LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Dancing what was lost

When the curtain opens on Program III: Triple Threat next week, Miami City Ballet will become one of only two dance companies and the only American company to perform the Paul Taylor solo in Balanchine’s Episodes since New York City Ballet in 1986. Peter Frame — the last dancer to have performed this role and répétiteur for the solo at MCB — referred to it as a “lost work of art.” Now, 27 years later, dancer Jovani Furlan will be one of only a handful of dancers to perform this role. Here, he tells all about this rare and exciting opportunity.

Jovani Furlan

Jovani Furlan

The solo was choreographed by George Balanchine and was first performed by Paul Taylor in 1959. Twenty-seven years later at New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor reconstructed the solo from what he remembered for then Soloist, Peter Frame, who came to Miami to set it for us. There is a lot of Martha Graham influence to the solo and it’s been very fulfilling to get to work on it.

On the first day of rehearsal Peter entered the studio and said, “there are no counts and you guys are barefoot.” From that moment, I knew that this was going to be a new and exciting challenge. It’s my very first time dancing barefoot and it feels like I have a new body. Having no layers between my foot and the floor gives me a different awareness of my movement. Luckily, I have very thick skin on my feet so I’m not suffering that much considering all of the pirouettes and drags that I have to do in the almost 8-minute-long solo. The costume also makes me feel very vulnerable. I’m dressed in a white unitard all alone on a big stage with a spotlight on me. I don’t think that I’ve ever been that exposed on stage – it’s scary but I’m so thrilled about this opportunity.  

Peter Frame performing the Paul Taylor solo. Photo by Monroe Warshaw.

Peter Frame performing the Paul Taylor solo. Photo by Monroe Warshaw.

The Anton Webern music is very intricate and sounds almost as if there is no connection between the instruments. There is a calm feeling to it at some moments, but the majority sounds very agonizing, making the dancer appear like he’s trying to scream with his body. With no counts, we have to stop and listen to the instruments closely. We have to understand, for example, that when the harp plays, we have to be doing a penché, or when the horn strikes, I have to be putting my leg down to get to the floor. There are many moments where it’s just silent, and those quiet moments are crucial for us to catch up to the following step.

Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Jovani rehearsing the solo. Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Peter explained the meaning of the solo — the dancer is a bug, trapped in glass of milk wanting to get out. The poses show the struggle of the bug trying to escape, dragging its body in various shapes and forms. Parts of the solo actually make me feel as if I were stuck to the bottom of a glass glued to the milk — using my hands to move my legs.

What I like about the choreography is that it makes me lose sense of where my body parts are situated. I often find myself trying to create a symmetry that can only be achieved by losing sense of the basic positions — by trying to forget where my arms, head, legs and feet are placed. I go from grabbing my foot in high “developpé à la seconde” to dropping myself on the ground in a split second. There are several of big squats in second position where I literally have to try to drop my hips as low as I can. In the middle of the solo I find myself searching the floor for something. There’s some desperation to it, but I try not to bring too much drama into my interpretation — even though sometimes I get carried away — and let my body and the choreography speak for itself. In so many moments you have to go from a full extension of your whole body to a contraction of your stomach. This is very challenging for me because I tend to be very light and uplifted — to be grounded and make my body contract from the center of my chest is a new for me. 

Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Jovani rehearsing the solo. Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

I’ve been discovering different aspects about my dancing that I didn’t know before and it’s been extremely gratifying. Our ballet master Arnold Quintane has a great sense of modern dance and it’s been very helpful working with him daily. Now we are heading towards the last two weeks of rehearsal and soon Peter Frame will be here to give more corrections so we can all look our best on opening night. I can’t wait to listen to the orchestra play the music and have the lights and everything ready to go.

Jovani working with Ballet Master Arnold Quintane.

Jovani working with Ballet Master Arnold Quintane. Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Make sure to see this this “lost work of art” be brought back to the stage during Program III: Triple Threat!

WATCH a sneak peek now!

‘See the Music’ with Lourdes Lopez

Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez breaks down the ballets performed in our second repertory program of the season See the Music.

