Miami City Ballet Review: Balanchine, MacMillan, Peck, Robbins June 1, 2019 | Kennedy Center – Washington, D.C.
The 2019 Ballet Across America program at The Kennedy Center closes this weekend with Miami City Ballet. Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez’s company is one of the finest that has graced the Opera House stage this ballet season. The dancers’ unified enthusiasm, energy, and excellence make for choreographic and/or musical moments that perhaps are not your preference tolerable as there is so much talent to appreciate.
The curtain opens to one of George Balanchine’s most beloved works, Walpurgisnacht Ballet, a sea of violet-clad women whose synchronicity of both line and music make for a stunning vision. Nathalia Arja leads this group with enviable allegro, timing, and charisma – she is joy personified.
Veteran principal dancer Katia Carranza,he lone female figure dressed in white, has such a command of the stage and choreography that allows her to push limits both physically and musically; she relishes each extension and delightfully suspends every moment en pointe. Hats off to whoever rehearsed this piece; the attention to detail by the entire cast is carried through to Charles Gounod’s very last beautiful note.
The decision to include Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s pas de deux from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is an interesting one; in fact, I even question its place in any ballet company’s current repertoire. The dancing by Jennifer Lauren and Chase Swatosh is lovely, appropriately emotional and articulate, but the choreography feels a bit skewed. This “quintessential expression of ecstatic – and dangerous – young love” (program notes) feels chauvinistic and aggressive; is this the model of love? Was it ever?
Being a name that has circulated what seems to be the entire balletic realm, it is no surprise that this is the third Kennedy Center program this season in which Justin Peck’s choreography makes an appearance.
Commissioned for Miami City Ballet in 2015, Heatscape is a creation inspired by Shepard Fairey’s (aka Obey Giant) street art in the Wynwood Art District of Miami. A mandala designed by Fairey serves as the backdrop to three distinct musical movements, the dancers transitioning from one formation to another echoing the art draped behind them. Peck has a talent for shaping the dancers as individuals within the context of a larger group, expertly molding the geometric shifts.
Especially intelligent is the first section of the ballet in which Renan Cerdeiro with his superb technique, velocity, and magnetism filters through more than a dozen bodies to finally reach the partner of his choosing, the effervescent Emily Bromberg.
A 1984 collaboration between two choreographic greats – Jerome Robins and Twyla Tharp – closes the program, a flurry of dancers in blue (Robbins’) and green (Tharp’s). Although a plot-less ballet, it is not lacking nuances. Set to Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Opus 24, the dance – like the music – is a continuous progression from one variation to another, 25 in all.
The beginning feels more evenly paced, the blues taking on one musical movement at a time. The greens disrupt this organization with a bit of humor, instigating what ultimately becomes a fusion of the groups, dancers’ costume colors and backdrop lighting blending together.
Miami City Ballet performs through Sunday at The Kennedy Center, the final curtain on a wonderful season.
Cherilyn's lifelong passion for ballet has opened the door to the next chapter of her journey. Her strong foundation includes training at the School of American Ballet, being a featured dancer with Hartford Ballet and Carolina Ballet, and being co-director/owner of City Ballet Raleigh. She was granted the Affiliate Teacher Award after successfully completing the ABT National Training Curriculum®. A professional career in the industry along with extensive global travel provide her with a unique set of experiences to draw upon as a journalist and audience member. Cherilyn is excited to be sharing her insight about ballet around the world.