Miami City Ballet Brings the Sun to Harris

Major ballet companies are like battleships: big, heavy, built for rather antiquated displays of power, costly and difficult to keep afloat. But dance is a better use of resources than war, in my opinion — and apparently the opinion of many Chicagoans, who flocked to the Harris on Friday and Saturday to see Miami City Ballet’s two jam-packed, stage-filling programs, each crackerjack and entirely different.

Chicago is fortunate to have had the Joffrey in town since 1995, but George Balanchine isn’t often on the menu there. So it was a treat to see three Balanchine works over Miami City’s two nights, and likewise a treat to have the Chicago Philharmonic play the run’s wide array of music with its usual simultaneous care and enthusiastic musicality.

Plus, Chicagoans got to see a second work by wunderkind Justin Peck, who set “In Creases” (2012) on the Joffrey a year ago. Miami City’s “Heatscape” (2015) proved as youthful as artistic director Lourdes Lopez said it would be, and indeed all of Saturday’s program, which also included two Balanchine works, made me think about youth and age.

Miami City Ballet commissioned “Heatscape,” and it is saturated in the city’s sun and in the hopeful hipsterism of the urban-renewed neighborhood that gave birth to it, Wynwood: Shepard Fairey’s mandala murals there inspired the piece, and Fairey/ObeyGiant designed the backdrop. Good vibes are the rule here — unfortunately, complete with lots of grins, all-out running, images of lounging on the beach and other clichés of youthful fun. Most of “Heatscape” is fast and freewheeling, revealing virtuosity in both high jumps and floor-bound moves, like the women who run/slide into their partners’ arms.

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