CriticalDance Forum

Miami City Ballet In Detroit
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Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Miami City Ballet In Detroit

It's only words,
And words are all I have
To take your heart away
(The Bee Gees)

(Or should I say, words are all I have to try and win your heart over to this wonderful group of dancers.)

"If this isn't world-class dancing, I don't know what is."

(Says Rachel Howard in The San Francisco Chronicle about their recent performances in Berkeley, California.) ... =printable

So here's a quick burst of first night enthusiasm, backed up by an instant standing ovation by an almost full house in Detroit.

I find the Miami City Ballet to be absolutely--Lovable.

From my first glimpse of some of the dancers going to the practice barre, to my listening to Edward Villella's expression of his love of his art and of his dancers at a pre-dance discussion, to the actual performances, I felt a loving gentle presence.

It's like your favorite kids on the block got together to dance, except these dancers in my mind are world class. They are very, very good !

As soon as I knew that the MCB would be in Detroit for three performances I started following it's new season on the internet. It's all been praise. Alastair Macaulay from The New York Times has already been to Florida and California writing about how wonderful he thinks that they are. I agree with all this completely.

I have never seen the MCB before. I was looking for the Stars that I had just learned about--Jennifer Kronenberg, Mary Carmen Catoya and others. I found them and they are excellent, but I also found a wonderful blending of Everyone. Among the women there seemed to be little Natalia Osipova-Evgenia Obraztsova (Bolshoi-Kirov) bundles of radiance Everywhere.

The dancing is as clean as can be. The corps of women is wonderfully together. The mood is distinctly MCB--one of gentleness and unforced but complete competence.

They are performing Raymonda Variations, Agon and In The Upper Room.

I hope to be able to tell you more.

[typo errors corrected]

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

Tonight If You See An Object Sailing Through Outer Space It Is Without Any Doubt The Detroit Opera House !

Today Classical Beauty--Rocked !

The football stadium across the street with it's forty thousand fans couldn't have been more physically charged than today's performance of Twyla Tharp's "In The Upper Room".

* It Was Physicality To The Max ! *

* And It Was Tear Inspiringly Beautiful ! *

(There could be a message here someplace.)

It was a roller-coaster ride through some of the most exciting, well performed and most heart-felt dancing that I've ever seen. It was magnificently done.

Apparently An Instantaneous Standing Ovation Is Expected (!) by now at the end of an MCB performance of this work. In Detroit it happened every day--today with the enthusiasm of a stadium crowd !

Everyday has been wonderfully done. The Beautiful "Raymonda Variations". The Brilliant "Agon". The Glad To Be Alive "In The Upper Room". I hope to be able to tell you some more about all of these.

"I wonder who won the game (football) today?" asked a man leaving the opera house. "They did !", I said, pointing to where the Miami City Ballet had just finished it's performance.

"In The Upper Room"

I haven't felt better since I last saw Veronika Part dancing in June.

It's The Best Time I've Had In Ages !

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

The MCB has a wonderfully graceful and soothing manner to it's very high quality of dancing that it maintains consistently throughout all of it's performances.

The dancing has a wonderful non-flashy confidence.

The moves are very clearly defined. The dancing is very smooth and 'silky'. It flows along so beautifully.

The high virtuosity that is required here almost goes unnoticed because it is so well mastered by these wonderful dancers.

The dancers are very much in sync, again giving a very pleasant cleanness to the performances.

I have mentioned often how the magnificently talented Bolshoi dancer, Natalia Osipova, doesn't seem to touch the ground when she dances. I feel something slightly different with the MCB dancers. They do seem to touch the ground, but so very, very softly. Just the slightest sense of contact. A wonderful rhythmic sensation.

There is also another Natalia Osipova relationship. The dancers don't seem very tall. Neither is Natalia Osipova. But the MCB women can become wonderful little bundles of energy and radiance much like Natalia Osipova and the Kirov's delightful Evgenia Obratzova.

There is also a total sense of presence in the above mentioned mastery of technique and level of confidence. The dancers seem to consciously grip the audience. I got the strong feeling that they know exactly what they are doing and what the effect is on the audience. They almost always seem to be totally in command of what they are doing and know when they are doing it well, which is most of the time. Yet this is once again done in such a pleasant and unforced manner.

The company is considered to be a Balanchine based dance company. I have been watching Balanchine videos a lot lately. One is the Maria Tallchief video. The others are a Balanchine documentary and two collections from the Susanne Farrell days.

