LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Stories from Opening Night – Sara Esty

The next story up on our opening night countdown comes from soloist Sara Esty!

Sara Esty

Sara Esty

I think one of my most memorable opening nights was for Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic. It was not only a world premiere, but it was my first opening night in a principal role that I originated. Standing next to Liam for the bow was an incredible moment that i’ll never forget. He is such a good friend and I’m so proud of all he has accomplished! We both had tears in our eyes. Luckily someone captured the moment…

Sara Esty with Liam Scarlett right after performing the world premiere of Euphotic.

Sara Esty with Liam Scarlett right after performing the world premiere of Euphotic.

Join us on Opening Night, October 18, for Program I: First Ventures to create more lasting memories 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

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.

Liam Scarlett reflects on Euphotic

Following the world premiere of Euphotic, we caught up with “the man of the hour,” Liam Scarlett, to capture his thoughts on the debut of his newest work. Here are some of the proud choreographer’s words from his speech given during MCB’s Artist’s Circle Reception on the opening night of Euphotic.

We hope to see more collaborations with Liam in the future!

Jeanette Delgado dishes on Liam Scarlett!

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.”

Jeanette Delgado in Liam Scarlett's Viscera

There is still time to catch Jeanette’s performance in Liam’s newest work Euphotic, this weekend at the Kravis Center as part of Program II: Tradition and Innovation.

Photos: Euphotic © Daniel Azoulay. Viscera © Kyle Froman.

Jennifer Lauren Guests on Instagram!

After an exciting opening weekend of Program II: Tradition and Innovation, Soloist Jennifer Lauren is taking over our Instagram feed to keep up the momentum for performances at the Broward Center.  Look out for her behind-the-scenes shots (#JenLaurenMCBphotos) and performance in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 and Liam Scarlett’s new work Euphotic.

Jennifer Lauren

Fun fact about Lauren: She comes from a family of artists! Before dancing with MCB, Lauren’s mother made many of her costumes, including the tutu below from Alabama Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. Her father also photographed almost every performance.

Jennifer's mother made this costume!

You can catch Jennifer live during Program II: Tradition and Innovation at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 18-20.  For tickets call our box office at 305.929-7010 or visti miamicityballet.org.

From Paper and Pencil to Costume

When Liam Scarlett — the young, acclaimed choreographer from London’s The Royal Ballet — brought our Costume Designer and Wardrobe Director Haydée Morales his costume design sketches for his new work Euphotic, she knew that she was up to the challenge!

Liam Scarlett's costume design sketch

The first step in bringing Scarlett’s vision to life was helping him determine the full color palette and types of fabrics that were aesthetically appealing, yet allowed the dancers to move freely.  Scarlett wanted the costume hues to include dark blue for the corps dancers, radiant yellow for the principals, and a combination of yellow and blue for the soloists to tie the piece together.  He also wanted the costumes to depict the ombré effect, which shows the consistent gradient of a color from its lightest shade to its darkest.

Fabric and color palette

Determining the color gradient

To determine the exact tones of the ombré, Costume Artist Maria Morales tested how various colors of dye displayed against the three types of fabric used in Scarlett’s piece.  For two weeks, Maria consistently performed dye work for all of the fabric used in the ballet’s costumes.  Using three pots full of different colors of dye and hot boiling water, she created beautiful ombrés for each woman’s skirt, man’s unitard, and a small detailed section on each woman’s bodice — dyeing a total of 62 pieces of fabric!

Maria dyeing fabric

While Maria was busy with dye work, the rest of the team worked on sewing the costumes.  The first step in the costume construction process was creating muslins, which are the inner piece of the bodice used for the first costume fitting, so that any necessary alterations will not affect the final fabric used on the exterior of the costume.  The seamstresses also built the mens unitards, which were sewn in two parts — the top half and the bottom half — and then dyed as separate parts to achieve a contrast of dark and light tones near the torso of the costume.

Mens unitards

Principal ladies bodice

After assembling the costumes, a second round of fittings and a dress rehearsal with the dancers rehearsing the ballet in full costume helped Haydeé determine if the costumes fit and moved properly.  A final round of fittings then took place to take care of the subtle details such as, adjusting shoulder straps or the length of the skirt.  Once Haydeé and her team completed these finishing components the costumes were ready for the stage!

See what the final costume looks like in motion during the world premiere of Euphotic during Program II: Tradition and Innovation

Rebecca King Makes History on Instagram!

This week’s guest photographer on Instagram is no other than corps dancer Rebecca King!  Rebecca will be capturing an important piece of dance history as Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic makes its world premiere debut on Friday, January 11.  From rehearsals in our studios, to the dressing rooms, to the stage, Rebecca will make sure that no one misses out on the exciting action this week!

© Gio Alma

Fun fact about Rebecca: She has her own blog! Check it out by clicking here!

Sneak Peek at Liam Scarlett’s Newest Work!

Liam Scarlett of London’s The Royal Ballet gives us the inside scoop on Euphotic — his second world premiere for Miami City Ballet to debut on January 11 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, FL, as part of Program II: Tradition and Innovation.

Sara Esty is back on Instagram!

Soloist Sara Esty returns from the holidays to take over our Instagram feed this week!  As one of the leading ladies in Liam Scarlett’s new work Euphotic, Sara will catch Liam making his final preparations on the ballet when he returns to Miami tomorrow before his big world premiere on January 11 at the Arsht Center.

© Gio Alma

Can anyone remember Sara’s fun fact?  She is a social media guru and Instagram pro! Follow her on Twitter @estygrl!

Here is a shot of Sara rehearsing with Liam Scarlett!

© Daniel Azoulay

Naming a World Premiere

Liam Scarlett discusses the challenges of naming a ballet and reveals the title of his newest work for Miami City Ballet.  See it during Program II: Tradition and Innovation.