Tradition and Innovation
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
01/11/2013 - & January 12, 13 (Miami), 18, 20 (Fort Lauderdale), 25, 27 (Palm Beach), 2013
George Balanchine: Divertimento No. 15 (Music by W. A. Mozart) – Duo Concertant (Music by I. Stravinsky)
Marius Petipa: Don Quixote, Pas de Deux (Music by L. Minkus)
Liam Scarlett: Euphotic (Music by L. Liebermann)
The Miami City Ballet, Tricia Albertson, Ashley Knox, Emily Brombert, Nathalia Arja, Jeanette Delgado, Michael Sean Breeden, Reneris Reyes, Didier Bramaz, Patricia Delgado, Renan Cerdeiro, Mary Carmen Catoya, Renato Penteado, Kleiber Rebello, Sara Esty, Yann Trvidic, Carlos Guerra, and corps de ballet
Francisco Rennó (Pianist), Opus One Orchestra, Gary Sheldon (Conductor)
Liam Scarlett (Scenic Design), Karinska, Haydée Morales, Liam Scarlett (Costume Design), John Hall, Ronald Bates (Lighting Design)
(© Daniel Azoulay)
Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez greeted the audience with an explanation of this program's title: Tradition and Innovation. A perfect name since the opening piece is Balanchine's choreography set to the music of Mozart, showing a genius of a choreographer finding creativity in arguably the greatest of composers whose work is not often used for ballet. Next up was a lesson in the innovation of Balanchine's work when paired with a then living composer, Igor Stravinsky, paired with the beloved Pas de deux from Marius Petipa's Don Quixote demonstrating Balanchine's own progression from choreographic tradition. The order of this duo could have been changed for better historic clarity but that wouldn't have made for good theatre.
The greatest excitement surrounding this evening was the premiere of Liam Scarlett's Euphotic. This young choreographer has earned a deserved reputation, so it is fair that expectations were high as we see his work on one of his own contemporaries, composer Lowell Liebermann. Upon first viewing of Euphotic, one might feel something is missing. Last season's Viscera had an edge that isn't found here. Like Viscera, Euphotic uses a Liebermann piano concerto. The choreography is very much an interpretation of the composer's vision. Though familiar with the music, I foolishly went into the performance expecting the driving, almost frightening rhythms of the former work. Scarlett sensibly chose to explore something entirely different, much more lyrical and romantic; this is an artist from whom we must anticipate the unfamiliar. At 26, he already shows command so that a simple falling into place can take one's breath away. Trying to intellectualize this work drains the appreciation.
Why Scarlett chose to do the designs for this work is a legitimate question. The costumes were initially striking but did not enhance the choreography. Had traditional tights been used, there might have been more clarity in the movement. The set design in a color scheme similar to the costumes, is unobtrusive yet its purpose doesn't seem evident. Perhaps repeated viewings will make these ideas more evident. And perhaps, in future performances, as is often the case, these designs will be revised. Nevertheless, this is a giant achievement which will have a long life. Though there are three female as well as three male leads, this is an ensemble work requiring a corps every bit the equal of the soloists. And though this ballet is long, there is no wasted movement, no opportunity to lose concentration.
And equally fine was the ensemble for Divertimento No. 15 with particularly joyous contribution from Reyneris Reyes and a beaming Jeanette Delgado. Mozart seems an unlikely choice for Balanchine, yet their indispensable elegance and precision got the evening off to a thrilling start.
Duo Concertant will never feel dated. It is a model for all choreographers of the power of economy. Here Patricia Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro become choreographers themselves as they focus on the mysteries of Stravinsky and find both fun and sensitivity. The simplest of gestures are extremely profound when a master is in charge. And the intensely beautiful violin of Concertmaster Alla Krolovich and piano of Francisco Rennó are every bit as essential as the dancers. The curtain call of the four performers is very moving.
The Don Quixote: Pas de Deux was not executed with necessary command. Part of the problem was the unideal pairing of the ever reliable Mary Carmen Catoya with the equally solid Renato Penteado. Their bodies do not complement each other well for this piece though their dedication and exuberance excited the audience.
The Opus One Orchestra led by Gary Sheldon outdid itself. The Liebermann, again with the brilliant piano of Mr. Rennó, was appropriately most memorable though was the subtlety that was shown for pieces as familiar as the Glinka and Mozart should not be under appreciated. One cannot overemphasize how much more effective this company is now that live music has become standard.