LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Making it on Jeopardy!

Not many people can say that they’ve been on “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” Jeopardy! But, our very own Grants Associate Leah Blumenfeld can! We asked Leah to give us the inside scoop on this unique, once in a lifetime experience!

See how Leah does on Jeopardy! Tune-in Monday, May 19th at 7:30pm!

Jeopardy

MCB Grants Associate Leah Blumenfeld with Alex Trebek on the set of Jeopardy!

Getting to be a contestant on Jeopardy! is a long process. You could say it took me about ten years. I really started making the effort as soon as they began using the online test as part of the process. It’s about 30 questions and takes roughly five minutes and then that’s it. You wait and hope you did well enough to go into the contestant pool, and if you’re really lucky, you become one of the 2,000-3,000 hopefuls who get called for an in-person audition.

After taking the online test in January 2013, I got an email offering me an in-person audition in Tampa in March. I got up really early to make the drive to Tampa, where 15 other contestants and I were given a written test of 60 questions and then called-up three at a time to play a mock game. During the mock game, you get to use the signaling device and the staff people ask you questions to get an idea of your personality for the show — do you speak well? do you have interesting things to share in an interview with Alex? and so on.  The people who qualify for the in-person tryouts then go into the contestant pool for the next 18 months — but only about 400 are actually called for taping each season.  

Several months passed after my in-person audition.  I had just arrived at the Arsht Center to work at the ballet’s lobby table on opening night of Program II when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but thought it might be one of the ballet’s volunteers so I answered. It was a Jeopardy contestant coordinator asking if I would be available for a taping during the first week of February. I immediately said yes!  

I had just four weeks to get ready to go to California to play.  How does one prepare to be a contestant on Jeopardy? I don’t know! How do you study everything? I would say I’d been preparing my whole life! I’ve always liked trivia and I’ve been watching Jeopardy for all of its 30 seasons. I did decide it would be a good idea to review facts that seemed to be covered on the show — like world and state capitals or the presidents.  I asked my friends to quiz me on trivia questions on Facebook or whenever they saw me. Mostly I just tried to read and pay attention to the news and pop culture, while trying to remain calm.

Jeopardy

Leah arriving at the Jeopardy! studios with a bus full of other hopefuls.

Now that I’ve been on Jeopardy!, there are certain things about being a contestant that I would say you really can’t prepare for.  Being at the studio, in front of the cameras, playing with other contestants — this can’t be replicated at home!  While I can’t disclose the outcome, I also can’t remember all of the details. They tape five shows per day, two days a week. The contestants go through a briefing and a rehearsal on stage, but the pace of the actual game is extremely fast.  You not only have to recall the information quickly, but also ring-in first (and not too soon either), keep track of your score and remember where to look, and not let the cameras or the audience get to you!  The breaks between rounds are much faster than the commercials you see during the broadcast.  It literally flew by!

I’m really looking forward to seeing myself on TV and recalling how it all played out. Having actually been through the entire Jeopardy process, I have a greater appreciation not only for the people who are long-term champions, but also for those who seemingly crash and burn.  It’s a lot harder than it looks!

See how Leah does on Jeopardy! when her episode airs on Monday, May 19th at 7:30pm!

Dancers’ Picks of Next Season

Our 2013-2014 Season has just come to a close, but we are already gearing up for the new season ahead! Our dancers return to the studios on June 9th to begin learning next season’s ballets, starting with up-and-coming choreographer Justin Peck’s new work with street artist Shepard Fairey! Below, corps de ballet dancer Michael Breeden shares his excitement about the ballets he can’t wait to perform.

Dancer

Michael Breeden

As one season comes to a finish and we reflect on the transcendent moments experienced onstage, it’s impossible for us dancers to not imagine all that’s in store next year. With the 2014-2015 Season beginning in June, we don’t have to wait too long before we get our hands on the most anticipated works of the year.

