Baseball All-Star Mike Piazza becomes the Gangster!

Former MLB catcher Mike Piazza visited our studios yesterday for a quick costume fitting and round of rehearsals in preparation for his cameo appearance as the Gangster in George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.  Channeling his Italian heritage and adding a mafiosa twist, Mike turned out to be a natural fit for the role.  Check out his impressive acting skills in this sneak peek video!

Don’t miss Mike Piazza’s ONE NIGHT ONLY performance during Program IV: Broadway and Ballet on Friday, May 3, at the Adrienne Arsht Center!

For more on this baseball all-star and his ballet debut, check out this story by the Associated Press!

Here are some fun pics too!

Mike Piazza got a surprise ballet lesson from principal dancer Patricia Delgado.

Costume Designer & Director Haydee Morales takes down Mike Piazza's measurements.

Our costume/wardrobe team with Mike Piazza and Philip Neal, Répétiteur for George Balanchine Trust (on right).

Lexie Overholt is back on Instagram!

Corps dancer Lexie Overholt returns to Instagram as this week’s guest photographer.  Lexie will capture the company not only preparing for the opening of Program IV: Broadway and Ballet at the Kravis Center, on April 5-7, but also starting rehearsals for George Balanchine’s Serenade, which will hit the stage during our upcoming 2013-2014 season.  Also, look out for some shots of Justin Peck’s newest work CHUTES AND LADDERS, which makes its WORLD PREMIERE at the New World Symphony on April 20.  Don’t miss out on the action by following Lexie #LexieMCBPhotos!

Lexie Overholt

Fun Fact UPDATE: If you think back to the last blog post about Lexie, you may recall that she was in the process of establishing her own nonprofit aimed at engaging dancers as a community in several ways — number one being — to provide scholarships for young dancers. We are excited to announce that Lexie is in the final stages of 501(c)3 approval and the website will launch in the next 30 days. Stay tuned!

Photo © Gio Alma.

Patricia Delgado is back on Instagram!

Principal Patricia Delgado enjoyed guesting on Instagram so much that she is back for her second time this season! Patricia will be snapping shots of the dancers rehearsing Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue as we prepare for our final program of the season Broadway and Ballet.  This weekend, Patricia will also be sharing all of the action at Open Barre: Behind the Curtain, held at our studio theater on Miami Beach. Follow #PatriciaMCBPhotos!

Patricia Delgado

Patricia also told us why she can’t wait to get onstage to perform BOTH of the ballets featured in Program IV: Broadway and Ballet.

Dances at a Gathering and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue are such different ballets on so many levels — for the dancers and for the audience.  Dances is very human and has an enormous amount of subtle details to pay attention to, which makes performing the ballet extra special. Slaughter is a big broadway number that calls for a lot of energy and fun!  I love being able to channel such different parts of myself artistically and technically all in one evening!


Patricia Delgado in Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering

Catch Patricia during Open Barre this weekend and Program IV: Broadway and Ballet (Kravis Center April 5-7, Broward Center Apr. 26-28, Adrienne Arsht Center May 3-5)

Headshot © Gio Alma
Stage shot © Alexandre Dufaur

Tricia’s Q&A

Principal dancer Tricia Albertson answers the questions we all want to know about having roles in both Dances at a Gathering AND Who Cares?.

MCB: Tricia, Program IV is a pretty challenging program for you. You dance the “Yellow Girl” in Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and the “Blue Girl” in George Balanchine’s Who Cares?. What’s it like to be on stage for both ballets as compared to maybe just one of three in a night?

Tricia: When I begin any performance I pace myself, and take one section at a time. In this case, I actually prefer to dance both these roles in the same show. Although Dances at a Gathering requires a lot of stamina, there is enough time between the sections in which I dance that I have time to recover and catch my breath. My role in Who Cares? has so many jumps it could be considered a male variation! It’s necessary to be really warm for it so I’m grateful to have already danced so my blood is flowing.

MCB: The “Yellow Girl” is an amazing girl to watch in Dances at a Gathering because she is so sprightly and carefree. It is clear that this role requires a lot of stamina. How do you find the energy to get through the choreography in not only this ballet, but in both ballets of the night? Do you have a technique that you use?

