A Ballet Homecoming
Gerard Ebitz joined Miami City Ballet as an original member of the Company in 1986. Twenty seven years later, he has returned to the MCB family as a teacher at MCB School. We asked Gerard about his ballet homecoming and what exciting endeavors he is partaking in at MCB School.
MCB: When did you first join Miami City Ballet and how long did you dance here?
Gerard: I was a founding member of Miami City Ballet and I performed with the company for the first two years.
MCB: Is there a favorite performance memory you have from MCB?
Gerard: I have several fond memories from those years. Not only did I get to revisit roles that I had danced with the Zurich Opera Ballet, such a the leads in Allegro Brilliant and Valse Fantasie, but I was also given the opportunity to dance other wonderful Balanchine Ballets that included the principal roles in the Donizetti Variations and Square Dance. Perhaps, one of the most rewarding moments for me with Miami City Ballet was to portray the role of the Father in Prodigal Son with Yanis Pikeris as the son and Kay Preston as the Siren. Having spent eight years in New York City Ballet, I had always admired the powerful simplicity that Shaun O’Brien brought to the role of the Father and it was a great challenge to try and capture his interpretation. Having seen the ballet from the early 70’s, I believe, Yanis was one of the greatest Sons to have ever have danced this role.
MCB: After MCB, where else did you dance? How many years were you away from MCB before returning?
Gerard: After leaving Miami City Ballet, I worked with Ballet Randolph, a local modern dance company, under the direction of Randolph Parrott. Not only was I given the opportunity to work with an amazing group of talented dancers, Randy also gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore my own ideas in choreography. Due to his illness, I eventually became the director of Ballet Randolph in addition to teaching and choreographing at the New World School of the Arts. So twenty–five years after leaving Miami City Ballet, I have crossed the bay and returned!
MCB: How does it feel to be back at Miami City Ballet?
Gerard: It is an honor to be working for Lourdes Lopez and Darleen Callaghan, two women who I greatly admire, and no doubt will take this company and this school to the next level. When I left MCB, we were working in a two studio store front on Lincoln Road and now, thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of numerous, dancers, administrators, and patrons over all these many years, this company and school are primed to take the dance world by storm. To train the next generation of dancers here at Miami City Ballet and at the New World School of the Arts, is both incredibly rewarding and bittersweet. To observe the progress of a dancer, is by far more interesting than watching a young dancer who is complacent with solid technique. If a dancer is open to correction and willing to leave their comfort zone, then you know good things will happen. I also know that it is so much harder for them to find employment than it was for my generation. The competition is so much greater and the jobs are less abundant.
MCB: Right now you are creating an original work on MCB School students. What is the piece about? How have the students inspired you?
Gerard: The piece is called Sunshine State, with music by John Adams and costume design by Haydee Morales. I am a huge fan of the music of John Adams. His music always seems to take me somewhere. Since we live in Florida, I gave each section of the piece, a working title of a road or artery in South Florida. The piece is abstract but with human elements. The sections are called: Bayshore, Tamiami, Ocean, Flagler, and I-95. The students have been truly wonderful in this process, with varied schedules, of performances, auditions and academics. Most have come to each rehearsal, clearly processing work from a previous rehearsal and willing to teach their alternates information that was missed. Tools that will serve them well in their professional life. I always want the dancers to be part of the creative process. I enjoy when different casts bring something different to the same role. This was hard for some of them who wanted to be told exactly what to do. Others jumped at the opportunity to problem solve and take chances, these will be the ones who will be our next generation of choreographers.
MCB: Where and when will the students be performing your work?
Gerard: We will be presenting a preview/excerpt at the Gusman Theater on April 3rd as guests of the National High School Dance Festival. The full work will have two performances on the Pre-Professional Division Concert here at Miami City Ballet on May 2 and 3rd.