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 Post subject: Miami City Ballet - Article on new ballet
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2000 5:32 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 23, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: Miami, FL USA
I don't know how to do a link to Miami Herald b/c everything is under their home page ... so I copied the whole thing! <BR> <BR> <BR> ARTS <BR> <BR> <BR>Published Sunday, March 5, 2000, in the Miami Herald <P><BR>A little bit of mambo ... and ballet<BR>Villella, Cuban Pete introduce classical style to the street<BR>BY JORDAN LEVIN <BR>jlevin@herald.com <P><BR>Edward Villella and Cuban Pete came from the same kind of neighborhood, but they headed to different sides of the dance tracks.<P>Villella, an Italian American, rose from a working-class neighborhood in Queens to became the first American male ballet superstar at New York City Ballet in the 1960s. He's an avid advocate of classicism and an intense lover of pure ballet.<P>Puerto Rican-born Cuban Pete, whose real name is Pedro Aguilar, grew up in the Bronx. He earned fame as one of the hottest mambo dancers of the 1950s, when he was featured in magazines and on television. His trademark name comes from Desi Arnaz's hit song of the period, and his dancing is all about street style, Latin rhythm and feeling.<P>Now, decades later, Villella and Cuban Pete's disparate dance tracks are converging in Mambo No. 2 A.M., a ballet in mambo style that Villella's Miami City Ballet will premiere Wednesday at the Bailey Concert Hall in Fort Lauderdale.<P>For Aguilar, working with Villella and a troupe on the level of the Miami City Ballet has been an artistic legitimization for him -- and for the '50s-style mambo that has given way to smoother contemporary salsa. For Villella, the collaboration with Aguilar brings integrity to a project important to the company's outreach to Latino audiences and donors. And it's also Villella's first choreographic effort since 1991.<P>Both men say it's been a surprisingly natural fit.<P>``Where the music and interpretation are concerned, we're on the same track,'' Aguilar says. ``He starts and I end, or I start and he ends.<P>``I danced because I liked to dance, I made up my own routines. Ballet to me was very pretty, art -- but not natural. But this guy [Villella] is more than ballet. He understands the music, the rhythms. What the music tells you to do, he does.''<P>``From the moment we met,'' Villella agrees, ``it was like we'd always been hanging out. They [mambo and ballet] both have structure and form. We're called artists all the time. Guys like Pete are great artists, but they're not always looked at that way.''<P>AIR OF EXCITEMENT<P>An unusual air of excitement pervades one of the final rehearsals of Mambo No. 2 A.M. at Miami City Ballet's main studio. Villella, the ballet's artistic director, bobs and stamps in place to the music, body swaying like the boxer he once trained to be. Conga player Richie Puente, son of famed mambo bandleader Tito Puente, strikes up an urgent rhythm and Luis Serrano, the company's Cuban-born and trained principal dancer, shimmies and struts, inspiring a ripple of laughter and twitching feet from the others.<P>As the dancers enter the floor to Perez Prado's pounding La Comparsa, rolling shoulders and hips to the Cuban carnival beat, Aguilar leans forward, beaming and humming to the music he danced to years ago.<P>``I love it!'' he says, as Paige Fulleton sashays and slaps her hips in a flirtatious duet with Serrano.<P>``It's hard not to move to this music,'' Fulleton says. ``I love it -- the music is just so inspiring. If you went out, it would be hard to sit still to that music. Ballet feels unnatural sometimes. This feels natural.''<P>Villella came up with the idea of a Latin section of evening-length ballroom ballet four years ago. Initially he thought of using contemporary salsa music and the Miami rueda casino style of dancing, and went to local clubs with some of the company's dancers to do research. But a friend introduced him to Cuban Pete last August, and Aguilar, in turn, introduced Villella to classic mambo.<P>In it, Villella found a complexity and excitement, and a rhythmic rigor that matched the exacting musical structures and physical immediacy of his own, Balanchinean style of ballet. Villella often stamps out the precise, complexly accented rhythms of Balanchine's works in rehearsal. In the clave -- the syncopated, accented rhythm of mambo and Cuban dance music -- he found another eminently stompable rhythm.<P>``There was such a depth to this music. It had character, personality,'' Villella said. ``For Pete to come in and teach us about the clave was a revelation.''<P>They started by improvising in the studio together. Villella would throw out an idea or a step, and Aguilar would translate it into mambo style or fit it into the music's rhythms. Or he'd show Villella his own moves and Villella would imitate and incorporate them into ballet steps.<P>Some moves -- such as athletic flips, circling hips, stomping feet or circling partners -- are straight Latin. But the formal theatrical structure, the amplified lifts and long limbs, are definitely ballet.