Posted by Rebecca King on 06.20.2011
As Miami City Ballet’s three-week tour to Paris continues to near, we began our second week of preparations today with a total of eight ballets in a six hour rehearsal period.
Edward Villella, who is very active in our rehearsal process, discussed some interesting points today during our Theme and Variations rehearsal. In addition to giving notes to the principals, he took the corps aside to bring a few things to light. When talking to the ladies about the first movement, he noted the port de bras, or the movement of the arms. He wanted all the dancer’s arms to have a swinging quality as the ladies lift their arms above their heads, then bring them back to waist level. As he mentioned, this ballet is in fact very “academic”. The steps for the corps women in the first half of the ballet are the kinds of concepts that students around the world work on in ballet class everyday. However, Mr. Villella tells us that Balanchine always throws surprises in his ballets. ”In this ballet the surprise element is the timing and phrasing. I want to see a harmonious physicality.”
When discussing the ballet’s spectacular finale, he brought the men into the conversation. Theme and Variations ends with a polonaise danced by twelve couples, lead by the principal couple. At one moment the entire cast of 26, form a long diagonal line across the stage and polonaise forward in unison. (A polonaise is a step of Polish origin in 3/4 time.) Mr. Villella notes this moment’s importance. “There needs to be a physicality in the step; a contrast between [each movement] accentuated by a bend in the upper body.” Overall he says, “This ballet is very royal. It should be like the third act of swan lake. The men and women should relate to each other in a grand way.”
Next up on the rehearsal schedule, Ballet Imperial. Again, Mr. Villella took a moment to share some of his insight with us. He mentions a step danced by the women in the third movement. He noticed that the speed of the music seemed fast for us, but he doesn’t think that the tempo should be adjusted, as it adds to the excitement. ”Balanchine didn’t create steps that wouldn’t work. He knew they would.” He was also adamant about the style of this work. ”We need to bring a certain style to [Ballet Imperial] and Balanchine has helped us by defining the style through the choreography.”
Lastly, he told us how pleased he has been with our work over these past eight, intense rehearsal days. He said, “This is a company. I am very impressed with where we are in our preparations for Paris. There is no other way to prepare for this than by performing all of these ballets. And you are doing that in here; for us and for yourselves.” We are so glad that we are making him proud. It is great to know that our hard work is paying off. There is no better feeling.