A Look Back at 2011 With Tricia Albertson

Post by Tricia Albertson, Principal Dancer

Oh, 2011, what a whirlwind of a year! There was no time to reflect, barely time to rehearse, yet, for me, just enough time for some of the most exciting and gratifying of MCB experiences.  The standouts for me were three particular ballets and one mind-blowing month in Paris.

Having danced for MCB for almost 14 years, I have performed most of our repertoire.  In my very first season we performed Scotch Symphony; I was second-cast of the corps.  I remember watching Deanna Seay rehearse the Sylph-like principal and admiring her lyricism and control as she rolled through her beautiful feet in the romantic pas de deux, and then fly around in the 3rd movement in some of Balanchine’s most bravura dancing. It was a role I had loved to watch from the corps. As a soloist, I imagined dancing many roles, but never the Sylph in Scotch Symphony; I never thought I suited the role.  Then, in 2011, I was privileged to dance the Sylph, and was forced to move outside of my comfort zone.  I felt so lucky for the chance to grow.

Then, there was Promethean Fire.  I always find myself having the most fun in Paul Taylor works.  He’s a genius with a sense of whimsy and a musicality that I appreciate.  When I found out Patrick Corbin was coming to stage Promethean I desperately wanted to be in it.  Patrick is one of the very best to work with.  He loves dance, and has a deep sense of the artistry beyond mere technique.  The central pas de deux that I ended up dancing is slow, dramatic, and weighty, the opposite of what I’m typically cast to dance.   As it was originally choreographed on Patrick, he shared with us every intricate detail and idea behind each step.  On a personal level, he helped me explore a new way of moving, in a non-balletic language, and his positive feedback gave me the courage to be less hesitant and to really go for things.  I cherished every show of that work.

When I was 12, NYCB had a Balanchine Celebration on PBS.  My mom taped it and I think I watched it everyday after school for about a year.  The pas de deux in Theme and Variations had such an impact on me.  It was a powerful awakening.  The musicality spoke to me.  It was like no other steps could be put to that music.  When I joined MCB, Theme was just being staged here.  I danced the corps, and later danced one of the four soloists.  When I was called to learn Theme principal last season, I nearly cried!  Theme and Variations, one of the most historically challenging and frightening ballets ever!  Then, I thought about when I was 12 staring at the TV in awe of this magic in front of me and felt in some way that my life in ballet, my dreams of ballet had come full circle.  I got to dance to that music and to dance those steps that belong to that music; I got to be that ballerina.

When I first found out we were definitely going to Paris I thought, “Oh boy, we might be in trouble!”  The Paris audience is known to be tough.  If they don’t like something, they let you know it.  The Paris audience has somewhat been exposed to Balanchine, though not necessarily to the way we do it.  Also, just the thought of the workload, 14 ballets in 17 shows was, overwhelming.  I convinced myself that the best part of this journey would be getting to experience Paris and if we weren’t appreciated, so be it.  I steadied myself for the worst case.  Opening night, when the curtain came down to roaring applause and was lifted again and again, and again, curtain call after curtain call, I was blown away!  But, still, I thought that response couldn’t possibly last for 3 solid weeks.  But it did, and not just for the final ballet of the evening.  Every ballet in every show received curtain calls and many received standing ovations.  I am so grateful to have been a part of the MCB Parisian debut, and welcomed by the most embracing, warm, and appreciative audience for whom I have ever danced.  It was the biggest success MCB has ever seen, and it filled my heart with pride to be a part of it and to share that success with some of my closest friends.

Our Thoughts on Promethean Fire

Post by Rebecca King, Corps de Ballet

In Program III, Miami City Ballet brings you the third of four company premieres, Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire. I sat down with a few dancers to talk to them about dancing this piece for the first time.

The last Paul Taylor work that MCB performed was Company B last season. For those of you who have seen this spectacular work, you may agree with Jennifer Lauren when she describes it as “playful and lighthearted.” But she mentions that this work is much different than Promethean Fire, not only in energy, but also in style. “Promethean Fire is much more controlled with a specific technique.” This piece is rumored to be Taylor’s choreographic reaction to the tragedy of 9/11. Leigh Esty observed that this piece reflects the sediments of that day, calling it “emotional, almost even dark.”

With a different Taylor style to conquer, Ms. Lauren said, “the steps began to feel good once I became more comfortable and more familiar with the ballet. Until then, it all felt very foreign to me.” Ms. Esty added that this piece is much more “modern” than any Taylor work the company has done in recent history.

“The first movement of Promethean Fire never stops. Getting through until the end was a challenge for me at first,” says Ms. Lauren. Ms. Esty adds that she found herself having difficulties with the steps where she had to gracefully get from a standing position to the floor. “I have never had to do so much crawling around on the floor in my life!” she muses.

The dancers’ favorite moment in this work was unanimous. “The first movement is fast and chaotic,” Ms. Lauren describes, “then all of a sudden everyone slows down moving in unison.” This section is called the “back exercise” as it is similar to an exercise you work on in a modern class. Ms. Esty agrees that she likes this moment adding, “the human pile we create at the end is also a highlight for me. It is a really powerful moment.”

There is always an element that the dancers look forward to most when it comes to dancing Taylor pieces: working with Patrick Corbin. Mr. Corbin danced for Paul Taylor, now has his own company CorbinDances, and comes to Miami to set Taylor pieces on MCB.

When I asked the dancers about Patrick, everyone began to gush. “I love Patrick. I think he has a really amazing way of seeing a dancer for who they are and working with them to develop into better dancers. He just helps you love yourself as a dancer,” says Stephen Satterfield. Ms. Lauren points out his positive and calming energy. Ashely Knox agrees, saying, “He knows that this style of dance is foreign to us and does everything he can to encourage us.” Ms. Esty chimes in saying, “He is just inspiring because you can tell he loves what he does and it makes you want to love what you do.”

Patrick Corbin working with MCB.

The Scotch Girl

You may have seen Leigh-Ann Esty front and center during Program III in George Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony as the “Scotch Girl” soloist. If you haven’t seen her, you won’t want to miss this diverse program which includes Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs. And Leigh dances in all three pieces!

We recently chatted with Leigh about the experience of dancing a featured role and dancing in these three, very different works.

Following Promethean Fire – Almost Time

Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire, the third company premiere of the season, opens tonight at Adrienne Arsht Center! Principal dancer Yann Trividic took the Flip camera along this week. Join us as Yann follows this amazing work.

Promethean Fire with Patrick Corbin

Over the past five years, Patrick Corbin has been setting Paul Taylor works on MCB. This season he returned for the company premiere of Promethean Fire. We sat down with him for a chat on this powerful, moving piece that will be performed during Program III.

Don’t miss the premiere of Promethean Fire, as well as George Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs. Click here for tickets.