For me, there are some obvious highlights. Two great Balanchine works, ‘Symphony in Three Movements’ and ‘Allegro Brillante’, are back in the repertoire for the first time since 2009. Though the two works came from one great mind, they are alike only in the fact that they are brilliant works set to genius compositions (‘Allegro’ to music by Tchaikovsky, and ‘Symphony in Three’ to music by Stravinsky). ‘Allegro’ is Balanchine’s full-out essay on classicism as captured in 12 minutes. ‘Symphony in 3′ is a massive work with kaleidoscopic formations utilizing the entire company, as the dance echoes the driving score. I’ve danced both of these works before and every time they come back, I love them more. Balanchine’s genius continually reveals itself with each performance to both dancers and audience members, and it’s an experience I never take for granted.

Balanchine

Miami City Ballet dancers in Symphony in Three Movements. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Joe Gato.

Dancer

Jeanette Delgado in Allegro Brillante. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexandre Dufaur.

Balanchine works are a company staple that I always looks forward to, but choreography tailor made for the company is less frequent. The ballet I’m looking forward to most next season is a world premiere by Justin Peck, appearing during Program IV: Points of Departure. The company has developed a passion for new choreography in the past years, with choreographers like Alexei Ratmansky and Liam Scarlett making works on us. Justin’s new work promises to fulfill its dancers and audiences in the same way those great choreographers did. His ballets abound with fresh, exciting and innovative use of the corps and so many visually striking dance images that repeated viewings are practically a must. He has a musical response that actually enhances the score, rather than uses it for effect. Each step in his works unfolds naturally, with fluidity, grace and style.

Choreography

Justin Peck works with dancers Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado on his ballet ‘Chutes and Ladders.’ Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Full disclosure: Justin and I were suite mates at the School of American Ballet ten years ago, so it may be tempting to accuse me of bias. While I certainly enjoy his success as a friend and am happy to see him achieve so much at such a young age, I think a single viewing of one of his works is enough to know that bias has nothing to do with appreciating true talent. The wealth of knowledge and creativity that Justin has as a dance maker is just starting to be explored, and I couldn’t be more excited that the next step will be with Miami City Ballet.

Read the New York Time’s review of Justin Peck’s most recent work for New York City Ballet — Everywhere We Go. Discover the other ballets we are performing next season here and lookout for Michael onstage!

A Real Dance Mom Tells All!

Principal dancers Patricia and Jeanette Delgado are two of Miami City Ballet’s brightest stars. Born and raised in Miami, these sisters flourished as aspiring dancers at Miami City Ballet School and quickly climbed the ranks of the company. Now, the road to becoming principal dancers is certainly not easy, requiring sacrifice, patience, perseverance and a lot of hard work. So, who was behind this dancing duo to encourage and support them through it all? Their family!

In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked Patricia and Jeanette’s mother Millie Figueredo what it was like raising two sibling ballerinas. Check out her responses in our Q & A below!

Mothers Day

The Delgado Family! Patricia, Zeke, Millie and Jeanette backstage during The Nutcracker.

How did Jeanette and Patricia get started with ballet? 

Patricia was around three or four years old when after watching a classic ballet on the public TV channel, she said she wanted to do that.  I told her she had to be older to take lessons. When she was five years old, while visiting my mother, she saw some old pictures of me in my ballet class and she told my mom that she wanted to take lessons too.  My mother went ahead and found a ballet studio near our home and told me I should enroll Patricia.  I really wanted her to be older, but I was outnumbered!  Of course, when Jeanette saw what her sister was doing, she wanted to do it too!

ballerina

Patricia and Jeanette as baby ballerinas!

When did you realize that they were really talented? 

I always saw the girls enjoying themselves while dancing!  In their adolescence, they both became very focused and passionate as well as hard workers.  I did notice they loved to perform and their hearts were completely open and free when on stage.  I guess, I had to start believing their teachers and others when they praised their talent and dedication.

Balanchine

Patricia Delgado in ‘Western Symphony.’ Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Kyle Froman.

