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.’

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.

Balanchine Ballerina caught on Instagram!

This week, we welcome one of Balanchine’s great ballerinas to our studios to teach the company Ballo della Regina. Merrill Ashley, for whom Mr. B created the ballet, will be working with our dancers to ensure that their performance of this difficult, high-energy work appears “light, airy, effortless and refined” — as Merrill describes Ballo — when we open our 2013-2014 Season on October 18! To capture this special ballet staging is dancer Helen Ruiz! Helen will be taking over our Instagram feed for her first time to bring all of the action directly to YOU.

FUN FACT about Helen:
Her favorite thing to do is cook and favorite things to make are ceviche, shepherds pie and green chicken curry!

For those of you who may not be too familiar with Merrill Ashley, she is a quite a big deal! She had a 31 year career as a dancer with New York City Ballet and was praised for her speed, technical clarity and attack in Ballo della Regina, when the choreography was deemed revolutionary to the art form at the time of its 1978 world premiere. In a review of the ballet’s premiere from The New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff wrote, “In Miss Ashley’s phenomenal speed and outstanding technique, Mr. Balanchine has a dancer with whom may try the untried!” We are not only fortunate to have her here staging a ballet in which she originated the role, but also to have her as part of the ballet family on our Board of Trustees! Make sure to follow Helen #HelenMCBphotos to catch all of the action with Merrill and more!

Mary Carmen Catoya and Mikhail Ilyin in Ballo della Regina. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Joe Gato.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to discover more fun facts about Ballo della Regina and to get your backstage pass to the ballet.

Finally, don’t miss our grand season opening October 18 at the Arsht Center to see Ballo della Regina, along with Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia and George Balanchine’s Serenade brought to life onstage during Program I: First Ventures!