LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

INSIGHTS: George Balanchine’s ‘Ballo della Regina’

Legendary Balanchine ballerina Merrill Ashley discusses the ballet that made her a star! Discover what makes Ballo della Regina “sparkle” in our latest INSIGHTS video and see it at the Broward Center during Program I: First Ventures this weekend! Get your ticket now!

A special thanks to the Ballo della Regina Committee for helping Miami City Ballet make this timeless work possible!

Michele Herbert, Merrill Ashley, Jacqueline Kott, and Claudia Perles (left to right)

Michele Herbert, Merrill Ashley, Jacqueline Kott, and Claudia Perles (left to right) after the opening performance of ‘Ballo della Regina.’

INSIGHTS: George Balanchine’s ‘Serenade’

Why did Balanchine choreograph a girl falling to the floor in Serenade? And, why did he call this entrancing work “a dance in the moonlight?” Find out the answers to these questions and more in our new INSIGHTS video series! In our first video, corps de ballet dancers Leigh-Ann Esty and Zoe Zien divulge the secrets behind this mesmerizing and iconic ballet. Make sure to see it performed lived during Program I: First Ventures!

Catch the live performance of Serenade during  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

 

Stories from Opening Night – Lexie Overholt

Our next Opening Night Stories comes from corps de ballet dancer Lexie Overholt, who will also be taking over Miami City Ballet’s Instagram feed this week! Make sure to follow all of the action from now until Saturday, when the company performs a preview of George Balanchine’s Serenade at Fairchild Tropical Gardens during their Bird Festival.  The 2:30pm performance is FREE with paid admission to the gardens. We hope you can make it, but if you can’t, follow Lexie at #LexieMCBphotos on Instagram! Also, catch Serenade during Program I: First Ventures. And now for Lexie’s incredible story from opening night!

Lexie Overholt

My most memorable opening night was also my scariest. My junior year of high school, our studio’s Spring Show was a “mixed bill” of sorts and the variation I performed was Kitri from Don Quixote. Kitri’s solo in the first act has always been my favorite, one I have dreamed of performing. The time was finally here. The music started, the curtain rose, and within the first eight counts, in the middle of a pirouette, I was down. I tried to get up again, but could not.

Lexie performing Kitri in Don Quixote AFTER her fall!

The crew lowered the curtain and I looked down to see that my left knee cap had dislocated. I was in a lot of pain, but I knew I had to dance this role. My best friend Megan helped me gently move my knee cap back into place and we wrapped it tightly. In the mean time, the show continued until I told them I was ready. My director hesitated but agreed to let me go. I got back on that stage and performed with sheer adrenaline and tears in my eyes, but I did it! I felt like I performed better than I ever had. When the curtain went down, I  went directly to my orthopedic doctor and found I had severely stretched my MCL and dislocated my knee cap, with bone bruises surrounding my knee. But I had performed my dream role, and I had never felt more exhilaration. It is still the best opening night for me.

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.

Stories from Opening Night – Christina Spigner

Our next Story from Opening Night comes from corps de ballet dancer Christina Spigner

Christina Spigner

Christina Spigner

My most memorable opening night experience was performing Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements with the company on opening night of the tour in Chicago when I was a student apprentice . It was special for so many reasons — first, because of course this was my very first performance with a professional company and secondly, being able to be apart of opening night is always a privilege. What also made it special was that this was the first time MCB toured to Chicago, so we got to debut and expose the Chicago audience to Miami’s dancing and talent in the company.  The response we got after performing was so enthusiastic and positive — it was amazing . Lastly, what made it so special was that my extended family lives in Chicago and most of them had never seen me dance or had even gone to the ballet before. So, for them to see me in my first company performance, as well as it being their first performance, was awesome.  It really touched me to have all of that support for such a big opening night for me:-)  And now they are huge ballet fans !

Christina in Symphony in Three Movements

Christina in Symphony in Three Movements

Opening night is so special because it is the night that all your work comes to fruition. It is our reward to perform onstage after all the long hours of sweat, work and rehearsals we have put in. It is the time to enjoy and give back to the audience, for the first time, in that particular ballet . It is one of the most exciting nights — you have lots of adrenaline and energy, and even the audience members have a similar anticipation and excitement — making the theater come alive with that electric energy that everyone present can sense. Opening night is a reward for us dancers and something we  look forward to with excitement and anticipation :)

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 © Daniel Azoulay.

Stories from Opening Night – Ariel Rose

We are less than TWO WEEKS away from opening night of our 2013-2014 Season! Next up on our ‘Stories from Opening Night’ countdown is corps de ballet dancer Ariel Rose. Get your tickets to Program I: First Ventures before they go!

Ariel Rose

Ariel Rose

My scariest but also most memorable opening night experience was during my first lead in Alicia Alonso’s full-length ballet Coppélia with the Ballet Municipal de Lima. I just had a rushing moment of not believing that I was about to perform a three act ballet in an opera house in front of more than 1000 people. In the wings I started thinking about when I started ballet and all the difficult years of training, pushing myself and how far I had come from my beginnings in dance. My entire family, including those who live in Peru, who up to this point had never had the opportunity to see me dance, let alone dance in their  home country and in the national theater, were in the audience (they also never truly embraced my career as a professional dancer either). It was quite overwhelming! Yet, I told myself to conquer and live in the moment (as I often do when I am nervous). Seeing my Peruvian family after the show — some in tears — was so gratifying because not only did they finally see why I had been working so hard in ballet for all these years, but also because I finally felt like I had truly begun my career as a professional dancer and artist.

