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Flash Review 1, 3-5:
New Work from Villella at the Gleason
By Lauren Feldman
Copyright 2001 Lauren Feldman
MIAMI -- For being the
final program of the 15th anniversary season of the Miami City Ballet,
I thought Friday night's performance at the Jackie Gleason Theater
in Miami Beach could have been more exciting. What was exciting
was that Edward Villella was sitting three rows in front of me.
The program consisted of Balanchine and Stravinsky's "Agon," the
first section of Villella's evening-length work-in-progress "The
Neighborhood Ballroom," and Balanchine's "Raymonda Variations."
"Agon" was my favorite
of the evening. Even though I find twelve-tone music to be slightly
unnerving, it also demands one's attention. Balanchine's choreography
in "Agon" is perfection, with his varying combinations for the twelve
dancers, and I thought that the dancers of the Miami City Ballet
performed this piece with all the austere power that it required.
Jennifer Kronenberg and Franklin Gamero were breathtaking in the
main pas de deux. Their bodies fit together perfectly as they twisted
in and out of the layers of their mutual partnering.
Villella's "The Waltz,
Our Lady of Oblivion," the first section of his evening-length work-in-progress,
seemed to me rather disjointed, but I suppose that this feeling
resulted from its being performed apart from the other sections.
The music was composed and performed beautifully on stage by pianist
Francisco Renno. The set, lighting, and costumes were as elaborate
as the late Belle Epoque that was depicted. Villella did incorporate
an American form of the waltz, the "Boston" variety, and also the
little known Waltz-Tango, but I found that the dancing was not quite
engaging. There were so many people (the "Absinthian Habitues")
on stage at once that I found it even harder to concentrate on the
actual dancing. I even enjoyed the third pas de deux better than
the main one between the "poet" and the "widow," complete with a
shiny red cape. (Yes, there were four pas de deux.) And to top it
all off there were constant entrances and exits of the "Muse," a
sylph-like apparition clad in a white gown and pointe shoes amidst
all the heeled shoes of the 1900s costumed waltzers. Hopefully this
evening-length ballet will soon be performed as a whole, because
individually this piece doesn't seem to stand well on its own.
The final piece, Balanchine's
"Raymonda Variations," with music from Glazounov's "Raymonda," was
alternately spectacularly and poorly performed. It started out wonderfully
with Deanna Seay and Eric Quillere executing their parts flawlessly,
but towards the end of the piece there were several mishaps. All
of the variations were charming, but then during the final coda
one dancer almost fell. Then Ms. Seay almost fell out of one of
her supported pirouettes. All of this happened so close to the end
that the last thing one remembered of the performance was the mistakes,
even though the majority of the piece was beautifully carried out.
In the end, I was left
wanting more. Perhaps it's because I subconsciously want to see
a evening-length ballet. Perhaps it's because I've had the flu all
weekend and feel bad in general, but I do feel that Programs I and
II were more breathtaking and consistent with the caliber of dance
that I've come to expect from the Miami City Ballet.
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