Tricia: When it comes to stamina, I find that when I revisit a role, it’s always easier. I’m more aware of when to rest, when it’s easiest to breathe. Luckily, I have danced both of these roles in the past. Still, before the show, I will make sure I’m well hydrated and that I eat a good, high-carb, energy sustaining meal. I’ll also eat a snack between the ballets, maybe some nuts or juice. Arnica also helps. Before Who Cares? I’ll eat some homoeopathic arnica tablets. They help sustain my energy and keep me from being too sore the next day.

MCB: Dancers are so different when it comes to performances and pointe shoes. Do you wear the same pointe shoes throughout the whole night or do you wear different ones for each ballet? If you switch, what’s the difference in the shoes for each role?

Tricia: I switch shoes for each ballet, and sometimes I’ll switch shoes in the middle of Dances at a Gathering. The pas de deux I dance with the brick boy, known as The Giggle Dance, has some pointe work in it, so I like to have supportive (newer) shoes. After that, I do a lot of jumping and running, which is much more comfortable to do in softer, more broken-in shoes. In Who Cares?, I try to wear soft shoes that I know will pointe easily. My variation is so long, so difficult, and so tiring that by the end it’s hard to even feel my feet. I have to rely on my shoes to pointe for me!

MCB: After dancing challenging, artistically satisfying roles on an opening night, what’s your pleasure, vino, cerveza, or bubble bath?

Tricia: My real pleasure is a good night’s sleep! However, sometimes it’s hard to relax after the adrenaline rush from performing. If that’s the case, I’ll gladly enjoy a glass of wine or beer and an Epsom salt bath.

MCB: For the most part, audiences don’t realize what a toll on the body dancing is — as dancers are skilled in making movement seem effortless. From the high of opening night to the reality of doing it all over again the following day, how do you get your mind, body, and spirit prepared for the next performance?

Tricia: When I know I have another difficult show the next day, I have an extended, but necessary after-show process. First, I make sure that I eat a huge meal. I drink tonic water to help avoid muscle soreness and speed up my body’s processing of lactic acid. Next, I take a hot Epsom salt bath. This calms me and dulls muscle aches. Then I ice whatever needs icing, usually my feet and Achilles’ tendons. Finally, I rub arnica cream on my Achilles’, feet, and calves, and wrap them in saran wrap to help the arnica penetrate. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

MCB: Do you find it is easier or harder to dance challenging roles at the beginning or end of the season?

Tricia: This is a tough question to answer. In the beginning of the season I feel much more rehearsed for the roles I’m dancing because we are just coming off of a long rehearsal period. Once we get into January, we really have to cram program rehearsals together. Sometimes we go onstage with only two weeks of rehearsal. That may sound like plenty, but it means having only six or seven rehearsals. On the other hand, toward the end of the season, I feel much more in-shape and more comfortable onstage. I don’t get as sore or exhausted. I think part of that is because I’ve gotten into the rhythm of my schedule.

MCB: Final question. In the December/January issue of Pointe Magazine you said, “I am truly a crazy cat lady.” Tell us more.

Tricia: I do love cats. As I said in the Pointe article, cats seem to migrate to me. It’s a sad situation here in Miami Beach with so many stray, unhealthy, homeless and hungry cats. Each year, my boyfriend and I try to catch and spay or neuter as many cats as we can. But, it’s hard to put them back on the street after that. That’s how we’ve ended up with nine of our own!

Tricia Albertson and Yang Zou in Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Alexandre Dufaur.

Girl Talk

Sara Esty, Amanda Weingarten, Callie Manning, Nicole Stalker and Kristin D’Addario gather around the piano to chat about dancing the “five girls” section of Who Cares?.

Don’t miss these “girlfriends” and the rest of Miami City Ballet in the season closer at Adrienne Arsht Center this weekend and at Kravis Center on April 16-18. Click here for more information.

On the other side of the camera

Post by Leigh-Ann Esty

I have been dancing with Miami City Ballet for five seasons. Two of those seasons have been dually dedicated to capturing photographs of the company. This became an interest of mine when I saw a few other company members taking pictures of performances backstage with professional cameras. As a flourishing photographer, I thought it would be cool to expand my skills and take a shot at action photos. I began by purchasing a sports lens for my SLR camera, and started bringing it to work. It was difficult at first, but I soon found my groove. Now, whenever we have a dress rehearsal, I am out in the theater snapping away … that is, when I’m not dancing. Even when I am dancing, every chance I get I sneak out front to take some photos. I find a great deal of importance in what I am doing. As dancers we rarely see photos of ourselves doing what we love, and I think it is important to be able to realize how cool our jobs are! I do have to say I may be cheating a little. You see, I usually know when the exact timing is for the perfect ballet photo. How? I usually know the ballets I am shooting. That’s the beauty of photographing something you are so well trained in!