Ariel performing Coppelia

Ariel performing Coppelia

Opening night is special because it represents the transition from rehearsal to performance. There are virtually always little hiccups here and there, but it is very exciting for the audience because they know they are the very first people to see that specific production. It is also exciting for the dancers because after weeks and weeks of rehearsing, repeating and polishing something we’ve practiced 50+ times, we get to show it to people for the very first time. Seeing their reaction and appreciation after a performance is incredibly gratifying.

 

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 © Daniel Azoulay.

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.

Meet Our New Dancers!

You have now met dancers Brianna, Ariel, Sarah, Christina, Nieser, Eric and Damian. Our last new dancer, but certainly not the least, joins the MCB family as a company apprentice. Meet the final new face of the bunch — Leanna Rinaldi!

Leanna Rinaldi

MCB: Where are you from?

Leanna: Frisco, Texas.

MCB: At which dance schools did you train before coming to MCB?

Leanna: Miami City Ballet School.

Leanna performing Balanchine's 'Allegro Brillante' during the 2013 MCB School Student Workshop Performance.

MCB: Describe your perfect day.

Leanna: A day without stress.

MCB: Proudest moment?

Leanna: Joining Miami City Ballet!

Leanna rehearsing Balanchine's 'Serenade' with the company.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Leanna: To travel the world!

MCB: Indulgence?

Leanna: Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream and The Bachelorette.

MCB: Inspiration?

Leanna: Music and the dancers I have the privilege to dance with!

MCB: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Leanna: My faith in Jesus Christ, my family, friends and ice cream.

Leanna with her brother and dogs.

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Leanna: Being called upon last minute to perform Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances with MCB.

MCB: Dream role?

Leanna: Anita in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, Principal in Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Duo Concertant.

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

Leanna: It is such a warm and welcoming environment and all the dancers inspire me to work hard every day! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s on the beach.

See Leanna along with our other new dancers make their debut during Program I: First Ventures!

Meet our New Dancers!

We have only two more new dancers to introduce to everyone! This next new dancer joins the “MCB Family” and also an immediate family member — his uncle, principal dancer Reyneris Reyes. We are pleased to introduce you to corps de ballet dancer Nieser Zambrana!

Nieser Zambrana

MCB: Where are you from?

Nieser: Pinar del Rio, Cuba.

MCB: At which dance schools did you train before coming to MCB?

Nieser: Raul Sanchez Arts School, with Alejo Carpentier and The National School of the Arts in Havana.

MCB: What companies did you dance with before coming to MCB?

Nieser: National Ballet of Cuba and Orlando Ballet.

Nieser Zambrana

MCB: Describe your perfect day.

Nieser: My birthday.

MCB: Proudest moment?

Nieser: The day I was coached by the greatest ballet master, Mikhail Baryshnikov.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Nieser: To live in the desert.

MCB: Indulgence?

Nieser: Dance.

Nieser Zambrana

MCB: Inspiration?

Nieser: To see my uncle’s performances.

MCB: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Nieser: My mom.

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Nieser: My first ballet competition when I was 13 years old.

MCB: Dream role?

Nieser: Giselle.

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

Nieser: Because it’s a big company, great dancers, and I love the city.

Nieser Zambrana

See Nieser onstage during Program I: First Ventures!

Meet our new dancers!

You may have seen this new dancer onstage last season when she was an apprentice with the company. Now, as a member of the corps de ballet, you will be seeing much more of her! Meet Christina Spigner!

Christina Spigner

MCB: Where are you from?

Christina: Paradise Valley, Arizona

MCB: At which dance schools did you train before coming to MCB?

Christina: Miami City Ballet School

MCB: Describe your perfect day.

Christina: Doing something adventurous, exploring someplace new, and experiencing new and interesting cuisine with the people I love.

MCB: Proudest moment?

Christina: The moment I was asked to rehearse and perform with Miami City Ballet.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Christina: Opening up a pre-professional dance school that would not only teach ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary, but  would also incorporate an educational component. The curriculum would include kinesiology, anatomy, nutrition, and cross training/body awareness methods, including Feldenkrais and Pilates, and body maintenance classes. This would be my dream to develop healthy and happy dancers who are knowledgeable about their instrument, how to take care of it, and be able to use that knowledge to enhance their technique.

Christina Spigner performing a stunning leap during a MCB School photo shoot.

MCB: Indulgence?

Christina: Anything chocolatey! I have a bit of a sweet tooth!

MCB: Inspiration?

Christina: Danny Tidwell ( soloist with Norway’s National ballet ) and Miami City Ballet’s own Patricia and Jeannette Delgado.

MCB: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Christina: My family , friends, dancing,and my favorite store Whole Foods.

Having a Dog Gone Good time;-)

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Christina: Every year the company plays Secret Santa and part of the fun  is to reveal who your Secret Santa is in a creative or interesting way. So in MCB’s last performance of The Nutcracker, I was dancing my final ‘Waltz of the Flowers’, and during the part where the flowers  kneel  in a box formation the dancer across from me looked at me and mouthed ” I am your Secret Santa!” I almost screamed out loud — I was so surprised and excited to find out who she finally  was . She put a note in my dressing room saying she would meet me in the ‘land of the sweets’ and boy did she!

MCB: Dream role?

Christina: Kitri from Don Quixote, and my dream ballet to perform in would be In The Upper Room. In The Upper Room is one of my all time favorites and the instant I saw it performed, I dreamed of being  apart of that dynamic and powerful work someday.

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

When I first came here as a student I peered into the studio where the company rehearsed and fell in love. I loved the diversity of the dancers, the diversity of  the repertoire  in a Balanchine based company, and was also drawn to the company’s energy and dynamism.

Christina Spigner flies through the air in a MCB School photo shoot.

Lookout for Christina onstage this season when the 2013-2014 Season opens on October 18 at the Arsht Center with Program I: First Ventures.