Flurries & Firebirds: Miami City Ballet’s “Winter Mix”

Among its annual programming, Miami City Ballet is currently showing “Winter Mix,” a medley of four ballets, ranging from contemporary works to a famous Balanchine-choreographed piece, premiering first at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, then the Arsht Center in Miami, with the finale happening this weekend at the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale. With its wide range, “Winter Mix” has a little something for every type of viewer. South Florida Theater Magazine caught the performance at the Kravis Center, and it was a delightful showcase of the form.

I was pleased to see that the Miami City Ballet serves the Palm Beach County area, as well as its roots in Broward and Miami-Dade offering more individuals the opportunity to experience the magic of ballet right in their own community. The company felt right at home on the gorgeous stage of that art-deco performing arts center. The grandiose feel of the stage setup, alongside masterful lighting by one James F. Ingalls, fit the first piece of the night in “Firebird.”

Miami City Ballets production of Firebird. Choreography by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

“Firebird” is a piece famously choreographed by the masters George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. This piece, with Nathalia Arja as the Firebird, told the story of a mythical bird who bestows upon a prince a magic feather after a tender pas de deux for whenever he is in trouble. He eventually falls in love with a woman, who falls victim to an evil king. When almost overcome, the firebird appears to help, the two lovers get married, and they live happily ever after. What mostly impressed me about this rendition of this famous performance is that level of splendor and decadence that accompanied the dancing. The stage, the props, the lighting, the gold, oh my. Best part of the night, believe me.

The second piece, titled “Analogo,” felt very modern and contemporary, which is always a good thing to see in ballet, an art form that can sometimes feel inaccessible and rigid, mainly because the positions of ballerinas feature a stiff, upright spine. But, in this piece, dancers dropped to the ground, face down, and hugged the marley floor with extended arms. The costumes and the minimal lighting here also played a role in how sparse this piece felt. Kudos to the backdrop for allowing an optical illusion where the dancers appeared and disappeared.

Dawn Atkins in Firebird. Choreography by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Our third piece, title “PAGANINI, In Play,” was perhaps my favorite of the night. With more masterful stage design and lighting, a quartet of string instruments played behind a silhouetted backdrop as the dance unfolded. Choreographed specifically for the Miami City Ballet, by Durante Verzola, classic styles and movements blended with contemporary scenery, and it worked well.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Concerto DSCH. Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

During the final piece “Concerto DSCH,” the only bad moment happened. Although I am unaware of the ballerina’s name, during a partnered spin en pointe, the dancer fell, and she fell hard. There were audible gasps from the crowd. She got right back up and finished her dance, but it was all I could think about as the performance came to a close. Unfortunately, accidents like this happen regardless of how much rehearsal time is dedicated, so don’t sweat it.

You can still catch Miami City Ballet’s “Winter Mix” this weekend at the Broward Center. Get your tickets here: https://www.miamicityballet.org/winter.

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