<P>It's a contradictory mix, but Aguilar expresses admiration for how Miami City Ballet's dancers have been able to make it work.<P>``I gave them rhythms, and they don't know what they are, but they do them,'' he says. ``If they listen and feel, they'll get it. I respect their ability. If I can do it, they can.''<P>Besides, he noted, most of them should have a natural affinity for the music -- nine of the 12 dancers are Latin American.<P>``I'm working with Latins here,'' Aguilar said. ``If they'd been something else, it might have taken them longer.''<P>And the chance to pass on the dance he loves to such a talented group of artists has been a moving experience for Aguilar.<P>``It's something else to watch yourself come back to life,'' he says. ``I'm in my glory, baby -- I'm 72 -- and I'm on top of the biz working with this man and these people.''<P>LATIN OUTREACH<P>The piece is also important to MCB, though in a different way. The company has been reaching out to the Latin community in recent years, with fund-raising performances headlined by Latin singers, a Hispanic scholarship fund for the company school and outreach targeting Latino audiences and donors -- and Mambo No. 2 A.M. is another part of that puzzle. But because this is the first ballet Villella has choreographed in years, there is personal pressure on him as well.<P>Still, he says, the project has been a relief during tense times that have seen the company move into a new building and planning fund-raising to cover a deficit that has recently been winnowed down to $1 million.<P>``My wife has said each time I've choreographed I've been really tense, but not with this piece -- this was fun,'' Villella says. ``My problem is not this ballet; it's raising money. I have seven development meetings this week. This was my divertissement, my dessert.''<P>``We're not out there to prove anything,'' he adds. ``This is really about the joy of dancing -- and being able to do it with style.''<P>The dancers, for their part, have got the message.<P>``I love this music -- I've always loved salsa, folkloric dance,'' says Serrano, who studied both, along with ballet, growing up in Cuba. ``We'll have to see how the public takes it because it's something different. But I especially like it.<P>``We had a lot of fun in this ballet, we were always laughing. Because once that music starts, you can't keep still. It gets into your blood.''<P> <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> <P><BR>Contact Us <BR>Copyright 2000 Miami Herald <BR> <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Miami City Ballet - Article on new ballet
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2000 9:12 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
You know, it is fascinating what can come from the meetings of cultures, especially in areas outside the influence of NYC, where dance traditions are so strong, sometimes to the point of suffocating innovation.<P>MCB can produce a mambo-inspired ballet partially because it is in Miami but also because of the contacts between different artforms that are possible. It is a bit difficult for me to imagine NYCB doing a mambo, for example.


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 Post subject: Re: Miami City Ballet - Article on new ballet
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2000 11:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Shag, it sounds as though the Miami site uses 'frames'. The trick to get the required URL is to put the cursor on the body of the article and right-click. A menu will come up and, depending on the Browser in use, one of the options will be 'View Info' or similar text; left click on this and a page of information will appear which contains the required URL.


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 Post subject: Re: Miami City Ballet - Article on new ballet
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2000 7:52 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 23, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 243
Location: Miami, FL USA
Stuart<P>You are correct again!<BR> <A HREF="http://www.herald.com/content/today/entertainment/arts/digdocs/045218.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.herald.com/content/today/entertainment/arts/digdocs/045218.htm</A> <P>I wish the damn paper would give Maximum a puff piece. MCB deserves all the press they get but 6 - 10 puff pieces a year while our reviews show up in the local section instead of the Arts section is annoying.


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 Post subject: Re: Miami City Ballet - Article on new ballet
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2000 8:32 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Shag, I'm always correct.......if only. <P>Re. the Miami Herald, I would encourage a few folk to send letters to the paper suggesting the change of location for the Maximum reviews. A few of us e-mailed the Guardian newspaper requesting that they include dance reviews on the net and, perhaps coincidentally, three months later they started to do it.


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