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Miami City Ballet

By Guillermo Perez

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Miami, FL
January 11–13, 2013
Performance reviewed: Jan. 11


The comfort of seeing familiar dance qualities and the challenge of having them expanded proved mostly satisfying in Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic. This was the British choreographer’s second Miami City Ballet premiere since his 2012 success in creating Viscera for the company. As a stylist he brought back rapid-fire phrases and persistent shifts in groupings. But the dramatist in him found greater flair in magnified emotions and encounters, especially to embolden the ballerinas with emphatic moves: a pas de chat could look like a panther pounce, arms flashed hieroglyphics, and lifts stabbed the sky. All this came once more in keen response to a composition by Lowell Liebermann, this time the contemporary American composer’s Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (performed under Gary Sheldon’s baton with Francisco Rennó at the piano).

The dancers stayed breathlessly afloat—whirling and rushing by—in the tsunami of Liebermann’s staccato runs on the keyboard (euphotic refers to light on water). And this resourceful exuberance bristled around well-placed sobriety. Communal exertions sometimes propelled and sometimes followed the three lead women.

The opening allegro moderato movement enshrined Jeanette Delgado. The corps at first was seated around her like pieces on a gameboard and then embedded her and partner Kleber Rebello in hectic formations. The lead pair, in yellow, was given to forceful unions as well as face-to-face contemplation. The second presto movement granted prominence to a bewitching Sara Esty, who roused companions, including four couples, into pulsating clusters and sweeps across the stage (all wore blue, with the women’s knee-length skirts cascading into white): a landmark performance for the ballerina.

 

 

Above: Miami City Ballet dancers in the world premiere of Liam Scarlett’s Euphotic.

At top: Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebellos in Euphotic.

Photos: © Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB.

 

A spell of exoticism in this ballet—Bacchus would approve of its ecstatic rituals—fell on a more somber precinct where, for the third-movement adagio, silhouetted background figures accompanied an intricate trio. Though not devoid of magic, the tricky entwinements and restless dissolutions for Patricia Delgado, Yann Trividic, and Carlos Miguel Guerra indulged the occasional tendency in the choreography to let overwrought sensations sacrifice clarity. The last movement recalled Balanchine’s hellzapoppin’ way to end some ballets, with every visual plane brimming with commotion.

On opening night there was no shortage of talent in the program’s other offerings. From Balanchine, Divertimento No. 15 joined charm to fastidiousness in the configurations of Tricia Albertson, Ashley Knox, Emily Bromberg, and Jeanette Delgado, with Michael Breeden, Reyneris Reyes, and Didier Bramaz in attendance. Duo Concertant featured Patricia Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro to both frisky and wistful advantage. What could have been an unnecessary Don Quixote Pas de Deux (a plod de deux?) turned into a jeweled rendition, thanks to Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado. Yet it was by sharing the spirit of a contemporary’s creativity (Scarlett’s still in his mid-twenties) that the dancers really triumphed as a vital community. Already experts at making ballet’s past relevant, they found new ardor in Euphotic. Cheer for their history, and welcome them to the future.