LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

MCB Summer: Michael Breeden in LONDON!

Corps de ballet dancer Michael Breeden tells all about his trip to London and Liam Scarlett’s newest creation as part of our ‘MCB Summer’ series.

Michael Breeden

After the rigors and ecstasies of a season at Miami City Ballet have ended, it has become something of a tradition for me to take a trip to Europe to decompress and soak in the art that we don’t often get a chance to see while we are kept busy dancing. I chose London as my destination this year, having become close to the immensely talented choreographer Liam Scarlett during the creation of his ballets Viscera and Euphotic. I would be arriving just in time for the Royal Ballet’s world premiere of his first full-length Hansel and Gretel.

Off to London!

Attending with my fellow MCB dancer Ezra Hurwitz (my partner Neil Marshall was unfortunately unable to come), we did not know what to expect. I knew the ballet was to be performed in the round (which is highly unusual), in a black box theater to an original score by a man used to working in film and television. Liam’s works for MCB have been highly classical in structure and dance vocabulary, so I was impressed and surprised when Hansel and Gretel turned out to be completely outside the the range of what I’d seen Liam do and, indeed, what I’ve seen most anyone do in the realm of ballet.

Set in the 1950′s, Liam explored a dark, seedy world where the protagonists are left to fend for themselves when their alcoholic father and indifferent sexpot stepmother prove to be inept to care for them. Gretel, the older sister, has grown up quickly and protects Hansel whenever necessary. The Witch, rather than being comically ugly or cruel, is a fully fleshed out character, a nightmarish result of child abuse and psychosis, but with a childish demeanor that appeals to Hansel and Gretel and lures them into his lair. Liam also introduces the Sandman as a second villain, goading the Witch to be more cruel, more exacting in his torture.

The second act proves to be as suspenseful and squirm-inducing as a well-constructed Hollywood thriller (think ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘Seven’). Particularly grotesque is the sexual tension that arises between the Witch and Hansel. The seemingly cynical ending implies that Hansel and Gretel are perhaps doomed to end up as dissatisfied with life as their parents, leaving one uneasy. This is a production for adults, through and through.

Seeing Liam expand his range and challenge my own ideas about what is or isn’t appropriate for the ballet stage proved to be a valuable experience. Its the kind I relish having while on break, so I have time to digest it and ruminate about what it means to me about my own approach to art and my own thoughts and opinions on ballet, specifically. It was a perfect way to kick off the summer layoff.

Michael at the Royal Opera House

Ezra and I also made our way to see a West End production and spent time looking at the Turners at the Tate Britain. Being the consumer of art rather than the producer stimulated my brain in a way that made me ready to return to this season with a fresh approach and new perspective. The upcoming season is a full of new challenges, ranging from the thorny, difficult-to-count score in Episodes to the completely foreign dance vocabulary of Nacho Duato in Jardí Tancat.

Though they may seem a world apart from the art I experienced these past few weeks, expanding one’s ideas and preconceived notions about art is always relatable from one piece of art to the next in a way that will hopefully enhance my own work as I prepare for another exciting year at MCB.

Our Nutcracker Memories – Part 1

Everyone has a special Nutcracker memory they will always cherish, whether it be a childhood experience or watching The Nutcracker for the first time as an adult. ‘Tis the season to reminisce about those special Nutcracker times. Corps de ballet dancer Rebecca King gathered some of the dancers to talk about their Nutcracker memories in this heartwarming video (which she produced =) ). Check back next week for Part 2!

Want to take part in the action? Leave a comment and tell us your favorite Nutcracker memory!

Miami City Ballet Trivia Corner – Nutcracker Edition

Ezra Hurwitz and Michael Breeden are at it again! This time they bring you a special Nutcracker edition of Miami City Ballet Trivia Corner.

See Miami City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ this weekend at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Performances:
Friday, December 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 19 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 20 at 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Miami City Ballet Trivia Corner

Company dancers Ezra Hurwitz and Michael Breeden bring you this new MCB blog feature! Michael seems to know everything about ballet, so they set out to see who could match his skills.

See In the Night, Black Swan Pas de Deux and The Four Temperaments at Open Barre this weekend.

Performances:
Friday, November 13, 2009 – Reception 6:30 p.m. Performance 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 14, 2009 – Reception 2:00 p.m. Performance 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 14, 2009 – Reception 6:30 p.m. Performance 7:00 p.m. with after party at Aero Bar.