Alexei Ratmansky is widely seen as one of the most original and important choreographers in ballet, an artist who is moving the genre forward while remaining deeply rooted in its classical origins. When Miami City Ballet commissioned him last season to create Symphonic Dances, set to a Rachmaninoff score of the same name, it was a milestone for the company.
-The Miami Herald
Dancers Jeanette Delgado and Nathalia Arja explain Ratmansky’s process of bringing Symphonic Dances to the stage in Part Two of Behind the Ballet.
…No matter what, every morning you go to the barre and you need to serve the god, the goddess of dance. It’s a religion. It’s not about you or your ego. The beauty of ballet is the result of centuries. You think of all the amazing choreographers who contributed to it, and it now lives in us. Because all the steps we do were invented by someone, and we can feel their impulse when we do the step.
After its one-night-only world premiere in Miami last season, Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances returns to the stage during Program III: The Masters. Through interviews with the acclaimed choreographer, himself, and with two leading ladies from the ballet, we are breaking down this beautiful, yet complex masterwork in the following two part mini-series.
Watch this video to find out what the dancers had to say!
During his last visit to our studios in November 2012, The Miami Herald interviewed Alexei Ratmansky. Here is what he had to say!
Q. When I first saw Symphonic Dances, I thought it had a story, but I can’t say what it was.
That’s good. There is a story but you don’t need to put it in words. The music [also] tells a story but how can you translate it? What’s great about ballet is you don’t need to put things into words. You can’t really have the words for everything in life. There is a good saying in Russian, if you express your thought clearly, it’s already alive. Meaning that not everything can be put in words. I like that. The great strength of ballet is its mystique or symbolism. This art can touch a kind of universal harmony without explaining it.
Q. There were strong characters in Symphonic Dances that surprised me. I saw a side of [MCB dancer] Kleber Rebello I had never seen. Nathalia [Arja] had always seemed like a very sweet girl, and suddenly she was so passionate.
I wouldn’t call them characters. They create tensions. And in order to create tension you have to have some kind of motivation. Nathalia, we called her the war girl. There is a painting by Henri Rousseau, the French primitive painter, of a girl in a white short dress on a horse, called The War. She is a horrifying figure. But it’s just a little inspiration.
The structure of the piece, which is quite complex, took place after I observed [MCB company] classes. I wanted to use particular dancers. Each person had certain characteristics. Maybe in everyday life they are very different. But there is something in their physique, in the expression of their face, the line of the neck, the gestures, that tells you about their inner character. They might fight it. Maybe they don’t like it. But as Martha Graham says, the body never lies. The body tells the truth about a person. So I was trying to sense who these dancers are, and they led me to certain story developments.
Q. So what did you get from Kleber?
A person in difficult circumstances, some inner suffering that was hidden. He was — I’m not sure this is the right word — vulnerable?
Q. And Nathalia?
She’s a force. It’s not necessarily that she brings something bad. It’s an extreme situation that she brings. But it also can bring glory.
Stay tuned for more on Symphonic Dances during next week’s Behind the Ballet Part Two.
Corps dancer Ashley Knox will be “running the show” (in terms of our Instagram feed) for the opening of Program III: The Mastersat the Kravis Center. She will be documenting the best of ballet with works by George Balanchine and the in-demand choreographer from Russia, Alexei Ratmansky. Check out her pictures #AshleyMCBPhotos.
Fun Fact about Ashley: She LOVES taking photos and is very happy to be able to share her pictures from her perspective with our MCB followers!
We are feeling the ROMANCE at Miami City Ballet! In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we caught up with dancers Michael Breeden, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, and Patricia Delgado to learn about their favorite ballet LOVE stories. Here is what they had to say!
Michael Breeden, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Patricia Delgado
Michael Breeden,Corps de Ballet – My favorite ballet love story is La Sonnambula. Tragic love stories always have major issues separating their leads, like a curse or feuding families, but in Sonnambula, your heroine is literally in another state of consciousness, unable to fully grasp the poet before her. It’s immensely sad, and the ending where she carries him off into eternity is heartwrenching. Not exactly an uplifting Valentine’s Day story, but beautiful nonetheless!
Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra in Balanchine's La Sonnambula
Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg,Principal – My favorite ballet love story is Romeo and Juliet. It is so incredibly romantic – they fall in love at first sight, risk everything to be together, are so deeply bound that they can’t bear to live without one another, and eventually sacrifice their lives for each other. I think it’s ultimately the deepest, most profound and tragic love story there is.
Patricia Delgado, Principal – My favorite ballet love story is Romeo and Juliet. It has always been a favorite of mine to watch. But when I got the opportunity to dance Juliet when Miami City Ballet did Cranko’s version a couple years ago, it touched my heart even more! The ballet takes you on a journey through so many aspects of love; innocent and naive love at first sight, painful and passionate love, tragic love and in the end sadness, with a glimmer of hope that true love never dies! I will treasure that experience forever!
Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg in Cranko's Romeo and Juliet
Between photo shoots, basketball practice and beating the L.A. Lakers last Sunday, Miami HEAT superstar Dywane Wade was able to catch up with us to discuss his experience working with MCB principal dancers Patricia Delgado and Jeanette Delgado. Here is what he had to say!
Dwyane Wade and Patricia Delgado
Q: Professional ballet dancers consider themselves artists first and athletes second. As top professional athlete at the top of your game, do you consider yourself an artist?
No. I don’t, but I could see where athletes can be artistic. We both have to be very creative and we share something especially with our moves. The motion of us jumping in the air is of the same nature, so I can see why that comparison can be made.
Dwyane Wade and Jeanette Delgado
Q: Professional ballet dancers must be strong, fast, possess great stamina, have great balance, be flexible, have quick reflexes, sometimes perform while injured, have the ability to jump high – all within a thin body type – and do this before huge live audiences. How do you relate to what ballet dancers go through?
We share a lot of the same traits. Obviously for us, it’s the same thing. We have to be strong and very flexible to prevent injury. There are a lot of similar things when it comes to the motion of how we are in the air. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I remember hearing about Dr. J. possibly doing ballet in the off-season, because it helps with the things that he did on the court. I wish I had asked him about it.
Q: Describe how it was doing a photo shoot with Miami City Ballet principal dancers Jeanette Delgado and Patricia Delgado?
I don’t know how they do some of the things they do. It’s amazing! I respect everyone’s talents, because we all have different talents. I respect it. It was different, but definitely not a bad different for us.
Q: Have you ever studied dance – or enjoy going out dancing?
Jovani shared a new fun fact (along with some pictures) for his second stint at Instagram! Fun Fact: In 2007, Jovani performed the pas de trois of the Russian version of The Nutcracker for Mikhail Baryshnikov at his ballet school in Brazil. Baryshnikov LOVED the performance !
Jovani Furlan with Mikhail Baryshnikov in 2007
Last season, Jovani was able to reunite with Baryshnikov, when he made a surprise visit to our studios during rehearsals of
Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances.
Jovani Furlan with Mikhail Baryshnikov
Check out Jovani’s photos this week by following us on Instagram #JovaniMCBphotos. See them brought to life onstage at the Kravis Center, February 22-24, for the opening of Program III: The Masters.