Miami City Ballet
Edward Villella, Founding Artistic Director/CEO
Pamela N. Gardner, Exec. Director
John D. Hall, Production and Lighting Director
Francisco Rennó, Music Adviser to Artistic Director
Mark Cole, General Manager
Haydée Morales, Costume Designer and Director
Joan Latham, Ballet Mistress
Roma Sosenko, Principal Ballet Mistress
Crista Villella, Ballet Mistress
At City Center
(City Center Website)
Press: Helene Davis Public Relations
Principal Dancers: Tricia Albertson, Katia Carranza,
Mary Carmen Catoya, Jeremy Cox, Jeanette Delgado, Patricia Delgado, Carlos Miguel Guerra, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Renato Penteado, Rolando Sarabia, Deanna Seay, Haiyan Wu
Principal Soloists: Didier Bramaz, Yang Zou
Soloists: Alexandre Dufaur, Callie Manning, Zherlin Ndudi,
Allynne Noelle, Daniel Sarabia, Marc Spielberger,
Andrea Spiridonakos, Alex Wong
And the Corps de Ballet
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 23, 2009
Miami City Ballet was founded by Edward Villella and Toby Ansin in 1985 and presented its first performance in 1986 at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. This series marks the Company’s debut at New York City Center, a longtime dream for Edward Villella, of Bayside, NY, who first performed on the stage of City Center in 1957 with New York City Ballet. Villella had begun School of American Ballet (SAB) at 10 years old and returned after a long absence, upon graduating from the New York Maritime Academy, specializing in marine transportation, baseball, and boxing. In 1955 he returned to SAB and in 1957 joined New York City Ballet, becoming a Principal in 1960. Mr. Villella became a world-renowned premier danseur, guest dancing with Royal Danish Ballet and other international companies. He performed for Presidents, produced an Emmy Award-winning television series on dance, and authored an autobiography (with Larry Kaplan), Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic. (Miami City Ballet Press Notes).
Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Igor Stravinsky (Symphony in Three Movements), Staged by Bart Cook and Maria Calegari, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting design by John Hall, Performed by Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Jeremy Cox, Tricia Albertson, Alex Wong, Patricia Delgado, Alexandre Dufaur, and the Company.
It was astounding to see a smaller dance company (than New York City Ballet or ABT, the two New York Companies in Seasonal Repertory) from a smaller American city seem so large and majestic on City Center stage tonight. The Miami City Ballet’s debut at City Center, Edward Villella’s dream come true, caught the attention and accolades of the New York ballet community from the moment the curtain rose on the first of two Balanchine works in Program I, Symphony in Three Movements, to Stravinsky’s score of the same name. The first reaction of some people in my row was, “they look so healthy”, and one mentioned the shorter stature of many of the dancers. They were not of cookie-cutter shapes or personas, but they were distinctly mature, exciting dancers. It should be mentioned that Miami City Ballet draws its company from schools of ballet in the US, Latin America, and Europe, and each dancer was imbued with charisma, internal force, musicality, facial expression, muscularity, femininity/masculinity, and artistry.
This Stravinsky work opened with drama, in spite of the recorded music (the travel budget did not allow for a live orchestra), and the upswept arms and enthusiastic faces said it all. These dancers were fully trained in the Balanchine style, thanks to former City Ballet premier danseur, Edward Villella, their Artistic Director. The jazzy splits, leaps, spins, solo and ensemble segments, were breathtaking. But it was the attitude, the physical and psychic connections between dancers, the eye contact with each other and with the audience, that drew me in. I was uniquely impressed with the subtleties and details of performance and stage presence that had obviously been ingrained by their charismatic leader, who had prepared for this debut for 23 years. Although this is mainly an ensemble work, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Jeremy Cox led the piece with captivating technique, while Alex Wong and Patricia Delgado danced with bravura, introducing themselves to New York. I looked forward to seeing them again, and this, being a relatively small company, allowed for repeat performances throughout the evening, of both principals and soloists.
La Valse (1951): Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Maurice Ravel (Valses Nobles et Sentimentales and La Valse), Staged by Bart Cook and Maria Calegari, Set and Lighting Design by Jean Rosenthal, Scenic supervision by Arnold Abramson, scenery built by Jupiter Scenic, Performed by Deanna Seay, Carlos Miguel Guerra, Jeremy Cox (as Death), Peter Doll (as Death’s Servant), Zoe Zien, Michael Sean Breeden, Tricia Albertson, Didier Bramaz, Patricia Delgado, Yang Zou, and the Company.
La Valse is a sophisticated, theatrical, and mesmerizing work, a Balanchine gem set to Ravel. Deanna Seay danced the original role of Tanaquil LeClercq, the woman who is waltzed to death, and Carlos Miguel Guerra was her escort. Jeremy Cox re-appeared onstage as the Death figure who dances the woman in frenzied dervish, before she is raised above the circular swirling of the waltzing guests. The mood is foreboding, but seductive, and the costumes are deep pink tutus and black tuxes. It’s an evening affair, replete with mystery and ambiance. The Miami dancers were in full dramatic tension, and Deanna Seay, all in white, was visibly vulnerable, but persuasively impassioned. Her fate was obviously sealed, but she danced with impulsive will. Jeremy Cox was seen in a new persona, the Death figure, gazing through the curtain and later entering like a contemporary Von Rothbart (the evil sorcerer in Swan Lake).
Patricia Delgado returned for solos, and Yang Zou and Didier Bramaz, both principal soloists, performed with energy, elevation, and speed. The Company danced in a macabre meltdown of pink and black, as City Center stage is small, and this ballet is awash with swirling dancers. The uplifted Ms. Seay, with her black cloak and black rose over the white gown, held by the formally attired Mr. Cox and his servant, in the center of the swirling waltz, was gripping. Bart Cook and Maria Calegari must have been challenged in the compact staging of this busy ballet.
In The Upper Room: (1986): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Music by Philip Glass (In the Upper Room), Staged by Elaine Kudo, Original costume design by Norma Kamali, Original lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, Jeanette Delgado, Alex Wong, Jeremy Cox, Daniel Baker, Tricia Albertson, Deanna Seay, Mary Carmen Catoya, Didier Bramaz, Katia Carranza, Alexandre Dufaur, Patricia Delgado, and Carlos Miguel Guerra.
This is one of my favorite Tharp pieces, with Philip Glass’ voluminous score. It worked well with the recorded musical ramblings that bubble and burst with echoing phrases. The air is smoky, and Norma Kamali’s cotton costumes are black, white, red, with flat, soft shoes and loose, billowy style. In fact, Twyla Tharp’s ballet is her signature design - loose and billowy - and I had only seen it performed by American Ballet Theatre, also at City Center. The stage is sized perfectly for the jumps into dancers’ arms, flying and spinning about, punching fists and running motifs, and appearing and disappearing into smoky shadows. Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Jeanette Delgado were showcased in furious, fiery dance, while Alex Wong, Jeremy Cox, and Daniel Baker led the ritualistic rumble of virtuosic feats, wowing the audience with their stamina (Many dancers, both male and female, had now performed in all three ballets tonight, and both Delgado sisters danced together here). I eagerly await tomorrow night’s Program II.
Kudos to Edward Villella, and kudos to Miami City Ballet.
(The photo shows the dancer in white from another night's cast, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, not tonight's Deanna Seay).
Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg & Carlos Guerra in Balanchine's "La Valse"
Courtesy of Joe Gato