LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Dancers’ Top Moments of 2013-2014!

With the opening of Don Quixote at the Arsht Center tomorrow, comes the closing of another season of extraordinary dance. Each ballet has created a unique experience on our journey to learn more about this rich, multifaceted art form. From the grounded, lyrical movements of Jardí Tancat to the geometric, sharp choreography of Polyphonia; from the alluring dance in the moonlight of Balanchine’s Serenade, to his atonal, yet unexpectedly harmonious Episodes; and from the ‘West Side Story’ we fell in love with years ago, to a story we are still discovering with Symphonic Dances — this season has pushed the boundaries of our audiences and dancers, alike.

As the season quickly comes to a close, dancers Ariel RoseTricia Albertson and Nathalia Arja will share their favorite moments of 2013-2014 and what this year has meant to them. First up, is this week’s Instagram guest and corps de ballet dancer Ariel Rose.

Dancer

Ariel Rose

This season has been quite a memorable one  for me. It was certainly a year in which many things came together both on and off the stage. I believe that this season has been one of tremendous growth, and despite it being my first year in Miami, it feels like more than a year’s work has been accomplished. Joining a new company is always difficult. If one is a little insecure and slightly extra anxious like I am, it can be even more difficult to make a first impression that reflects one’s true identity. There is always a slight need to prove yourself, despite past professional experience. 

To be honest, starting with ‘Polyphonia’ was a bit of a heart attack. Not only is it not a ‘corps de ballet’ work, but it is a very complex piece by none other than Christopher Wheeldon — one of the most well known choreographers in the world, who actually ended up coming in person to oversee a rehearsal or two right before Program I: First Ventures opened! I believe that this experience pushed the dancers (especially the younger, less experienced ones like myself) to grow and mature in terms of our confidence, style and artistry.

Christopher Wheeldon

MCB dancers in ‘Polyphonia.’

I believe another highlight of this season was Nacho Duato’s ‘Jardí Tancat’.  Despite this piece’s earthly and grounded beauty in its presentation, the process of learning and embodying that manner of dancing was another experience that put us dancers in a somewhat uncomfortable place. There were often struggles in terms of strength, stamina, coordination and achieving the right style and ‘look,’ not to mention all the while maintaining our more classical repertoire. I think our struggles as a ‘clan’ of sorts during this process united us more intimately, which in turn gave everyone the support they needed to get through it successfully. Perhaps the irony of this effect was that it bled onto the stage in our portrayal of farmers in the fields of Catalonia, struggling wearily together under the scorching sun, yet never once giving up because of this supportive network we created between one another.

Jardi Tancat

Ariel Rose and Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg in Jardi Tancat

Program III: Triple Threat was incredibly rich in history. Balanchine’s Episodes is a landmark of sorts. It is a work that perhaps although misshapen, archaic and somewhat absent of lyrical sense, makes one pay even more attention to detail and visual imagery. I believe that this program, along with the company’a premiere of West Side Story Suite took us through ballets that our artistic staff and the répétiteurs had very close ties with. I felt that the repertoire on this particular program was very explicitly passed down to us dancers and that despite our achievement in performing these works, we were all mentally enlightened as well.

West Side Story

MCB dancers in West Side Story Suite

Now at the end of the season, Don Quixote feels more celebratory than anything else. Despite people’s varying opinions on the classic ballet itself, it is a somewhat fitting close to this season as we all stand on stage together during the act three wedding pas de deux, watching Basilio and Kitri accomplish the dynamic and difficult choreography. It is moments like these, standing and admiring onstage, that I feel connected. I feel part of something larger than myself. I don’t feel like it’s about my individual ballet career. I feel that we are accomplishing something together. As our director and leader Lourdes Lopez has expressed many times throughout this season, these programs have truly culminated in a journey, not just allegorically but in reality as well. A lot has been accomplished this year —  not just terms of great performances, but also in personal growth and development. I believe what is even more exciting for the audience than seeing great performances is seeing the artists themselves evolve and develop from one season or program to the next. From a personal standpoint, I could not feel more privileged or honored to have been invited to become part of this organization and contribute my small part to the journey it has embarked on. All I can say is “to be continued”. 

Watch Ariel and the rest of our amazing dancers onstage during Don Quixote this weekend at the Arsht Center. More info and tickets here!

Like Ariel and Lourdes Lopez said, each season is a journey. By joining Miami City Ballet for each distinct program, a new artistic experience is created, enriching lives in unique ways. Check out what we have planned for 2014-2015 journey 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.

