LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Behind the Ballet: Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances (Part Two)

Alexei Ratmansky is widely seen as one of the most original and important choreographers in ballet, an artist who is moving the genre forward while remaining deeply rooted in its classical origins. When Miami City Ballet commissioned him last season to create Symphonic Dances, set to a Rachmaninoff score of the same name, it was a milestone for the company.

-The Miami Herald

Dancers Jeanette Delgado and Nathalia Arja explain Ratmansky’s process of bringing Symphonic Dances to the stage in Part Two of Behind the Ballet.

…No matter what, every morning you go to the barre and you need to serve the god, the goddess of dance. It’s a religion. It’s not about you or your ego. The beauty of ballet is the result of centuries. You think of all the amazing choreographers who contributed to it, and it now lives in us. Because all the steps we do were invented by someone, and we can feel their impulse when we do the step.

- Alexei Ratmansky, The Miami Herald

Behind the Ballet: Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances (Part One)

After its one-night-only world premiere in Miami last season, Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances returns to the stage during Program III: The Masters.  Through interviews with the acclaimed choreographer, himself, and with two leading ladies from the ballet, we are breaking down this beautiful, yet complex masterwork in the following two part mini-series.

Watch this video to find out what the dancers had to say!

During his last visit to our studios in November 2012, The Miami Herald interviewed Alexei Ratmansky. Here is what he had to say!

Q. When I first saw Symphonic Dances, I thought it had a story, but I can’t say what it was.

That’s good. There is a story but you don’t need to put it in words. The music [also] tells a story but how can you translate it? What’s great about ballet is you don’t need to put things into words. You can’t really have the words for everything in life. There is a good saying in Russian, if you express your thought clearly, it’s already alive. Meaning that not everything can be put in words. I like that. The great strength of ballet is its mystique or symbolism. This art can touch a kind of universal harmony without explaining it.

Q. There were strong characters in Symphonic Dances that surprised me.  I saw a side of [MCB dancer] Kleber Rebello I had never seen. Nathalia [Arja] had always seemed like a very sweet girl, and suddenly she was so passionate.

I wouldn’t call them characters. They create tensions. And in order to create tension you have to have some kind of motivation. Nathalia, we called her the war girl. There is a painting by Henri Rousseau, the French primitive painter, of a girl in a white short dress on a horse, called The War. She is a horrifying figure. But it’s just a little inspiration.

The structure of the piece, which is quite complex, took place after I observed [MCB company] classes. I wanted to use particular dancers. Each person had certain characteristics. Maybe in everyday life they are very different. But there is something in their physique, in the expression of their face, the line of the neck, the gestures, that tells you about their inner character. They might fight it. Maybe they don’t like it. But as Martha Graham says, the body never lies. The body tells the truth about a person. So I was trying to sense who these dancers are, and they led me to certain story developments.

Q. So what did you get from Kleber?

A person in difficult circumstances, some inner suffering that was hidden. He was — I’m not sure this is the right word — vulnerable?

Q. And Nathalia?

She’s a force. It’s not necessarily that she brings something bad. It’s an extreme situation that she brings. But it also can bring glory.

Stay tuned for more on Symphonic Dances during next week’s Behind the Ballet Part Two.

See it during Program III: The Masters at the Broward Center Mar. 1-3 and Adrienne Arsht Center Mar. 9-10!

Jovani Furlan takes a trip down memory lane on Instagram!

Corps dancer Jovani Furlan is back to take over our Instagram feed as this week’s guest photographer! Jovani will be snapping shots of the dancers hard at work rehearsing for Program III: The Masters and Program IV: Broadway and Ballet.

Jovani Furlan

Jovani shared a new fun fact (along with some pictures) for his second stint at Instagram!
Fun Fact: In 2007, Jovani performed the pas de trois of the Russian version of The Nutcracker for Mikhail Baryshnikov at his ballet school in Brazil.  Baryshnikov LOVED the performance !

Jovani Furlan with Mikhail Baryshnikov in 2007

Last season, Jovani was able to reunite with Baryshnikov, when he made a surprise visit to our studios during rehearsals of
Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances.

Jovani Furlan with Mikhail Baryshnikov

Check out Jovani’s photos this week by following us on Instagram #JovaniMCBphotos. See them brought to life onstage at the Kravis Center, February 22-24, for the opening of Program III: The Masters.

Photo: Headshot © Gio Alma.

