Adriana Pierce

A Creative Finale for Mainly Mozart

The Mainly Mozart Festival has come a long way since the series’ early years in a Coral Gables hotel ballroom. The past two installments of the annual summer event under new artistic director Marina Radiushina have brought an expanded number of concerts in a variety of venues and more diverse and ambitious repertoire. Sunday afternoon at downtown Miami’s Arsht Center, Radiushina presented her most innovative offering yet.

The sensitivity and tonal coloration of their playing in the softer moments wonderfully complemented the choreography of Adriana Pierce … the athletic leaps and fitful angular movements of the penitents were brilliantly executed by dancers Emily Bromberg, Leigh-Ann Esty, Michael Sean Breeden and Eric Trope from Miami City Ballet.

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A Creative Exchange of Music and Dance

After visiting a rehearsal at Miami City Ballet studios, New World Symphony (NWS) fellows began meeting regularly with a group of our dancers to examine the relationship between sound and movement, resulting in a creative exchange between the talented young artists. Corps de ballet dancer Michael Breeden explains how this organic relationship will materialize onstage in the very near future!

MichaelBreeden_HeadshotsMiami City Ballet and New World Symphony have long been the two pillars of Miami’s arts world, attracting acclaim from audiences and critics alike. The dancers and musicians work in the same neighborhood, frequent each other’s performances, and have always expressed how wonderful it would be to work together. After decades as South Florida’s premier arts organizations, it is with great excitement that we prepare for our first full-evening performance together on March 18th — a creative exchange between the dancers of Miami City Ballet and the fellows of New World Symphony.

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Adriana Pierce captures ‘Poetic Fusion’ on Instagram!

Adriana Pierce

Adriana Pierce

While most dancers are taking full advantage of their one week off before final performances of Program IV: Broadway and Ballet at the Broward Center and Adrienne Arsht Center, corps dancer Adriana Pierce is taking over our Instagram feed as this week’s guest photographer. Not only will Adriana be snapping pics, but she is also creating a new work on dancers Leigh-Ann Esty, Sara Esty and Nicole Stalker , in collaboration with poet Barbara Lisette Anderson, for the month-long  O, Miami Poetry Festival.  Check out how Adriana bridges the worlds of ballet and poetry when our MCB ladies perform Poetic Fusion on Friday, April 12, at The LAB Miami. Follow her #AdrianaMCBPhotos.

We caught up with Adriana to learn more about her upcoming work.  Here is what she said!

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Adriana Pierce makes her debut on Instagram!

Adriana Pierce

Adriana Pierce

Corps dancer Adriana Pierce is taking over our Instagram feed in the midst of a very busy week for Miami City Ballet.  Right now, the dancers are battling reptiles as they make their way across Alligator Alley for the opening of our repertory season in Naples.  After two days in Naples, the company will venture east to Palm Beach for the closing of Program II: Tradition and Innovation.  Adriana will capture the final performances of Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic, two Balanchine favorites, and the popular Don Quixote Pas De Deux, wrapping up a sensational second program of our 27th season. #AdrianaMCBphotos

Fun Fact about Adriana: Her most prized possession is a framed, signed photo of Liza Minnelli!

Photo © Gio Alma.

Becoming Berthe

Post by Adriana Pierce, Corps de Ballet

Adriana Pierce and Jennifer Kronenberg in rehearsal. Photo by Ezra Hurwitz.

An artist’s comfort zone is something to be both treasured and feared. Great risks can be taken when an artist feels safe and confident. But creativity is often the most inspired, the most dangerous, the most innovative when an artist is forced to think outside of his or her world. Sometimes, those moments are the ones in which art grows the most.

I am a dancer who has whole-hearted reverence for 20th century neo-classicism and I have had very little exposure to the 19th century classical ballets. Indeed, if you had asked me a few months ago to describe Giselle, I probably would have just mumbled something about a Mad Scene and some ghosts. Or I may have shrugged and said stubbornly, “It’s old.” However, having now spent a large part of this season working on Giselle, I have come to appreciate the role that it plays in the history of the development of dance, and I am so inspired by the challenges it has presented to me.

An important aspect of the 19th century ballet masterworks is the use of pantomime- a storytelling device consisting of series of gestures which take the place of spoken conversation. Each gesture represents a word or an idea that is essential to moving the plot forward. I had only a vague understanding of pantomime until I was granted the opportunity to learn the role of Giselle’s mother, Berthe, in our production, so I have researched and worked hard to prepare myself. Within the ballet, each thought is expressed by large, sweeping gestures for which the music has been very specifically composed. Though I have a background in acting and musical theater, the language of pantomime is both freer and more limited than any expression of text I have ever encountered. In fact, when Giselle premiered in 1841, the emergence of pantomime as a narrative means was criticized for a lack of realism. Audiences had a hard time buying into the characters’ pantomime interactions, and felt that the movements alone were not sufficient enough to carry the story.

For the past few months, I have continuously asked myself: How do I produce each movement as it was aesthetically intended while still giving each gesture an honest portrayal of the thought it represents? How can I uphold the historical importance of pantomime but make my performance real, organic, and relevant to a 21st century audience? Can I make Giselle’s mother into a multi-dimensional and sincere character while staying within the confines of the ballet-pantomime style? Working to answer these questions has challenged me to explore movement as an expression of emotion in new ways. I have had to bring Berthe to life using a different set of dramatic tools than I would normally rely upon. I am learning to trust new, separate instincts in order to create a character in the world in which she belongs.

The characters of Giselle exist in a place of theatre which is entrenched in language, yet which manifests its ideas in only gestured words. Though, truthfully, conquering a dance piece from 1841 was not on my bucket list, my Giselle experience has given me an opportunity to learn about and grow closer to the complexities of theatricality and performance. Visiting works from the past does not mean a halt in progress; it reveals to us what our art form can be in the future. I am thrilled at the chance to discover and dream, and to add a little bit of myself into the ballet which has enchanted audiences for over a century.

Giselle: “The Wilis”

The Wilis have to work extra hard on their appearance before going on stage to take revenge on men in the forest and making them dance to their deaths! Act two of Giselle requires special hair and makeup, and some of the girls have just a 20-minute intermission to get it all done! Corps member Suzanne Limbrunner talked to some of the Wilis while they were getting ready for show time.

There is still one more chance to see Giselle! MCB performs the romantic classic this weekend at Kravis Center. Click here for more information.

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.”