LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

A Ballet Homecoming

Gerard Ebitz joined Miami City Ballet as an original member of the Company in 1986. Twenty seven years later, he has returned to the MCB family as a teacher at MCB School. We asked Gerard about his ballet homecoming and what exciting endeavors he is partaking in at MCB School.

Gerry teaching MCB School students choreography for his new work.

Gerard working with MCB School students.

MCB: When did you first join Miami City Ballet and how long did you dance here? 

Gerard: I was a founding member of Miami City Ballet and I performed with the company for the first two years.

MCB: Is there a favorite performance memory you have from MCB?

Gerard: I have several fond memories from those years. Not only did I get to revisit roles that I had danced with the Zurich Opera Ballet, such a the leads in Allegro Brilliant and Valse Fantasie, but I was also given the opportunity to dance other wonderful Balanchine Ballets that included the principal roles in the Donizetti Variations and Square Dance. Perhaps, one of the most rewarding moments for me with Miami City Ballet was to portray the role of the Father in Prodigal Son with Yanis Pikeris as the son and Kay Preston as the Siren. Having spent eight years in New York City Ballet, I had always admired the powerful simplicity that Shaun O’Brien brought to the role of the Father and it was a great challenge to try and capture his interpretation. Having seen the ballet from the early 70’s, I believe, Yanis was one of the greatest Sons to have ever have danced this role.  

Gerard in Prodigal Son, Miami City Ballet, 1986

Gerard in Prodigal Son, Miami City Ballet, 1986

MCB: After MCB, where else did you dance? How many years were you away from MCB before returning? 

Gerard: After leaving Miami City Ballet, I worked with Ballet Randolph, a local modern dance company, under the direction of Randolph Parrott. Not only was I given the opportunity to work with an amazing group of talented dancers, Randy also gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore my own ideas in choreography. Due to his illness, I eventually became the director of Ballet Randolph in addition to teaching and choreographing at the New World School of the Arts. So twenty–five years after leaving Miami City Ballet, I have crossed the bay and returned!

MCB: How does it feel to be back at Miami City Ballet?

Gerard: It is an honor to be working for Lourdes Lopez and Darleen Callaghan, two women who I greatly admire, and no doubt will take this company and this school to the next level. When I left MCB, we were working in a two studio store front on Lincoln Road and now, thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of numerous, dancers, administrators, and patrons over all these many years, this company and school are primed to take the dance world by storm. To train the next generation of dancers here at Miami City Ballet and at the New World School of the Arts, is both incredibly rewarding and bittersweet. To observe the progress of a dancer, is by far more interesting than watching a young dancer who is complacent with solid technique. If a dancer is open to correction and willing to leave their comfort zone, then you know good things will happen. I also know that it is so much harder for them to find employment than it was for my generation. The competition is so much greater and the jobs are less abundant.

Gerard teaching MCB School students choreography for his new ballet.

Gerard teaching MCB School students choreography for his new ballet.

MCB: Right now you are creating an original work on MCB School students. What is the piece about? How have the students inspired you? 

Gerard: The piece is called Sunshine State, with music by John Adams and costume design by Haydee Morales. I am a huge fan of the music of John Adams. His music always seems to take me somewhere. Since we live in Florida, I gave each section of the piece, a working title of a road or artery in South Florida. The piece is abstract but with human elements. The sections are called: Bayshore, Tamiami, Ocean, Flagler, and I-95. The students have been truly wonderful in this process, with varied schedules, of performances, auditions and academics. Most have come to each rehearsal, clearly processing work from a previous rehearsal and willing to teach their alternates information that was missed. Tools that will serve them well in their professional life. I always want the dancers to be part of the creative process. I enjoy when different casts bring something different to the same role. This was hard for some of them who wanted to be told exactly what to do. Others jumped at the opportunity to problem solve and take chances, these will be the ones who will be our next generation of choreographers.

MCB: Where and when will the students be performing your work? 

Gerard: We will be presenting a preview/excerpt at the Gusman Theater on April 3rd as guests of the National High School Dance Festival. The full work will have two performances on the Pre-Professional Division Concert here at Miami City Ballet on May 2 and 3rd.

Moving on up!

With Company promotions announced last week, we are thrilled to welcome two Miami City Ballet School (MCB School) students who have been invited to join Miami City Ballet for our 2014-2015 Season. We extend a big congratulations to students Ellen Grocki and Alex Manning for becoming official members of the Company! Learn about these dancers and their reactions to the exciting news below!

WELCOME TO MCB ELLEN GROCKI!