The Maria Tallchief style seems the most animated. The Susanne Farrell days seem to be a bit more polished, revolving around the amazing abilities of Susanne Farrell.

The present day interpretation of Balanchine by Edward Villella and his MCB company seems to be a more refined and gentler approach to Balanchine. For me this is just fine.

The MCB dancing does seem to be based in the technical excellence that George Balanchine sought. Edward Villella stated in his pre-performance lectures that he intentionally based the company in the Balanchine style to establish the highest level of competence and artistry possible right from the beginning.

Now the very genial Edward Villella tells us that it is his and the company's desire to show that the dancers can perform in a wider range. This was accomplished extremely well by the beautifully done Raymonda Variations and by the state of the art performing of the electrically hypnotic and joyous space spectacular, In The Upper Room.

I will try to say some more about these wonderful performances as soon as I am able.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:00 pm ]
Post subject: 

The main point that I should really emphasize is how good --Everyone--is in these performances.

This is A Very, Very Talented Group Of Dancers !

There are Stars in the company, but it's the uniformity of fine talent that stands out in my mind. This has to do with the material as well. I believe George Balanchine in general and Twyla Tharp (at least in this production) tried to emphasize the totality of a work. In these performances the dancing highlights seem to be well distributed among all the dancers.

The dancers seem very comfortable with what they are doing. They seem very capable and very well rehearsed. The result is an outstandingly display of technical excellence.

Yet it's more. They are not mechanical. There is a gentle perhaps even a loving feel to what they are doing. It's all so kind of peaceful in a way.

I didn't see any great displays of theatrical expression. Even the dancing didn't seem overtly expressive except maybe in the joyful abandon of In The Upper Room. I didn't see the upper body expression that you can find in dancers from Russia for instance. I'm sure that this is all a matter of choice. The MCB style is simply it's own and it is very effective and complete in itself.

What I did see was an unforced sort of poetry to the dancing. I think that it is a fine quality, that I can't fully describe, that is distinct to this company.

Also it should be mentioned that George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp probably intended the major impact to come from the structure of the dancing itself and not necessarily from personal interpretation, theatrical expression or character portrayal.

The company also has a Youthful feel to it.

The physical demands alone of a work like In The Upper Room almost require this. Edward Villella said in one of his talks that it was the dancers themselves who decided to perform this work. It is not part of their normal Balanchine based vocabulary. Yet in an effort to expand their range they apparently chose to attempt this--another indication of youthful enthusiasm that succeeds wonderfully.

There are Principals in this company and they are very good.

Jennifer Kronenberg is perhaps the first to be sited. She is considered to be perhaps the most representative of the Miami City Ballet identity. She is extremely capable in her dancing and has a wonderful sensitivity.

Mary Carmen Catoya is another dancer that performs leads and has a fine technical ability and an elegant presence.

Renato Penteado performs the Raymonda Variations with a wonderful virtuosity and a very pleasant manner.

Carlos Guerra seems like a very fine dancer, but in all honesty, when he was partnering Jennifer Kronenberg in Agon, it was Kronenberg that I was riveted to. It's not that he isn't very good, it's just that I was intentionally focusing on Kronenberg. He seemed to do a fine job of partnering.

Jeremy Cox did very well in Agon.

To other wonderful Principals such as Callie Manning and Tricia Albertson, who I won't elaborate on, please forgive me. There was just so much going on and so many fine dancers.

For me not only is the talent widely distributed, making the singling out of individuals less easy, but there are some look-a-likes among the dancers.

Two of these for me are Deanna Seay (Principal) and Andrea Spiridonakos (Soloist). Both are thin and both seemed to have wonderfully expressive arms and legs.

Patricia Delgado (Principal) and her sister Jeanette Delgado (Principal Soloist) are both energetic and radiant.

To Everyone else--You are all Wonderful !

I hope that I can make one more try at relating some of the performance highlights another time.

[typo correction made later]

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

The performances varied in style and were presented in a chronological order. They began with the almost classical Raymonda Variations. Then came what to me was a pure Balanchine 'neoclassical' work, Agon. Finally there was a mix of classical and modern, a voyage into the freeform world of Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room.

The MCB danced for three days repeating all the works each day with the same cast. This was a lot of dancing for many of the company dancers, especially considering that the final work was Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room, a nonstop marathon of high energy dancing that lasted perhaps a half hour. There were two intermissions.

