When emerging choreographer and New York City Ballet dancer Justin Peck received a call from Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez to create a new work on Miami City Ballet, he jumped at the opportunity. After choreographing several works for New York City Ballet, the young artist was eager to experience a new company, or as Justin described, “work with new paint.” For nearly two weeks, Justin immersed himself in music, dance and creation at our studios to choreograph his newest work Chutes and Ladders. Learn about Justin’s experience working with our dancers and how this exciting project came to be in the video below!
Alexei Ratmansky is widely seen as one of the most original and important choreographers in ballet, an artist who is moving the genre forward while remaining deeply rooted in its classical origins. When Miami City Ballet commissioned him last season to create Symphonic Dances, set to a Rachmaninoff score of the same name, it was a milestone for the company.
-The Miami Herald
Dancers Jeanette Delgado and Nathalia Arja explain Ratmansky’s process of bringing Symphonic Dances to the stage in Part Two of Behind the Ballet.
…No matter what, every morning you go to the barre and you need to serve the god, the goddess of dance. It’s a religion. It’s not about you or your ego. The beauty of ballet is the result of centuries. You think of all the amazing choreographers who contributed to it, and it now lives in us. Because all the steps we do were invented by someone, and we can feel their impulse when we do the step.
After its one-night-only world premiere in Miami last season, Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances returns to the stage during Program III: The Masters. Through interviews with the acclaimed choreographer, himself, and with two leading ladies from the ballet, we are breaking down this beautiful, yet complex masterwork in the following two part mini-series.
Watch this video to find out what the dancers had to say!
During his last visit to our studios in November 2012, The Miami Herald interviewed Alexei Ratmansky. Here is what he had to say!
Q. When I first saw Symphonic Dances, I thought it had a story, but I can’t say what it was.
That’s good. There is a story but you don’t need to put it in words. The music [also] tells a story but how can you translate it? What’s great about ballet is you don’t need to put things into words. You can’t really have the words for everything in life. There is a good saying in Russian, if you express your thought clearly, it’s already alive. Meaning that not everything can be put in words. I like that. The great strength of ballet is its mystique or symbolism. This art can touch a kind of universal harmony without explaining it.
Q. There were strong characters in Symphonic Dances that surprised me. I saw a side of [MCB dancer] Kleber Rebello I had never seen. Nathalia [Arja] had always seemed like a very sweet girl, and suddenly she was so passionate.
I wouldn’t call them characters. They create tensions. And in order to create tension you have to have some kind of motivation. Nathalia, we called her the war girl. There is a painting by Henri Rousseau, the French primitive painter, of a girl in a white short dress on a horse, called The War. She is a horrifying figure. But it’s just a little inspiration.
The structure of the piece, which is quite complex, took place after I observed [MCB company] classes. I wanted to use particular dancers. Each person had certain characteristics. Maybe in everyday life they are very different. But there is something in their physique, in the expression of their face, the line of the neck, the gestures, that tells you about their inner character. They might fight it. Maybe they don’t like it. But as Martha Graham says, the body never lies. The body tells the truth about a person. So I was trying to sense who these dancers are, and they led me to certain story developments.
Q. So what did you get from Kleber?
A person in difficult circumstances, some inner suffering that was hidden. He was — I’m not sure this is the right word — vulnerable?
Q. And Nathalia?
She’s a force. It’s not necessarily that she brings something bad. It’s an extreme situation that she brings. But it also can bring glory.
Stay tuned for more on Symphonic Dances during next week’s Behind the Ballet Part Two.
When the young choreographer of London’s The Royal Ballet, Liam Scarlett, arrived at our Miami Beach studios to choreograph his first work for MCB last season, he was warmly welcomed by the smiling face of Principal Jeanette Delgado. From day one, Jeanette and Liam hit it off as great friends; which, lucky for us and our audiences, transpired into an extraordinary artistic collaboration. After watching Jeanette’s performance of Liam’s first work for MCB, Viscera, The New York Times named her “one of the world’s most marvelous ballerinas.” When we learned that Liam would be returning to MCB to create a second world premiere this year, we caught up with Jeanette to capture her excitement about once again working with the internationally acclaimed choreographer and close friend Liam Scarlett.
Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello in Liam Scarlett's Euphotic
“Working with Liam on two ballets now has been en entirely different experience for the company and me. Having a ballet created on us is so essential to our artistic development and makes us feel a part of the choreographic process. Normally, learning a ballet involves working with a répétiteur or watching a video of past performances. When working with a choreographer on an original work, you have no point of reference for how the movement should appear. The choreographer has a vision, but they have never seen it on bodies. The process becomes more of a collaboration, which is very rewarding in the sense that you feel more like an artist, not just a dancer. Liam made such a wonderful impression on all the dancers in and outside of the studios. As a former dancer for The Royal Ballet, he relates to us so easily. He is a beautiful human being and his talent is immense! Euphotic is an entirely different ballet than Viscera. Most of us were already familiar with Liam’s movement and fluid port de bras so he could use the company on a greater scale and go even further with his ideas! It is so exciting to be an inspiration for new works that dance companies may be performing for years to come.”
