By Lawrence Budmen

The ballets of George Balanchine have been a mainstay of the Miami City Ballet repertoire since the company’s inception twenty one seasons ago. To open its 2007-2008 season on October 11 at the Carnival Center’s Ziff Opera House, MCB presented one of Balanchine’s greatest creations – Jewels. This three part ballet spectacular was truly celebratory in the best sense of the word, the entire company performing at the most incandescent level. Ballet does not get better than this. Jewels was a landmark event.

Deana Seay has long been a MCB standout. In the leading ballerina role in Diamonds, the triptych’s concluding arc, Seay gave the performance of her career. With her refined, graceful technique and theatrical charisma, this great ballerina was born to dance Balanchine. Her commanding turns (at breakneck speed), leaps, and, above all, most elegant of extensions lit up the stage. In a role created for Suzanne Farrell, Seay danced up a storm. Her grand line matched Tchaikovsky’s music (the Symphony No.3) bar for bar. Seay’s heart stopping performance was nothing short of glorious. In an evening of fine dancing, this terrific ballerina’s star turn was a bona fide event.

Seay was splendidly partnered by Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez. His fast paced spins ignited torrents of applause. He is clearly a star in the making. With two such technically resplendent, charismatic dancers in the leads, the company’s high precision corps-de-ballet was dancing at fever pitch. The concluding Polonaise was a noble, exciting homage to Petipa and the 19th century Russian balletic tradition, danced with aristocratic elegance. A super finale to a great evening!

Earlier, Haiyan Wu was a stunning scene stealer with a delicate solo in Emeralds. Mary Carmen Catoya and Carlos Guerra were the stellar lead couple. The female ensemble was well nigh perfect in this most French of Balanchine’s creations.

Jennifer Kronenberg and Renato Penteado captured the jazzy, slinky essence of Rubies. Andrea Spiridonakos sizzled in the vivacious second ballerina role; the fired up corps provided riveting ensemble dancing.

Tony Walton’s refurbished sets dazzled the eye. Haydee Morales’ recreation of Karinska’s original costumes were beguiling, soft and feminine in Emeralds, flashy and wildly colored in Rubies, dark and luxuriant in Diamonds. The entire production was a class act.

Miami City Ballet’s new Opus One Orchestra gave an incisive account of the Tchaikovsky symphony and captured the neo-classical astringency of Stravinsky’s 1939 Piano Concerto (Rubies), Francisco Renno a jazzy, bravura soloist. The delicate pastels of Faure’s Pelleas and Melisande (Emeralds) were deftly realized under Juan Francisco La Manna’s baton.

With a Balanchine masterpiece, great dancing, and beautiful music, MCB offered a night to remember and a glowing tribute to the enduring balletic artistry of Deana Seay. 

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