Stories from Opening Night – Jovani Furlan

We are keeping the Opening Night stories coming right up until the curtain rises tomorrow evening at the Arsht Center! Next, corps de ballet dancer Jovani Furlan brings us his most memorable story from Opening Night. 

Jovani Furlan

Jovani Furlan

One of my favorite opening nights with Miami City Ballet was during Program II of our 2011-2012 season, when we performed Viscera, Ballet Imperial and In The Night. That night was really special because my best friend from Brazil, Amanda Gomes, who was supposed to join MCB with me was in the audience watching. I just felt so happy to know that she was there cheering for me. I also really enjoyed performing the world premiere of Liam Scarlett’s Viscera! It felt great on my body and I found myself playing with the steps. I had also just been promoted to company apprentice — so everything summed up to a very special opening night!

Jovani's good friend Amanda snapped this shot of him performing Viscera!

Jovani’s good friend Amanda snapped this shot of him performing Viscera!

Create your own Opening Night story by joining us on October 18 for Program I: First Ventures , and begin your journey with the ballet this season!

See Program I: First Ventures at any of our venues:
Adrienne Arsht Center: October 18-20
Broward Center: October 25-27
Kravis Center: November 15-17

Headshot: Photo © Gio Alma.

Jeanette Delgado dishes on Liam Scarlett!

When the young choreographer of London’s The Royal Ballet, Liam Scarlett, arrived at our Miami Beach studios to choreograph his first work for MCB last season, he was warmly welcomed by the smiling face of Principal Jeanette Delgado.  From day one, Jeanette and Liam hit it off as great friends; which, lucky for us and our audiences, transpired into an extraordinary artistic collaboration.  After watching Jeanette’s performance of Liam’s first work for MCB, Viscera, The New York Times named her “one of the world’s most marvelous ballerinas.” When we learned that Liam would be returning to MCB to create a second world premiere this year, we caught up with Jeanette to capture her excitement about once again working with the internationally acclaimed choreographer and close friend Liam Scarlett.

Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello in Liam Scarlett's Euphotic

“Working with Liam on two ballets now has been en entirely different experience for the company and me. Having a ballet created on us is so essential to our artistic development and makes us feel a part of the choreographic process. Normally, learning a ballet involves working with a répétiteur or watching a video of past performances.  When working with a choreographer on an original work, you have no point of reference for how the movement should appear.  The choreographer has a vision, but they have never seen it on bodies. The process becomes more of a collaboration, which is very rewarding in the sense that you feel more like an artist, not just a dancer.  Liam made such a wonderful impression on all the dancers in and outside of the studios.  As a former dancer for The Royal Ballet, he relates to us so easily.  He is a beautiful human being and his talent is immense!  Euphotic is an entirely different ballet than Viscera.  Most of us were already familiar with Liam’s movement and fluid port de bras so he could use the company on a greater scale and go even further with his ideas!  It is so exciting to be an inspiration for new works that dance companies may be performing for years to come.”

Jeanette Delgado in Liam Scarlett's Viscera

There is still time to catch Jeanette’s performance in Liam’s newest work Euphotic, this weekend at the Kravis Center as part of Program II: Tradition and Innovation.

Photos: Euphotic © Daniel Azoulay. Viscera © Kyle Froman.

Dressing Viscera

Liam Scarlett not only choreographed Viscera, but he also designed the costumes for the World Premiere! Haydee Morales, MCB’s Costume Designer and Director, worked closely with Liam to bring his vision to the stage.

Haydee had a chat with us about Liam and the Viscera costumes.

Reflecting on the World Premiere of Viscera

After much anticipation, Liam Scarlett’s Viscera opened on January 6 to standing ovations, and received rave reviews by The Miami Herald and Dance Magazine. Before returning home to the Royal Ballet, Liam reflected on the World Premiere in this emotional video by corps dancer Rebecca King, which takes us back to the joyous night.

If you missed Viscera at Adrienne Arsht Center, you can see it this weekend (Jan. 27-29) at Kravis Center and at Broward Center on February 3-5. Click here for more information.

