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Flash Review 2, 10-16: Not Intimidated at the Ballet
Some Pain, Much Gain from Miami

By Lauren Feldman
Copyright 2000 Lauren Feldman

DAVIE, Florida -- It was an odd feeling to be one of the youngest audience members at Saturday night's Miami City Ballet performance. I had missed last weekend's performance in Miami Beach because I was (happily) in New York City, so I reluctantly traveled north to the Bailey Concert Hall at Broward Community College in Davie, Florida to see program one of MCB's 2000-01 Season. Despite a few adolescent dance fans, I felt slightly ill at ease among the mostly-retired Ft. Lauderdale set. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Edward Villella, the founding artistic director, sitting on a stool in front of the first row speaking with the audience about the state of the arts in America. The intimidation factor, often present at the ballet, was nonexistent.

First on the program was George Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15," music composed in 1777 by Mozart and performed live (as indeed all the music was) by the Boca Pops. The scenery, designed by David Hays in 1997, charmed me immediately; Hays had created Balanchine's 1966 "Divertimento No. 15" set. The Amadeus-like costumes fit the music perfectly, without drawing away from the dancing. The corps, despite one dancer's nervous misstep at the very beginning, executed the footwork with confidence and poise, despite their extremely youthful appearance. The five principal women of the piece continuously engaged the audience with their saucy, yet feminine moves, while the three men paired off with them in rotation. This reminded me of my college days at Columbia/Barnard where the male to female ratio seemed much like this piece, three to five -- not even including the all-female corps!

"Diana and Actaeon," to music by Riccardo Drigo and choreographed by Balanchine (after Marius Petipa) for Mr. Villella and Patricia McBride in 1968, was performed magically Saturday night by Mary Carmen Catoya and Luis Serrano. Mr. Serrano's god-like abilities were shown in his repeated sextuple-pirouettes, and his split-leap-to-saute-en l'air's down to one knee. Now I am normally not awestruck at dance performances, but as this was the first time I had seen this piece live, I was mesmerized by the perfection I witnessed and the pulsating energy thick in the air. Ms. Catoya was slightly outdone by comparison; however, she performed superbly as well. Her fouettes were perfectly centered and she stuck all of her balances without the slightest tremble -and she did this all with the appropriately mythical demeanor of a huntress. A legendary pair of characters, and a performance worthy of perpetuating a legend.

Balanchine's "Sonatine," with music by Maurice Ravel was performed with true dream-like authenticity. Villella even brought in the original Verdy/Bonnefous cast to "help capture the true French essence" of this ballet. Deanna Seay and Eric Quillere danced with smooth and loving lines, and Ms. Seay's petit allegro was especially sexy and feminine. Most beautiful of all perhaps was being able to watch the pianist, Francisco Renne, play onstage while he (and I) simultaneously watched the dancers.

Said to have been inspired by Petipa's "Sleeping Beauty," Balanchine's "Sylvia Pas de Deux," with woodsy music by Leo Delibes, was performed with artistry and skill. Both Melanie Atkins and Franklin Gamero displayed their strong musicality in controlled, yet free-flowing movements. I especially love Balanchine's ballone combination for the female. Such simple steps really, but counter-pointed with the musical rests ingeniously, and Ms. Atkins executed it all brilliantly -- her attitude turns en devant weren't too shabby either! Both dancers seemed pleased by their performance, as was I.

The final piece, Balanchine's "Serenade" to Tchaikovsky's score of Serenade in C Major for String Orchestra, was danced with an appropriate amount of fervor and pathos. Considered to be a signature piece of Balanchine's, and the first ballet he choreographed for American dancers, this abstract ballet still retains potent meaning even 66 years after its creation. I'm a sucker for love, even the unrequited variety, and Jennifer Kronenberg pulled me into her world of delight and sorrow, if only for the finite span of the ballet. Yann Trividic managed to convince me that inflicting pain is not always intentional with his compelling portrayal of the "blinded" man. The sexual energy of the piece was intense, but not overdone, and the final shoulder lift left me breathless.

I was happy that I made the trek up to Davie to see a wonderfully executed Program One, even though next time I see MCB, I'd prefer the ten-minute walk to the theater in Miami Beach to the torture of I-95. Then again, as I learned from "Serenade," after experiencing pain, feeling pleasure is even more gratifying.


Lauren Feldman graduated in last May from Columbia College of Columbia University, where she received a BA with a Pre-medical Concentration in History. While a student there she studied dance at Barnard College of Columbia University with Elena Kunikova, Frances Patrelle, Janet Soares, Mary-Lisa Burns, Katie Glasner, Sandra Kauffman, Henry Van Kuiken, and Donlin Foreman, among others. She is currently working in research in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Miami's School of Medicine.

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