By Lawrence Budmen

Miami City Ballet is one of South Florida’s true artistic miracles. This world class company exceeded its consistently high standards with a riveting triple bill that viewed the art form through three different prisms. An evening of superb dancing brought the audience to its feet on January 9 at the Arsht Center. The large stage and splendid sightlines of the Ziff Opera House have only enhanced Miami City Ballet’s stellar performances.

The Fox-Trot: Dancing in the Dark, Act III of artistic director Edward Villella’s The Neighborhood Ballroom was snappy curtain raiser. With male dancers clad in Fred Astaire style tuxedos, Villella’s evocation of 1940’s big band music mixes nostalgic elegance with Broadway pizzazz. Carlos Miguel Guerra was a suave Poet, dancing with fleet precision and stylish grace. In the prima ballerina role of Ava, a Hollywood mega star, Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg was nothing short of amazing. A company member since 1994, Kronenberg excelled in two contrasting pas de deux. Dancing in the Dark (with the stalwart Guerra) was elegantly passionate. Country Gal was a torchy duo (with the virile Didier Bramaz). Kronenberg’s agile extensions and slinky, seductive moves radiated charisma and high style. Alex Wong’s brilliant spins on St. Louis Blues March and the spectacular ensemble dancing made this choreographic appetizer into an enticing treat.

The evening’s piece de resistance was the company premiere of Paul Taylor’s 1982 masterpiece Mercuric Tidings. Taylor’s brilliantly inventive setting of movements from Schubert’s Symphony Nos. 1 and 2 is a dazzling synthesis of speed, formal rigor, fluidity and joyous musicality. The choreographer’s high speed cavalcade demands absolutely flawless technique. Patricia Delgado’s sexy, red hot precision set this tour de force in vivid motion. The athletic Jeremy Cox executed Taylor’s rapid fire choreography with jazzy panache. The entire ensemble (adorned in Gene Moore’s breezy costumes) lit up the stage in a vivid display of combustible energy. Here was balletic art of the highest order – the inspired creation of a choreographic genius in a sizzling performance. Juan Francesco La Manna conducted lithe, transparent Schubert – the musical embodiment of Taylor’s incredible creativity. Mercuric Tidings was a MCB milestone.

George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial concluded the evening with homage to Marius Petipa and the grand 19th century Russian ballet tradition. Tchaikovsky’s rarely heard Piano Concerto No.2 (capably articulated by pianist Francisco Renno) provides the aristocratic musical context for this large scale showpiece. Mary Carmen Catoya exhibited star making versatility – spinning with awesome speed and grace and projecting a soaring line of noble lyricism. Renato Penteado combined superb partnering with bravura virtuosity of the most spectacular variety. Katia Carranza was a standout in Balanchine’s dizzying solo turns. The corps de ballet’s high voltage, dazzling performance brought this 1941 Balanchine essay to vibrant life – a great finale to a memorable evening of dance artistry.



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