LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

A Ballet Homecoming

Gerard Ebitz joined Miami City Ballet as an original member of the Company in 1986. Twenty seven years later, he has returned to the MCB family as a teacher at MCB School. We asked Gerard about his ballet homecoming and what exciting endeavors he is partaking in at MCB School.

Gerry teaching MCB School students choreography for his new work.

Gerard working with MCB School students.

MCB: When did you first join Miami City Ballet and how long did you dance here? 

Gerard: I was a founding member of Miami City Ballet and I performed with the company for the first two years.

MCB: Is there a favorite performance memory you have from MCB?

Gerard: I have several fond memories from those years. Not only did I get to revisit roles that I had danced with the Zurich Opera Ballet, such a the leads in Allegro Brilliant and Valse Fantasie, but I was also given the opportunity to dance other wonderful Balanchine Ballets that included the principal roles in the Donizetti Variations and Square Dance. Perhaps, one of the most rewarding moments for me with Miami City Ballet was to portray the role of the Father in Prodigal Son with Yanis Pikeris as the son and Kay Preston as the Siren. Having spent eight years in New York City Ballet, I had always admired the powerful simplicity that Shaun O’Brien brought to the role of the Father and it was a great challenge to try and capture his interpretation. Having seen the ballet from the early 70’s, I believe, Yanis was one of the greatest Sons to have ever have danced this role.  

Gerard in Prodigal Son, Miami City Ballet, 1986

Gerard in Prodigal Son, Miami City Ballet, 1986

MCB: After MCB, where else did you dance? How many years were you away from MCB before returning? 

Gerard: After leaving Miami City Ballet, I worked with Ballet Randolph, a local modern dance company, under the direction of Randolph Parrott. Not only was I given the opportunity to work with an amazing group of talented dancers, Randy also gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore my own ideas in choreography. Due to his illness, I eventually became the director of Ballet Randolph in addition to teaching and choreographing at the New World School of the Arts. So twenty–five years after leaving Miami City Ballet, I have crossed the bay and returned!

MCB: How does it feel to be back at Miami City Ballet?

Gerard: It is an honor to be working for Lourdes Lopez and Darleen Callaghan, two women who I greatly admire, and no doubt will take this company and this school to the next level. When I left MCB, we were working in a two studio store front on Lincoln Road and now, thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of numerous, dancers, administrators, and patrons over all these many years, this company and school are primed to take the dance world by storm. To train the next generation of dancers here at Miami City Ballet and at the New World School of the Arts, is both incredibly rewarding and bittersweet. To observe the progress of a dancer, is by far more interesting than watching a young dancer who is complacent with solid technique. If a dancer is open to correction and willing to leave their comfort zone, then you know good things will happen. I also know that it is so much harder for them to find employment than it was for my generation. The competition is so much greater and the jobs are less abundant.

Gerard teaching MCB School students choreography for his new ballet.

Gerard teaching MCB School students choreography for his new ballet.

MCB: Right now you are creating an original work on MCB School students. What is the piece about? How have the students inspired you? 

Gerard: The piece is called Sunshine State, with music by John Adams and costume design by Haydee Morales. I am a huge fan of the music of John Adams. His music always seems to take me somewhere. Since we live in Florida, I gave each section of the piece, a working title of a road or artery in South Florida. The piece is abstract but with human elements. The sections are called: Bayshore, Tamiami, Ocean, Flagler, and I-95. The students have been truly wonderful in this process, with varied schedules, of performances, auditions and academics. Most have come to each rehearsal, clearly processing work from a previous rehearsal and willing to teach their alternates information that was missed. Tools that will serve them well in their professional life. I always want the dancers to be part of the creative process. I enjoy when different casts bring something different to the same role. This was hard for some of them who wanted to be told exactly what to do. Others jumped at the opportunity to problem solve and take chances, these will be the ones who will be our next generation of choreographers.

MCB: Where and when will the students be performing your work? 