Make sure to catch this musically rich and visually stunning program at one of our three home venues:

Arsht Center, Miami: January 10-12
Broward Center, Ft. Lauderdale: January 24-26
Kravis Center, Palm Beach: January 31-February 2

GET TICKETS NOW!

A MAGICAL Sneak Peek!

Nothing brings in the holidays better than Miami City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™! With Thanksgiving just days away, here’s a special preview of the magic we’ll be making onstage to officially kickoff the holiday season. Enjoy!

GET TICKETS NOW! 

Stories from Opening Night – Nicole Stalker

Our next opening night story comes from corps de ballet dancer Nicole Stalker, sharing her scariest, but most memorable opening night!

Nicole Stalker

Nicole Stalker

I danced my very first Square Dance corps performance on opening night in Paris!! Square Dance is one of the most notoriously difficult Balanchine ballets in terms of both technique and stamina. I was so incredibly nervous, as I was the only one in the cast who had never performed the ballet before. I was worried about making it through the ballet while still maintaining good technique and stage presence. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling I had when the curtain went up and we waited in silence for that first violin note! Although I was terrified, I also consider it one of my most memorable performance experiences. We were all together in one of the most amazing cities in the world getting to do what we love! It is a memory I will cherish forever!

Nicole Stalker with former dancer Ezra Hurwitz

Nicole Stalker with former dancer Ezra Hurwitz

Create your own Opening Night story by joining us on October 18 for Program I: First Ventures , and begin your journey with the ballet this season! GET TICKETS NOW!

See Program I: First Ventures at any of our venues:
Adrienne Arsht Center: October 18-20
Broward Center: October 25-27
Kravis Center: November 15-17

Headshot – Photo © Gio Alma.
Stage shot – Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

Discover ‘First Ventures’ with Lourdes Lopez

Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez shares the meaning behind First Ventures and why the first program of our 2013-2014 Season is not to be missed!

Begin your journey with Miami City Ballet by joining us for Program I: First Ventures!

Adrienne Arsht Center: Oct. 18-20
Broward Center: Oct. 25-27
Kravis Center: Nov. 15-17

Passing It On

Legendary Balanchine ballerina, Merrill Ashley, recently visited Miami City Ballet to teach our dancers the ballet that propelled her into stardom.  For 10 days, she worked with the company on Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina – a work that he created on Ms. Ashley, herself. Principal dancer Tricia Albertson trained intensely with Merrill Ashely during her visit and shares her experience working with this Balanchine great here on our Blog!

Tricia Albertson

Merrill Ashley was the most virtuosic, technically precise ballerina of her time, if not ever.  George Balanchine was inspired to choreograph Ballo della Regina on Merrill, and created steps to highlight her strengths: precise, razor sharp, lightning-fast footwork, musicality, and hops on pointe.  Merrill was not an amazing technician by chance; she worked and analyzed every moment and every step to become that dancer.  To have Ballo della Regina passed on to me by Merrill Ashley has been both an amazing and frightening highlight of my career.

Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina.

Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina.

Merrill pushed herself to the limit as a dancer and asked that of all of us.  Working with her, I did not just learn the steps of Ballo della Regina, I learned precisely how to approach each step to make it sparkle.  Now, the challenge is to get myself to actually do it!  Merrill doesn’t let anyone cut a single corner, and being the perfectionist that I am, I was grateful to be pushed beyond what I thought my body could do (though, I will admit that I did get frustrated. I tend to want to get things right immediately, and that simply wasn’t possible).

Merrill Ashley coaches principal dancers Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado.

Merrill Ashley coaches principal dancers Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado.

Ballo is Merrill’s.  She loves this ballet, takes pride in this ballet, and has passed that pride down to us.  In a rehearsal, Merrill said that Ballo was a diamond of a ballet, but without the details and precision, it doesn’t sparkle. Those details make it brilliant.  Now that she has left (until she returns on opening night), I will have time to process and work on what she taught me and also to make it my own.  Perhaps there is no one that can make Ballo della Regina shine as Merrill did, but I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to try.

