MIAMI CITY BALLET
BALANCHINE/ TUDOR (3-2-07)

By Lawrence Budmen

Anthony Tudor was one of the choreographic giants of the 20th century. The British choreographer created a unique brand of psychological romanticism. His dance dramas seethe with repressed emotion and riveting subtexts. On March 2 Miami City Ballet payed homage to Tudor with a splendid production of one of his seminal creations at the Ziff Opera House at Miami’s Carnival Center. 

Lilac Garden (1936) was one of Tudor’s earliest works. Set at a garden party, the ballet probes the inner emotions of a woman, her fiancée in an arranged marriage, the man she really loves, and her fiancée’s mistress. The over heated romanticism of Ernest Chausson’s Poeme for Violin and Orchestra provides the perfect musical backdrop for this star crossed foursome’s inner hopes and fears. Tudor’s sweeping choreography is passionately romantic, poetic, and gripping. This is ballet in the grand manner with a modernist aesthetic. Lilac Garden is a truly beautiful ballet that transcends its time – a true masterwork.

With rich, darkly opulent sets and costumes by Peter Cazelet (from Ballet West), Miami City Ballet’s production is a company milestone. Donald Mahler, former director of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, has staged a gorgeous production, replete with ardent performances. As the protagonist Caroline, Jennifer Kronenberg (now clearly the company’s star ballerina) generates electricity amid a display of fearless agility. Carlos Guerra, a superb dancer noble, brings elegant line to the role of her lover. Daymel Sanchez is a commanding presence as the fiancée while Deana Seay is a keen dramatic presence and marvel of speed and precision as the mistress. With concertmaster Bogumilla Zgraja spinning Chausson’s impassioned strophes with fervent intensity of utterance, Tudor’s masterpiece was richly served. 

Two contrasting works by George Balanchine framed the program. Raymonda Variations (1961) is a tribute to Marius Petipa (the father of Russian ballet) and Balanchine’s own heritage at St. Petersburg’s Kirov Ballet. This unabashedly classical work is a great showcase for gifted dancers – a bravura display of speed and flashy pyrotechnics to the beguiling music of Alexander Glazunov (from the 1898 ballet Raymonda). The aristocratic white costumes by Haydee Morales formed the perfect foil for terrific performances by two of Miami City Ballet’s most talented dancers. Mary Carmen Catoya was a model of lightness and pulsating energy. Her pirouettes were breathtaking; her extensions miraculous. Alex Wong was her strong, precise partner. With stellar performances by the soloists and corps, this Raymonda Variations dazzled the senses.

The evening concluded with a bona fide Balanchine classic – Symphony in Three Movements. This 1972 masterpiece is a bold antiwar statement. Balanchine matches the spare, dense textures of Stravinsky’s music with choreography of kinetic speed and avant garde anxiety. Karinska’s stark black and white costumes underscore the piece’s dark undercurrents. The music’s hard edged rhythms are matched by the rapid dance patterns and spare mise-en-scene.

Former New York City Ballet dancers Bart Cook and Maria Calegari staged a series of rapid fire choreographic tableaux that were overwhelming in their sheer energy and primal force. Katia Carranza and Jeremy Cox were the jazzy, stylish protagonists, radiating charisma and boundless athleticism. The ballet’s only contrasting moment of repose is the second movement – an erotic Balinese pas de deux, danced with exquisite purity by Tricia Albertson and Alex Wong. Patricia Delgado and Alexander Dafaur were rhythmic power personified and the large corps vibrantly articulated Balanchine’s relentless, hypnotic motor rhythms. 

In three contrasting works by two of the last century’s master choreographers, Miami City Ballet excelled par excellence. The Florida Classical Orchestra was a solid musical presence under Juan Francisco La Manna’s versatile leadership.


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