Miami City Ballet opened its 2019-2020 season with iconic works by George Balanchine and Paul Taylor. All three pieces were distinct and powerful in its own way. Miami City Ballet delivered a program composed of ballets from different time periods and styles: Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Balanchine/Stravinsky); Mercuric Tidings (Taylor/Schubert) and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Balanchine/Rodger).
Stravinsky Violin Concert opened with four men and one woman – they are all dressed in practice attire, the girl in a black leotard and pink tights; the men in white tee shirts and black tights. The opening image is of the dancers standing together. Then the woman begins dancing, switching from one man to another. Next, we see the reverse with one man and four women performing with him. The Toccata leads into Aria I, which is a duet with a man and woman. The woman seems to elude her partner, challenging him, yet they respond to each other with an eager tension. The woman executes a series of backbends supported by her partner; it’s an intriguing game they play.
Aria II is filled with moments where the ballerina seems to use all of her vulnerability to rouse her partner back to her. Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro performed a poignant moment when she slowly rotates in his arms on a diagonal line. At the end of the dance, he places his hand over her eyes. Is it a sign of protection-to hold her safe?
Capriccio included the entire cast in a piece filled with hints of Russian folk dancing, such as folded arms and the tapping of the heels together. These steps blend well with the classical vocabulary, the result are clean lines and beautiful positions. It is no wonder that this was said to be one of Balanchine’s favorite dances.
Mercuric Tidings (choreography by Paul Taylor) is non-stop dancing from beginning to end. This whirlpool of a dance is set to excerpts from Schubert’s Symphonies No’s 1 and 2. Miami City Ballet does an excellent job of bringing Taylor’s use of the arms, legs and jumps to the dance. Group movements are broken up, rearranged and slide over the stage. Circles and diagonals abound as segments are performed by the dancers. Nathalia Arja and Alexander Peters masterly led the dancers as they performed one of Taylor’s most challenging pieces.
Broadway meets ballet in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, a tongue in cheek dance musical, set in a tawdry night club. We have a cast of characters, including a hoofer, a strip-tease girl and the Big Boss. There is a love triangle, fumbling policemen and a gangster. Balanchine must have had fun choreographing this piece. The audience certainly enjoyed it. And it was nice to see the Miami City Ballet dancers stretch their talents to include acting and tap dancing. Kleber Rebello made for a hilarious hoofer and Jordan-Elizabeth Long gave a frolicsome performance as the Strip Tease Girl.