Posted: 5:07 p.m. Saturday, February 25, 2017
The Miami City Ballet brings consistently high-quality dancing and world-class choreography to South Florida audiences. The company’s Program Three, running through Feb. 26 at the Kravis Center, is no exception, at least in regards to the dancing. The dancers perform with their usual brilliance and stunning clarity. The program, however, is uneven at best.
The company opened the evening with George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht Ballet, a brilliant work made in 1980 for the New York City Ballet. This beautiful, lively romp reveals Balanchine at the peak of his powers, able to show masterfully dense, musically sophisticated choreography.
The premise, simply, is beautiful — virtuosic dance set in motion to incidental music from Charles Gounod’s Faust. The work opens with 24 women, a soloist and a principal couple working through the paces of what, on the surface, appears to be a standard neoclassical ballet.
As the music gets progressively more and more abandoned, wild and free, we see the dancers quite literally let their hair down. By the finale, hair, legs and raucous spirits are flying at breakneck speed, engulfing the stage. What makes this work even more masterful is that it never crosses over into kitsch or camp.
Christopher Wheeldon is rightfully one of the most popular and talented choreographers working in ballet today. It’s unfortunate that his ballet Polyphonia — the second work of the evening — does not reflect that fact.
Polyphonia is one of those non-descript contemporary ballets that could have been made by any one of several chorographers working today. Its pared down aesthetic and, at times, borderline misogynistic partnering are dry, cliché and a pretentious thin soup.
Miami City Ballet would do well to find a better ballet created by Wheeldon.
The Fairy’s Kiss
The third work on the program was The Fairy’s Kiss, a new ballet by the wildly popular choreographer Alexei Ratmansky.
While this ballet has all the trappings of a successful new work — beautiful score, lighting, costumes and décor — it never really finds its feet. It struggles from the very opening, trying very hard to force across the patchy narrative of the libretto.
The ballet teeters back and forth between overly simplistic play acting and oddly crowded, busy ensemble.
The ballet ends in a vague, disconnected ritual of bodies, somehow attempting to illustrate an even more obtuse metaphor about the nature of life. This ballet, while at times beautiful to look at, is vague and unfulfilled as a piece of theater.