See Tricia Albertson perform this special role during Program I: First Ventures!

Adrienne Arsht Center: Oct. 18-20

Broward Center: Oct. 25-27

Kravis Center: Nov. 15-17

Photo credits:
Headshot © Gio Alma.
Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Martha Swope.

From Our Dancers to YOU!

We can’t believe that its already our final program of the 2012-2013 Season!  While we feel like the year has just flown by, many of us have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Program IV: Broadway and Balletespecially our dancers who can’t wait to get onstage.  Find out why!

Emily Bromberg

Emily Bromberg, Corps de Ballet, on Program IV: Broadway and Ballet – I’ve been looking forward to Program IV since last July [2012] when we started rehearsing for both ballets!  I was overjoyed when I saw that I would be learning the “mauve” girl in Dances at a Gathering.  For me, this part has a lot of meaning. From what I understand, her character is portrayed as a bit internal and full of thought.  Finding my own way of portraying this has been my favorite part of the rehearsal process because everyday I get to go into the studio and experiment with how I want to feel, while dancing each movement.  This experimentation along with the personal molding of each of the difficult, but liberating steps is such a fulfilling process.  I couldn’t look more forward to performing such a role!  Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is so much fun to perform with the audience! We use their energy, applause and reactions to fuel our every step!  I’m happy to get the chance to be a part of it!

Bradley Dunlap

Bradley Dunlap, Corps de Ballet, on George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue –  For the first time I am performing a pre-dominantly, comically-driven “character” role.  This new experience has given me a chance to take a break from my technique and just have fun. Without Slaughter I wouldn’t have realized the satisfaction of an audience responding to my work with laughter.

Callie Manning

Callie Manning, Principal Soloist, on Program IV: Broadway and Ballet – Personally, this program is like visiting old friends.  I’ve performed in both Dances at a Gathering and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue before and have very fond memories of both.  They are roles I love and can’t wait to dance them again. The part I do in Dances, “Green Girl”, is a really special part to me.  She’s a little cooky, flirtatious, reminiscent and quite complex.  I love diving into her character and discovering new things about her.  Every performance I do brings out something different.  Slaughter satisfies me in a completely different way.  Don’t tell anyone, but I always secretly wanted to be a Fosse dancer on Broadway.  The “Strip Tease Girl” in Slaughter, is the epitome of Broadway — high kicks, jazz hands and all!

Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg

Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Principal, on Program IV: Broadway and BalletSlaughter on Tenth Avenue and Dances at a Gathering are ballets that are very dear to me since I’ve had the great opportunity to “grow into” my roles in both — having danced them since the company premiered them years ago.  The “Striptease Girl” in Slaughter is such fun to dance onstage.  I learned it back when it was staged for us by Susan Hendl, and it was very different than anything I had yet danced with MCB – almost more Broadway than ballet!  It was a great chance to let go, have fun and even show a little of my wild side in the jazzy, upbeat second pas de deux.  It was especially fun to dance years later with Carlos [Guerra] as the “Hoofer”!

Dances is another ballet that I learned from Ms. Hendl back when she staged it for the company.  I was originally cast, fittingly, as the “Mauve” girl – a role that seems, to me, much like the older sister.  She is a bit more serious, pensive and mature than the pink, blue and yellow girls.  After dancing that role for years, it seems natural to now move on and transition into the role of the “Green” girl, who has an unusual cameo sort of part in the ballet.  Her solo, originally choreographed for Violette Verdy, is one that portrays an older, nostalgic, maybe even retired dancer reflecting on the joys of her career as a great ballerina.  Though I’m not not yet retired (I’m confident I have more than a few good dancing years left in me), I’m certainly at a point in my career where I can identify with the idea of “reflection”.  With each step of the solo I can really bring myself back to a special moment I had onstage — engaging the audience or getting lost in the steps, the music, the lights and the special perfume of a  ballet. With a flick of the foot, the solo ends with the “Green” girl simply walking offstage with a unique satisfaction.  She seems very proud of what she has accomplished …. not necessarily in that specific moment, but in general throughout her career.  That is something I can definitely relate to.

