THIRTEEN’s Great Performances puts the spotlight on one of America’s finest dance companies in Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp on Friday, October 28 at 9 p.m. (check local listings). The program will air as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival.
This program – a trio of signature works by the renowned choreographers — will showcase the company’s critically acclaimed performances of Balanchine’s “Square Dance” (music by Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli) and “Western Symphony” (music by Hershy Kay) and Tharp’s “The Golden Section” (music composed and performed by David Byrne).
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From their home base in Miami Beach (and utilizing four performing venues in South Florida), Miami City Ballet – under the leadership of Artistic Director Edward Villella, celebrated its 25th Anniversary Season in 2010-11. More than 88 ballets are featured in its repertory, works created by a roster of world-class choreographers including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Frederick Ashton, Anthony Tudor and John Cranko as well as such 19th century classics as “Giselle,” “Coppelia” and “Don Quixote.”
Villella is America’s most celebrated male ballet dancer. The artistry and versatility he exhibited during his long career with New York City Ballet (1957 to 1975), and in concert appearances across the United States and Europe and on television, did much to popularize the role of the male in dance. He is associated with many of the greatest roles in the New York City Ballet repertory and has been a leading advocate for the arts in America. In 1985, Villella became the founding artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, which has won worldwide acclaim under his direction.
In January 2009, Villella brought the Company to Manhattan’s City Center for its New York City debut, resulting in standing ovations and rave reviews. “Miami City Ballet made its Manhattan debut on Wednesday night at City Center. To watch it dance Balanchine is to see aspects of his choreography more clearly than with any other company today. Energy; crispness; stretch; dance as a demonstration of music rather than as a response to it; the multidimensionality of the body in space: these basic ingredients of the ballet master’s style shine bright here,” enthused Alastair Macaulay in The New York Times.
In a follow-up review, Macaulay opined, “No company today performs ‘Square Dance’ as well as Miami.”
This summer, the company held its debut season at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris to great acclaim. The Miami Herald reported that the company was rewarded with “regular standing (even screaming) ovations from sold-out audiences filling the 2,500-seaet theater.”
Laura Cappelle in The Financial Times noted, “Square Dance, one of their calling cards, sets the tone. At home in this whirlwind of spirited classical inventiveness and folk references, soloists and corps de ballet alike articulate the music and the choreography as one, striking notes so blissful that the action sometimes seems to stop for a millisecond.”
Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp was directed by Dance in America veteran Matthew Diamond (Balanchine Celebration, The Wrecker’s Ball with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Swan Lake with American Ballet Theatre), and produced by Joan Hershey and Mitch Owgang; for Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Major program funding is also provided by Jody and John Arnhold.