At the start of Sunday afternoon’s Miami City Ballet’s performance, the curtain rose on one of George Balanchine’s oldest surviving work, Apollo. In this seminal work, we see the birth of the young god and his awakening to art through the muses Terpsichore, Polyhymnia, and Calliope. Respectively, the muse of dance, mime and poetry. Renan Cerdeiro made for a strong Apollo, keen and masterful. His was the god of eternal youth guided In his education by the muses.
Miami City Ballet’s Apollo is based off of New York City Ballet’s version, the company Balanchine co-founded and was at the helm of until his death in 1983. First performed in 1928, Balanchine reworked it throughout his life. The Miami City Ballet’s performance captures the nuances of Balanchine’s masterpiece. Ashley Knox gave an exuberance performance as Polyhymnia, and Emily Bromberg was on a high level as Calliope. Tricia Albertson as Terpsichore was exhilarating. But Cerdeiro carried the performance. He demonstrated strength and conviction, mastering the music and the story – which is about the creation of art. It was a pleasure to have Ormsby Wilkins who is the music director at American Ballet Theatre as guest conductor of the program. In a pre-performance talk, along with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, Wilkins noted that the program consisted of the music of three of the best composers of the 20th century: Igor Stravinsky ( Apollo ), Dmitri Shostakovich ( Concerto DSCH ) and Maurice Ravel ( La Valse ).
Concerto DSCH, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, brings in a gush of energy as if a door opened and the wind blew in and stayed. It begins with two men dancing before an inward facing circle of dancers. The circle opens to reveal a woman, who starts a continuous series of turns. It’s a breathtaking race from beginning to end. A beautiful pas de deux between a man and woman makes up the second movement. Ratmansky pushes the dancers to move faster, pulls them in, then pushes them to dance still faster. The third movement consists of an ensemble dancing with jubilation.
La Valse is Balanchine’s macabre fantasy to Revel. The setting is an elegant ballroom which has an eerie air to it. The dancers waltz and waltz to a feeling of impending doom. A woman dressed in white enters and dances with her partner. She becomes aware of a mysterious man who lurks her into a waltz, taking control of her. The dancers continue to waltz as the girl dances to her doom guided by the figure of death. The Miami City Ballet dancers capture the mood and tone of the ballet in a flawless manner. La Valse, says Lopez, has some of the glamour of the 1940s and 50s.
Apollo, Concerto DSCH, and La Valse show the diversity of the Miami City Ballet dancers and the reach and range of choreography they so brilliantly perform.