Jerome Robbins was indisputably one of the great choreographers and performers of American Dance. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of his birth and companies across the world are celebrating the year with a variety of programs and events dedicated to the genius behind West Side Story, The King and I, Peter Pan and many other spectacular shows.
Mr. Robbins was one of those rare artists whose oeuvre crosses over from the rarefied air of classical ballet to the popular broadway theater with a variety of stops in film (notably directing, with Robert Wise, West Side Story, for which both men won an Oscar in 1961) in between. His career spanned more than 60 years and his legacy lives on with the Miami City Ballet’s Program Two dedicated entirely to the choreographer’s career.
The program ranged from The Cage and In the Night to Circus Polka and West Side Story Suite. The evening began with a delightful Circus Polka resplendent with over 30 young female performers ranging in ages from 7-15. The Ringmaster was performed by Lourdes Lopez in the Company Premiere. Interestingly, Mr. Robbins himself often performed the role in earlier productions.
The second, and perhaps most breathtaking piece of the night, In the Night, drew a sizzling contrast to Circus Polka with its three paired dancers ( Emily Bromberg and Jovani Furlan, Tricia Albertson and Rainer Krenstetter, and Katia Carranza and Reneris Reyes). In The Night is a spectacular romance of dance, light and shade, a three couple adventure into the mysteries of Chopin (whose music was scintillatingly performed by pianist Ciro Frodere). To say this piece was memorable is like uttering the birth of one’s child made for an interesting day. In the Night was one of my favorite experiences witnessing ballet and certainly one of the high points of the entire show. Ms. Bromberg in particular struck a mesmerizing and mysterious presence in her performance.
Other Dances, an intimate, delicate and mostly solo performances demanded the grace and attentive commitment of its audience, which was amply rewarded. Francisco Renno’s piano accompaniment on stage became both a visual and aural partner to the stunning performances by Simone Messmer and Renan Credeiro.
The night concluded with The Cage and the grande finale of The West Side Story Suite, the latter evolving into a more Broadwayesque song and dance ensemble complete with vocals by certain performers and exquisite costumes by all. Christina Spigner and Nathalia Arja gave memorable performances. That this piece was a crowd-pleaser is certain, despite its meanderings from the aesthetic confines of more classical ballet.
The Miami City Ballet create a program of great scope, promise and ambition. Happily for all, they paid loving homage to Jerome Robbins in a glorious display of dance and music that no viewer present will soon forget.