Theater Review: Miami City Ballet Amazes in Latest Program
The Miami City Ballet dazzled last weekend at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center in the debut of Program III: The Masters.
The program opened with Maurice Ravel’s La Valse with choreography by George Balanchine. Set in a dark and mysterious ballroom, the entire corps circles the floor in an intoxicating, almost dizzying waltz. While the ballet is considered plotless, the soiree leads to the disturbing appearance of Death (Reynaris Reyes) who claims the life of a young woman (Tricia Albertson).
In signature Balanchine style, the dancers pivot and rotate en masse, almost like a crisp marching band, revealing dancers and providing a living backdrop for the principals.
Especially notable are the costumes by Karinska. Her long, romantic tutus in muted, layered shades of pink, orange and purple were elegant, finished with long, white scarves, jeweled necklaces and tiaras transformed the women of the ballet into a modern version of Truman Capote’s sophisticated party girl, Holly Golightly.
The woodwinds of the Opus One Orchestra, under the baton of Gary Sheldon, were also featured in Ravel’s lusch score with the colorful lines of the clarinets, oboes and bassoons accentuated by Balanchine’s throughtful choreography.
The second act featured two pas de deux both adapted by Balanchine: The Steadfast Tin Soldier with music by George Bizet and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, based on a lost scene from the Russian composer’s masterpiece, Swan Lake.
Reminiscent of The Nutcracker, The Steadfast Tin Soldier tells the story of a toy soldier (Kleber Rebello) who courts a paper doll (Jennifer Lauren), eventually giving her his heart. When a gust of wind blows her into the fireplace, all that survives the flames is his heart. He retrieves it and dutifully returns to his stoic position among the other soldiers.
Rebello and Lauren are charming as they struggle to come to life, drawing sighs from the audience as the romance blossoms and ultimately a gasp as Lauren falls into the fireplace.
There is probably a reason Tchaikovsky did not include the “long lost” pas de deux in Swan Lake. It’s tuneful, but ultimately not great music like the remainder of the ballet score. But, it does provide a pleasant setting for an athletic pas de deux, especially as danced by Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado, who drew applause for his graceful double tour jumps.
Closing out the program was Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Miami City Ballet premiered the work by the leading classical choreographer of his generation last year and added it to the repertory this season.
While Ratmansky insists there is “no story” to his ballet, focusing instead on the images and feelings created by Rachmaninoff’s fiery music, his ballet seems to reflect indirectly on visceral human relationships. The first movement, featuring Rebello and Penteado dressed in loose fitting hoodies, is reminiscent of Jerome Robbins and the rival gangs of West Side Story. In the second movement, blatant narcissism is on display as Nathalia Arja and Tricia Albertson, dressed in identical blue frocks, first seem entranced with their similarities until they are separated at a mesmerizing cotillion and must cope alone. The final movement explodes into a celebration of the human spirit as the entire company takes the floor in an athletic frenzy of joyous motion.
Once again, Sheldon’s Opus One Orchestra is showcased, performing Rachmaninoff’s last major work with confidence and vigor. Unlike the delicate woodwind melodies heard earlier in La Valse, the brass herald and dance while the strings provide the rhythmic foundation throughout much of Rachmaninoff’s work.
If You Go
What: Miami City Ballet, Program III: The Masters
Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale
Arsht Center, Miami
For more information: MiamiCityBallet.org.