Ballet can create a competitive environment as young dancers strive for leading roles, teacher’s attention, etc. Did you ever worry about the sisters getting jealous of each other? How did you prevent them from avoiding these pitfalls?

Zeke and I made a conscious effort to treat them [Patricia and Jeanette] fairly and we encouraged them to help each other.  We praised their individuality — never comparing, but rather encouraging them to develop their unique strengths and recognize their weaknesses as opportunity for growth.  Even though they shared similar interests, they also had different ones.  For example, Patricia enjoyed taking piano lessons and playing sports, while Jeanette liked taking acting and singing lessons.

Ballet takes so much discipline, sacrifice and hard work, how did you encourage the girls to continue pursuing ballet through the rough times?

I must admit that we actually maintained a more neutral position during these times because we never thought they would become professional dancers.  We recognized the tough road ahead, and thus, the decision to pursue ballet training had to be completely their own.  Although, we obviously supported their passion and encouraged them to follow their dreams, we never underestimated the difficulty of pursuing this career.

Liam Scarlett

Jeanette Delgado in Liam Scarlett’s ‘Viscera.’ Photo by Kyle Froman.

What was the best memory you have about each of your daughters regarding their ballet careers? Was there a special performance, moment or memory you have that stands out? 

There are many wonderful memories — the first time I saw them perform with a professional company, the first time I saw them perform a leading role, or the first time they received flowers onstage. But, the best was the first time I was no longer nervous to watch them perform and I could really enjoy it!

Mother's Day

Millie with Patricia.

Mom

Millie with Jeanette.

 This Sunday, create Mother’s Day memories with the gift of dance! Check out the ballets onstage next season!

Summertime on Instagram

With their summer downtime, our dancers have split from Miami and spread out all over the world! The latest dancer update comes from Joinville, Brazil, where corps de ballet dancer Jovani Furlan takes over our Instagram feed this week. Follow Jovani at #JovaniMCBphotos for a snapshot of his life back in Brazil! 

Dancer

Jovani Furlan

When I’m in Brazil, I’ll be taking class at my old ballet school, The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil – the only affiliate of the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow. I’m also doing some physical therapy,  working out, spending a lot of time with the family, and enjoying the beaches around my state! - Jovani

Balanchine

Jovani Furlan in Balanchine’s ‘Episodes.’

Read more posts from Jovani here!

Excited about next season? Check out the ballets that we will be working on this summer, when our dancers return to the studio on June 9th!

YOUR Top Moments!

Now that we have heard from both our fans and dancers about their favorite moments from the 2013-2014 Season, we can truly say that this has been one exceptional year of ballet! While our dancers bring this art form to life, audience members and fans like you make the hard work and dedication worthwhile — enhancing the purpose of our craft. Creating a meaningful connection between our dancers and audience is really what ballet is all about. We hope you have enjoyed the journey through our 2013-2014 Season as much as we have and can’t wait to do it all again with a range of exciting works next season!

Now, here are some of YOUR favorite moments from the season! Thanks so much for sharing these memories with us!

Rene G Cruz:
1. The return of Mary Carmen Catoya as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and her Cavalier Renato…a magical moment in Broward.
2. Suzanne Limbrunner’s interpretation of ‘Coffee’…priceless.
3. Program III…outstanding….West Side Story and Sarah Esty’s voice, among others.
4. Don Quixote…superb…loved Emily Bromberg and Catoya in the Dream Scene.
5. Last but not least….Serenade.
It was a wonderful season, congratulations to all the staff, dancers and support personnel…BRAVO.

Serenade

MCB dancers in Balanchine’s ‘Serenade’ (Program I: First Ventures).

Joanna Benech:
West Side Story and Don Quixote were my favorites but the entire season rocked! I enjoyed them all. Looking forward to next season. Last time the company performed Romeo and Juliet I lost my tickets and could not make it. I cried for hours…

Candice:
My daughter is an aspiring ballerina. I took her to see The Nutcracker this Christmas. It was her first time going to the ballet to see a performance. She was mesmerized the entire time. It was one of the most amazing experiences both of us had ever had. We cannot wait to see Romeo and Juliet this year. You all are amazing! Thank you so much for a life changing moment for my daughter.