MCB dancers in Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

MCB dancers in Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

Rolando Sarabia and Patricia Delgado in Who Cares?. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

MCB dancers in Who Cares? Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

Inside the dressing room

Program IV opened at Broward Center on March 12 with much success! Thanks to soloist Callie Manning, we got a sneak peek into one of the dressing rooms as the dancers got ready to perform Dances at a Gathering and Who Cares?. Check out this inside look at the makeup and accessories the ladies of MCB use for performances.

Don’t miss Program IV at Adrienne Arsht Center on April 9-11 and at Kravis Center on April 16-18. Click here for ticket information.

Katia Carranza – The Best of Both Worlds

Katia Carranza, former principal dancer, is back as a guest artist! She splits her time between Ballet de Monterrey (where her husband, former MCB Principal Luis Serrano, is Artistic Director) and Miami City Ballet. You might have seen her heating up the stage during The Neighborhood Ballroom; now, she’s going to perform Dances at a Gathering and Who Cares?. We sat down with her for a chat on what it’s like to dance in two companies and her history with MCB.

Memories and Finales

Post by Principal Dancer Deanna Seay

Like all years, as we get older, this one has flown by, and I can’t believe that we are already opening Program IV. More significantly, I cannot believe that this will be my 21st, and final, Program IV as a full-time member of Miami City Ballet. Each of the four programs that we present carries a particular feeling – the excitement of opening the season with Program I, for example. As Program IV closes the season, it is accompanied by the excitement of the summer, prospects of the coming season, as well as the bittersweet knowledge of knowing that roster changes mean that this will be the last time we all dance together. This last reason, of course, weighs heavily on me as I prepare this Program IV, so it is fitting that these final two ballets are so special to me.

The full Who Cares?, choreographed by George Balanchine to a series of songs by George Gershwin, was one of my early principal roles. Of the three principal women, I was given the jumping variation – a bit of a surprise since I never thought of myself as a “jumper.” Yet the variation was full of things that I could do — big moving sequences with lots of jazzy syncopation. Still, though, it is two minutes of jumping, but singing the lyrics in my head helped me find a dramatic impulse that allowed me to get past the burning muscles and lungs. Building a stairway to paradise is hardly easy work, but the hopeful, bounding combination of steps and music made the process a lot of fun.  My pas de deux, set to the title song, is at the other end of the spectrum — a bit more relaxed and without any sort of technical pyrotechnics. Hearing this music now brings back many years of memories; many different partners, theaters, rehearsals, circumstances, and that is actually what I feel the pas de deux reflects. While “Man I Love,” is the most romantic duet, and “Embraceable You,” highlights young love, “Who Cares?” seems to be a meeting of two old friends — possible former lovers, but maybe not. Regardless, they share a history, and have come together to remember the old times, maybe show off a little. It is a trip down memory lane for them, and in that, for me as well. Who Cares? is most definitely one of the oldest, most faithful of my “ballet friends” and one of the ones I shall miss the most.

The theme of nostalgic memories also carries through to Dances at a Gathering.  Set on the Company in 2005, it was one of my “later” roles, and in a completely different realm from Who Cares?. My particular character, the “Girl in Green,” arrives late, and performs a solo. More mime than dance, her gestures convey a series of movements already executed and delivered with an air of how wonderful everything was. During her second entrance, often referred to as the “Walk Waltz,” she dances, flirts, and flits around the stage, trying so very hard to attract the attention of the men that come and go. Her happy-go-lucky attitude surfaces when, after the last man has left, she shrugs as if to say, “Oh well…life goes on.”

This brings me to the finale. I have never experienced a finale like the one that closes Dances at a Gathering. Alarmingly simple, each dancer walks on stage and takes their place, looking around to observe the other dancers, the atmosphere, the stage. They gather, separate, and mingle, before finally dispersing as the curtain closes. Within all of this simplicity, though, is a moment with which I can’t help but to feel a profound connection. When the central male character kneels and places his hand on the floor, it is as if to indicate that it was here, in this place, that all the dancing happened. Watching him make this gesture, I feel that this moment could also express the gratitude I feel as I acknowledge that it has been here, in all of these theaters and with this Company that all of my dancing has happened.

Deanna Seay in Who Cares? Photo © Steven Caras.