Miami City Ballet: On Point


Thanks to Art Basel Miami Beach and numerous art museums and private collections, contemporary art receives the lion’s share of attention when it comes to culture in Miami. All the while, Miami City Ballet is quietly taking the world by storm. The Miami Beach-based company has been busier than ever performing its repertoire ranging from its signature Balanchine classics to new commissioned works, a priority for Lourdes Lopez since becoming artistic director in 2012, in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Paris. On May 25, MCB adds another feather in its cap when it opens the 42nd annual Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston, S.C.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and a former director of the New York City Opera were among the event’s founders. They chose historic, charming Charleston for its similarities to Spoleto, Italy, home of the famous Festival of the Two Worlds. Every spring, its American counterpart takes over the small Southern city’s performing arts centers, churches and other venues with opera, theater, dance, classical music, jazz and more. This year’s 17-day series runs through June 10.

MCB has an exciting program in store for its most devoted fans and new audiences alike. For its first performance on May 25 at the Charleston Gaillard Center, it honors the work of the magnificent Jerome Robbins with “Celebration: The Art of the Pas de Deux.” There are two big reasons for the tribute. Not only would it have been the late, prolific choreographer’s 100th birthday in October, but he organized and hosted a similar program with the same title at the 1973 Spoleto Festival in Italy. Lopez recreates his role as commentator as dancers perform three of his works created for the New York City Ballet, including “Other Dances” (1976), “In the Night” (1970), and “Afternoon of a Faun” (1953). The first two ballets are set to Chopin, whose music he adored, while the third is set to Debussy. Robbins had a long history with the original Spoleto. Tapped as a resident artist in the late Fifties, he premiered several works there and even established a ballet company over the years.

MCB returns to the same venue for a three-part program titled “Romance on pointe” on May 26 (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.), and May 27 (2 p.m.). The strong overview bridges its heritage and recent works. Balanchine’s “Walpurgisnacht Ballet” premiered in a 1975 production of “Faust” with the Paris Opera Ballet. MCB premiered choreographer Justin Peck’s “Heatscape” in 2015 in West Palm Beach, Fla. The commissioned work also shook up the ballet world with its edgy set design by street artist Shepard Fairey, whose mural draws busloads of tourists to Wynwood Walls in Miami. Alexei Ratmansky created “Concerto DSCH” in 2008 for the New York City Ballet; MCB danced the ballet for the first time in its Program IV for the 2017-18 season.

Then it’s off to Paris to participate in Les Etés de la Danse Festival next month. The event also invites New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Perm Opera Ballet Theatre to celebrate Robbins. MCB performs “Other Dances” and “In the Night” during the festival’s second program on June 28-30. It’s the perfect excuse to visit Paris.

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