By Lawrence Budmen

The choreographic magic of Jimmy Gamonet de Los Heros filled the stage of downtown Miamiís Gusman Center on October 26 at Ballet Gamonetís season opener. Two of Gamonetís gems from his tenure as Miami City Balletís principal choreographer and the work of a gifted young choreographer provided an entrancing showcase for the companyís versatile, remarkably impressive dancers. 

Gamonetís Pan Nuit Suite made a welcome return to the Miami stage. Set to the ballet music from Gounodís Faust, this spectacle is the choreographerís affectionate tribute to the flashy balletic divertissements of Leonid Lavrovsky during the Bolshoi Balletís golden era of the 1950ís and 60ís. Galina Ulanova or Maya Plisetskaya would have felt at home in Gamonetís blend of neoclassicism and 19th century fireworks. Hiroko Sakakibara certainly did. In the solo Variation du Miroir, Sakakibaraís graceful, elegant dancing was like a magical fragrance; her extensions were frequently astounding. With great partnering by Andres Felipe Figueroa, she lit up the stage in a luminous Adagio. Figueroa, a brilliant danseur noble, produced rapid fire spins and leaps in Panís Variation, turning up the heat more than a few notches. Susan Bello, Diana Gomez, Jessica Colina, and DeAnn Petruschke were light as a feather and the corps blazed across the stage in the finale. It was great to see this wonderful showpiece again.

Transtangos may be Gamonetís most famous ballet. Created for Miami City Balletís debut performances in 1986, this work infuses the sexy, richly textured melodies of Astor Piazzolla with bursts of energy that seem to leap off the stage. More than two decades after its premiere, Transtangos still sizzles. Glamorously costumed by Susan Santoro, the inimitable Iliana Lopez (the companyís Ballet Mistress) and Simon Silva were an intensely charismatic duo, exuding romance and style. Although Lopezís solo needed greater lightness, her duos with Silva were heart stopping, exuding scintillating beauty and class. Bello, Figueroa, and Laura Clark bristled in Gamonetís witty trio. The company seemed to leap beyond the stage in the wonderful Tangabile finale. Two decades ago, Transtangos seemed to encompass the spirit of Miami. Today it exudes the joy of dance and Piazzollaís modernist transformation of the tango. 

The premiere of Bailame by the vastly talented young choreographer Jerry Opdenaker was a special treat. New Age guitar music provides the backdrop for an edgy aura of sexual tension that proved arresting. From its first hazy ensemble image, Opdenakerís constantly surprising pageant of emotions was mesmerizing. Lopez and Paul Thrussell were the sensual principal couple in a glorious pas de deux. Alexander Dutko, Joshua Bodden, and Figueroa projected speed and energetic spark. Opdenakerís beguiling work fused romance and longing through a contemporary sensibility. A banner night for Ballet Gamonet!

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