LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

A Creative Exchange of Music and Dance

After visiting a rehearsal at Miami City Ballet studios, New World Symphony (NWS) fellows began meeting regularly with a group of our dancers to examine the relationship between sound and movement, resulting in a creative exchange between the talented young artists. Corps de ballet dancer Michael Breeden explains how this organic relationship will materialize onstage in the very near future!

Michael Breeden

Michael Breeden

Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony have long been the two pillars of Miami’s arts world, attracting acclaim from audiences and critics alike. The dancers and musicians work in the same neighborhood, frequent each other’s performances, and have always expressed how wonderful it would be to work together. After decades as South Florida’s premier arts organizations, it is with great excitement that we prepare for our first full-evening performance together on March 18th — a creative exchange between the dancers of Miami City Ballet and the fellows of New World Symphony.

The two organizations agreed that New World Symphony’s free Inside the Music program would be an ideal outlet for featuring the creativity of the dancers and the musicians. Soon, a small group of artists from each organization were brainstorming on programming, the evening’s format, and the myriad other decisions that go into bringing an evening of music and dance to life. The musicians suggested works they wanted to play, dancers stepped up to choreograph, and we began to work feverishly at putting together a performance almost entirely in our spare time.

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Adriana Pierce and Leigh-Ann Esty work on a rehearsal schedule for the dancers and musicians.

Adriana Pierce and Leigh-Ann Esty work on a rehearsal schedule for the dancers and musicians.

Even though both the musicians and dancers are extremely busy with their individual seasons, an opportunity like this simply couldn’t be passed up. As the performance date approaches and the final touches come together, the excitement among the dancers is palpable. This is an event Miami arts lovers will not want to miss, as well as the beginning of a long and fruitful artistic relationship!

-Michael

NWS fellows sitting in on company class.

NWS fellows sitting in on company class.

Inside the Music on March 18 will feature nearly 30 of our dancers, seven of whom — Renan Cerdeiro, Leigh-Ann Esty, Sara Esty, Adriana Pierce, Ariel Rose, Eric Trope and Zoe Zien — will debut original choreography created specifically for the event! More details and information on the performance here!

Meet the Toy Soldier!

In the first act of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, Uncle Drosselmeyer reveals three large gifts. Watch our latest video to find out what’s inside!

Get your tickets soon to America’s #1 Holiday Spectacular! CLICK HERE

Adrienne Arsht Center: Dec. 19-24
Kravis Center: Dec. 27-30
Broward Center: Jan. 3-5

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.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We are feeling the ROMANCE at Miami City Ballet! In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we caught up with dancers Michael Breeden, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, and  Patricia Delgado to learn about their favorite ballet LOVE stories.  Here is what they had to say!

Michael Breeden, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Patricia Delgado

Michael Breeden, Corps de Ballet – My favorite ballet love story is La Sonnambula. Tragic love stories always have major issues separating their leads, like a curse or feuding families, but in Sonnambula, your heroine is literally in another state of consciousness, unable to fully grasp the poet before her. It’s immensely sad, and the ending where she carries him off into eternity is heartwrenching. Not exactly an uplifting Valentine’s Day story, but beautiful nonetheless!

Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra in Balanchine's La Sonnambula

Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Principal – My favorite ballet love story is Romeo and Juliet. It is so incredibly romantic – they fall in love at first sight, risk everything to be together, are so deeply bound that they can’t bear to live without one another, and eventually sacrifice their lives for each other. I think it’s ultimately the deepest, most profound and tragic love story there is.

Patricia Delgado, Principal – My favorite ballet love story is Romeo and Juliet.  It has always been a favorite of mine to watch.  But when I got the opportunity to dance Juliet when Miami City Ballet did Cranko’s version a couple years ago, it touched my heart even more!  The ballet takes you on a journey through so many aspects of love; innocent and naive love at first sight, painful and passionate love, tragic love and in the end sadness, with a glimmer of hope that true love never dies!  I will treasure that experience forever!

Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg in Cranko's Romeo and Juliet

Photos: Dancer Headshots © Gio Alma. La Sonnombula and Romeo and Juliet © Kyle Froman.

From Our Dancers to You on Opening Night!

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

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

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

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

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.”

Mary Carmen Catoya

Mary Carmen Catoya

Mary Carmen Catoya, Principal, on Don Quixote Pas de Deux after Marius Petipa “When I dance Don Quixote I feel like I’m connected to my spanish family — I can feel it in my blood.”

