Photos by: Benjamin Thacker
The opening night performance of Miami City Ballet’s highly anticipated 25th season at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts was filled with exciting surprises. MCB’s glamorous founder, Toby Lerner Ansin, was honored onstage by Edward Villella, MCB Founding Artistic Director and CEO, for her vision and support during these 25 years.
The Opus One Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Gary Sheldon, was back after a two-year hiatus, and performed live on opening night. It’s amazing to see how much a live orchestra energizes the dancers and the audience!
The excitement continued with the company premiere of Jerome Robbins’ “Fanfare”; George Balanchine’s “Bugaku”; and his signature “Theme & Variations” (Balanchine’s tribute to Imperial Russian ballet). All were performed to perfection. I never tire of anything Balanchine. Choreography that has such geometric precision yet is so elegant and graceful. Sigh. And from the front row, well, it just does not get any better.
“Fanfare” first premiered on the night of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 — a playful take on Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” It was specially chosen to welcome the orchestra back to the ballet. Villella returns to the stage for every performance of “Fanfare” as the Narrator. Who knew that after being America’s most renowned ballet superstar during his own dance career, Villella could be so cheeky!
After the performance, VIPs gathered in the Peacock Room for a champagne and dessert reception to celebrate the company’s glorious start of their 25th anniversary season and Toby Lerner Ansin’s 70th birthday. Last June, the “Toby Lerner Ansin Scholarship” was established by the Ansin family to honor both of those important milestones. Heartfelt congratulations and much joy to my dear, dear friends Toby and Edward. I was thrilled to be there!
For tickets and information visit www.miamicityballet.org.