Miami City Ballet’s season opens the evening of Oct. 18 at the Adrienne Arsht Center with Ballo della Regina, a technical feat of precision and speed, with lots of fast turns, hops on point and at times a combination of the two. The ballet, set to music from Verdi's Don Carlo, is so difficult that it’s not widely performed because many companies don’t have the dancers to pull it off.
Former New York City Ballet principal Merrill Ashley originated the lead role in Ballo and taught the ballet to Miami City Ballet (MCB). She frequently calls Ballo "a great curtain raiser," "like champagne," and compares executing the difficult choreography to trying to write your signature perfectly in less than a second.
Watch Ashley in this video as she simultaneously hops on the tips of her toes while spinning.
Also on tap is the company premiere of Polyphonia, as well as the American ballet classic Serenade. Polyphonia features four couples in simple, black, ballet attire performing angular choreography to piano selections by composer György Sándor Ligeti. In Serenade, 28 dancers in blue costumes—with the women in long tulle skirts—create intricate patterns as they move through music by Tschaikovsky.
Serenade was renowned choreographer George Balanchine’s first ballet created in America and is considered one of his greatest works.
"New Work Is Vital To Any Discipline"
This year marks the debut season of MCB's artistic director, Lourdes Lopez.
Although Lopez has been running the troupe for the past year, it wasn’t until this season that she got to pick which dances MCB performed. Until now, she had been overseeing the programing put together by founding artistic director, Edward Villella.
In an interview with WLRN last year, Lopez said she didn’t want to turn MCB on its head.
“Edward’s legacy for Miami City Ballet is the same as mine, it has to do with George Balanchine,” Lopez said. “George Balanchine and Jerome Robins, those are the two geniuses of the 20th Century that shaped both Edward and my own career and dancing.”
True to that statement two of the three ballets making up the season opener, called First Ventures, are Balanchine ballets: Serenade and Ballo della Regina.
But, Lopez, a Miami native and daughter of Cuban refugees, still wants to put her mark on the company.
“I think new work is vital to any discipline,” Lopez told WLRN last year. “New work created by young artists of today- finding those great people that will change the way an art form is headed.”
Enter Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Although this is a new work for MCB, the choreography isn’t too far of a departure for the troupe. Wheeldon, considered one of today’s leading choreographers, danced in Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and also served as resident choreographer there.
MCB is performing First Ventures in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.