Review: Miami City Ballet Program II
Artburst Exclusive January 9, 2011 There is a sequence in Balanchine’s “La Sonnambula” where the love-struck Poet rolls on the ground, placing his hands in the path of the beautiful Sleepwalker and watching in awe as, unseeing, she steps over him. Leaving aside the implications of a hero spell-bound by an unconscious beauty (oh, men), in Miami City Ballet’s production last Friday, Jennifer Kronenberg’s unfocused eyes were so haunting that the audience couldn’t help falling for her too. So when Carlos Miguel Guerra stood up, only to sink again, this time landing on his knees and bending until his back was flat against ground, we understood. Logically, this makes no sense: why is he bending away from her? Because of passion, that’s why! First choreographed for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1946, “La Sonnambula” is a Romantic (and romantic) indulgence and MCB’s sumptious set and lavish costumes measured up. Real-life lovers Kronenberg and Guerra made the doomed affair believable as Callie Manning convincingly plotted their undoing — while just as convincingly partnered with Guerra during the masked ball. The company premiere of Twyla Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen” that followed was a perfect counterpoint, as spare and light as the first piece was lavish. Dressed all in white, the dancers showed up against the plain black backdrop like abstract shapes splashing across the stage. Francisco Rennó’s equally light touch on Willie Smith’s stride piano, whipped up a froth of ever building series of duets, trios, quartets, and so on. There were surprises as Kronenberg, now all bright eyes and smiles, stood astride Yang Zou’s thighs and Haiyan Wu flexed her feet as she leapt, legs astraddle, into unsuspecting men’s arms. (Why are flexed feet always funny? They just are). These two pieces were so perfectly matched that the pas de deux of Diana and Actaeon that followed seemed a bit jarring, as though the time had come for some elegant tricks, and so they must be delivered. Even more jarring was the pairing of veteran principal Mary Carmen Catoya with corps youth Keiber Rebello. Both swirled and leapt impressively, but Catoya was poised and polished, while Rebello was raw and thrilling. I’ll take either one, but preferably not at the same time. In fact, I hope we’ll all be taking in much more of Rebello. He stood out as the Harlequin in “La Sonnambula,” all presence and charisma, punctuated at one point by an unexpected ripple of the pelvis. That presence did not dim one bit in his more sophisticated turn as Actaeon, where he finished each feat with a regal pose on one knee. Feats are what closed out the evening, as the crowd-pleasing “Western Symphony” brought everyone to their feet at the end, wowed by the sight of 35 dancers whirling and whirling through pirouette after pirouette as the curtain came down.