Jeanette Delgado

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

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!”

No Place Like Home

Post by Michael Sean Breeden, Corps de Ballet

When I joined Miami City Ballet in 2006, I was overwhelmed by the embarrassment of artistic riches before me. I was trained at the School of American Ballet, where my fellow students and I would obsessively watch videos of Farrell, McBride, Martins and Villella, longing to be a part of that era. I didn’t know until I came to this company that the vibrancy, musicality and beauty of those dancers and the wonderful ballets was still so vividly alive. MCB was dancing the most sophisticated repertoire with the utmost respect to the wishes of the choreographers whilst imbuing it with their own sense of daring, rhythm and joy.

Making the decision to leave all this to work for another company last season was one of the most difficult I have ever made. After just a brief time away, however, I found making the decision to come back to be one of the easiest I have ever made.

Being away from Miami City Ballet gave me fresh perspective and appreciation for everything we do in this company. I realized that the qualities I thought to be great in this company are also unique to it. There are some things that no audience member will ever really know; our willingness to help and cooperate with one another to achieve the best artistic product, the comradery among the dancers, the extra care and time we spend learning the history of the ballets, seeking extra information that might enhance our performance. But there are the many, many things which our audience is privy to every evening MCB takes the stage; the richness and quality of movement, the speed and musicality, the detail and nuance that each performer in our company brings to their roles.

Last year I was fortunate enough to be brought back to MCB as a guest in the pas de trois of Ballet Imperial. The experience of performing the ballet was wonderful in all the ways that performing a great ballet with your closest friends promises to be, but it was watching the ballet from the front on my show off that was the more revealing experience.

I could have picked out any one of the 24-strong corps de ballet to watch for the duration of the ballet and it would have been wholly satisfying. Yet, watching them all together, immersing themselves in Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music and Balanchine’s pristine and elegant steps, took me to a place I have never experienced in live theater. Leading the charge was Jeanette Delgado, in her debut in the role, energizing the corps de ballet and setting fire to the famously virtuosic and tricky steps. Famed dance critic Arlene Croce was also in the audience and she told me that, having seen many of the ballet’s performances in its more than 60 year history, she thought this to be the definitive performance of its entire existence.

After all those years wishing I could have been dancing in an era long gone, it was watching this performance that I finally gave in. The only time I want to be dancing in is the present, with this company, alongside my wonderful friends and peers.

There is a wonderful season ahead of us that I can’t wait for our audience to see. Les Patineurs challenges its dancers with stamina-pushing classicism, Piazzolla Caldera promises to showcase the individuality and versatility of our company and Apollo is classic Balanchine that MCB can pull off like no other company. Having now witnessed their magic for myself, I’m so grateful to be back dancing with these incredible artists. I know that the transcendent experience I had watching Ballet Imperial is a gift the company will be giving again and again throughout this year.

Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

Program I: Fire and Ice will be performed at Broward Center on October 26-28, and on November 30 – December 2 at Kravis Center. Click here for more information.

Meet the Dancers – Michael Sean Breeden

Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Leigh-Ann Esty

With fellow dancers Ezra Hurwitz and Neil Marshall by the London Eye.

Michael’s summer update

Post by Michael Sean Breeden

The layoff period between seasons is a much-needed time in a dancer’s life. We are able to sit back and reflect on the past season now that the demands of performing are over. Best of all, perhaps, the time off allows us to take vacations that will leave us refreshed and mentally ready to come back for another season.

For the second consecutive year, myself and fellow corps de ballet members Ezra Hurwitz and Neil Marshall have embarked on an extensive European vacation. We began in London, went to Paris and then on to the Cote D’Azur and Provence in the south of France and are presently in Barcelona. One great thing (among the many) about being on vacation in Europe is that it is so rich in art and steeped in its long-held traditions. We often miss out on other art during the season due to our hectic schedule and there is no better time to get our fix than during the layoff.

In addition to seeing major sights, we’ve been spending hours in many, many museums — small and large — with art work ranging from the Renaissance to Surrealism. We wandered through Monet’s gardens and had new-found appreciation for his work when we later saw it in various museums. We stopped in at Dali’s bizarre and stunning house in Figueres, Spain, full of huge-scale works that have impeccable attention to detail. Presently, we’ve been running through Barcelona taking in all the revolutionary Gaudi architecture that seems light years ahead of its time, or any time really.

