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.’

Stories from Opening Night – Michael Breeden

With T minus FOUR DAYS until the opening of our 2013-2014 Season, we are continuing our countdown with even more amazing Opening Night stories from our dancers! You are in for a treat with our next story from corps de ballet dancer Michael Breeden!  GET YOUR SEAT TODAY!

Michael Breeden

Michael Breeden

Opening night is the moment all of the work and passion we’ve put into the ballets finally gets a chance to breathe. We’ve agonized over trouble steps, rehearsed religiously and gone over the counts endless times. The reason we put ourselves through such grueling work is for the moment when the curtain rises on opening night. The cold air rushes in and the orchestra sounds its first notes. We are no longer people in a studio, but dancers making art, immersing ourselves in the music and contributing to something greater than ourselves.

My most memorable opening night remains the first night we performed in Paris. We were on the brink of an unprecedented tour, with the most demanding repertoire and performing schedule we had ever had. We had no idea what the Parisian audience would think of us, being that they were used to watching a completely different balletic ideal and aesthetic. Yet, all of these seeming challenges merely made the determination all the greater, and then, the success all the more satisfying.

Michael at the historic Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Michael at the historic Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

The ballets we performed were in our bones and we showed the Parisians every detail, every thought and care we had added to them over the years. They responded with the most rapturous reception we had ever received. Symphony in Three Movements shocked them with its full-out energy and shifting formations, and they applauded after every movement of Square Dance as if it was its own mini-ballet, deserving of a loud and full applause. The magic of opening night was never so apparent as it was in Paris, but each opening night provides its own pleasures and surprises, and this year’s opening night will prove no exception.

Michael with Zoe Zien after Symphony in Three Movements

Michael with Zoe Zien after Symphony in Three Movements

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

 

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.

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 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.

Meet our new dancers!

Our next new dancer has been busy learning the Paul Taylor solo in George Balanchine’s Episodes this week. Get to know corps de ballet member Ariel Rose here on our blog, before he hits the stage next season!

Ariel Rose

MCB: Where are you from?

Ariel: New York, New York, but recently moved from Richmond, Virginia, where I was previously dancing with Richmond Ballet.

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

Ariel: I trained at Ballet Academy East, Fiorello LaGuardia High School for Arts and Performing Arts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre and Boston Ballet School.

MCB: What companies have you danced with professionally?

Ariel: Boston Ballet, Ballet Municipal de Lima and Richmond Ballet.

Ariel performing Coppélia as a guest soloist with the Ballet Municipal in Lima, Peru.

MCB: Describe your perfect day.

Ariel: Spending the day outside in any way possible during which I can write, draw and casually spend time with friends. Then also cooking up something new and interesting at the end of the day.

MCB: Proudest moment?

Ariel: Dancing onstage in London at Covent Garden in the Linbury Theatre last year with the Richmond Ballet felt like I had really accomplished something. Performing for a foreign audience really felt like we were showing people something for the very first time.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Ariel: I’d love one day to take a really long international ballet tour like many companies used to do in the 80’s and 90’s. Traveling is so important in developing ones own perspective on life and the world. One always comes back a little wiser and more knowledgeable.

Ariel in Sorrento, Italy -- one of the European destinations he backpacked to after Richmond Ballet's tour in London.

MCB: Indulgence?

Ariel: My favorite food is definitely sushi, but all my friends know that I have an absolute obsession with Belgian waffles!

MCB: Inspiration?

Ariel: Some of today’s leading dancers such as Joaquin De Luz, Marcelo Gomes, Jeffrey Cirio and Jaime Diaz.

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

Ariel: My friends and family. Having people that you know are there for you, for all of your successes and failures, makes life feel a bit safer and better. Especially in a career like professional ballet, life can be difficult at times, but the people one chooses to hold close in their life can really help you through.

He spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin! (Charlie Brown reference ;-))

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Ariel: The silence following the end of a performance of Salvatore Aiello’s The Rite of Spring this past May, on the exact day of the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky composing the score.  After the piece’s conclusion, there was a moment of silence because the people were still in shock and absorbing what they had just seen. Then all of a sudden, there was an uproar of cheers and all 2,000 people were up standing out of their seats. It was indescribable.

MCB: Dream role?

