Spreading Holiday Cheer

Post by Development Operations Manager T.J. Morales

The holidays are certainly a stressful time of year! From shopping and cooking, to traveling and decorating, it’s easy to become lost in the whirlwind of activity that accompanies the Season. However, it’s important to remember that the holidays also represent a time to give thanks for the loved ones in our lives, as well as our health and well-being. In an effort to honor this most salient of holiday traditions, MCB took some time out on Tuesday, December 8th, to reach out to those in need of holiday cheer. Along with Meike Miniaci (MCB Board Member) and fellow MCB staff members Ailency Martinez and Kris Kramer (dressed as the Nutcracker Soldier), I spent some quality time with the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology patients of Chris Evert Children’s Hospital. With a bundle of complimentary Nutcracker tickets and an assortment of holiday gift bags in tow, our group had the privilege of spending an afternoon together with these truly amazing children. With their infectious laughter and wide smiles, these special kids reminded us that life is meant to be cherished and celebrated at every moment. And though they endure a daily struggle against a host of blood-borne cancers and other various diseases, their spirited nature tells a very different story.

Many thanks to the staff of the Broward Health Foundation and the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital for hosting MCB! It was an experience we’ll not soon forget. And a very special thanks to Meike Miniaci… without your generosity, none of this would have been possible.

Rose Miniaci’s Sentimental Journey

Rose Miniaci photo

The 1940s were a nostalgic time in American history that brought us D-Day, Betty Grable, WACs and the Andrews Sisters. For Fort Lauderdale philanthropist Rose Miniaci they are a Sentimental Journey.

Rose met, dated and fell head-over-heels for her late husband Alfred Miniaci. Sacrifices were made by many and when duty called, dating was put on hold. Listening to swing music allowed young women like Rose to pass the time while eagerly awaiting the return of their loved ones who were fighting overseas.

To pay tribute to those days of young love, big band sounds, and victory gardens, Rose Miniaci has generously underwritten Miami City Ballet’s production of Company B. The Paul Taylor masterwork is performed to carefree World War II hits by the Andrews Sisters contrasted with the melancholy realities of soldiers at war.

“I have such fond memories of those bygone days, as a young woman in love dancing the night away with Alfred in the dance halls and night clubs of New York City to the sounds of big bands and the Andrews Sisters. The music and beauty of Company B takes me back to those times.”

A pillar in philanthropic and social circles, Rose’s charitable heart is legendary. Her financial assistance runs the gamut from charitable and educational organizations to individuals, medical and philanthropic institutions, museums for the preservation of our history, countless charitable organizations, cultural charities, hospitals, religious, educational and scientific research, music and the arts. The scholarships she awards each year help students of all ages to excel and achieve success in what many thought was an impossible dream. Her generous donation to Nova Southeastern University contributed to funding the school’s Library Research and Information Technology Center and the Alfred & Rose Miniaci Performing Arts Auditorium.

“Rose has helped so many organizations in South Florida and we are so grateful for her support of Miami City Ballet and our season opener,” says Ana Codina Barlick, president of MCB’s Board of Trustees. “Her commitment, dedication and passion have made an enormous impact on MCB and our community.”

Miami City Ballet will perform Company B during Program I at Broward Center on November 6-8 and at Kravis Center November 20-22.

Edward at the podium

Earlier this month we shared our pride in Edward Villella’s induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Watch his poignant acceptance speech here.

Hello 2009-2010 Season

Yesterday marked the end of a very successful opening weekend at Adrienne Arsht Center. Finally, after so much anticipation, the Season is underway!

Click here to read MCB’s review in The Miami Herald.

Edward Villella inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Edward Villella was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies and a center for independent policy research.

In the humanities and arts category, the Academy elected Edward to join others such as Civil War historian James McPherson; biographer Robert Caro; author Thomas Pynchon; choreographers Trisha Brown and Bill T. Jones; actors Dustin Hoffman and James Earl Jones; mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne; singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris; and jazz musician Kenny Barron.

The Academy, established in 1780 by founders of the nation, undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Current projects focus on science, technology and global security; social policy and American institutions; the humanities and culture; and education. The Academy’s membership of scholars and practitioners from many disciplines and professions gives it a unique capacity to conduct a wide range of interdisciplinary, long-term policy research. Members who have been inducted into the Academy in the past include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

At the induction ceremony on Saturday, October 10, Edward gave the following speech:

THE ART OF LIFE

I can divide my life into two distinct periods: life before my exposure to “The Arts” and life after my exposure to “The Arts.” Before the Arts, I was a feisty kid with an abundance of physicality from the blue-collar community of Bayside, Queens. I channeled my physicality into sandlot baseball and high school and college varsity athletics. While attending the New York Maritime College, I gained a higher education in commerce and the military that was added to my constant need to move and be physical. However, it wasn’t until George Balanchine invited me to join his company, New York City Ballet, that I had my first serious exposure to art and a completely different kind of physicality. And what I experienced and learned there utterly transformed my life. I discovered a mind-driven physicality – dance – what Balanchine called “the poetry of gesture.” Once that discovery crossed my horizon and I began my sojourn as a dancer in Balanchine’s singular world, my life was unalterably changed and I never looked back.

