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Miami City Ballet Shows Off its Versatility

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
01/06/2012 -  & January 7, 8 (Miami), 27, 29 (Palm Beach), February 3, 5 (Fort Lauderdale), 2012
Liam Scarlett (music by L. Liebermann): Viscera
Jerome Robbins (music by F. Chopin): In the Night
George Balanchine (music by P. I. Tchaikovsky): Ballet Impérial

The Miami City Ballet, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Carols Miguel Guerra, Jeanette Delgado, Renato Penteado, Kleber Rebello, Tricia Albertson, Didier Bramaz, Patricia Delgado, Yann Trifidic, Mary Carmen Catoya, Renan Cedeiro (Principal Dancers and Soloists)
Francisco Rennó (pianist), Opus One Orchestra, Gary Sheldon (Conductor)
Liam Scarlett, Anthony Dowell, Haydée Morales (Costume Design), John Hall, Jennifer Tipton (Lighting Design)

J. Kronenberg, C. Guerra (© Mitchell Zachs)

Because of so many choreographic train wrecks over history, it is not unfair that we are suspicious of new works. But Balanchine, Robbins, Tudor, Taylor, MacMillan, etc. all had to start somewhere; and though they might not have always been great, because they were true artists, they were almost always interesting. Liam Scarlett has had considerable success as a dancer and choreographer at Royal Ballet in London, so for Miami City Ballet to commission him is a signal that he has paid his dues. It can be exciting to see the early work of a young choreographer and imagine where his vision will take us. Both the Miami Herald and the New York Times gave considerable space to discussing Scarlett and Miami City Ballet’s decision. The music on which he chose to choreograph is Lowell Liebermann’s Piano Concerto No. 1. From its opening notes many will feel we have entered Balanchine/Stravinsky territory. It is never an easy world. There is menace, there is near cruelty, it can be frightening because it may feel so unfamiliar to what we expect in the pretty world of ballet. Viscera will not disappoint lovers of ballet athleticism; romance is not much in evidence, even in the glorious second movement pas de deux powerfully interpreted by the company’s love couple, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra. Naturally future exposures will give viewers more insight. And this will happen. Viscera will live a healthy life and having Scarlett, whose work here proudly builds on the masters gives us confidence in a gutsy future for ballet. Next up Jerome Robbins’ In the Night. Set to four of Chopin’s most well-known etudes, this territory has been traversed by many choreographers. Though the ballet has six dancers, there really is only one female and one male character as Robbins explores different passages in the couple’s life-long devotion. Perhaps this sounds trite, but after all, this is Robbins; his love affair with Chopin ensures we are going to get not only some brilliant choreography but plenty of elegant emotion entwined in intelligent thought. In the Night begins with the lyrical confident beauty of young though not childish romance. Next we experience the couple as more mature, though no less impassioned and always deeply respectful of their love. The third shows the unbridled passion of love at first sight with its silly though very sweet overenthusiasm. Jeanette Delgado is perfectly cast as the kid who just can’t contain her excitement. Her drive is similar to what she offered earlier this season as the leader of Square Dance. During the last etude the couples are onstage at the same time. The tenderness with which they meet, reflect and return to their original partners is a great example of less is more. The evening ended with Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial set to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Though it is always an exciting way to complete a program, when this work was first performed at Miami City Ballet, it looked downright shabby. In a revival several years later, it seemed like an entirely new work. Now that the ballet is familiar to MCB’s repertory, the company is able to approach it with the confidence and intensity that is required. This performance belongs to Mary Carmen Catoya as the kind and enthusiastic princess; she makes her joy felt to the farthest reaches of the auditorium. Tchaikovsky’s music is not particularly memorable and in a way, this works to the ballet’s advantage since our attention is focused on the movement not the music. This evening was a great lesson in elegance with the wonderful pianist Francisco Rennó doing triple duty. The Tchaikovsky sounds as if it has been orchestrated for a much smaller ensemble. Since the stage at the Arsht Center is not as big as some, Ballet Imperial can look a little cramped. The lighter sound, therefore, seems particularly appropriate. And as is true with every performance of Miami City Ballet, the real star of the evening is the glorious corps. Long may this most imperial group reign. This program will be presented in Palm Beach at the Kravis Center January 27-29 and in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward Center February 3-5.

Jeff Haller



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