The Nutcracker

Ashley Knox in ‘Snow’ from ‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.’

Mira Treatman:
My favorite moment was when my favorite young dancer, Nathalia Arja, got promoted because I had been following her career and really enjoying her youthful spirit in performance!

Jessica:
Don Quixote was great! I love it.

Heidi Rich:
Jardí Tancat and Polyphonia were splendid! I hope they stay in the rep. West Side Story was such a treat! Totally loved Ballo della Regina, which was the icing on the cake! I loved every minute of every program!

Sean Chambers:
There were so many [ballets] I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one!

Fiona Scott:
Absolutely loved West Side Story, as I have never seen a ballet before where the dancers sang. Jeanette Delgado was spectacular!

West Side Story

Jeanette Delgado and Reyneris Reyes in Jerome Robbins’ ‘West Side Story Suite’ (Program III: Triple Threat).

Nicole Hatch:
I attended a performance of Don Quixote in Miami and was thrilled to see Mary Carmen Catoya performing once again. The performance was stunning on all levels. The stage setting, scenery and costumes were beautiful. The artistry and technical ability of the dancers was impeccable. I feel so fortunate to have such a strong ballet company as my own local company. 

Susan Mark:
I especially enjoyed Ballo della Regina with the lovely ballerina, Nathalia Arja. I originally saw Merrill Ashley dance it with the New York City Ballet.

Joelle Parra:
My top moment was getting to see the Miami City Ballet perform Don Quixote. It was my first time EVER seeing MCB live — and it was even more mesmerizing than I had imagined. Thanks for a magical night of art in motion.

Don Quixote

Jennifer Kronenberg and Reyneris Reyes in ‘Don Quixote’.

Dancer Appearances this Summer!

For most of us, summertime means relaxing vacations, spending time with friends and family, or simply slowing down to relish in the lazy summer heat. For our dancers, summertime means something quite different! While many take advantage of a quick trip for travel or sentimental homecoming, most of them ramp up for a series of guest appearances with other dance companies and teaching gigs at dance studios nationwide. Here is a look at where some of our dancers are performing and teaching this summer!

Thursday, May 1 from 6:15pm-8:15pm:
Rebecca King will be teaching a master class at The Dancers Studio in Stuart, FL. She will also be teaching students sections for George Balanchine’s beloved classic, Serenade. For more information, call 722.692.7125 or visit their Facebook page! We asked Rebecca why she enjoys teaching during her summer months off, and here is what she had to say:

As professional dancers we spend most of our time in the studio.  But, it’s not every day that we get to stand in the front of the studio, essentially switching roles. It may seem that students get the most from their teachers, but in my case, I always find that I learn so much from these young pupils. Watching their thought process and work ethic is not only inspiring to me, but educational as well.  Seeing them take a correction and apply it to their dancing and witnessing a change, is extraordinarily rewarding. I am so looking forward to this collaborative learning experience.  


Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4:
Reyneris Reyes
and Tricia Albertson will be performing Cinderella in Fredrick, MD with the Maryland Regional Ballet. For more information click here.

Christopher Wheeldon

Tricia Albertson and Reyneris Reyes in ‘Polyphonia.’


Monday, May 5:
Patricia Delgado
will be performing at the 4th Annual Dance Against Cancer Benefit in New York City. She is dancing Justin Peck’s Sea Change — a ballet to a touching piano piece by Shubert that he choreographed on Patricia and three dancers from New York City Ballet last summer in Nantucket. Read more about the benefit here.

Patricia has also been guest teaching at the Manhattan Youth Ballet in New York City. Here’s what she had to say about her teaching experience, “Had my first classes this week and had the best time! I love getting to work with young and energetic driven kids who are so enthusiastic and eager for information. It’s so inspiring!”