A Look Back at 2011 With Bradley Dunlap

Post by Bradley Dunlap, Corps de Ballet

It has been wonderful to be a dancer with Miami City Ballet in 2011.  We have had so much to enjoy.  From the premiere of Romeo and Juliet to working with choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, working at MCB has been very fulfilling.  The moments that stood out most to me this year were dancing in Paris and on national television.

Dancing with Miami City Ballet in Paris is an experience that I will always remember.  From the responsive, appreciative audiences to the tremendous reviews, it continued to give.  MCB had the honor of performing a three week season for Les Etés de la Danse summer dance festival in the historic Théâtre du Châtelet.  I danced in seven ballets and the company brought thirteen!!  That is equivalent to our seasons here in Miami.  It was a task that I believe Miami City Ballet only achieved through cooperation and hard work.

The airing of “Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp,” on PBS was icing on the cake.  After a week of some of the hardest work I have put forth in my career, and a year in anticipation, it was great to see the final result.  And that result was great!  We had a performance that evening, so our fantastic crew hooked us up with a big screen TV backstage and we all took our breaks to sneak a peak.  A special treat of this being nationally broadcast was that my family in Cleveland (some who haven’t seen me dance in eight years) got to enjoy it.

After 2011, it is hard to imagine 2012 could get better, but with world premieres from Liam Scarlett and Alexei Ratmansky, and dancing with the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra, I feel it is just a new beginning to another extraordinary year.

A Conversation With Maestro Gary Sheldon on the Music for Viscera

Post by Rebecca King, Corps de Ballet

As we gear up for the World Premiere of Viscera tomorrow evening at Adrienne Arsht Center, we’d like to continue the conversation on the music: Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra.  I had the pleasure of discussing the piece with Mr. Liebermann earlier this week to get his perspective on the powerful score. Today we bring you a conversation with our very own, Maestro Gary Sheldon.  Throughout the season, audience members will spot him in the orchestra pit, leading the Opus One Orchestra.

Mr. Sheldon and I talked a little bit about the music and it’s interpretation through dance:

RK: Have you ever conducted a Lowell Liebermann work before?
GS: This is the first time I’ve conducted a work by Lowell Liebermann.  It’s especially helpful and inspiring to be able to consult with the composer and I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the music with Mr. Liebermann who lives in New York.

RK: What do you see as the defining element of this piece?
GS: I can see why Liam Scarlett was drawn to the music.  The accents and phrases in the music are clearly defined, making it inviting to choreograph.  While the idiom is relatively modern, with clashing dissonances, the form of the music is quite classical, making this music easy to digest on first hearing.

RK: As you anticipate conducting this piece for Miami City Ballet for the first time on Friday, January 6th, what do you most look forward to?  What element, if any, do you anticipate to be a challenge?
GS: It’s always exciting to work with a choreographer on a new work for me as a musician, just as it is for the dancers.  As part of the creative process, I have the opportunity to shape the music in ways that support the dancers and meet the choreographer’s vision.
I always enjoy presenting a new work to the orchestra.  My greatest challenge in conducting a new score is to reflect the nuances of the music as represented by the choreography to the orchestra.

RK: What should the audience be listening for when they are sitting in the audience?
GS: I think that the music will be quite accessible to the audience, as Liam Scarlett’s choreography itself is so ‘musical’.  The choreography mirrors the music in a natural and beautiful way.

RK: You have sat in on quite a few rehearsals for Viscera.  Mr. Scarlett told the dancers how important the music is to his piece, citing it as the main source of his inspiration.  After studying the music, how was the experience of seeing the music come to life?
GS: There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing the music come to life onstage when the choreography is so naturally entwined in it.  Liam has created an outstanding ballet that audiences are sure to enjoy.

Come and experience this powerful piece of music come to life through Miami City Ballet’s World Premiere of Liam Scarlett’s
Viscera! For ticket information, click here.