Raymonda Variations

This is Lyrical Loveliness.

For me this work was noteworthy for it's beautiful, graceful flow. It consists of excerpts from the original classical Raymonda.

Any major changes that Balanchine made to the overall feeling of the original Raymonda went pretty much unnoticed by me.

The corps de ballet of women was so beautiful and so wonderfully together as were the female soloists.

Mary Carmen Catoya, the lead, ended the ballet by diving head first into the arms of her partner at the edge of the stage. A few feet further and she would have been in the audience. The catch was handled with such surety by her partner, Renato Penteado, that there was little worry. It is extremely comforting to see a woman handled securely and respectfully in such a bravura moment.

Mary Carmen Catoya also held some breathe-takingly long and beautifully designed balances on point.


This is Sculpture.

The sculptor is George Balanchine drawing on a wealth of imagery.

Jennifer Kronenberg turned herself into one beautiful sculptured masterpiece after another in her magnificent duet.

One of the woman soloists, probably Deanna Seay, did some amazing jumps, changing her leg positions several times before landing.

In The Upper Room

This is Motion.

I have never seen so many lifts before.

The action seemed to revolve a lot between Jennifer Kronenberg and Mary Carmen Catoya. Both women became much more outward than before and their dancing prowess just shined.

Other dancers were constantly threading in and out.

Two look-a-like women, possibly the Esty sisters (Sara and Leigh-Ann), would fly across the stage at certain intervals, sometimes with no music playing. They were breathe-taking.

As I referred to briefly in the Ramonda Variations, even with all the high level physicality, the women being lifted through the air were not pushed to their physical and secure limits to provide bravura effect. Twyla Tharp even seems to make a humorous reference to this when she has a group of women momentarily trying to lift the men off the ground. The attempt is quickly set aside.

One bit of dancing required the women to speedily take several steps backward over their down-on-their knees male partners. This was an amazing bit of dancing accomplished flawlessly.

The MCB performance of this multidirectional work is done with clarity. Each part is clearly defined. This adds considerably to the enjoyment of this work.

If there was anything that went wrong or that wasn't right-on in any these performances, I didn't see it !

Beauty can be Elevating.

When writing about In The Upper Room in an earlier post I mentioned that there might be a message there.

This message might be that Beauty can also be--Exciting.

Thanks so much, Miami City Ballet, for a magnificent weekend !

[typo corrections made later]

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 09, 2007 10:28 am ]
Post subject: 

Can I offer this, please, as a summary of some of the highlights.

Miami City Ballet in Detroit

It's only words,
And words are all I have
To take your heart away
(The Bee Gees)

From my first glimpse of dancers going to the practice barre

A Lovable Presence

Wonderful Dancers--Everyone

Wonderful Performances--All

The dancing is as clean as can be
The corps de ballet of women is wonderfully together
The mood is distinctly MCB--gentleness and unforced but complete competence
The dancing barely touches the ground--softness
Presence--pleasant and encompassing
A refined and gentle approach to Balanchine

A few of the Shining Stars-Everyone

Jennifer Kronenberg--artistic, committed and fine dancer
Mary Carmen Catoya--technically fine and elegant
Deanna Seay and Adrea Spiridonakos--expressive moves
Patricia and Jeanette Delgado--energetic and radiant

Renato Penteado--virtuosity and pleasant manner--Raymonda Variations

Raymonda Variations

Lyrical Loveliness
Corps de ballet of women so beautiful and wonderfully together
Mary Carmen Catoya--beautiful balances on point


Clarity of moves
Jennifer Kronenberg--turned herself into one sculptural masterpiece after another
Deanna Seay--jumps with slight directional reversal of legs

In The Upper Room

Great performing of this electrically hypnotic and joyous space spectacular work
Little Natalia Osipova-Evgenia Obraztsova-like bundles of radiance
Jennifer Kronenberg and Mary Carmen Catoya
The Esty sisters--sailing across stage

Today Classical Beauty--Rocked !

It Was Physicality To The Max !
And It Was Emotionally Beautiful !

Instant Standing Ovation !

The Best Time That I've Had In Years !

Beauty Can Be Exciting !

Author:  osiris661 [ Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

WOW!!! 6 posts! I wish people down here in South Florida got that enthused about Miami City Ballet.

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