballets as compared to maybe just one of three in a night?

Tricia: When I begin any performance I pace myself, and take one section at a time. In this case, I actually prefer to dance both these roles in the same show. Although Dances at a Gathering requires a lot of stamina, there is enough time between the sections in which I dance that I have time to recover and catch my breath. My role in Who Cares? has so many jumps it could be considered a male variation! It’s necessary to be really warm for it so I’m grateful to have already danced so my blood is flowing.

MCB: The “Yellow Girl” is an amazing girl to watch in Dances at a Gathering because she is so sprightly and carefree. It is clear that this role requires a lot of stamina. How do you find the energy to get through the choreography in not only this ballet, but in both ballets of the night? Do you have a technique that you use?

Tricia: When it comes to stamina, I find that when I revisit a role, it’s always easier. I’m more aware of when to rest, when it’s easiest to breathe. Luckily, I have danced both of these roles in the past. Still, before the show, I will make sure I’m well hydrated and that I eat a good, high-carb, energy sustaining meal. I’ll also eat a snack between the ballets, maybe some nuts or juice. Arnica also helps. Before Who Cares? I’ll eat some homoeopathic arnica tablets. They help sustain my energy and keep me from being too sore the next day.

MCB: Dancers are so different when it comes to performances and pointe shoes. Do you wear the same pointe shoes throughout the whole night or do you wear different ones for each ballet? If you switch, what’s the difference in the shoes for each role?

Tricia: I switch shoes for each ballet, and sometimes I’ll switch shoes in the middle of Dances at a Gathering. The pas de deux I dance with the brick boy, known as The Giggle Dance, has some pointe work in it, so I like to have supportive (newer) shoes. After that, I do a lot of jumping and running, which is much more comfortable to do in softer, more broken-in shoes. In Who Cares?, I try to wear soft shoes that I know will pointe easily. My variation is so long, so difficult, and so tiring that by the end it’s hard to even feel my feet. I have to rely on my shoes to pointe for me!

MCB: After dancing challenging, artistically satisfying roles on an opening night, what’s your pleasure, vino, cerveza, or bubble bath?

Tricia: My real pleasure is a good night’s sleep! However, sometimes it’s hard to relax after the adrenaline rush from performing. If that’s the case, I’ll gladly enjoy a glass of wine or beer and an Epsom salt bath.

MCB: For the most part, audiences don’t realize what a toll on the body dancing is — as dancers are skilled in making movement seem effortless. From the high of opening night to the reality of doing it all over again the following day, how do you get your mind, body, and spirit prepared for the next performance?

Tricia: When I know I have another difficult show the next day, I have an extended, but necessary after-show process. First, I make sure that I eat a huge meal. I drink tonic water to help avoid muscle soreness and speed up my body’s processing of lactic acid. Next, I take a hot Epsom salt bath. This calms me and dulls muscle aches. Then I ice whatever needs icing, usually my feet and Achilles’ tendons. Finally, I rub arnica cream on my Achilles’, feet, and calves, and wrap them in saran wrap to help the arnica penetrate. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

MCB: Do you find it is easier or harder to dance challenging roles at the beginning or end of the season?

Tricia: This is a tough question to answer. In the beginning of the season I feel much more rehearsed for the roles I’m dancing because we are just coming off of a long rehearsal period. Once we get into January, we really have to cram program rehearsals together. Sometimes we go onstage with only two weeks of rehearsal. That may sound like plenty, but it means having only six or seven rehearsals. On the other hand, toward the end of the season, I feel much more in-shape and more comfortable onstage. I don’t get as sore or exhausted. I think part of that is because I’ve gotten into the rhythm of my schedule.

MCB: Final question. In the December/January issue of Pointe Magazine you said, “I am truly a crazy cat lady.” Tell us more.

Tricia: I do love cats. As I said in the Pointe article, cats seem to migrate to me. It’s a sad situation here in Miami Beach with so many stray, unhealthy, homeless and hungry cats. Each year, my boyfriend and I try to catch and spay or neuter as many cats as we can. But, it’s hard to put them back on the street after that. That’s how we’ve ended up with nine of our own!

Tricia Albertson and Yang Zou in Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Alexandre Dufaur.

Girl Talk

Sara Esty, Amanda Weingarten, Callie Manning, Nicole Stalker and Kristin D’Addario gather around the piano to chat about dancing the “five girls” section of Who Cares?.

Don’t miss these “girlfriends” and the rest of Miami City Ballet in the season closer at Adrienne Arsht Center this weekend and at Kravis Center on April 16-18. Click here for more information.

On the other side of the camera

Post by Leigh-Ann Esty

I have been dancing with Miami City Ballet for five seasons. Two of those seasons have been dually dedicated to capturing photographs of the company. This became an interest of mine when I saw a few other company members taking pictures of performances backstage with professional cameras. As a flourishing photographer, I thought it would be cool to expand my skills and take a shot at action photos. I began by purchasing a sports lens for my SLR camera, and started bringing it to work. It was difficult at first, but I soon found my groove. Now, whenever we have a dress rehearsal, I am out in the theater snapping away … that is, when I’m not dancing. Even when I am dancing, every chance I get I sneak out front to take some photos. I find a great deal of importance in what I am doing. As dancers we rarely see photos of ourselves doing what we love, and I think it is important to be able to realize how cool our jobs are! I do have to say I may be cheating a little. You see, I usually know when the exact timing is for the perfect ballet photo. How? I usually know the ballets I am shooting. That’s the beauty of photographing something you are so well trained in!

MCB dancers in Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

MCB dancers in Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

Rolando Sarabia and Patricia Delgado in Who Cares?. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

MCB dancers in Who Cares? Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.