Ellen Grocki

Ellen Grocki in the 2013 MCB School Student Workshop performance.

I’m a small town girl from good old Damascus, Maryland and started ballet when I was three years old. I trained under Florence Gardner for six years in Damascus, and then under Patricia Berrend at Berrend Dance Center in Olney, Maryland for seven years. In the summer of 2012, at age 16, I attended the Miami City Ballet School Summer Intensive. It is so funny to think back to the first time I danced in these studios, and how nervous and inexperienced I was. That summer truly made an impact on me, and I was ecstatic when I was offered an invitation to stay at MCB School for the winter term. Somehow, my mom let me go, and I had an incredible year with the school. I had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker with the company that year, and that was when I really fell in love with Miami City Ballet. Being in those rehearsals and getting the chance to dance onstage alongside such exquisite dancers made it clear to me that I wanted nothing more than to be a part of this Company. Currently, this is my second year at MCB School and my first year as a Student Apprentice with the Company.

The day I was promoted was a normal Thursday, like any other. I was getting ready for class at the studios when I was told that our school director Ms. Callaghan wanted to speak to me. I walked into her office, completely oblivious to what was about to happen, and the first thing she said was, “Ellen, I have good news.” Now, for the past two years, every day before dance class, I would say to myself, “You are the newest member of Miami City Ballet,” to try to encourage myself to keep working harder. Then in that moment, when Ms. Callaghan finally said those words out loud, it didn’t seem real. I skipped all the way down the hallway to the last studio surrounded by windows and just danced and jumped around by myself. I called my family and we were all crying. Then I hopped right back into modern class, knowing that I was one step closer to achieving my dreams. Everyone in the company has made me feel so incredibly welcome as a new member of the corps de ballet. I cannot wait for all that the upcoming season holds, and I am so excited to be a part of it. 
-Ellen

WELCOME TO MCB ALEX MANNING!

Alex Manning performing 'Sleeping Beauty' at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Alex Manning performing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

I am from State College, Pennsylvania. I first trained at a small school there called the Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania. When I was 13, I went to the Walnut Hill School for the Arts for my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school. Then, I moved to a small apartment in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with my mom and sister to attend the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. While at CPYB, I also studied privately with Laszlo Berdo and Leslie Hench. Last year, I auditioned for Miami City Ballet and was offered a Student Apprenticeship with MCB School. This was my first and only year here at MCB School.

Last Friday, I had a meeting scheduled with Ms. Callaghan, the school director, before class in the morning. I remember not sleeping for the whole night, and in the back of my mind I was not feeling very positive. I kept seeing talented male dancers come in to audition and thought I was just too inexperienced to be hired this year. But when I walked in to see Ms. Callaghan, she sat me down and immediately told me, “Congratulations! Ms. Lopez would like to offer you a contract.” I didn’t even know what to say. I was so shocked! I immediately hugged Ms. Callaghan and almost started crying in her arms. Then I asked, “Is that all?” And she laughed and told me “that’s it!” So I ran out to call my friends, parents and teachers. I was so thankful that all of those years of hard work with those special people helping me along the way had paid off. And I’m so proud that this all happened here at Miami City Ballet!
-Alex

Audience members will have the opportunity to see Ellen and Alex perform with both the Company and MCB School before our 2013-2014 Season comes to an end. Catch them during MCB School’s Student Choreography Showcase on April 26th and the Miami City Ballet Ensemble performances on May 2-3 — both at in-house studio theater in Miami Beach. Or, see them on the mainstage during our season finale of Don Quixote and when our 2014-2015 Season opens in October!

Check out the Company promotions here!

 

Thank YOU for supporting MCB School on GIVE MIAMI DAY!

Thanks to the generosity of YOU and The Miami Foundation, we raised $3,175 on Give Miami Day. MCB School student Capriana shares how your support of MCB School scholarships will continue to provide opportunities for she and other students to pursue their dreams!

Capriana

Capriana

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for dance! Since I was nine, I would dance every summer. Last year, I decided to enroll in the Miami City Ballet School 2013 summer intensive — it was love at first sight! I loved my teachers, classmates, and not to mention, the training! This particular summer intensive exposed me to many different technique styles and instructors. I especially loved that all my teachers took the time and effort to work with everyone individually. I also enjoyed that it offered such a culturally diverse group of people. I made many new friends that I’ll always keep in touch with. After my wonderful experience, I just knew I had to attend year round program! When Mrs. Callaghan told me that I was accepted into the year round program, I was ecstatic! Immediately after I found out the great news I called my mom to let her know! The best part though, was when I discovered that I had also received a partial scholarship. The scholarship support enabled me to be taught the best training offered in Miami. Going here has made my dream become a reality!

