LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

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!

A Chance to Shine

Not many apprentices get the opportunity to perform a leading role in their first year with a professional ballet company. However, during Program II: See the Music, one of MCB’s newest members had that chance! Leanna Rinaldi writes about her experience learning and performing Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat below.

Leanna Rinaldi

Leanna Rinaldi

Having the opportunity to perform Jardí Tancat, choreographed by Nacho Duato, is an absolute honor. As an apprentice, the first few days of rehearsals were a little intimidating, being around such amazing dancers. To be quite frank, learning and executing the choreography for Jardí Tancat was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done mentally, emotionally and physically. Luckily, we had répétituer Kevin Irving patiently teaching us and showing us how each meticulous movement should be executed. The steps in Jardí Tancat are unlike what we usually do at the ballet. In most ballets we almost always have to pull ourselves up and think of being weightless, while in Jardí Tancat we have to be grounded deep into the floor and be heavy with our movements. I’ve always loved this style of dance and I had a lot of modern training when I was younger, so it was refreshing to kick off those pointe shoes and have the opportunity to dance this wonderful piece. The first time I performed it onstage was very surreal. It felt like I had a deep relationship with each dancer onstage and could feel everyone’s energy and emotion. There are no wings, so there are no distractions coming from offstage. We just have each other and the music. We were so proud of what we had accomplished together. Dancing Jardí Tancat was so exhilarating that when it came time for bows, I asked myself, “What just happened?”  It was truly an amazing experience and I feel like it has pushed me as a dancer and helped with other areas of my dancing.  Jardí Tancat  is an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my career! – Leanna

Leanna rehearsing with Shimon Ito.

Leanna rehearsing with Shimon Ito. Photo by Daniel Azoulay.

Leanna and the cast of Jardi Tancat.

Leanna and the cast of Jardi Tancat.

There is still time catch Leanna perform in, what the Miami New Times called, “a gem, a major addition to the company repertory… beautiful” during Program II: See the Music at the Kravis Center. Get your tickets here!

 

Meet the Sugar Plum Fairy!

Meet the Sugarplum Fairy and get your ticket to the Land of the Sweets!

Miami City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ runs from December 19-January 5 in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. GET TICKETS NOW!

Welcome to Miami Jordan Matter!

Anyone recognize this photo?

Jordan Matter's 'Dancers Among Us'

Jordan Matter’s ‘Dancers Among Us’

If you know and love this image, along with several other awe-inspiring dance photos, than you have probably heard of photographer Jordan Matter and his New York Times bestseller Dancers Among Us. This week, Jordan takes his talents to the Magic City to exhibit his work at Spectrum Miami and Select Fair, both running December 4-8th in Midtown and South Beach respectively. During his visit, Jordan will also partake in two live photo shoots with Miami City Ballet dancers Renan Cerdeiro, Jovani Furlan and Emily Bromberg!

The first shoot will take place during the Opening Preview of Spectrum Miami on Wednesday, December 4, from 6-10pm (come before 8pm to make sure you catch the shoot). This will be a rare opportunity to preview Jordan’s exhibit and see how he works with the dancers to capture these extraordinary shots.

The fun continues on Thursday, December 5, when Jordan and MCB dancers hit up South Beach for a live photo shoot on Ocean Drive! Follow us on Twitter #JordanShootsMCB to find our exact location and times to come out and watch the photo shoot!

Jordan already has some experience shooting MCB dancers -- here's a shot of former MCB dancer and 'Dancing with the Stars' contestant Alex Wong!

Jordan already has some experience shooting MCB dancers — here’s a shot of former MCB dancer and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ contestant Alex Wong!

Thanksgiving with MCB!

While most of you are digging your nose deep into cookbooks and fighting the crowds at the local grocery store, we are preparing for Thanksgiving with rehearsals of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™!  This weekend, we head to Naples for our first Nutcracker performance of the season! Dancer Rebecca King will be capturing the magic of this holiday classic on our Instagram feed and shares how The Nutcracker has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition in its own right below. Follow Rebecca #RebeccaMCBphotos!

Rebecca King

Rebecca King

We have heard that in the rest of the country the seasons are changing. Yet, here in Miami, the only thing we have noticed is a slight drop in the humidity.  (We are really roughing it here in the tropics). So, for Miami City Ballet dancers, the truest indicator of the change in seasons is performing The Nutcracker in Naples.  For the past seven years that I have been with MCB, Thanksgiving and Naples have always gone hand-in-hand.  Most years we spend Thanksgiving together on the gulf coast in anticipation of the Nutcracker’s kickoff the next day. Being together for Thanksgiving is something that has become a tradition for all of us — creating wonderful memories of spending a very special holiday together as a family.

Nutcracker casting is up on the board in the studios, we are packing our theater cases, and drawing names for Secret Santa — the holidays are officially here in Miami.

MCB Thanksgiving 2012 in Naples!

MCB Thanksgiving 2012 in Naples!

Experience the magic of the The Nutcracker at any of our home venues located in South Florida! GET TICKETS NOW!
Adrienne Arsht Center: December 19-24
Kravis Center: December 27-30
Broward Center: January 3-5

 

 

INSIGHTS: Polyphonia

Christopher Wheeldon breaks down the ballet that made him one of today’s most important choreographers in our latest INSIGHTS video! Catch the final performance of this work during Program I: First Ventures at the Kravis Center, November 15-17. GET TICKETS NOW!

What’s on INSTAGRAM this week?

Tonight, the worlds of Broadway and ballet literally collide during our first Open Barre of the 2013-2014 Season. The original Anita from the Broadway production of West Side StoryChita Rivera joins us onstage to discuss working with Jerome Robbins, while the company gives a sneak peek of the “triple threat” premiere of West Side Story Suite. This will be the first time that our dancers test their signing talents in front of a live audience….and to capture it all on Instagram is dancer Jovani Furlan!

Jovani Furlan

Jovani Furlan

Jovani will not only be taking you behind-the-scenes of Open Barre this weekend, but will also be documenting the exciting work happening in our studios next week with Répétiteur and Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre Kevin Irving. Kevin is here to set Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat – the profoundly Spanish, lyrical work that allows our dancers to kickoff their pointe shoes and dance barefoot! As the former ballet master and head of the artistic department with Nacho Duato’s Compañia Nacional de Danza in Spain, Kevin has intimate knowledge of Duato’s choreography that he will instill in our dancers before we bring Jardí Tancat to the stage during Program II: See the Music.

Jeanette Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro in Jardi Tancat.

Jeanette Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro in Jardi Tancat.

Sneak peek of the action on Instagram!

Sneak peek of the action on Instagram!

Make sure to follow Jovani on Instagram #JovaniMCBphotos to catch all of the exciting happenings here at the ballet!

Want more on Chita Rivera? Check out our Pinterest Board to see more legendary roles performed by one of Broadway’s leading ladies!

Photos:
Headshot © Daniel Azoulay.
Jardí Tancat © Gio Alma.