Gerard: We will be presenting a preview/excerpt at the Gusman Theater on April 3rd as guests of the National High School Dance Festival. The full work will have two performances on the Pre-Professional Division Concert here at Miami City Ballet on May 2 and 3rd.

Moving on up!

With Company promotions announced last week, we are thrilled to welcome two Miami City Ballet School (MCB School) students who have been invited to join Miami City Ballet for our 2014-2015 Season. We extend a big congratulations to students Ellen Grocki and Alex Manning for becoming official members of the Company! Learn about these dancers and their reactions to the exciting news below!

WELCOME TO MCB ELLEN GROCKI!

Ellen Grocki

Ellen Grocki in the 2013 MCB School Student Workshop performance.

I’m a small town girl from good old Damascus, Maryland and started ballet when I was three years old. I trained under Florence Gardner for six years in Damascus, and then under Patricia Berrend at Berrend Dance Center in Olney, Maryland for seven years. In the summer of 2012, at age 16, I attended the Miami City Ballet School Summer Intensive. It is so funny to think back to the first time I danced in these studios, and how nervous and inexperienced I was. That summer truly made an impact on me, and I was ecstatic when I was offered an invitation to stay at MCB School for the winter term. Somehow, my mom let me go, and I had an incredible year with the school. I had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker with the company that year, and that was when I really fell in love with Miami City Ballet. Being in those rehearsals and getting the chance to dance onstage alongside such exquisite dancers made it clear to me that I wanted nothing more than to be a part of this Company. Currently, this is my second year at MCB School and my first year as a Student Apprentice with the Company.

The day I was promoted was a normal Thursday, like any other. I was getting ready for class at the studios when I was told that our school director Ms. Callaghan wanted to speak to me. I walked into her office, completely oblivious to what was about to happen, and the first thing she said was, “Ellen, I have good news.” Now, for the past two years, every day before dance class, I would say to myself, “You are the newest member of Miami City Ballet,” to try to encourage myself to keep working harder. Then in that moment, when Ms. Callaghan finally said those words out loud, it didn’t seem real. I skipped all the way down the hallway to the last studio surrounded by windows and just danced and jumped around by myself. I called my family and we were all crying. Then I hopped right back into modern class, knowing that I was one step closer to achieving my dreams. Everyone in the company has made me feel so incredibly welcome as a new member of the corps de ballet. I cannot wait for all that the upcoming season holds, and I am so excited to be a part of it. 
-Ellen

WELCOME TO MCB ALEX MANNING!

Alex Manning performing 'Sleeping Beauty' at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Alex Manning performing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

I am from State College, Pennsylvania. I first trained at a small school there called the Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania. When I was 13, I went to the Walnut Hill School for the Arts for my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school. Then, I moved to a small apartment in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with my mom and sister to attend the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. While at CPYB, I also studied privately with Laszlo Berdo and Leslie Hench. Last year, I auditioned for Miami City Ballet and was offered a Student Apprenticeship with MCB School. This was my first and only year here at MCB School.

Last Friday, I had a meeting scheduled with Ms. Callaghan, the school director, before class in the morning. I remember not sleeping for the whole night, and in the back of my mind I was not feeling very positive. I kept seeing talented male dancers come in to audition and thought I was just too inexperienced to be hired this year. But when I walked in to see Ms. Callaghan, she sat me down and immediately told me, “Congratulations! Ms. Lopez would like to offer you a contract.” I didn’t even know what to say. I was so shocked! I immediately hugged Ms. Callaghan and almost started crying in her arms. Then I asked, “Is that all?” And she laughed and told me “that’s it!” So I ran out to call my friends, parents and teachers. I was so thankful that all of those years of hard work with those special people helping me along the way had paid off. And I’m so proud that this all happened here at Miami City Ballet!
-Alex

Audience members will have the opportunity to see Ellen and Alex perform with both the Company and MCB School before our 2013-2014 Season comes to an end. Catch them during MCB School’s Student Choreography Showcase on April 26th and the Miami City Ballet Ensemble performances on May 2-3 — both at in-house studio theater in Miami Beach. Or, see them on the mainstage during our season finale of Don Quixote and when our 2014-2015 Season opens in October!