Capriana training at MCB School.

Capriana training at MCB School.

Make Dreams Come True on Give Miami Day!

Tomorrow is Give Miami Day! Make sure to visit GiveMiamiDay.com to help us raise money for  scholarships at MCB School. Below, MCB School student Michael Holden shares how scholarship support has made the difference in his development as a professional dancer!

TOMORROW:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

Michael Holden

Michael Holden

My name is Michael Holden and I am from Falmouth Maine, which is a small suburb of Portland, Maine. I started dancing at the age of 3 in a little ballet/tap “combo” class. I  worked my way up through the school into the attached company — the Maine State Ballet. I had heard of Miami City Ballet from two Maine State Ballet alumni — the Esty twins. I wanted to experience a larger school with new teachers and a different atmosphere to work and enhance my technique. My mom and I came down to Miami to audition to see everything in person — it was awe-inspiring. Right before I boarded the plane to return to Maine, I checked my email one more time. I was accepted to the school and could not have been happier. Along with receiving the acceptance, I also received a scholarship, which made it all the more exciting. Having a scholarship means the world to me because ballet is my world! Without a scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to further the art and fulfill my passion. When Donors invest in us dancers, we are able to dedicate ourselves fully to training in the school. We then as professional dancers in the company are able to give back by performing, showing culture, and most importantly, doing what we love.

Michael taking company class with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez.

Michael taking company class with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez. Follow Michael on Instagram @obviouslyme.

How YOU make dreams come true!

We are days away from Give Miami Day! This year, we are raising money to support scholarships at MCB School. Below, MCB School student Victoria Huaroto shares how scholarship support has fueled her ambitions to become a professional ballet dancer.

On Wednesday, November 20:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

Victoria rehearsing 'Sleeping Beauty' at MCB School.

Victoria rehearsing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at MCB School.

Joining a ballet company has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl, and now training at the Miami City Ballet is enabling me to reach my dreams. I remember watching Miami City Ballet perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ in Naples, FL, where I have lived since I was one. I told my parents that one day, that would be me up on stage dancing. The next year, I auditioned for The Nutcracker with MCB and have performed in their Nutcracker for the past seven years. During this time, I fell in love with this company; the dancers, their repertoire and the directors. I have participated in the MCB School summer intensive for the past two years, and this past summer I was invited to stay year-round at the prestigious school.

I remember trying to contain my excitement upon hearing the news, and also discovering that I had received partial scholarship was exhilarating. I could not give up this amazing opportunity to learn from some of the most incredible teachers and work in such an enjoyable atmosphere. Training at MCB School isn’t just about perfecting our technique, but learning how to have stage presence as well as stage craft. I can’t imagine not dancing with MCB School, and due to the scholarship support, I have been able to  get one step closer to making my dream a reality.

Victoria performing at the Youth American Grand Prix competition before she joined MCB School.

Victoria performing at the Youth American Grand Prix competition before she joined MCB School.

Your gift can make the difference in helping several young dancers achieve their dreams!

Make your gift count on Give Miami Day!

Counting Down to GIVE MIAMI DAY!

We are officially ONE WEEK AWAY from Give Miami Day! Give Miami Day is a unique, 24-hour online giving event that allows individuals in our community an opportunity to build a greater Miami by making a charitable gift to a local nonprofit. Every donation between $25 and $10,000 received through GiveMiamiDay.org on Give Miami Day will have a percentage of it matched by The Miami Foundation.

On Wednesday, November 20:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

This year, funds raised on Give Miami Day will support scholarships at MCB School!  Check out this video to see why scholarships are so important to our students.

Meet our new dancers!

Our next new dancer comes to us straight from Miami City Ballet School! Meet corps de ballet dancer Sarah McCahill!

Sarah McCahill

MCB: Where are you from?
Sarah: Harwinton, CT.
MCB: At which dance schools did you train before coming to MCB?
Sarah:  Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, Albano Ballet and Miami City Ballet School.

Sarah practicing for her first MCB School Student Workshop Performance with student Elias Baseman.

