LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

A trip to the costume shop for Don Quixote!

The lavish, detailed costumes of Don Quixote are one of this classic ballet’s distinguishing factors. The ballet is filled with a variety of costumes including a traditional matador’s “suit of lights,” named for its rhinestones, beads and gold or silver thread, and his swirling capes to fight off the bulls. What makes these costumes so unique is that they evoke the culture and feeling of Spain — where Marius Petipa danced as an impoverished young man. For #TutuTuesday, we are taking a look at the beautiful tutus in Don Quixote that reflect the utmost elegance of a prima ballerina, but embrace the passion and flair that characterizes the rich, culture of Spain.

Mary Carmen Catoya as Kitri.

Mary Carmen Catoya as Kitri.

As most ballet companies do when performing a full-scale production with multiple sets and costumes, we rented our Don Quixote costumes from American Ballet Theatre. They were designed by famous costume and scenic designer Santo Loquasto. These costumes have been worn by some of the world’s most famous ballerinas including Gillian Murphy, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Cynthia Harvey and even Gelsey Kirkland!

Can you see some of the names?

Can you see the names of the ballerinas?

When the costumes arrived at our studios, our wardrobe team fit them to our dancers and stitched them accordingly so they fit perfectly. The seamstresses also touched up any missing beads or embellishments to ensure that the costumes looked perfect for the stage!

Seamstress XXX works on the lead dream scene ballerina's tutu.

Seamstress Ana Maria Romero works on the lead dream scene ballerina’s tutu.

The beautiful details of Kitri's bodice.

The beautiful details of Kitri’s bodice.

Seamstress Amelia works on another tutu.

Seamstress Amelia Paille works on another tutu.

After an entire month of hard work spread among four seamstresses, one cutter, one draper and one costume artist, these extraordinary costumes are not only complimenting the art form taking place onstage, but are also true works of art themselves.

Costume Arist Maria Morales adds extra plastic to the sides of the fans to ensure that they are strong enough for performing.

Costume Arist Maria Morales adds extra plastic to the sides of the fans to ensure that they are strong enough for performing.

Miami City Ballet extends a special thanks to Eugenia and Robert P. Strauss for their generous support of costumes for the original production of Don Quixote.

Make sure to see these beautiful works of art brought to life onstage during our final program of the season Don Quixote!

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!

Rebecca King is back on Instagram!

Corps dancer Rebecca King will be snapping pics around the studios as this week’s guest photographer on Instagram.  Follow her #RebeccaMCBphotos to catch dancers Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello preparing for the world premiere of Justin Peck’s new work Chutes and Ladders, which will debut at the New World Center on April 20. Also, stay tuned for a sneak peek at our 2013/14 Season as the dancers already begin rehearsals for Balanchine’s dreamlike masterpiece Serenade.

Rebecca King

FUN FACT: You might already know Rebecca from her blog Tendus Under a Palm Tree. Now, she has created her very own blog logo wear! Check it out!

MCB dancer Jennifer Lauren. Photo by Leigh Esty.