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Miami City Ballet At Lincoln Center

Sheila Kogan, Contributing Writer, April 24, 2016

The Joyce Theater Foundation presented the Miami City Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. The company has a strong connection to New York City Ballet (Edward Villella, the founding artistic director, and Lourdes Lopez, the current artistic director, were both principal dancers under Balanchine), so it was fitting that the company opened the evening with a piece choreographed by George Balanchine, Symphony in Three Movements.

The dancers wore the costumes that are identified with Balanchine’s modern works: black tights and form-fitting white tee shirts for the men; black or white (and three pinkish) leotards for the women. Also typically, the lighting was bright, so that the movement could be clearly seen against a plain backdrop. And this company performed the difficult choreography crisply, with assurance – and FAST. They were just wonderful.

Symphony in Three Movements was choreographed in 1972, but it still appears to be on the cutting edge. With music by Igor Stravinsky, it looks and sounds thrillingly fresh and contemporary. Mr. B would have been pleased, I think. I was, and so was the audience, based on the cheers the company received.

Following was a ballet by Twyla Tharp called Sweet Fields. It was danced to a variety of Shaker hymns. Men wore white trousers and white shirts that exposed their bare chests. Women wore long robes that were open and showed white tops and white shorts. Nice costumes for dancing, but didn’t indicate any religious sensibility. Instead, the choreography was based on the rhythms and the feeling of the hymns: sad, joyous, etc. Parts of it were fun and clever. But the clever bits were repeated frequently enough to become somewhat monotonous. The audience applauded politely.

Finally, there was Symphonic Dances, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff. With no apparent linear story, it was, nonetheless, very dramatic — matching the music’s almost-operatic moods, melodies and rhythms. The movement was inventive and always involving, even riveting — at times lushly romantic, darkly ominous or just wonderfully dance-y.

Ratmansky has proven that he is one of today’s most gifted choreographers, and the Miami City Ballet is one of the finest interpreters of his work. The choreography is rigorous and the members of the company have the stamina and technique to perform this gorgeous work beautifully. The second that the ballet ended, shouts exploded from the enthusiastic audience, with cheers, applause and bravos, requesting that the company return for deserved extra bows. I would have been happy to sit through it all again if that were possible. I guess I will just have to wait until the company returns to New York next time.


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