As a dancer I could live the Greek ideal of a balanced life of the mind and the body. And I had the rare privilege of working with two of the 20th century’s greatest creative minds – George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky. Their collaborations produced masterpieces, and when I had the opportunity to approach these works as a dancer, I knew I was in the presence of their minds and an articulation of their remarkable genius. That opportunity was both exhilarating and terrifying.

When Balanchine gave me the extraordinary role of Apollo – his and Stravinsky’s Apollo – to prepare for performance, I could not have achieved what I did without first absorbing the wealth of information and experience that he had to impart about his creation. In the time-honored custom of our field, passing knowledge and experience from body to body and mind to mind, the genius thus conveyed to the neophyte his insights and thoughts about the role. Imagine what it was like for me as a young artist, filled with an enormous desire to learn, to be the beneficiary of what the master had to teach me about his Apollo. He provided his points of departure, made sense of abstract gesture, and then, helped me to understand it. During this transmittal of knowledge, Balanchine demonstrated one gesture that was completely revelatory, a gesture that both built a characterization and defined the character of Apollo. A characterization of a choreographic master’s Greek God, ripe with his images of swooping eagles, matadors, chariot drivers, soccer players, and bicycle riders. This process of teaching and learning, giving and receiving, provided me with an artful approach to preparing for my future roles.

As an athlete I could lift. As a dancer I had to lift, but more particularly, to partner and look after another dancer colleague. Partnering is an intimacy of physical conversation. A mutual exchange of dependence and trust – two bodies and two minds working together as one whole.

For the past fifty years, I’ve devoted myself to the art form of dance, particularly classical ballet, first as a dancer, then as a teacher and artistic director. Dance has taught me so many lessons and enriched my life in more ways than I can ever describe. It gave me the ability to speak in silence, to animate movement in the most sophisticated ways, to physicalize music, to see the honesty of Art, to know what is correct, the one possibility that is right. Dance inspired me to seek what is ideal, what is unattainable – perfection. Dance required me to understand human behavior and develop the ability to express it theatrically and to express human relationships in the context of historical period and style and then to link this understanding back to line and form. Dance showed me how to swim in time through designated space with gestures of integrity. Dance taught me how to respond to music with a keen understanding of the intimacies of timing in relation to the architecture of the score. Dance illuminated how abstraction is an idea reduced to its essence and how the physical expression of that essential idea through qualitative entertainment can produce human pleasure. Dance revealed clarity by teaching me to recognize what is not necessary and how to be economical with gesture. Dance taught me how to portray emotion, and in the process, I learned a way to be aware of and help control life’s emotions. Dance gave me discipline and formal structure, but it also gave me the freedom and knowledge to move with artistic ease, removing all tensions in both body and mind. A good life lesson.

Time eventually deprives us of the pleasure of active portrayal. This inevitability, however, provides us with a different type of pleasure and an opportunity to re-pay an accumulated debt. I have traveled a great distance from the position in which I started – that of the neophyte receiving precious information from the master – to one filled with an enormous desire to preserve that information as authentically as possible and to pass it on to the next generations of dancers.

Twenty-five years ago this desire, coupled with my desire to repay a debt to a genius and the teachers and mentors who gave me a life, a life of art, led me to create another entity, Miami City Ballet, as a vehicle to continue sharing with the world what these masters taught.

Fifty years ago, when I started my career as a dancer, it seemed clear to me, as it still does now, that to live with an understanding of music, dance, art, elegance, and nobility could be a point of departure for a life role. The art of life.

Daniel Baker Promoted to Soloist

Newly promoted Soloist Daniel Baker takes some time from his lunch break to tell us about his promotion and what he’s looking forward to the most this Season. Daniel joined Miami City Ballet as a Company Apprentice in 2006 and was promoted to Soloist this year. While still holding on to his Australian roots, Daniel has found a home at MCB. Look for him on the cover of this Season’s mailer, in MCB ads and as the Bugle Boy in most Company B performances (among other roles).

Daniel told us what he’s looking forward to performing. What are you looking forward to seeing?

Patrick Corbin Stages Company B

Patrick Corbin — Artistic Director for CorbinDances and celebrated former dancer with The Paul Taylor Dance Company – is here casting and rehearsing the dancers for Company B.  This signature Taylor work, performed to contagious hits by the Andrews Sisters (“Rum and Coca-Cola,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” etc.), is part of Program I.

We sat down with Patrick to discuss Company B and his experience staging the work for MCB.

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