Dazzling lines and sparkling feet, choreography by George Balanchine and music by Igor Stravinsky, all wrapped up in one riveting performance by the Miami City Ballet is part of the University Musical Society’s St. Petersburg 300 Celebration. These exquisite dancers will perform “Agon,” “Apollo” and “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” this weekend at the Power Center. These pieces, not only exhibiting some of St. Petersburg’s greatest achievements, also celebrate George Balanchine’s greatness, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth this coming year.
Edward Villella, the company’s artistic director and one of Balanchine’s most esteemed protZgZs, said, “Balanchine and Stravinsky loved to call themselves St. Petersburgers, it was a city of culture and excitement, and this is a terrific and appropriate time to represent the genius of George Balanchine.”
Balanchine left St. Petersburg in 1933 for the United States and revolutionized dance with the beginning of the New York City Ballet. From his company emerged Edward Villella, the first American-born male star. After dancing for Balanchine for almost 20 years he retired in 1975. Ten years later, Villella founded the Miami City Ballet and still is its director. He has watched its growth from the company’s last appearance in Ann Arbor in 1990. “Just the idea of being able to do an ‘Agon’ or the ‘Violin Concerto,’ two monumental works that have incredible challenges needing a great deal of experience and awareness, really marks the maturity of our company,” commented Villella.
Patricia Delgado, a native of Miami, now in her third season with the company after graduating from high school only two years ago, agreed with the stylistic and musical challenges these works present. She is especially excited to perform the “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” because the company will have just premiered it in Minnesota this past weekend. “I really like Stravinsky, the music is unbelievable, the corps dancing is really jitterbugish and there is the most intricate pas de deux. Even more, it is still so new, which will give the ballet such a fresh energy,” added Delgado.
Speaking of the style of these ballets, Villella explained, “Though they are abstractions, they really are taking large ideas and reducing them to a poetic sense.” Further discussing their intricacies, he revealed that “Agon” centers on the urban contest of a man and woman, and the pas de deux from Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, also referring to a man and woman is an exercise in watching people grow apart and be pulled back together. Villella finds himself thinking that Balanchine was trying to show New York life, and he said, “Stravinsky alluded that his pas de deux had a direct relationship with his own life.”
The Miami City Ballet, set to engage Ann Arbor with this special Balanchine celebration, will also reach out to the youngest possible audience with a one-hour Saturday matinee family performance. Dancing sections of Balanchine’s fun “Who Cares” and exhilarating “Allegro Brillante,” Villella, who will narrate this performance, plans to “step out on stage and introduce the world of ballet to young people, hoping to stimulate not only their ears and eyes, but also their minds.”
Whether you’ve loved ballet from the time you were little or have never seen a performance, the Miami City Ballet, straight from the south, is sure to spread warmth over their entire audience!