By Lawrence Budmen

The Cleveland Orchestra, opening its third Miami residency, joined Miami City Ballet for a dazzling display of choreographic and musical perfection on January 29 at the Arsht Center’s Ziff Opera House. “See the Music, Hear the Dancing” was a thrilling evening that paid tribute to the creative artistry of the immortal George Balanchine.

Miami City Ballet has just returned from an engagement at New York’s City Center that elicited raves from the jaded Manhattan critics. Under Edward Villella’s visionary direction, this superb company has truly come of age. On this very special night, one of the world’s greatest symphonic ensembles occupied the orchestra pit and brought a level of musical precision and finesse rarely encountered at a dance performance.

MCB conductor Juan Francesco La Manna must have been thrilled to lead this world class organization. He opened the evening with the Polacca from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty – a rousing, colorful curtain raiser. The conductor’s throbbing momentum piloted Mendelssohn’s Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave) Overture, eliciting sweetly elegant wind solos and the silkiest of string sonorities. Conducting Balanchine’s masterful interpretations of symphonies by Stravinsky and Bizet, La Manna’s sense of rhythmic exactitude perfectly complemented the Clevelanders’ splendid musicianship.

As the curtain rose on Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, Karinska’s signature white costumes commenced a veritable tour de force. Corps dancing of stunning exactitude memorably encompassed the nervous neo-classicism of Stravinsky’s landmark opus, deeply influenced by the violence of World War II. The complex score was played with consummate assurance; flute, harp and bassoon solos were conveyed with rhythmic crispness and tonal allure.

The choreographer’s angular movements rose to the level of incandescence as Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg’s astounding extensions and slinky moves brought vitality and charisma to the edgy pas de deux, superbly partnered by Jeremy Cox. Patricia Albertson and Alex Wong and Patricia Delgado and Alexandre Dufaur were standouts in the splendid ensemble. Here was great choreography and path breaking music brought vividly to life. As the curtain fell, the audience rose to its feet, fully appreciative of this one of a kind marriage of musical and choreographic genius.

Originally created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947, Balanchine’s Symphony in C is an iridescent French soufflé, set to the sparkling symphonic essay by the 19 year old Bizet. The suave, light footed élan of the ensemble dancing again mirrored the Clevelander’s vivacious music making. Mary Carmen Catoya’s delicate classical line and Renato Penteado’s high octane leaps and spins launched the first movement with a palpable sense of excitement. The duo of Haiyan Wu and Carlos Miguel Guerra epitomized the grace and sensuous beauty of the second section’s mesmeric melody. Their pas de deux was utterly captivating, beauty personified. With the speed, flair and vigor of Jeanette Delgado and Alex Wong’s fine pointe work, the Scherzo seemed borne on air by some magical force. Patricia Delgado and Jeremy Cox’s remarkable stream of flight and gracious lyricism led the resplendent corps through the scintillating, high spirited finale – a joyous celebration of two remarkable artistic institutions.


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