The coming dance season couldn’t open any hotter: The world premiere of a new work for the Miami City Ballet by a rising young British star.
But there are also plenty of other good things in the local dance world for 2011-12, including the State Ballet of Russia’s Swan Lake, the frenzy of champion ballroom dancers in Burn the Floor, and fresh work from local companies including Florida Classical Ballet Theatre.
Here are the highlights:
Miami City Ballet will introduce a new piece by Royal Ballet choreographer Liam Scarlett and perform two full-length classics, Giselle and Coppelia, in the coming season.
“We are thrilled and excited having finished our 25th year, and we capped that off with a triumphant run in Paris,” said Edward Villella, the troupe’s founding artistic director, who announced last week he will retire in April 2013. “For this season, my idea was to make the first two programs reminiscent of what we did in Paris.
“The last two ballets are ‘Giselle’ and ‘Coppelia.’ I wanted to do those works because they are large ballets and they have very simple corps work. Because we lost 10 dancers, we have to rely a bit on our school of apprentices. It is programming based on practicality.”
(If for some reason you missed the triumph of the Miami City Ballet in Paris, all you need to know is that they received standing, screaming ovations, one lasting for 10 full minutes. Villella considers the experience the defining moment in his life.)
Program 1 will open the season Oct. 21-23 (Arsht Center) with Balanchine’s exuberant Square Dance, a hybrid of American folk dancing and classical ballet set to the music of Italian Baroque masters Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli. Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, a duet that tells the story of a young man obsessed with his image in a mirror and the woman who interrupts his reverie, is also part of the program along with Christopher Wheeldon’s haunting pas de deux Liturgy, and Twyla Tharp’s masterwork In the Upper Room. (Program I also can be seen Oct. 28-30 at the Broward Center and Dec. 9-11 at the Kravis Center.)
Perhaps the most anticipated dance event this season is MCB’s presentation of Scarlett’s new ballet, which will be performed as part of Program II starting Jan. 6-8 (Arsht Center; Jan. 27-29, Kravis; Feb. 3-5, Broward). Scarlett was commissioned to create what represents his first work for an American company.
Villella met the 24-year-old choreographer in London almost two years ago and was blown away by a ballet he choreographed for the Royal Ballet.
“This young man has an incredible future before him,” he said. “His potential is remarkable. I asked him to do a ballet for us with the stipulation there would be a minimum of costumes, and no sets. It had to be a ballet that is not lavish in its production and he agreed. He came in January for three weeks and in two weeks he had accomplished the ballet, and the third week he polished it.”
Rounding out the program are Robbins’ In the Night, danced to nocturnes by Chopin, and George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial, a contemporary tribute to Marius Petipa and Tchaikovsky.
Program III is Giselle, with its beloved Adolphe Adam score, set for Feb. 17-19 at the Arsht, Feb. 24-26 at the Broward Center, and March 9-11 at the Kravis. Program IV, Leo Delibes’ Coppelia, opens at the Broward Center from March 23-25, travels to the Arsht from March 30-April 1, and finishes at the Kravis on April 13, 14 and 15. (For more information: www.miamicityballet.org or (305) 929-7010.)
Fresh off a 10-day tour of Cuba, Florida Classical Ballet Theatre opens its 11th season with a new work by founder Colleen Smith. Titled In the Mood, it’s an evocation of the World War II era, with popular Big Band and Hollywood music of the time. Officials with the Palm Beach Gardens-based company say it will be danced with a full orchestra when it takes the stage Oct. 15 at the Eissey Campus Theatre.
FCBT also will present its annual mounting of The Nutcracker (Nov. 25-27), and in March, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, with Lily Ojea and Rogelio Corrales in the lead roles. Smith has another original work in mind for June 12, a piece called Wonderland and Other Dances, with Alice and the gang from Lewis Carroll’s classic tales and sets by Jupiter-based artist Pamela Larkin Caruso. (Tickets and times: www.fcbt.org or (561) 207-5900.)
The Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth always offers a well-attended season of contemporary dance, and this year Duncan director Mark Alexander has put together another lineup of cutting-edge troupes. The Duncan season begins with Ballet Memphis (Jan. 20-21), which like MCB is celebrating its 25th season. The Memphians’ program includes Trey McIntyre’s In Dreams, to songs by Roy Orbison, and S’Epanouir, a dance by Jean Comfort to a contemporary score by Kirk Whalum.
Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater, founded by Cuban-born Eduardo Vilaro in 1999 as a showcase for Latin dance, arrives next (Feb. 3-4), with a three-work program: Solo una Vez, by Luis Eduardo Sayago, Naked Ape, by Fernando Hernando Magadan, and Flabbergast, by company director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano.
Tom Mossbrucker’s Aspen Santa Fe Ballet comes to the Duncan on Feb. 23 and 24; its program had not been finalized at presstime, but this small, prestigious, edgy company prides itself on its history of commissioning new work, and has featured pieces by McIntyre, Tharp and Nicolo Fonte. Finally, on March 23-24, it’s a return appearance for Pilobolus, the uniquely acrobatic shape-shifting company that finds remarkable things to do with bodies as objects. (Tickets and information: www.palmbeachstate.edu or (561) 868-3350.)
The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts has an eclectic season including Kings of Salsa (Nov. 25), choreographed by Roclan Gonzalez Chavez, a high-energy celebration of traditional and contemporary Cuban dance styles. The Moscow Classical Ballet brings The Nutcracker to the stage Dec. 21-24, during the time when the now-vanished Ballet Florida used to mount its version of the holiday staple.
For those whose ballet hearts remain with the Franco-Russian tradition, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia offers an evening (Jan. 8) of highlights from three classic Tchaikovsky ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and, of course, The Nutcracker. The men-in-drag company of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo brings its comedic take on ballet to the Dreyfoos on Feb. 2, followed Feb. 12 by Forever Tango, an all-Argentine show that celebrates the South American nation’s most durable dance export.
Meanwhile, at the Kravis’ Rinker Playhouse, Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence Dance Company performs Feb. 21 and 22. An African-American troupe directed by Alvin Ailey alumnus Brown, Evidence will perform Brown’s On Earth Together, set to songs by Stevie Wonder.
One of America’s greatest dance companies, Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, presents a program March 31 of three works: James Kudelka’s Pretty BALLET, to music by Bohuslav Martinů; After the Rain, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to music by Arvo Pärt; and Julia Adams’ Night, with a score by Matthew Pierce. Last up is Stomp (April 20-22), the almost uncategorizable, fascinating agglomeration of dance, sound, lights — and a bunch of people hitting things like garbage-can lids. (Tickets and information: www.kravis.org or (561) 832-7469.)
The exciting young dance master Rasta Thomas comes back to South Florida with his Bad Boys of Dance company for two shows on Nov. 19 at Stuart’s Lyric Theatre. Also at the historic theater in downtown Stuart is Flamenco Express (Feb. 22-23), starring headliner Jessica Pacheco (former wife of Monkey Davy Jones, a Wellington resident). (Tickets and information: (772) 286-7827 or www.lyrictheatre.com.)
And of course, there’s always The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular 1892 ballet about a young girl’s Christmas party that has one of the most beloved scores in ballet and music history. You can get your fix of the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy at these performances:
Florida Classical Ballet at the Esther Center, Palm Beach Gardens, Nov. 25-27
Florida Arts and Dance at the Lyric Theatre, Stuart, Dec. 8
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, Dec. 9-11
Miami City Ballet at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami, Dec. 15-18
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, Parker Playhouse, Dec. 16-18
Moscow Classical Ballet, Kravis Center, Dec. 21-24
Miami City Ballet, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale, Dec. 21-24