A Look Back at 2011 With Adriana Pierce

Post by Adriana Pierce, Corps de Ballet

Endings create, and provide the necessity for, new beginnings. And new beginnings give clarity and meaning to those things that have ended. On the eve of this new year, the significance of many of my experiences in the past several months seems clearer than ever. My first full year with Miami City Ballet has been full of important personal and artistic discoveries. My identity as an artist has grown, and I feel well-equipped to begin a new year with all that I have learned under my belt. Here are some of my 2011 standouts:

MCB’s July tour to Paris was truly unforgettable. We spent three weeks speaking semi-bad French and eating pastries. We got a chance to explore a city and culture. We grew closer as a community. We got to enjoy a variety of unpasteurized cheeses paired with wines that I still dream about. But, most importantly, we got to dance our faces off for a month in a historic and beautiful theatre for audiences who would have jumped up onto the stage with us had it been allowed. Our performances at the Théâtre du Châtelet reified what I love about live theatre: the electric relationship between those experiencing art and those creating art. Each entity cannot exist without the other, and, when the chemistry is right, the force of the connection can transcend human understanding and blast down walls of materiality. Each night in Paris produced this kind of art euphoria; each performance felt as though a tremendous truth was being shattered and then proved true again. We lived inside that theatre. Paris was also an important personal triumph. Two summers earlier, with a different company I still love and admire, I was having similar artistic illuminations on the stage of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. As I bowed next to those dancers for the last time, I made the decision to dedicate my life to art that feels real and important. Finding myself in Paris with a new, equally brilliant company of beautiful people was a testament to that pledge, and reminded me both what it took to get there and how far I can go from here.

In August, Royal Ballet’s Liam Scarlett spent three weeks with us as he choreographed a ballet on the company. I had returned to Miami from Europe armed with new-found confidence and all sorts of crazy ideas about how to change the world through art, and I was eager to become immersed in a new project. New ideas, new ways of approaching movement, and fresh eyes for artistic design are an essential part of the growth of our art form, and one of the greatest ways to learn about our craft is to experience the creative process firsthand.  Besides being a total delight to work with, Liam is an excellent voice in the dance world. His piece for MCB, entitled Viscera, is an intensely musical study of human physicality. He has given us an invaluable opportunity to push our own limits and explore a different style of movement. As a young choreographer, watching Liam work with the dancers has also given me a chance to challenge my ideas about what I would like my own choreography to intend. Creativity is born from creativity, and we are constantly stimulated and inspired by those around us. I am so grateful to be surrounded by this family of exceptional and informed artists.

A dancer’s career goes through many ups and downs, but, within all the changes, there will always be pieces of choreography which are particularly meaningful. Balanchine’s Square Dance is a ballet that resonates quite deeply with me. It represents everything I appreciate and respect about intelligent choreography and performance, and has completely transformed my identity as a dancer. Square Dance is also the first piece I had ever seen MCB perform live. That performance at New York City Center in 2009 still stands out in my memory as one of my most thrilling live theatre experiences. The energy during that performance, as in our recent Paris trip, could have blown the roof off of the theatre. I have carried the feeling of that night with me for all this time, and I have been so honored to work on Square Dance with the very dancers who made it so sacred to me. When the curtain went up on my Square Dance debut this past October, it felt as though my dancing career had always been leading up to that moment. With help from the support and encouragement from my fellow dancers, the confidence I found in myself from Paris, and the strength and fearlessness I gained from Viscera, I was able to push myself beyond what I had previously thought I could do. I worked harder on stage than I ever have before. I transcended my own understanding. I broke down my own walls of personal perceptions. And each moment was perfect, unforgettable, and unmistakably, “art.”

A Conversation with Lowell Liebermann, Composer of the Music for Viscera

Post by Rebecca King, Corps de Ballet

Miami City Ballet will be premiering Viscera, a new work by emerging young choreographer Liam Scarlett this Friday, January 6, 2012!  On the first day of rehearsals for Viscera, Mr. Scarlett told us that the music was his main source of inspiration and gathered us around him to just listen to the entire work.  Three weeks later, upon the ballet’s completion, he left us with an extremely musical piece to sink our teeth into.

