LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

(Under)Water Ballet!

Not only have our dancers been getting back in shape for three weeks of rehearsals ahead with choreographer Justin Peck starting on Monday, but they have also been learning how to hold their breath! Why? For tomorrow’s underwater photo shoot with Fort Lauderdale’s new glossy, high-society magazine Venice!

Interestingly, one of our dancers has a leg up over the others! Corps de ballet dancer Chase Swatosh tells us about his life before dance as a semi-professional swimmer and diver below!

Dancer

Chase Swatosh

I began swimming when I was a baby and was on a competitive club swim team from the age of 8 to 15, when I transferred to diving on my high school dive team. In swimming, I qualified for and competed in many junior olympics swim meets (usually two per year).  One year, two of the relay teams I was on made the top 16 times in the nation — one of which was second in the nation. For the two seasons I dove, I competed in CIF (California Interscholastic Federation – state championship). The latter season I qualified for All American but didn’t quite make the cut. 

I loved both swimming and diving although they’re different. Swimming is probably the most physically challenging type of exercise I’ve ever done (besides dance) which makes it great for conditioning and cross training. It teaches you to have amazing breathing control and to be mentally disciplined to finish races strong, even when your body wants to give up. This, of course, is very applicable to dance, among other things in life as well.

Balanchine

Dubbed as Balanchine’s ‘underwater ballet,’ ‘Ballo della Regina’ appears to take place in a beautiful grotto. Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Diving is a different story; it is dynamically physically demanding but not nearly as intensive as swimming or dance. Having also been something of a gymnast (mostly tumbling) diving was a natural progression for me. Flexibility and body awareness from dance and gymnastics helped me a lot in diving. It’s  probably the most fun activity I’ve ever done. 

My philosophy about cross training is that anytime you learn a new sport or activity, you are learning to use your body in a new way. I think dance — or ballet specifically — is the pinnacle of physical activities where body awareness is absolutely crucial. So anytime I learn a different way to use my body, even if it’s totally contrary to ballet technique, that information becomes extremely helpful and in some way applicable to dance. – Chase

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for some fun behind-the-scenes shots of tomorrow’s underwater photo shoot! 

SEE ALSO:
Principal dancer Patricia Delgado’s summer cross training tips!

Mr’ “B’s” Underwater Ballet – Ballo della Regina

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’.

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!

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).