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.

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 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.”

MCB Takes Paris – The Finale – By Zoe Zien

Zoe Zien has taken us along on the Paris tour every step of the way through her virtual journal (click here, here, here, and here to refresh your memory)! In the finale of her Paris coverage, Zoe captures some very emotional moments and literally takes us onstage!

MCB Takes Paris – by Zoe Zien – Week 3

Post by Zoe Zien, Corps de Ballet

We are now in the third and final week of our tour. We’ve put on fourteen ballets and danced seven shows a week,sometimes with dancers in three pieces a night. Oddly enough, even after all that work, everyone still seems to be smiling.  Every morning I wake up thinking I’m going to be exhausted, but then without fail, by showtime I’m eagerly ready to do it all over again. Anyone visiting Paris will allude to a certain magic the city provides. Whether it be the narrow streets lined with quaint cafes or the museums and monuments with so much art and history, there is always something to stimulate the senses.

The stage of the Théâtre du Châtelet is a perfect place for the dancers to feel the fulfilling dynamics that Paris has to offer. The curtain rises and you immediately become aware of the importance of the surrounding space. The orchestra, sounds full and vibrant, reiterating the significance of the dancer/musician relationship. The crowd, regardless of their individual opinions, always appears to be extremely attentive provoking a certain energy amongst the dancers.

Being here these three weeks has brought so much new discovery — from the taste of a never before tried French pastry to rediscovering yourself on stage under new light. I think my fellow colleagues, from the very experienced to the new professionals, would agree that this experience is one that will be cherished for a lifetime.

MCB Takes Paris – by Zoe Zien – Part 2

So far the Company’s tour to Paris has been a huge success! If you weren’t able to travel to France, have no fear. Zoe Zien has already started giving us the play-by-play on the tour. The second installment of Zoe’s Paris coverage takes us into the dressing rooms, reveals what the dancers do on their free day, and listens in on conversations!

Check back with us for more Paris happenings!

MCB Takes Paris – By Zoe Zien – Part 1

As you may have heard, MCB is currently on a three-week tour in Paris! Corps dancer Zoe Zien is bringing us all the action and keeping us in touch with the Company! Follow Zoe and the rest of the dancers through her virtual tour journal. Stay tuned for more!

Zoe’s Paris Tour Coverage

In just 24 hours the Company will be boarding a plane to Paris! There has been so much excitement about this tour and it doesn’t end here. Zoe Zien, corps dancer and our Paris correspondent, will be bringing us all the Parisian happenings through iPhone videos, photos, and blog entries.

Zoe began her Paris coverage recently in the studios with some pre-tour action.

Stay tuned for more!

Production in Paris

A three-week tour to Paris is oh-so glamorous — but it is also a huge behind-the-secenes undertaking! We took a couple minutes from Production and Lighting Director John Hall’s busy schedule for a Q&A on the Paris tour.

MCB: What will Production be taking on the Paris tour?

John: We are carrying all the costumes, scenery, props, dance floor, music, and supplies we need to perform the 14 ballets in the repertory for the three weeks in Paris. Due to the difference in electrical power between the United States and Europe, our lighting system is not compatible and will stay home.

MCB: How are you getting it all there?

John: All the equipment was previously loaded into two 40’ cargo containers at our warehouse. It was taken to the Port of Miami on June 1st and loaded on an ocean freighter that sailed to Le Havre, France. From there it cleared customs and was placed onto a tractor trailer to be taken by truck to Paris. The ocean part of the trip is about 20 days. The rest will be trucking. It will arrive at Le Théâtre du Châtelet on July 2 for our load-in. The return trip is the same.

MCB: What is Le Théâtre du Châtelet like?

John: The theatre was built in 1862 and it’s right on the Seine. My impressions after the February scouting trip I took to Paris is that Le Châtelet is a well run professional facility that is well equipped to handle MCB. The performance space will be comparable to the Broward Center, while the auditorium seats approximately 2,000 people. The theater got a renovation in 1999.

MCB: How will it be different working in a foreign theater?

John: The first difference will be language, of course. There was a lot of English spoken when I went in February, but I’m sure there will be a lot of finger pointing and head nodding! We are learning the basic theatrical terms in French to try to help the process; we are in their country after all! After that there are work rule differences and different departments have different responsibilities. For example, in the U.S., our props department is responsible for the orchestra pit setup among many other things. At Le Châtelet, the props department only handles actual performer used props. There is a separate department for the orchestra pit.

MCB: How many people from Production will be traveling to Paris?

John: We have seven members of the Production team coming along: myself, our stage manager, carpenter, head props, head electrician, electrician, and head sound. Two members of the Wardrobe department will travel with us as well: the costume designer/director and the wardrobe master.

Brushing up on our French

With the Paris tour just a hop, skip, and a jump away, everyone is doing all they can to prepare — including brushing up on their French!

MCB will perform in Paris during the popular dance festival Les Etés de la Danse at Théâtre du Châtelet July 6-23, 2011.