In anticipation of the World Premiere, I’d like to give you a sneak peak into the orchestra pit for a discussion of the music, Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, with American composer Lowell Liebermann. Mr. Liebermann composed this work in 1983, at age 22. This was his first time combining a piano with an orchestra.  In the orchestra pit there will be strings, a piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, an English horn, two clarinets, a bass clarinet, two bassoons, a contrabassoon, four French horns, three trumpets, three trombones, a tuba, and a percussion section with the timpani, a small triangle, cymbals, a suspended cymbal, a bass drum, and a ratchet!

In order to find out more, I spoke with Mr. Liebermann about the piece:

RK: First off, could you give us a little bit of your personal history with Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra?  What were you looking to accomplish with this work?

LL: It’s actually hard for me to remember where my mind was that far back!  I do remember that I wrote the work in a white heat during the summer in Southampton.  The whole piece was written and orchestrated in 11 days.  The second movement was inspired by a passage from De Quincey’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater” called “Dream Fugue.”  And all three movements quote a tune from the “Anne Cromwell Virginal Book” called “Fortune is my Foe.” The last movement, called “Maccaber’s Dance” was written after reading an account of the Black Death, which told the story of a Scotsman named Maccaber, or MacCawber, who moved to France in medieval times and instituted a Dance of Death to try to ward off the plague, which came to be known as the “Danse Macabre.” Evidently I was a quite serious 22-year-old!

RK:  How do you orchestrate a 20 minute piece in only 11 days?!
LL: By staying up all night and drinking heavily.

RK: On average, how long does it take you to compose new works?
LL: It depends on the length of the work, but I am a procrastinator, so I tend to think about pieces for a very long time, and scribble them down on paper in a very short time.  Nowadays the process of orchestrating and copying is much speeded up by music notation programs, but when I wrote the 1st Piano Concerto, that was all written in pen and ink.

RK: During the writing process, did you ever envision ballet being set to this piece?
LL: No, not at all.  But ballet was actually my first big love: my introduction to classical music was with some old 78’s I had as a 5-year-old of the Nutcracker Suite. I would put them on the record player and attempt to pirouette and mimic ballet steps that I saw on TV. I wanted to take ballet lessons at that age, but my parents wouldn’t let me…

RK: In 2002, Robert Hill choreographed a ballet on American Ballet Theatre set to this piece of music.  What was it like to see your work come to life through ballet?
LL: It was exhilarating! Normally a composer doesn’t see physical manifestations of the effect of his music, so to see all those bodies set into motion is a wonderful thing.

RK: Has technology changed the process of composing in recent years as compared with the year 1983 when you wrote this 1st Concerto for Piano?
LL: It hasn’t changed the process of composing at all:  I still compose at the piano with pencil and paper.  But again, the process of orchestrating (which is a much more mechanical thing than composing) and copying are much speeded up and enhanced.

RK: What is now playing on your iPod?
LL: I’m not even sure where it is right now! The only thing on it is actually my own complete works: I only use it when travelling to do a residency at whatever university or school so that I don’t have to lug along a suitcase of CDs. Otherwise, since I spend my working days either composing or practicing for performances, I tend not to listen to a lot of music in my down time. And when I do, I prefer it live.

Come and experience this powerful piece of music come to life through Miami City Ballet’s World Premiere of Liam Scarlett’s Viscera! For ticket information, click here.

Naming the World Premiere

Liam Scarlett’s new ballet is about two months away from its world premiere on the Adrienne Arsht Center stage! Before he went home to The Royal Ballet, Liam chatted with us about naming the plotless ballet and finally voiced the name of the piece!

Liam Scarlett’s new ballet premieres in January 2012 at Adrienne Arsht Center, followed by performances at Broward Center and Kravis Center. Click here for more information.

Liam Scarlett: The Man Behind The World Premiere – Part 2

Before Liam Scarlett returned to London, he filled us in on what’s been going on with the World Premiere since we last spoke. He dishes on finishing the piece in ten days, designing the costumes himself, and naming the ballet!

Liam Scarlett’s new ballet premieres in January 2012 at Adrienne Arsht Center, followed by performances at Broward Center and Kravis Center. Click here for more information.