See Emily, Bradley, Callie and Jennifer  in our final program of the season Program IV: Broadway and Ballet!

Kravis Center: April 5-7
Broward Center: April 26-27
Adrienne Arsht Center: May 3-5

Patricia Delgado is back on Instagram!

Principal Patricia Delgado enjoyed guesting on Instagram so much that she is back for her second time this season! Patricia will be snapping shots of the dancers rehearsing Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue as we prepare for our final program of the season Broadway and Ballet.  This weekend, Patricia will also be sharing all of the action at Open Barre: Behind the Curtain, held at our studio theater on Miami Beach. Follow #PatriciaMCBPhotos!

Patricia Delgado

Patricia also told us why she can’t wait to get onstage to perform BOTH of the ballets featured in Program IV: Broadway and Ballet.

Dances at a Gathering and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue are such different ballets on so many levels — for the dancers and for the audience.  Dances is very human and has an enormous amount of subtle details to pay attention to, which makes performing the ballet extra special. Slaughter is a big broadway number that calls for a lot of energy and fun!  I love being able to channel such different parts of myself artistically and technically all in one evening!

-Patricia

Patricia Delgado in Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering

Catch Patricia during Open Barre this weekend and Program IV: Broadway and Ballet (Kravis Center April 5-7, Broward Center Apr. 26-28, Adrienne Arsht Center May 3-5)

Headshot © Gio Alma
Stage shot © Alexandre Dufaur

Jennifer Lauren Guests on Instagram!

After an exciting opening weekend of Program II: Tradition and Innovation, Soloist Jennifer Lauren is taking over our Instagram feed to keep up the momentum for performances at the Broward Center.  Look out for her behind-the-scenes shots (#JenLaurenMCBphotos) and performance in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 and Liam Scarlett’s new work Euphotic.

Jennifer Lauren

Fun fact about Lauren: She comes from a family of artists! Before dancing with MCB, Lauren’s mother made many of her costumes, including the tutu below from Alabama Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. Her father also photographed almost every performance.

Jennifer's mother made this costume!

You can catch Jennifer live during Program II: Tradition and Innovation at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 18-20.  For tickets call our box office at 305.929-7010 or visti miamicityballet.org.

Patricia Delgado on Duo Concertant

When asked what ballet she was most excited about performing this season, Principal Patricia Delgado knew right away that it was George Balanchine’s Duo Concertant.

Patricia Delgado

Patricia recounts, “I remember seeing the ballet when I was a student at Miami City Ballet School, and thinking, ‘I have never seen anything like this!’  The dancers simply stand and listen to the music onstage, admiring and respecting it, which sets the mood of the piece so beautifully.  It is unlike any of Balanchine’s other ballets. The spotlighting effects and stylized choreography evoke drama and love, making the piece completely mesmerizing.  Although I have been with Miami City Ballet for 12 years, I have never had the opportunity to perform the ballet, until now.  I always thought it would be a dream to dance that pas de deux, so when I saw it selected for Program II, I thought, ‘I can’t wait!’ Knowing Duo Concertant was in the programming inspired me to get me through my injury last season.”

Patricia also explained the significant role that a répétiteur — someone who teaches a ballet’s steps and interpretation of roles —  plays to the process of bringing specific works to the stage. “Répétiteurs often have personal experience working with a ballet’s original choreographer and are charged with keeping the ballets alive.  The Balanchine Foundation sent répétiteur Ben Huys to stage Duo Concertant and perfect our movement so that it reflects the original intent of “Mr. B” himself.  It’s the most rewarding process for the dancers to work with the répétiteur because we get all of the backstage stories and details of the choreography.  Then you can do the ballet justice onstage and make it your own.”

Ben Huys checking Patricia's costume before performing Duo Concertant at the Arsht Center

See Patricia perform in George Balanchine’s Duo Concertant as part of Program II: Tradition and Innovation, January 18-20, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Photos: Headshot © Gio Alma. Stage shot by Rebecca King.