By Lawrence Budmen

High voltage excitement was the order of the day as an exciting new era of dance in Miami commenced with the seasonís opening program of Ballet Gamonet/ Maximum Dance on September 8 at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. This reenergized company is a tribute to the genius of Jimmy Gamonet De Los Heros, former Principal Choreographer of Miami City Ballet Ė a genius with a singular, original choreographic voice. 

The premiere of Gamonetís Les Echanges was an electrifying opener. Set to a collage of percussion music (African, Brazilian, American jazz, and classical percussion), Les Echanges is a kinetic, high powered tour de force. With stylish, cutting edge costumes by Susan Santoro and evocative lighting by Eric Fliss, the ballet is a joyous celebration of swinging momentum, speed, and relentless forward motion. The sheer energy of Gamonetís choreography and the driving rhythmic propulsion of the percussive score were irresistible. In a riveting duo Britt Juleen and Susan Bello were both sexy and hypnotic. The corps of four female and four male dancers had super precision and more. This terrific piece was a vivid reminder of Gamonetís ability to create dance that is new and exciting. Les Echanges was simply tremendous! 

Guest choreographer Jerry Opdenakerís Coeur De Basque is an engaging divertissement for seven dancers. Originally created for Ballet Florida in Palm Beach, the ballet is a marvelous celebration of diverse cultures with a winning musical score by Chris Spheeris that combines Hispanic and Arabic influences. Stunning costumes by Jorge Gallardo enhanced this choreographic tour of Spanish dance halls, Gypsy villages, and Middle Eastern festivals. The high kicking, impulsive dance invention marks Opdenaker as a choreographer to watch. The female contingent of Hiroko Sakakibara, Migdalia Martinez, Stephanie Walz, and Jessica Fernandez were utterly enchanting Ė hips swinging and wild leaps abounding. 

Gamonetís Purple Bend I was created for Miami City Ballet during the 1990ís. The powerful music of Samuel Barberís Adagio for Strings serves as the springboard for a duet for female dancers Ė at once sensual and emotional. Gamonetís artfully conceived movements take on an almost spiritual dimension. This is Gamonet at his best Ė creating dance of shattering power and originality. Britt Juleen and DeAnn Pertuschke were the larger than life protagonists. Their stunning, artful, daring performance set a new standard for this Gamonet masterpiece. 

Estancia is a chamber version of the famous masterful score by Alberto Ginastera. Despite Gamonetís imaginative choreographic invention, this combination of abstract dance and dance drama does not totally work. Colorful costumes by Christina Giannini can not compensate for the lack of scenery which is needed to establish atmosphere as a visual counterpart to Ginasteraís colorful, bracing score. Yet there are two sections that are truly inspired. The Twilight Idyll Pas de Deux is gorgeously romantic Ė Gamonetís sensuous choreography literally seethes with passion both literal and unspoken. Triste Pampeana is a melancholy soliloquy of despair. Ms. Sakakibara and Isanusi Garcia were charismatic as the lovers. The colorful ensemble dances were vividly brought to life. The vitality and sheer momentum of this companyís dancing were a tribute to ballet mistress Iliana Lopez Ė Gamonetís muse for many of his magical creations. A terrific season debut! 

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