 

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!

 

Don Quixote stands the test of time!

Our 2013-2014 Season has completely flown by! The Company is now preparing for its final program of the season — the full-length production of Don Quixote. This ballet dates back to 1869, when choreographer Marius Petipa created it for the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Having danced in Spain himself, Petipa’s choreography reflects the local culture by incorporating the Spanish dance idiom into the movements and bringing Cervantes’ sensual gypsies and macho bullfighters to life onstage.

Since its origination, Don Quixote has been delighting audiences all over the world. The irresistible Minkus score and lavish costumes and sets make this ballet an all-time, crowd favorite and a celebratory closing to a successful 2013-2014 Season. Get a sneak peek of the performance in the video below!

Let us know if you have seen Don Quixote before! Why do YOU think this ballet has stood the test of time?

Need tickets? CLICK HERE

Becoming a Triple Threat: DANCE

Our dancers kicked off their pointe shoes and slipped into sneakers and heels for the premiere of West Side Story Suite. Watch how they learned Jerome Robbins’ big, Broadway dance moves in our final video of the ‘Triple Threat’ series. There is only one more chance to catch West Side Story Suite during Program III: Triple Threat at the Kravis Center (Palm Beach) this weekend – Feb. 28-Mar. 2.

Becoming a Triple Threat: SING

Not only did our dancers have to sharpen their acting skills for the premiere of West Side Story Suite, but they also had to learn SING! Yes, ballerinas singing! Watch the latest video in our Triple Threat series to find out if our dancers can actually carry a tune.

Catch Program III: Triple Threat at the Broward Center (Feb. 21-23) or Kravis Center (Feb. 28-Mar. 2).

Sing, Dance, Act on Instagram!

Program III: Triple Threat is finally here! Since the moment our dancers, staff, donors and audience members learned that we would be performing West Side Story Suite, we have not be able to contain our excitement. This ballet is pushing the artistic boundaries of both our dancers and audiences and we cannot wait to see what happens when the curtain rises this Valentine’s Day! Here to capture our dancers making their final preparations before the big premiere on Instagram is Principal Soloist Callie Manning. Follow her at #CallieMCBPhotos.

Callie Manning

Callie Manning

In some ways we have been preparing for West Side Story for almost an entire year —  from the photo shoot last January to the staging in June, and throughout the season, the excitement in our studios has only been building! Hopefully this week I can give everyone an inside peek at the final days before the premiere, the opening night, and the fabulous gala celebration afterwards. - Callie

Calllie and dancers posing for West Side Story Suite.

Calllie and dancers posing for West Side Story Suite.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at how the above image was created during last season’s photo shoot. 

Learn more about our West Side Story Suite premiere by checking out this preview from The Miami Herald!

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!

Get to know choreographer Justin Peck!

26-year old Justin Peck is the artist behind our most recent commission Chutes and Ladders. Find out how this California kid is climbing the ranks at New York City Ballet and into the spotlight, as one of today’s up-and-coming choreographers. Catch his work performed live during Program II: See the Music.

Helen Ruiz snaps shots on Instagram!

We are rapidly approaching our final performances of Program II: See the Music at the Kravis Center this weekend. Half-way through the season, we are in the middle of the artistic journey that Lourdes Lopez has planned.  We have celebrated a joyous opening with Program I: First Ventures and are now relishing in the music of four distinct ballets that breathe new meaning into Balanchine’s famous words — see the music, hear the dance! Corps de ballet dancer Helen Ruiz will be taking over our Instagram feed to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our dancers preparing in the studio for their performance and onstage at the Kravis Center. Make sure to follow Helen at #HelenMCBphotos to go behind the ballets and see the music on Instagram!

Helen Ruiz

Helen Ruiz

This season I had the opportunity to dance Polyphonia and Concerto Barocco, which were both very musical and challenging. The fun part about dancing Polyphonia was that I got the chance to work with Christopher Wheeldon! Dancing Concerto Barocco makes me realize how lucky I am to be working in a ballet company that performs several Balanchine ballets, giving the corps de ballet amazing opportunities. — Helen

Helen rehearsing with Christopher Wheeldon.

Helen rehearsing with Christopher Wheeldon.

It is the corps that is the star here and as always, Miami City Ballet’s troupe is not only technically precise and unrelievedly energetic but loaded with self-assurance and character.
ConcertoNet.com on Concerto Barocco. Read the full review here.

Don’t miss the last opportunity to see why critics are RAVING about Program II: See the Music. GET TICKETS NOW!