Check out the Company promotions here!

 

Your Summer Intensive Questions Answered!

You sent us your questions about MCB School’s Summer Intensive…and our students have answered! Meet Carlos and Victoria — two current school-year students who are also Summer Intensive veterans!

Carlos Valdes and Victoria Huaroto

Carlos Valdes and Victoria Huaroto

Victoria:

Bring the ballet basics – any pink ballet tights, any solid color leotards, ballet slippers, pointe shoes (enough for 5 weeks in Miami’s humidity), warm-ups to wear prior to class and after.  For jazz, bring jazz shoes and any style of black bottoms whether it’s black shorts, leggings or jazz pants.  If you have a yoga mat, bring it for the stretch and strengthening and yoga classes; however, if you don’t have one, the Gyrotonics mats are available to students in the studios.  Bring hair supplies to efficiently put your hair in a secure bun.  Bring regular clothes as well as clothes for special outings on the weekends or the Fourth of July celebration.  And most importantly bring a good attitude to get as much as you can from the summer!

The dorms are at University of Miami and are very nice — each student has one other roommate.  If you know someone who is also attending the summer you can request to dorm with them when you register for the summer.  If not, you are paired with another dancer, usually your age and with a similar personality with you.  The Miami City Ballet School pairs the students very well and your roommates from summer are often friends you will keep in touch with for years to come.  The office will send an email prior to the start of the intensive (in early May) with who you are sharing a room with. That way when you arrive in Miami you already know who your roommate is!

FB question

Carlos: Right now there are 33 boys in the program and classes range between 20-25 students.

Pas de Deux classes are in my opinion the most enjoyable part of the Summer Program. The first week of the program teachers tend to experiment with different combinations to determine the general level of the class. Starting from week two, classes are set to fit the level of students and their needs as dancers. By the time you reach weeks three and four, lessons become more demanding. Normally, instead of asking for 2-3 pirouettes in a simple beginning combination, students will be pushed for more, while always preserving cleanliness and grace. I happened to be working on presses and a variety of lifts by the 4th week last summer. Teachers also stress the vital connection that must exist between dancers, when sharing the stage as partners. There is not one specific partner for each class. This allows you to deal with different dancers, which improves your experience when partnering overall.

Many events and different field trips are arranged by the school throughout the five weeks to ensure students also enjoy their summer time. For instance, it has become a tradition over the years to take students on a boat for the Fourth of July celebrations. This boat sails through the bay of the downtown Miami, as festivities take place all around the city and on board, and as fireworks explode in the sky. Chaperones ensure safety in every single activity held by the school. Students also tend to spend time at the beach during the week depending on curfew times. This is probably the most common activity among students.

Weight training classes are usually one hour long. Lessons start with an active warm-up, varying from stretching to cardio exercises, to prepare for the muscle work later on. Once students are warm, different weight-lifting exercises take place. More stretching and relaxation exercises are incorporated into the end of the class to smoothly transition to the next class or to end the day. The first week, teachers assess the physical fitness of the students. This happens to be the first week coming back from the one-to-two month break between school and summer for some students. Therefore, instructors are very careful in giving exercises for students in order to prevent injuries throughout the program. The next two weeks, classes improve and become more demanding. Nonetheless, safety is always key. The fourth week of classes, lessons focus more on recovery since this happens to be the most exhausting week of the whole program. This class can be particularly useful when learning how to manage your body in order to prevent injuries in the future.

Instagram question 2

health_fooddiary:

MCB School: For that age group, we recommend auditioning for the 5-week Summer Intensive!

naatalieelynn:

Victoria: The dress code is the traditional full length pink tights with any solid color leotard.  For shoes any ballet slippers, it doesn’t matter whether they are canvas or leather.  For the jazz class, jazz shoes are required with any black bottoms (examples are black tights, shorts, jazz pants).  For the modern classes the dancers are barefoot with any black bottoms as well.  For the other classes consisting of stretch and strengthening, yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, the dancers may where any appropriate dance clothing as long as the teachers can see the form of the students. Boys must wear white ballet slippers.

alyssa_275:

Victoria: Yes, you do need to register for the two week summer intensive audition, but not in advance. You can download the registration form by clicking HERE and bring the form with you to the audition. 

