By Lawrence Budmen 

Ballet Gamonet scored two triumphs and an artistically ambitious failure on April 13 at Miamiís Gusman Center. Choreographer Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros never stands still. Even when his ballets are less than artistically successful, they are never less than wonderfully creative and vital.

Gamonet has a way of recycling a balletic formula and making it totally his own. A revised version of his 2000 ballet Las Alicias revisits the fairy tale magic of Mikhail Fokineís The Firebird but with a decidedly contemporary, feminist spin. 

This beguiling dance fantasy is set to a sensuous, harp inflected score by Andre Caplet. Jorge Gallardoís enchanted forest sets and Gamonetís light pastel costumes are complimented by Eric B. Flissís magical lighting and special effects. The tale of two sisters and an evil sorcerer unfolds with child like grace. Gamonetís choreography respects Fokineís historic legacy but updates the visual milieu with movements of kinetic energy and modernist edginess. Two pas de deux meld beauty with a sense of danger. (At the balletís conclusion, the sorcerer is dispatched but in a more gruesome fashion than Fokine or Stravinsky would have envisioned.) Gamonetís sense of beauty transcends genres and shines resplendently in this gem. Suddenly a small scale opus assumes vast theatrical proportions. That is the magic of art. 

Illiana Lopez (who still is a mesmerizing balletic presence on stage) and Christine Hodges were wonderfully charismatic as the two sisters. Their pointe work was effervescent; their dancing agile. Paul Thrussell was dangerously alluring as the sorcerer. The female corps was splendid and nimble.

Recitations, an experimental Gamonet opus, was set to a spoken (mostly French) sound collage by Georges Aperghis with hi-hop music interludes. Wildly extravagant female costumes and hair designs by Clair Satin, Jose R. Martinez, and Gamonet had something of the Follies Bergere and Cirque de Soleil about them. But was this a ballet? It seemed more like a vaudeville review. The piece was saved by a riveting trio interlude (to a typically cosmic musical meditation by Arvo Part). Modernist moves and restive transformation were Gamonet trademarks. Susan Bello, Joshua Bodden, and Paul Thrussell brought grace and poignancy to this all too brief vignette. A crowd pleaser, Recitations is a noble (but failed) experiment. It was meant to be edgy but is merely confusing. 

A revival of Contropical, one of Gamonetís creations for Miami City Ballet, was a terrific finale. Gamonetís genius shines through this delightful cornucopia of Latin pizzazz, Broadway showmanship, balletic mastery, and artistic sophistication. Delightfully melodic, rhythmically vital music by Morton Gould and Louis Moreau Gottschalk provides the perfect backdrop for this exuberant showpiece. An opening Rumba sizzled as Hiroko Sakakibara and Edgar Anido dazzled; dancing and burning up the stage with fiery verve. The velvet duo of Illiana Lopez and Simon Silva was sensual, elegant, and alluring in a Tango replete with kinetic moves and seething passion. Diana Gomez and Andres Felipe Figueroa were light as a feather in the witty Guaracha. Susan Bello and Simon Silva were the high stepping solo couple in the terrific Second Rumba ensemble finale Ė a tour de force with a thousand moves a minute. Ballet Gamonet shone splendidly in this marvelous synthesis of cultures that spells Miami!

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