Dance teacher

Patricia teaching at MCB School’s 2012 Summer Intensive.

Monday, May 5 – Sunday, June 1:
Shimon Ito and Emily Bromberg will make guest appearances together in a series of performances, including Festival Ballet Providence’s production of Peter Pan (May 16-18), a performance of Liam Scarlett’s Viscera with Route 11 Dance Festival in Virginia (May 5-10), and Act III of Sleeping Beauty in New York City with Asaka Ito Ballet School — Shimon’s mother’s dance studio (June 1)! And the best part, Emily’s four-legged friend ‘Puck’ will be joining them for the entire adventure!

Ballet jump

‘Puck’ is used to hanging out with dancers. Here he is with dancer Jovani Furlan from our photo shoot with photographer Jordan Matter.

Friday, May 16 – Sunday, May 18:
Ariel Rose will be returning to his home studio Ballet Academy East for a guest performance with their studio company in Balanchine’s La Source. For more information click here.

Friday, June 6 – Sunday, June 8:
Michael Breeden will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Pennsylvania Ballet at the Kennedy Center. Michael is particularly excited for this performance, as he will be back onstage with several Miami City Ballet and School of American Ballet alum who he hasn’t danced with in years! For more information click here.

Monday, July 14 – Friday, July 18:
Tricia Albertson will be teaching at the Toledo Ballet in Toledo, OH, followed by Renato Penteado, who will also be teaching there from Monday, July 28 – Friday, August 1.

As you see, our dancers are very busy over the next couple of months. We can’t wait until they return to our studios on June 9th to start learning Justin Peck’s new work, which will debut next season! Learn more about the new season here.

 

 

 

 

 

We want to hear from YOU!

Our dancers told us their top moments for the 2013-2014 Season and now we want to hear from YOU!  Share your top moments by filling out the form below, to be entered to win two tickets to Opening Night of Romeo and Juliet next season!

We want to hear about what ballets were your favorites and why! Once we receive your entry, we will post it on the Miami City Ballet Blog and share on Twitter and Facebook, for all of our fans to see. Your submission must be received by Friday, May 2nd to be entered into the Romeo and Juliet ticket sweepstakes, and the winner will be announced on Monday, May 5th.

Romeo and Juliet

Principal dancers Patricia Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro in ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Dancers’ Top Moments of 2013-2014!

You have now heard from dancers Ariel Rose and Nathalia Arja about their favorite moments of the 2013-2014 Season, so to wrap up our series is principal dancer Tricia Albertson!

Dancer

Tricia Albertson

At this point in my career as a dancer, I look to be pushed outside of my comfort zone to discover as much as possible about myself and my art. This season, I was given many chances to do just that! Here are some of the highlights for me.

Jardí Tancat‘ was a highlight because it was a completely different style of dance from anything I’ve ever performed. It was barefoot, weighty and grounded, yet embraced an emotional abandon unlike anything I had ever experienced. Beyond that, there was something so raw about this piece — something that made me feel an intense bond and connection with the people with whom I danced.

Nacho Duato

Tricia Albertson and Renan Cerdeiro in Nacho Duato’s ‘Jardi Tancat’

Working with Justin Peck on ‘Chutes and Ladders’ was another highlight of my season. There is something so wonderful about working with the actual choreographer of a piece, especially one who has such a specific vision. Beyond the steps, Justin works with visuals for us to try to create with our bodies, which makes me think outside of what my body is doing. I found myself pushing my body in ways I didn’t know I could and thinking about movement as creating an illusion, a vision, not just a technical expression.

Justin Peck

Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado in Justin Peck’s ‘Chutes and Ladders.’

When I heard we were doing ‘West Side Story Suite my first thought was, “How can I get myself into that ballet?!” ‘West Side Story’ is my favorite musical of all time. Mostly, I loved watching the men of MCB transform into Sharks and Jets and break out their tough sides. I love to be a part of productions that make people transform. I love to be in rehearsal and see that transformation happen gradually. I suspected that ‘West Side Story Suite’ would be one of those works that would really bring the company together, and it did — it was a true team effort.