MCB: Describe your perfect day.
Sarah: To win the Powerball!!!!!!!!!
MCB: Proudest moment?
Sarah: When Lourdes [Lopez] informed me I would be a part of Miami City Ballet’s Corps de Ballet for this season!
MCB: Wildest dream?
Sarah: To go skydiving with the love of my life ( haven’t met him yet…).
MCB: Indulgence?
Sarah: Tres leches cake, REAL ice cream, pancakes, cupcakes, sleeping in…I have a lot.
MCB: Inspiration?
Sarah: Happy people, Sylvie Guillem, and Svetlana Zakharova.
MCB: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
Sarah: My rock — my little sister, Kelley.
MCB: Most unforgettable onstage moment?
Sarah: The first time I fell flat on my face performing the lead in Le Sylphide within the first five minutes of being onstage.
MCB: Dream Role?
Sarah: Black Swan, no doubt.

Rehearsing William Forsythe's 'In the Middle Somewhat Elevated.' Sarah admits, "I will always be proud to have had the opportunity and the rights to perform!"

MCB: Why Miami City Ballet?
Sarah: When I was 13 I told my mother I was going to dance with Miami City Ballet someday (I don’t remember this but she does). She helped me to fulfill this dream by taking the first step and setting up my audition for their summer program. I guess it was fate and a lot of hard work but I finally got in!

See Sarah onstage at the Arsht Center when our 2013-2014 Season opens on October 18!

Summer Dance Diary: Week FIVE

Although MCB School’s 5-week Summer Intensive Program has ended, it appears that another student left his diary behind! Watch to see student Michael Holden wrap up the Summer Dance Diary series in this final diary entry. Hope you enjoyed the series!

Summer Dance Diary: Week FOUR

Student McKenna Collins writes about her fourth week at MCB School’s Summer Intensive Dance Program in this week’s Summer Dance Diary!

McKenna Collins

Dear Diary,

We have just completed the fourth week of classes at Miami City Ballet (MCB) School’s 2013 Summer Intensive Program and I’m feeling very accomplished and inspired!

Coming into this program as an Apprentice with Madison Ballet in Madison, Wisconsin, I was eager to begin learning from such a renowned school. After having finished the fourth week, it is clear to me as to why it is one of the best schools in the country. From the spacious facilities to the worldly teaching staff, this program has been an incredible learning and growing experience…and it’s not even over yet!

This is my first summer with Miami City Ballet as well as my first time in Miami. Coming from a state where you can drive for miles and only see fields of corn and lots of cows, it’s a very different atmosphere here in the city! From the moment I stepped into the beautiful studios just off of South Beach and met all of my wonderful teachers, I knew this would be a great summer.

The Ladies of Level III!

Having participated in various summer intensives, such as Ballet Chicago, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, I was looking forward to continuing my Balanchine training here at MCB School. We have been covering a wide range of styles from classical to neoclassical, and learning from some of the most experienced dancers in the world. But, with experience comes expectation! Week four has been the toughest of them all so far.  The teachers are really challenging us to perform at our highest level possible every day and to strive for more in every class. It’s that kind of support and encouragement that motivates me to work hard and be the best that I can be!

One of my favorite parts of MCB School’s Summer Intensive Program is the amazing faculty that we have had the privilege of studying under! Each of them is so accomplished and gifted — it is humbling to be able to take class and receive corrections from them. Something that I have noticed in most of my classes here is the emphasis the teachers put not only on making each movement technically correct, but also on dancing the movements. Being in such a prestigious environment has motivated me and fueled my passion for dance even more!

McKenna working hard in the beautiful South Beach studios!

As the weeks progress, so has our repertory piece come together. It’s an honor to have Ms. Maribel Modrono as our Repertoire choreographer. She has set a beautiful neoclassical contemporary ballet piece on our level, which we are very excited to perform in just 6 days. She is so creative and passionate about what she does — it is truly inspiring to learn from her!

After a long day of rehearsals, my roommate and I love nothing more than being able to walk right out the doors and on to the beach! We spend our free time shopping on Lincoln Road, trying new foods and of course, soaking up the sun. Celebrating my birthday here was also a once in a lifetime treat.

Relaxing after HOURS of dance class!

Overall, MCB School’s Summer Intensive Program has been an eye opening journey for me that I will never forget. The friends I have made here I will cherish forever. The corrections I have received I will take back home with me and continue to perfect. I have grown as not only a dancer, but also as a young woman here this summer and had the experience of a lifetime!

Yours truly,

McKenna Collins

Summer Dance Diary: Week ONE

Sneak a peek at Miami City Ballet School’s Summer Dance Diary…but, make sure you don’t get caught! Student Alexandra D’Alessandro shares her insights on her first week of MCB School’s Summer Intensive Program in our first VIDEO diary entry of the series.