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Image 1 of 2 Miami City Ballet at Jacobs Pillow Miami City Ballet at Jacobs Pillow Photo: Gregory Juan Image 2 of 2 Miami City Ballet Miami City Ballet Miami Ballet's glorious return to Jacob Pillow 1 / 2 Back to Gallery

Becket, Mass.

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After 19 years away, Miami City Ballet made a triumphant return Wednesday to Jacob's Pillow to open the festival's 85th anniversary season.

The program mapped the last century or so of ballet's evolution, generation by generation — from the shimmering symmetry of George Balanchine to Peter Martins' cool elegance to the inventive variations of Christopher Wheeldon. And the company, directed by former New York City Ballet principal Lourdes Lopez, embraced each turn of phrase and change of mood with flawless gusto.

Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante" from 1956, set to Tchaikovsky's Third Piano Concerto, Op. 75, is exactly what we think about when we think about neoclassical ballet: beautifully balanced arrangements and tableaux, chains of pirouettes, everything light and airy and yet grounded in tremendous strength and speed. The central couple, Jennifer Lauren (debuting in the role) and Renan Cerdeiro, brought nuance, power and a hint of sensuousness to their pas de deux.

Made some 30 years later, Martins' "Barber Violin Concerto" juxtaposes a classical couple (Simone Messner and Rainer Krenstetter) and a modern couple (Nathalia Arja and Chase Swatosh). The classical pair is perfectly poised, almost chilly, as he dutifully supports her; the modern dancers burn at a much higher temperature.

But the real alchemy happens when they switch partners. Matched with the barefoot, bare-chested Swatosh, Messner folds into him, drops to her knees, lets down her hair—all her iciness melting away, perhaps against her will. Arja and Krenstetter have great chemistry as well. He attempts to maintain his gracious, courtly demeanor as she jumps around and then literally on him, but she won't stop trying to wake him from his stupor. Eventually she succeeds, and they wage a fierce, competitive battle of wills in the shape of a duet that's both playful and fiery.

Ten short vignettes, each with a slightly different hue, form the structure of Wheeldon's 2001 "Polyphonia," set to piano music by Gyorgy Ligeti (played live by Francisco Renno). It's one of those dances that really needs to be watched from start to finish a few times in a row, in order to fully absorb the tiny, lovely moments of surprise or delight or satisfaction.

More Information

Dance review

Miami City Ballet

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Jacob's Pillow, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass.

Length: 120 minutes, two intermissions

Continues: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Tickets: $45-$78; limited $35 tickets available for ages 18–35

Info: (413) 243-0745 or http://www.jacobspillow.org.

Tresca Weinstein is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.

There are many of them: overlapping shadows on a white wall reflecting the dancers' intersections; swooping lifts and balances; unexpected pauses; sharp, geometric gestures of arms and hands; and tangled bodies that recall the organic imagery of Pilobolus (also at the Pillow this week).

While the festival is best known for its modern dance offerings, it's also been an important home for ballet over the decades. Executive Director Pamela Tatge's choice for opening week honors that legacy, while also reminding us how closely the two forms are related.

Source : http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-features/article/Review-Miami-Ballet-s-glorious-return-to-Jacob-11238956.php?cmpid=123

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