Instagram question 1

jadecase_xoxo: 

Victoria: Black jazz shoes are preferred. The rest of the classes will be barefoot or ballet shoes.

kallionpointe: 

Victoria: Each day the students will have at least one class on pointe if not multiple whether it’s variations class, pointe class, or repertoire.  Depending on the level the student is placed will also determine how many classes a student has on pointe.  The higher levels will sometimes even have the center work of ballet class on pointe.  The amount of pointe shoes depends on the level of dancer and the feet of the dancer.  This past summer I brought 5 pairs of pointe shoes one pair per week, but also keep in mind the humidity of Miami during the summer this will also make a dancer go through pointe shoes faster.  I would always bring more than you think just in case. 

We are looking forward to seeing everyone this summer!

Dancer PROMOTIONS!

We are proud to announce that two dancers will be promoted next season. We send a huge congratulations to Nathalia Arja and Leanna Rinaldi!

Originally from Rio de Janeiro and a graduate of MCB School, Nathalia joined MCB as an apprentice in 2009 and was promoted to corps de ballet in 2011. Three years later, and after performing lead roles in Ballo della Regina, Polyphonia, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and even the coveted Sugar Plum Fairy, among others, she will kick off the 2014-2015 Season as a Soloist! We asked Nathalia how she reacted to the exciting news. Read on to find out!

Nathalia Arja in Balanchine's 'Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.'

Nathalia Arja in Balanchine’s ‘Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.’

When I first found out I got promoted I was literally in shock. When our Company Manager told me that Lourdes [Lopez] wanted to talk to me, I would never guess it would be about a promotion. So right after Lourdes told me the news, my first thought was, ’are you sure?’ Then, my second thought was, ‘oh my God, where is my mom?’ There were just so many crazy feelings in less than five seconds! It was indescribable and I remember leaving the room sobbing, then started running around looking for my friends because I couldn’t keep the news to myself. I had to tell them right away. It was definitely one the the best days of my life for sure. I’m just so thankful. Since I heard the news, I have kept repeating to myself, ‘Oh my God, I got promoted!” I still cannot believe it.

-Natalia

 

Leanna is a Texas native who joined MCB as an apprentice at the beginning of this season, after graduating from MCB School. In just her first year with the company, she has had several opportunities to shine onstage, particularly when she was selected to perform Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat — a demanding, contemporary work that features only six dancers onstage (read about her experience performing the work here).  After just one year as an apprentice, Leanna will begin the 2014-2015 Season as an official member of the corps de ballet. Read about her reaction to the big news below:

Repetituer Kevin Irving teaching Leanna the choreography.

Leanna rehearsing Jardi Tancat with repetiteur Kevin Irving.

When Lourdes told me that I was invited to continue on in the company as a corps de ballet member, I was ecstatic. Receiving the contract in the mail was the best part. I’ve been working for this moment my whole life. All the sacrifices and hard work led to holding a contract in my hand. I couldn’t ask for anything better than getting to do what I love for a living. I’m thrilled to officially be apart of this company.  

-Leanna

Lookout for these rising stars onstage during our season finale of Don Quixote and when our 2014-2015 Season opens in October!

 

Thank YOU for supporting MCB School on GIVE MIAMI DAY!

Thanks to the generosity of YOU and The Miami Foundation, we raised $3,175 on Give Miami Day. MCB School student Capriana shares how your support of MCB School scholarships will continue to provide opportunities for she and other students to pursue their dreams!

