June 2010: Three Big Ballets, Three Weeks, Feels Like Three-Hundred Degrees.

Posted by on 07.01.2010

The hot and muggy Miami summer weather always signals a layoff-vacation for Miami City Ballet dancers. This is time given to us each year to rest and rejuvenate before beginning another busy and hectic season. We wrapped our 2009-2010 season at the end of April and had time off until June 7th, when we all came back to Miami for a short, but intense rehearsal period.

Last Friday marked the end of three weeks spent working on ballets for our upcoming 2010-2011 season. In the first week we learned Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” and “Bugaku.” These two ballets are completely different, even though they were created by the same choreographic genius. “Theme” is set to Tschaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G major, which I find reminiscent of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty’s score. All the corps and demi women are in tutus dancing behind the principle couple. The ballet ends with a magnificent polonaise with 12 corps couples supporting the principles. This polonaise reminds me so much of the finale of “Diamonds” that we performed a few seasons ago.

“Bugaku” is a Japanese themed ballet. In this ballet, there are four corps couples and a principle couple. The curtain opens on an empty stage with the music filling the air. Then the women enter with tutus, wigs, and white painted skin. After the girls dance, there is a men’s movement, followed by several pas de deux sections. For the last movement, all the men and women wear long flowing capes. These capes proved to be a challenge to dance in. After learning the steps, practice capes were brought in for everyone to rehearse with. Everyone’s feet were getting stuck in the fabric, capes were twirled around legs, and people were tripping right and left! Practice does make perfect, though, because as time went on we learned tricks to deal with this curve ball Balanchine had thrown us. This will be a challenge for all involved, but the visual effect created by all this fabric is very appealing and worth the hassle.

For the last two weeks we concentrated mostly on Twyla Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen.” Elaine Kudo came to set this fun and jazzy ballet on us. This is a different kind of Tharp piece than those we are used to. It is unlike “In the Upper Room” and “Golden Section” which are obviously energetic, athletic, and as Elaine would say “punchy.” “Baker’s” is very smooth and flowing to reflect the jazzy piano score. Though to the audience this piece may seem much more easy and relaxed, there are still many challenging moments. Girls are getting thrown around, turned upside down, and dragged across the floor. Oh yes, there were many bruises, cuts, and sore muscles during these two weeks. Even so, mission accomplished! Baker’s is sure to be another Tharp hit for our company.

Theme and Variations
Bugaku

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