Miami City Ballet goes beneath the sea

Miami City Ballet

Miami City Ballet celebrates its 30th anniversary with a reinterpretation of a pearl of a ballet – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

George Balanchine’s enchanting two act ballet of magic, fairies, and tangled lovers is given a submarine rendition by Miami City Ballet.

Balanchine is said to have grown up loving this ballet and performed in it as a child in St Petersburg. In 1962, he  chose it to be the first full length ballet he choreographed in America.

Lourdes Lopez, artistic director of Miami City Ballet, performed in it many times as a member of the New York City Ballet. Seeking  to add a new perspective to Balanchine’s two act ballet, she approached visual artist, and Miami native, Michelle Oka Doner to design the sets and costumes. Oka Doner looked beneath the sea and created sets and costumes unique to Miami’s aquatic world.

Miami City Ballet A Midsummer's Night Dream
Miami City Ballet A Midsummer’s Night Dream

We see the transformation immediately in the opening image,  which is of the Port of Miami underwater. It’s emerald  green hues is our entrance into a world  filled with Shakespeare’s characters playing out their various dramas. The fairies dance in white skirts, which have  the appearance of shimmering silver fish. Hippolyta’s hunt features sea horses; Bottom’s head is a manatee; the background images include shifting  bubbles and marine life rising to  the distant terrain above.

Balanchine’s brilliant choreography is performed with precision by MCB’s dancers and talented and charming children. Mendelssohn’s engaging music is beautifully played by the Opus One Orchestra; all makes for a captivating performance.

Miami City Ballet A Midsummer's Night Dream
Miami City Ballet A Midsummer’s Night Dream

The second act is set against the architectural outline of Miami’s Coral Castle, a house and garden made out of coral limestone . This act is mainly a formal divertissement danced in costumes of sea foam and gold. The pas de deux tenderly evoke the awaking of young love; all that occurred before seem to build to this pinnacle moment.

The final scene reminds us of the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream,as the fairies- shimmering in white, silver and gold, bid us farewell against the glittering backdrop of the mysteries  which lie beneath the sea

As Shakepeare’s Bottom says, “I have had a most rare vision.”

By Diana Dunbar