Jerome Robbins

Miami City Ballet dancers in Jerome Robbins’ ‘West Side Story Suite.”

Polyphonia‘ was my greatest personal challenge and a major highlight of my season. That role was nothing like anything I had ever confronted before. It forced me to grow up a little, to get over certain insecurities and to embrace a part of me that until then I thought I should try to hide.

Christopher Wheeldon

Tricia Albertson and Reyneris Reyes in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Polyphonia.’

But really, the highlight of my season and every season for that matter was sharing the stage with so many wonderful artists. As I get older I cherish these bonds more and more. – Tricia

We hope enjoyed hearing from our dancers about their favorite moments of the season! Lookout for a chance to share your top moments of the 2013-2014 Season coming soon…

Find out the ballets we are bringing to the stage next season by clicking here!

Dancers’ Top Moments of 2013-2014!

Our final performance of Don Quixote last weekend was the perfect closing to another fantastic season of dance. Now that you have heard dancer Ariel Rose’s top moments of the 2013-2014 Season, we continue to reflect on this momentous year with our next post from recently promoted Soloist Nathalia Arja.

Dancer

Nathalia Arja

This season was extremely challenging for me. Not only was I given many difficult parts, but to also learn, rehearse and maintain them all at the same time throughout the season proved to be a marathon of stamina. There were many times that I felt as if my body had no more to give. It was in these moments that it was often difficult to muster up the strength from inside to run another ballet or do a second performance in a day.

Ratmansky

Nathalia Arja in Alexei Ratmansky’s ‘Symphonic Dances’

Looking back at this season, I feel like I have grown and matured through the challenges I have had to face. I feel very privileged to have worked on all these ballets and with the repetiteurs who staged them. Despite each ballet being very unique, I loved dancing every one of them.

Balanchine

Nathalia Arja and Renan Cerdeiro in Balanchine’s ‘Ballo della Regina’

I am really looking forward to next season. Despite being promoted to soloist this year, nothing for me will change. The process and journey of learning, exploring and becoming a better dancer and a more developed artist never ends and although this season may have been a large step for me, at the end of the day it is still just another stepping stone on the career path of a ballet dancer. - Nathalia

Join Nathalia and the rest of our dancers on next season’s journey ! More information on the ballets being performed here!

Season Finale on Instagram!

This weekend’s  performance of Don Quixote at the Arsht Center marks the closing of another extraordinary season of dance. With its irresistible Minkus score, lavish costumes and sets, and host of colorful characters, Don Quixote is the perfect season finale. Corps de ballet dancer Ariel Rose will make sure that you catch of the excitement behind-the-scenes as our final Instagram guest of the 2013-2014 Season. Follow him at #ArielMCBphotos!

Ariel shares his enthusiasm for this all-time popular work below!

Ariel Rose

Ariel Rose

Don Quixote was one of the very first ballets I ever saw performed. As a young boy I saw Jose Manuel [Carreño] perform Basilio with the American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. I remember being so enthralled by Espada and his army of toreadors. They were all so suave, powerful and masculine with a Latin flair. I wanted so badly to feel the sense of power and honor from dancing like that. Years later, not only have I been given the opportunity to dance the same ballet, but I am also now wearing the exact same costumes (from American Ballet Theatre) that I saw onstage as a kid. Talk about living and becoming one’s own dream! I now can only wonder if perhaps (as life is very cyclical), that maybe there’s a young boy out there in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach or Miami who is looking up at us men onstage and wanting to be and emulate us!  -Ariel

Ariel's costume.

Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg and Jared Matthews — famous dancers with American Ballet Theatre — wore the same costumes worn by Ariel in our production of Don Quixote.

Don Quixote

Ariel rehearsing for his Toreador role.

Don’t miss your final chance to see us this season! Get your tickets to Don Quixote here.