Ratmansky Wrap-Up

“And in this century another choreographer,
Alexei Ratmansky, has arrived to revitalize ballet.”
—The New York Times

It was a rigorous but rewarding week at Miami City Ballet’s studios.  The renowned choreographer from Russia Alexei Ratmansky visited the company to prepare his work Symphonic Dances for its return to the stage in Program III: The Masters.   During his first visit to Miami last season, Ratmansky set out to create a new ballet — using the dancers as instruments that through various movements, formations, musical cues, and emotions would bring his artistic vision to life.  After a three whirlwind weeks of artistic creation, Ratmansky gave us Symphonic Dances, which enjoyed a one-night only gala premiere at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

When Ratmansky returned this past week, his mission was entirely different.   He was here to fine-tune and perfect his creation, shaping it into the masterpiece he envisioned.  ”This time, he is paying attention to the all of the smallest details,” said corps dancer Nathalia Arja who landed a leading role in the ballet.  Principal Jeanette Delgado seconded Arja saying that our dancers are being “pushed out of their comfort-zones.”  Ratmansky changed dancers’ roles, experimented with different casts, and persistently demanded more out of each unique dancer.

Principal Ballet Mistress Roma Sosenko and Ballet Mistress Joan Latham observed rehearsals and shared the following comments on their experience, “We love having Alexei back in Miami working on Symphonic Dances.  He is so committed to the work and we love watching his quality of movement.  He is so generous and giving and his coaching is as expansive as his heart.”

We are sure that our dancers’ hard work will pay off when the curtain rises on Symphonic Dances during Program III: The Masters, opening February 22 at Kravis Center, March 1 at Broward Center and March 8 at Adrienne Arsht Center.

Alexei Ratamansky’s Symphonic Dances is made possible in part by the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge.

Below are some photos of our dancers rehearsing Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances.

(c) Daniel Azoulay

Alexei Ratmansky Returns

Following the one-night-only world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s commission in March 2012, Symphonic Dances now enters our repertory in Program III. We talked to Alexei about his dramatic, face-paced work when he was here earlier this year creating the piece. Now he’s back to continue working with the Company on Symphonic Dances.

Symphonic Dances Rehearsal

We are just days away from the World Premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances with The Cleveland Orchestra in the pit! Jeanette Delgado has recently given us an insight on rehearsals for the new ballet, now check out these images to see the extraordinary choreographer working with the Company.

The new work will grace the Adrienne Arsht Center stage on Thursday, March 1, 2012 for a one-night-only event! Click here for more information.

Inside Alexei Ratmansky’s Rehearsals

Post by Jeanette Delgado, Principal Dancer

“If it’s not about the port de bras, then it doesn’t make sense.” -Alexei Ratmansky.

As dancers we speak with our bodies. At times we get so consumed with how our legs and feet are working that we lose sight of the significance of our upper body. Alexei Ratmansky has reminded us of the importance of each gesture and has helped me visualize movement in a completely new way. He offers fresh concepts, things I’ve never really thought of before and it has expanded my creativity and hopefully my dancing!

Symphonic Dances is very balletic but there are so many unique qualities to each movement. Ratmansky is so specific about exactly how your body should move and what your intention should be that it looks and feels like a completely different style of dance.

In an interview with Dance Magazine, Ratmansky says that “every movement could be done in a hundred different ways.” Here are some of the challenging and exciting intricacies of movement he has shared with us! Of course, our artform is visual and it’s tough describing movement with words, but I will do my best…

- Improvise with your coordination. For instance, making the transition of our port de bras slower than the legs; soft with our arms while quick with the legs and finishing the movement with the arms still reaching softly. Or moving our head and shoulders last, after our feet, hips, and body move to create suspense.

-Paint lines in the air with your hands to make movement more interesting!

-Before running somewhere, feel your upper body falling out, out, out… Reach forward longer than your legs & the last thing to finally fall forward is the leg that’s behind you. This is where the impulse to run forward comes from.

- Play with the shifting of your weight and when to do it. This is one of my favorite things and also the hardest! An example is in a jump called a pas de chat, where he asked us to begin the jump traveling forward and then midway through travel backwards. Normally the jump would  continue moving forward. You also continue reaching forward with your arms as you would normally, another contrast between upper and lower body coordination!

-Think of your legs starting from higher up, from the waist to make your line longer. Also keep your hips croisé more, in other words, never let your body get too flat to the front. This helps to keep a three dimensional quality which is very important on stage.

Keep an eye out for these individual qualities in Symphonic Dances! Hopefully it will be as interesting and exciting to watch as it has been to learn and to dance!

A Conversation with Alexei Ratmansky

On March 1, 2012,  Miami City Ballet will present the World Premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances, in collaboration with The Cleveland Orchestra. Set to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff of the same name, the new ballet will premiere at Adrienne Arsht Center for a one-night-only event. Alexei has been trotting the globe choreographing for top-notch companies this season, but took the time to talk with us about Symphonic Dances.

As part of the program, the Company will also perform George Balanchine’s La Valse, and TCO will kick off the evening with Carnival Overture. Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime performance start at just $25 and are on sale now at miamicityballet.org.