By Lawrence Budmen

After a high energy debut program in October, Ballet Gamonet/Maximum Dance offered an intriguing triple bill of choreography by Jimmy Gamonet de Los Heros for its second offering of the season. Two works from his years as Principal Choreographer of Miami City Ballet and a new neo-classical piece presented the more subtle side of Gamonet’s art. At the matinee performance on November 13 at Bailey Concert Hall on the central campus of Broward Community College, the company’s dancers rose to impressive heights (both expressively and literally). 

Gamonet’s 1990 Miniatures is an imaginative reinvention of the “doll dance.” In such disparate formulations as Coppelia and Petrouchka, dancing dolls and puppets have stoked the fertile creative imagination of choreographers. In Miniatures Gamonet takes the model one step farther into the realm of abstraction. Here is the perfect melding of balletic classicism and contemporary dance. In its original incarnation Miniatures featured an elaborate set. For this revival with his own company, Gamonet has pared away most of the scenery so that the choreography can stand on its own as pure dance – and what dance it is! Set to the hypnotic beat of John Adams’s ballet music The Chairman Dances from the opera Nixon in China, the clean lines and kinetic energy of the work’s doll movements are riveting. Hiroko Sakakibara was sexy and agile while Simon Silva was a model of classical restraint as her partner. 

The 1991 Tango Tonto is an ironic view of the tango. This ballet is light years away from Gamonet’s Transtangos (1986) – a celebration of the music of Astor Piazzolla that became Miami City Ballet’s signature piece. Tango Tonto takes its cue from Igor Stravinsky’s witty Tango (which provides the musical backdrop for the opening and closing Pas de Deux). Stravinsky’s wry view of the tango sets Gamonet off into frenetic, modernist movement patterns that take their cue from the music’s tongue-in-cheek wit. The music of Ernesto Nazareth (often called the Brazilian Scott Joplin) is as elegant and graceful as a perfumed salon. Gamonet pays tribute to Brazil’s African heritage with vibrant female corps dances that take on an energy all their own. Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino becomes a mesmerizing ensemble piece. Britt Juleen – a Miami native who was a former principal dancer with Amsterdam’s Dutch National Ballet – was the star of Ballet Gamonet’s opening program. In Tango Tonto Juleen’s high flying extensions were simply extraordinary! Paul Thussell, a splendid British dancer, was exciting in his leaps and off kilter gymnastics. 

Partita, the program’s new work, was indeed the piece de resistance. Gamonet first began conceiving this piece during his later years at Miami City Ballet. This large scale, neo-classical work is nothing short of a masterpiece! The male dances are a stylistic cross between Balanchine’s Square Dance and Ted Shawn’s muscular choreography for male dancers. The women’s movements pay tribute to Paul Taylor’s quirky Baroque sensibility in Aureole. The opening Allegro- set to the vigorous strains of Vivaldi’s music – is a joyous celebration of dance itself. Led with verve by Hiroko Sakakibara and Susan Bello the ensemble’s rhythmic thrust was combustible. The remarkable Britt Juleen dominates the stage. In a series of lithe variations and a large scale Barocco movement, Juleen’s leaps and spinning energy were awesome. In a stunning Pas de Deux (with Armando Gonzalez, a dancer noble) Juleen was eloquent in a long limbed, noble adagio. The elegant, light as a feather finale brings Juleen, Sakakibara, and Bello back for a vigorous coda. Partita is a remarkable creation. This ballet finds Gamonet working on an elevated level. A work of genius and a tremendous artistic gift to a stunning new company! 

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