While architecture and painting are art forms that differ very greatly from ballet, one can still learn much through appreciation. The skill and dedication necessary to have created these masterworks is more than admirable and these are lessons than can be applied to any trade.

We did, however, find time to go to the ballet. In London, we saw the Royal Ballet perform a mixed bill of contemporary and new works. Even though they were working with new choreography, one can still see the great English training and style vividly in almost all of the dancers. It is especially fascinating because it is an almost 180-degree difference in style from the way we dance at Miami City Ballet. They are all about elegant placement and soft poetry whereas we love physical strength, attack and freedom of movement. Even the musicality is different. They often ‘coast’ through the music, gently dancing along the surface of it, while the Balanchinean way is to directly inhabit and reflect it.

Before we jetted off to Europe, I also had the chance to see the New York City Ballet gala, an evening of two premieres by Benjamin Millepied and Alexei Ratmansky. Having worked with Benjamin for my SAB (School of American Ballet) workshop and gone to school with two of the ballet’s principals and many of its corps, it was a particular pleasure to see how much all these artists had grown. While it is nearly impossible to keep up with your peers during the season, it is always wonderful during layoff to see what directions their careers have taken.

While I am sad that my trip is coming to an end, and I’ve enjoyed experiencing the arts and cultures of several different countries, I always come out of a layoff looking forward to coming back to class and rehearsals. This trip has left me feeling refreshed, invigorated and ready to be back in the studio.

With Ezra and Neil at Notre Dame

On a boat ride in Cote D'Azur

Pont du Gard in France

Neil enjoying the view

Awaiting Open Barre

Leigh-Ann Esty got her hands on the Flip camera once again and headed straight into the studios for some thoughts on Open Barre. What are you looking forward to seeing during Open Barre 2?

Friday and Saturday nights are sold out, but you can still attend the Saturday afternoon performance at 2 p.m. Don’t miss it!

Enraptured in two major Balanchine roles

Post by Michael Sean Breeden

When I was a young dancer at the School of American Ballet, I became enraptured with the world of Balanchine. I had always known that it was music that made me want to dance, but the steps in his ballets seemed to pour forth directly from the music in ways that sparked my imagination like never before. Each new ballet I saw or learned revealed different facets of his genius to me. I knew that I wanted to make dancing these ballets my life.

The majority of the repertoire we dance at Miami City Ballet is George Balanchine’s work and being in this Company has given me many wonderful opportunities to dance corps and demi-soloist roles in his ballets. In ballets like “Diamonds” and Square Dance there is nothing like sharing the greatness of the stage, music and choreography with your peers who, in this Company, we are lucky to say are also our closest friends. While I have relished these opportunities, I was very excited to have the chance to perform two major roles in ballets by Balanchine done in Program II: Divertimento No. 15 and Valse Fantaisie (1953).

Divertimento No. 15 is a Balanchine classic danced by many companies around the world, and the only major work he ever made to music by Mozart. Balanchine said it was the greatest divertimento ever written and he paid homage to Mozart by accompanying it with some of his finest choreography. The ballet is a classical dancer’s dream, with each step perfectly blending Balanchine’s own choreographic innovations with tributes to past masterwork by Petipa. After navigating through typical opening weekend jitters, I find myself presently comfortable enough to find ways to make each show unique. Trying to fill the music differently or find new moments to relate to your partners onstage is a wonderful way to make the ballet come alive for you and the audience. Getting to perform a lead role in a classic like “Divert”, as the dancers call the ballet, is one of the most rewarding onstage experiences I have had yet.

While “Divert” is a revered classic, the 1953 version of Valse Fantaisie we perform is a gem that is little seen and would be all but extinct if it were not for Miami City Ballet. Having danced the 1967 version of Valse Fantaisie as a member of Boston Ballet II, it has been a particularly interesting experience for me to perform the earlier version. While both have many merits, they are similar only in sweep and lightness; little links the two choreographically. Being able to compare two very different perspectives by George Balanchine on a single piece of music has proven fascinating.

Both ballets have provided me with great challenges and pleasures. “Divert” is a masterful exercise in classical simplicity and elegance, while Valse Fantaisie (1953) challenges its dancer’s stamina and requires them to devour space. While it is bittersweet to be nearing my final performances of these ballets, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope that one day I will find myself performing in them once more.

Michael Sean Breeden and Tricia Albertson in Divertimento No. 15. Choreography by George Balanchine. Copyright The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Sayre Berman of the Miami New Times.

Don’t miss your final chance to see Michael in Program II this weekend.