Capriana

Capriana

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for dance! Since I was nine, I would dance every summer. Last year, I decided to enroll in the Miami City Ballet School 2013 summer intensive — it was love at first sight! I loved my teachers, classmates, and not to mention, the training! This particular summer intensive exposed me to many different technique styles and instructors. I especially loved that all my teachers took the time and effort to work with everyone individually. I also enjoyed that it offered such a culturally diverse group of people. I made many new friends that I’ll always keep in touch with. After my wonderful experience, I just knew I had to attend year round program! When Mrs. Callaghan told me that I was accepted into the year round program, I was ecstatic! Immediately after I found out the great news I called my mom to let her know! The best part though, was when I discovered that I had also received a partial scholarship. The scholarship support enabled me to be taught the best training offered in Miami. Going here has made my dream become a reality!

Capriana training at MCB School.

Capriana training at MCB School.

Make Dreams Come True on Give Miami Day!

Tomorrow is Give Miami Day! Make sure to visit GiveMiamiDay.com to help us raise money for  scholarships at MCB School. Below, MCB School student Michael Holden shares how scholarship support has made the difference in his development as a professional dancer!

TOMORROW:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

Michael Holden

Michael Holden

My name is Michael Holden and I am from Falmouth Maine, which is a small suburb of Portland, Maine. I started dancing at the age of 3 in a little ballet/tap “combo” class. I  worked my way up through the school into the attached company — the Maine State Ballet. I had heard of Miami City Ballet from two Maine State Ballet alumni — the Esty twins. I wanted to experience a larger school with new teachers and a different atmosphere to work and enhance my technique. My mom and I came down to Miami to audition to see everything in person — it was awe-inspiring. Right before I boarded the plane to return to Maine, I checked my email one more time. I was accepted to the school and could not have been happier. Along with receiving the acceptance, I also received a scholarship, which made it all the more exciting. Having a scholarship means the world to me because ballet is my world! Without a scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to further the art and fulfill my passion. When Donors invest in us dancers, we are able to dedicate ourselves fully to training in the school. We then as professional dancers in the company are able to give back by performing, showing culture, and most importantly, doing what we love.

Michael taking company class with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez.

Michael taking company class with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez. Follow Michael on Instagram @obviouslyme.

How YOU make dreams come true!

We are days away from Give Miami Day! This year, we are raising money to support scholarships at MCB School. Below, MCB School student Victoria Huaroto shares how scholarship support has fueled her ambitions to become a professional ballet dancer.

On Wednesday, November 20:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

Victoria rehearsing 'Sleeping Beauty' at MCB School.

Victoria rehearsing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at MCB School.

Joining a ballet company has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl, and now training at the Miami City Ballet is enabling me to reach my dreams. I remember watching Miami City Ballet perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ in Naples, FL, where I have lived since I was one. I told my parents that one day, that would be me up on stage dancing. The next year, I auditioned for The Nutcracker with MCB and have performed in their Nutcracker for the past seven years. During this time, I fell in love with this company; the dancers, their repertoire and the directors. I have participated in the MCB School summer intensive for the past two years, and this past summer I was invited to stay year-round at the prestigious school.

I remember trying to contain my excitement upon hearing the news, and also discovering that I had received partial scholarship was exhilarating. I could not give up this amazing opportunity to learn from some of the most incredible teachers and work in such an enjoyable atmosphere. Training at MCB School isn’t just about perfecting our technique, but learning how to have stage presence as well as stage craft. I can’t imagine not dancing with MCB School, and due to the scholarship support, I have been able to  get one step closer to making my dream a reality.

Victoria performing at the Youth American Grand Prix competition before she joined MCB School.

Victoria performing at the Youth American Grand Prix competition before she joined MCB School.

Your gift can make the difference in helping several young dancers achieve their dreams!

Make your gift count on Give Miami Day!

Counting Down to GIVE MIAMI DAY!

We are officially ONE WEEK AWAY from Give Miami Day! Give Miami Day is a unique, 24-hour online giving event that allows individuals in our community an opportunity to build a greater Miami by making a charitable gift to a local nonprofit. Every donation between $25 and $10,000 received through GiveMiamiDay.org on Give Miami Day will have a percentage of it matched by The Miami Foundation.