Ariel: “The Prodigal Son”, the slave in Le Corsaire and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room — (watch an excerpt performed by MCB!)

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

Ariel: For the experience of performing new, but also historic repertoire and to also grow technically and artistically to my personal next level.

See Ariel Rose onstage when our 2013-2014 Season opens at the Arsht Center in October!

Capturing Balanchine’s ‘Episodes’ on Instagram

Returning from summer vacation and a fun trip home to Brazil, corps de ballet dancer Jovani Furlan is back on Instagram as this week’s guest photographer.

Jovani Furlan

Our studios are exceptionally busy this week, with the arrival of two répétiteurs from the George Balanchine Trust — Patricia Neary and Peter Frame — who will be staging the company premiere of Episodes. Patricia Neary was hand-picked by Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet, where he later created two key roles on her — in Raymonda Variations and in Jewels. She will use her personal experience dancing several roles to stage Episodes and preserve every last detail of the choreography.

Peter Frame has an exceptionally close tie to Episodes as he was the first dancer to perform the Paul Taylor solo after Paul Taylor himself. In fact, Paul Taylor reconstructed the solo on Peter in 1986 when he was a dancer with NYCB. We are privileged and excited to have both Patricia and Peter with us at MCB to bring this boldly modern masterwork to life this season, as part of Program III: Triple Threat.

Pat Neary with Balanchine and sister Coleen (right).

Callie Manning and Neil Marshall in Balanchine's Episodes.

Learn more about the interesting history of Balanchine’s Episodes and how it came to be the ballet performed today.

Flexible subscription packages and single tickets to Episodes are on sale now as part of Program III: Triple Threat.

Photo credits:
Headshot © Gio Alma.
Miami City Ballet dancers Callie Manning and Neil Marshall in Episodes. Choreography by George Balanchine, © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Gio Alma.

Meet our new dancers!

As we prepare for the opening of the 2013-2014 Season, Miami City Ballet welcomes several new faces to the company! Over the next few weeks, we are getting up close and personal with our “newbies” on our blog before they take the stage in October. So without further ado, we introduce you to MCB corps de ballet member Brianna Abruzzo!

Brianna Abruzzo

MCB: Where are you from?

Brianna: New York, NY

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

Brianna: School of American Ballet (11 years), San Francisco Ballet Summer Program, MCB Summer Program, Pacific Northwest Ballet Summer Program, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, and the Chautauqua Festival.

MCB: What companies have you trained professionally with?

Brianna: As a student, I trained with New York City Ballet.

MCB: Describe your perfect day.

Brianna: Meet some friends at a local café for brunch, pamper myself with a mani/pedi (I’m a real girly girl). Take a walk around Central Park (I could never get tired of exploring the park). End the day with going to the movies.

Brianna in Central Park

MCB: Proudest moment?

Brianna: When I got offered a position in MCB. I said to myself “I did it!” I couldn’t believe it.

MCB: Wildest dream?

Brianna: Living, dancing, singing, acting and baking in Paris.

MCB: Indulgence?

Brianna: Mac and Cheese.

MCB: Inspiration?

Brianna: Misty Copeland and Tiler Peck inspire me because they are impeccable dancers who continue to improve daily. Wendy Whelan also inspires me because she is world renowned, yet she is still down to earth and genuine.

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

Brianna: My cat Armani. He is the most affectionate cat I’ve ever met. People who normally dislike cats like Armani.

MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Brianna: Performing at the Costume Gala in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art surrounded by water in the Egyptian exhibit. It was such a glamorous night and the beautifully dressed celebrities treated us dancers as if we were the celebrities.

Brianna rehearsing with her choreographer for the SAB Student Choreography Workshop

MCB: Dream role?

Brianna: Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (I cry every time).

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?

Brianna: MCB has a bit of everything; the amazing Balanchine rep that I couldn’t live without and contemporary ballets. MCB also has choreographers coming and staging new ballets quite often. I love that process and it was an important factor for me in choosing a dance company. MCB is also not too far from home, it’s a city (a fun one too), I have relatives close by, and who can say no to days off relaxing on the beach? Everyone in the company was immediately nice and welcoming. This made it one of the easiest decisions for me.

Brianna leaped at the opportunity to join MCB:-)