Review: Miami City Ballet shines in Balanchine and Taylor

Miami City Ballet dancers in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

There is always a sense of excitement at any season opener. Miami’s City Ballet’s first program was no exception. The season is up and running, and the Miami dancers are well up to the task. Displaying a  bravado and fullness of artistry as they enter their 33rd season, the company performed George Balanchine’s elegant Concerto Barocco, to the incomparable Bach and the glorious ballet Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. It was as if Terpsichore was smiling on the dancers of the Miami City Ballet. Bringing a smile to the audience was the incomparable music of the Andrews Sisters, in the late Paul Taylor’s rousing Company B.

The program started with Concerto Barocco, a ballet in three movements, which was first presented in 1940. It is a neoclassical work which is tightly aligned with Bach’s  Concerto in D minor for Two Violins. The curtain raises and the music begins, There are eight girls in two lines on stage. Each begins in the fifth position and opens in opposite directions to the second position. This is repeated several times. This repetition is a study in Balanchine’s attention to detail – to how the dancers correspond to the music. They do so as groups and in duets. 

Simone Messmer, Jovani Furlan and Miami City Ballet dancers in Concerto Barocco. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Simone Messmer, Jovani Furlan and Miami City Ballet dancers in Concerto Barocco. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Two soloists enter to the double violins and the music and dancers are entwined. One does not shadow the other they are as one- both dancer playing off of the other. Both soloists did an amazing job at Sunday’s matinee,  Katia  Carranza and Jennifer Lauren responded expertly to the double violins. Their musicality was superb as was the quickness of their movements. Reyneris Reyes enters and lifts one of the soloists as the corps de ballet bends low before her, it’s a moment of pure sublime as is the ballet.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Concerto Barocco. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in Concerto Barocco. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Paul Taylor’s Company B is an ode to the generation of World War II. The realities of the war were very real, but also real were the feelings people held at the time. They met, fell in love, parted,  promised to wait for each other, had their hearts broken and were never the same after. The music of the Andrews Sisters gave feelings to these emotions. The full cast performs to Bei Mir Bist Du Schon and all seem optimistic but number after each number the layers are peeled away.  When  Samantha Hope Galler and Ariel Rose dance to There  Will Never Be Another You, we are well aware of the horrors of war as male dances become silhouettes marching away and off to war…

Jeanette Delgado and Former Miami City Ballet dancers in Company B. Photo © Alexandre Dufaur.
Jeanette Delgado and Former Miami City Ballet dancers in Company B. Photo © Alexandre Dufaur.

Sometimes great ballets survive because they are associated with great composers and great choreographers. Such is the case with  Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. First performed under the title Ballet Imperia in 1941, Balanchine worked on it throughout the years, presenting it in 1973 under its current title. The ballet consists of grand music and movement. It is a trip through a maze of intertwining dancers.  The ballerina’s entrance is delayed but once on stage, it is assured that she is the queen of the dancers.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

With splendid performances by Tricia Albertson, Rainer Krenstetter and Ashley Knox the ballet is grand in every sense of the word. The dancers turn, leap, are partnered but never fully stop, it is a delightful game of cat and mouse between the ballerina and her partner. The corps de ballet is in constant movement, dancing with brightness and crispness.  The pianist, Francisco Renno, is at his finest throughout this grand ballet which ends with a flourish one wishes would continue. Miami City Ballet opener is a bright and engaging start to what will certainly be a remarkable season.

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