We are thrilled for tonight’s opening of Program II: Tradition and Innovation. We caught up with some of the dancers before the curtain so that they could share their excitement about the ballets they are performing with you!
Michael Breeden, Corps de Ballet,on George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 — “Dancing to Mozart is what I love most about Divertimento No. 15. Balanchine rarely choreographed to Mozart, but the marriage of these two geniuses in the ballet provides a wonderful experience for audience and dancer alike.”
Tricia Albertson, Principal, on George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 — “I love dancing Divertimento No. 15 because there are so many opportunities to interact with my friends and colleagues. I have at least one special moment with each principal!”
Patricia Delgado,Principal,on George Balanchine’s Duo Concertant — “To be able to share the stage so intimately not only with my wonderful partner Renan, but with with our incredible Pianist and Violinist is what I look forward to most tonight. It is a dream for me to be able to dance this ballet and I can’t wait!”
Renato Penteado, Principal,on Don Quixote Pas de Deux after Marius Petipa — “What I like most about dancing this ballet is that Don Q is a very strong male character with a lot of powerful moments like jumps and turns that are very exciting.”
Jeanette Delgado, Principal, on Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic — “Dancing Euphotic feels like an intimate journey. The movement Liam has created along with the mesmerizing music has taken on a life of its own. I am so excited to share this special work with the audience!”
Sara Esty, Soloist, on Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic — “I cannot believe opening night is here! I thought this day would never come and I can’t wait to show the world our hard work. Being apart of this ballet means the world to me and I’ve loved watching it grow into a masterpiece. Working with Liam has been a dream come true. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we enjoy dancing it!! I’m so excited!”
Alexei Ratmansky, has arrived to revitalize ballet.”
—The New York Times
It was a rigorous but rewarding week at Miami City Ballet’s studios. The renowned choreographer from Russia Alexei Ratmansky visited the company to prepare his work Symphonic Dances for its return to the stage in Program III: The Masters. During his first visit to Miami last season, Ratmansky set out to create a new ballet — using the dancers as instruments that through various movements, formations, musical cues, and emotions would bring his artistic vision to life. After a three whirlwind weeks of artistic creation, Ratmansky gave us Symphonic Dances, which enjoyed a one-night only gala premiere at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
When Ratmansky returned this past week, his mission was entirely different. He was here to fine-tune and perfect his creation, shaping it into the masterpiece he envisioned. ”This time, he is paying attention to the all of the smallest details,” said corps dancer Nathalia Arja who landed a leading role in the ballet. Principal Jeanette Delgado seconded Arja saying that our dancers are being “pushed out of their comfort-zones.” Ratmansky changed dancers’ roles, experimented with different casts, and persistently demanded more out of each unique dancer.
Principal Ballet Mistress Roma Sosenko and Ballet Mistress Joan Latham observed rehearsals and shared the following comments on their experience, “We love having Alexei back in Miami working on Symphonic Dances. He is so committed to the work and we love watching his quality of movement. He is so generous and giving and his coaching is as expansive as his heart.”
We are sure that our dancers’ hard work will pay off when the curtain rises on Symphonic Dances during Program III: The Masters, opening February 22 at Kravis Center, March 1 at Broward Center and March 8 at Adrienne Arsht Center.
Alexei Ratamansky’s Symphonic Dances is made possible in part by the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge.
Below are some photos of our dancers rehearsing Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances.
With the Miami City Ballet School Student Showcase just around the corner, some MCBS alumni are reminiscing about their days at the School. Did you train at MCBS? Share your memories with us by emailing email@example.com and you can end up on our blog!
Don’t miss the ballet stars of tomorrow at Miami City Ballet School Student Showcase – May 18-20.
Post by Jeanette Delgado, MCB Principal Dancer
I came to MCB School at 9 years old and grew up loving and learning all about ballet! I am now a principal dancer with the Company. I wouldn’t be the dancer I am today without the encouraging and nurturing environment that Edward and Linda Villella created at their school! We were part of a family, and it wasn’t until my first class back after a summer program at American Ballet Theatre that I felt nervous it would all change. I was 16 years old and I remember walking into a familiar studio and seeing lots of unfamiliar faces! It was shocking, exciting and nerve wrecking all at the same time. It was the first time a group of students from all over stayed after the summer program to study here for the year! There were some changes — but they were all good! I remember being inspired right away and feeling like I was part of the beginning of something great! Now I realize the best part of that experience was that the place I always loved and felt comfortable at, grew and became more professional without losing the friendly and supportive environment that felt so special!