LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Dancers’ Top Moments of 2013-2014!

You have now heard from dancers Ariel Rose and Nathalia Arja about their favorite moments of the 2013-2014 Season, so to wrap up our series is principal dancer Tricia Albertson!

Dancer

Tricia Albertson

At this point in my career as a dancer, I look to be pushed outside of my comfort zone to discover as much as possible about myself and my art. This season, I was given many chances to do just that! Here are some of the highlights for me.

Jardí Tancat‘ was a highlight because it was a completely different style of dance from anything I’ve ever performed. It was barefoot, weighty and grounded, yet embraced an emotional abandon unlike anything I had ever experienced. Beyond that, there was something so raw about this piece — something that made me feel an intense bond and connection with the people with whom I danced.

Nacho Duato

Tricia Albertson and Renan Cerdeiro in Nacho Duato’s ‘Jardi Tancat’

Working with Justin Peck on ‘Chutes and Ladders’ was another highlight of my season. There is something so wonderful about working with the actual choreographer of a piece, especially one who has such a specific vision. Beyond the steps, Justin works with visuals for us to try to create with our bodies, which makes me think outside of what my body is doing. I found myself pushing my body in ways I didn’t know I could and thinking about movement as creating an illusion, a vision, not just a technical expression.

Justin Peck

Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado in Justin Peck’s ‘Chutes and Ladders.’

When I heard we were doing ‘West Side Story Suite my first thought was, “How can I get myself into that ballet?!” ‘West Side Story’ is my favorite musical of all time. Mostly, I loved watching the men of MCB transform into Sharks and Jets and break out their tough sides. I love to be a part of productions that make people transform. I love to be in rehearsal and see that transformation happen gradually. I suspected that ‘West Side Story Suite’ would be one of those works that would really bring the company together, and it did — it was a true team effort.

Jerome Robbins

Miami City Ballet dancers in Jerome Robbins’ ‘West Side Story Suite.”

Polyphonia‘ was my greatest personal challenge and a major highlight of my season. That role was nothing like anything I had ever confronted before. It forced me to grow up a little, to get over certain insecurities and to embrace a part of me that until then I thought I should try to hide.

Christopher Wheeldon

Tricia Albertson and Reyneris Reyes in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Polyphonia.’

But really, the highlight of my season and every season for that matter was sharing the stage with so many wonderful artists. As I get older I cherish these bonds more and more. – Tricia

We hope enjoyed hearing from our dancers about their favorite moments of the season! Lookout for a chance to share your top moments of the 2013-2014 Season coming soon…

Find out the ballets we are bringing to the stage next season by clicking here!

Passing It On

Legendary Balanchine ballerina, Merrill Ashley, recently visited Miami City Ballet to teach our dancers the ballet that propelled her into stardom.  For 10 days, she worked with the company on Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina – a work that he created on Ms. Ashley, herself. Principal dancer Tricia Albertson trained intensely with Merrill Ashely during her visit and shares her experience working with this Balanchine great here on our Blog!

Tricia Albertson

Merrill Ashley was the most virtuosic, technically precise ballerina of her time, if not ever.  George Balanchine was inspired to choreograph Ballo della Regina on Merrill, and created steps to highlight her strengths: precise, razor sharp, lightning-fast footwork, musicality, and hops on pointe.  Merrill was not an amazing technician by chance; she worked and analyzed every moment and every step to become that dancer.  To have Ballo della Regina passed on to me by Merrill Ashley has been both an amazing and frightening highlight of my career.

Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina.

Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina.

Merrill pushed herself to the limit as a dancer and asked that of all of us.  Working with her, I did not just learn the steps of Ballo della Regina, I learned precisely how to approach each step to make it sparkle.  Now, the challenge is to get myself to actually do it!  Merrill doesn’t let anyone cut a single corner, and being the perfectionist that I am, I was grateful to be pushed beyond what I thought my body could do (though, I will admit that I did get frustrated. I tend to want to get things right immediately, and that simply wasn’t possible).

Merrill Ashley coaches principal dancers Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado.

Merrill Ashley coaches principal dancers Tricia Albertson and Renato Penteado.

Ballo is Merrill’s.  She loves this ballet, takes pride in this ballet, and has passed that pride down to us.  In a rehearsal, Merrill said that Ballo was a diamond of a ballet, but without the details and precision, it doesn’t sparkle. Those details make it brilliant.  Now that she has left (until she returns on opening night), I will have time to process and work on what she taught me and also to make it my own.  Perhaps there is no one that can make Ballo della Regina shine as Merrill did, but I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to try.

See Tricia Albertson perform this special role during Program I: First Ventures!

Adrienne Arsht Center: Oct. 18-20

Broward Center: Oct. 25-27

Kravis Center: Nov. 15-17

Photo credits:
Headshot © Gio Alma.
Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Martha Swope.

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!”

Giselle: “The Mad Scene”

Giselle is the story of a young peasant girl who dies of grief and madness after being betrayed by her lover, Albrecht. “The mad scene” takes place right before her death when the truth is revealed. Principal dancers Tricia Albertson and Jennifer Kronenberg give their perspectives on “the mad scene” in Giselle and how they prepare for the deeply emotional part.

MCB performs Giselle at Adrienne Arsht Center on February 17-19, Broward Center February 24-26, and at Kravis Center March 9-11. Click here for more information.

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 Nutcracker Memories – Part 2

This adorable two-part series comes to an end as Rebecca King talks to the Delgado sisters, Jennifer Lauren, and Tricia Albertson about their Nucracker memories!

Click here to see Our Nutcracker Memories – Part 1.

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.

Tricia’s take on Open Barre

Post by Tricia Albertson

The ballet dancers you see on stage have spent most of their lives training to make the barely possible seem effortless. Because there’s such a big gap between appearance and reality, it comforts me in our regular theater performances to imagine that because I can’t see the audience, the audience can’t see me. Of course I know this is not true, but when I look out into the darkness, I can imagine dancing for anyone. Definitely, I imagine dancing for my (less critical) friends. It’s a nice illusion, and it helps me to be calm.

In our studio theater, this is an illusion I can’t rely on. Every time we do a series in our studio theater, I get a bad case of nerves. It’s easy to feel vulnerable. The audience is so close. I imagine being put under a microscope. Every step, every effort, every expression is visible; it feels like there is no room for error. So, I start out a little anxious. Then, the first show comes to an end and I hear the audience applaud, and I realize that I’m not under a microscope. I’m at home!

The studio is where I spend at least 35 hours each week. These studio theater shows may be our most appreciative audience; certainly, in the studio, I feel that our closest friends and family have come over for a special showing, a showing at which I’ll have the chance to share a piece of myself. Here, in person, is the audience I have so often imagined watching in our regular season. In the end, I value our studio theater shows as an opportunity to perform in an intimate setting that allows me to more directly connect to the audience.

See Tricia perform this weekend at Open Barre.