On Wednesday, November 20:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

This year, funds raised on Give Miami Day will support scholarships at MCB School!  Check out this video to see why scholarships are so important to our students.

Meet Our New Dancers!

You have now met dancers Brianna, Ariel, Sarah, Christina, Nieser, Eric and Damian. Our last new dancer, but certainly not the least, joins the MCB family as a company apprentice. Meet the final new face of the bunch — Leanna Rinaldi!

Leanna Rinaldi

MCB: Where are you from?

Leanna: Frisco, Texas.

MCB: At which dance schools did you train before coming to MCB?

Leanna: Miami City Ballet School.

Leanna performing Balanchine's 'Allegro Brillante' during the 2013 MCB School Student Workshop Performance.

MCB: Describe your perfect day.

Leanna: A day without stress.

MCB: Proudest moment?

Leanna: Joining Miami City Ballet!

Leanna rehearsing Balanchine's 'Serenade' with the company.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Leanna: To travel the world!

MCB: Indulgence?

Leanna: Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream and The Bachelorette.

MCB: Inspiration?

Leanna: Music and the dancers I have the privilege to dance with!

MCB: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Leanna: My faith in Jesus Christ, my family, friends and ice cream.

Leanna with her brother and dogs.

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Leanna: Being called upon last minute to perform Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances with MCB.

MCB: Dream role?

Leanna: Anita in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, Principal in Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Duo Concertant.

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

Leanna: It is such a warm and welcoming environment and all the dancers inspire me to work hard every day! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s on the beach.

See Leanna along with our other new dancers make their debut during Program I: First Ventures!

Meet our new dancers!

Today, we introduce another recent graduate from Miami City Ballet School who is joining us as new member of the corps de ballet this season. Meet Damian Zamorano!

Damian Zamorano

MCB: Where are you from?

Damian: La Habana, Cuba.

MCB: At which dance schools did you train before coming to MCB?

Damian: Escuela Nacional de Ballet Alejo Carpentier (in Cuba), Escuela Nacional De Danza Clásica Y Contemporánea (in Mexico), and Miami City Ballet School.

MCB: What companies have you danced with professionally?

Damian: Compañia Nacional De Danza in Mexico City.

MCB: Describe your perfect day:

Damian: I don’t have a preference. I find something very special and unique in every day I’m blessed to live.

MCB: Proudest moment?

Damian: One of my proudest moments was when I received the invitation to join the company [MCB]. I always dreamed about being part of a big professional company and seeing my dream become a reality overwhelmed me with joy.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Damian: Flying!

MCB: Indulgence?

Damian: I am a big technology fan. I love to see and own new gadgets. Whenever possible, maybe on a yearly basis, I indulge in the latest updates of either cell, tablet, computer or any other new electric device.

Trying out another gadget:-)

MCB: Inspiration?

Damian: Both my parents, who are also professional dancers, are my true inspiration and pride. They have always been there and readily available, helping me and guiding me to do my best. In addition, I enjoy learning from watching videos of my idols performing like Leonid Sarafanov, Ronaldo Sarabia (former dancer with MCB), Carlos Acosta, Baryshnikov, Fernando Bujones, and many more.

MCB: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Damian: My family, internet, my friends, ballet.

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Damian: One of my most unforgettable moments was reaching the finals of a reality TV show called “Ópera Prima” at the Teatro de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Damian performing Giselle for the reality TV show "Ópera Prima"

MCB: Dream role?

Damian: One of my favorite roles is in Flames of Paris. I feel that this ballet requires a great deal of strength and physical stamina. I trust such choreography could become one of my most desirable goals.

Damian performing Flames of Paris - a role he dreams of dancing again and again!

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

Damian: At MCB, I have learned a lot about Balanchine and his approach to this art form. I knew very little about it before. Since then, I have a new perspective and understanding about my profession that I love and respect.

Lookout for Damian onstage this season when the 2013-2014 Seasons opens on October 18 at the Arsht Center with Program I: First Ventures.