VAIL, Colorado - Miami City Ballet will make its Vail, Colorado debut Saturday at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with a program of masterpieces by George Balanchine, widely considered the greatest choreographer in dance history. The internationally celebrated company, directed by Edward Villella, will perform a trio of the master's classic pieces, Tarantella, The Four Temperaments and Serenade.
No less than the New York Times has offered that "to watch it (Miami City Ballet) dance Balanchine is to see aspects of his choreography more clearly than with any other company today."
The evening will start off with Tarantella, set to the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and created by Balanchine for his New York City Ballet stars Patricia McBride and Edward Villella (Miami City Ballet's artistic director) in 1964. The tarantella, a famous folk dance of southern Italy, has inspired a number of stylized, classicized versions in many different ballets. Brisk, flying jumps recall the original folk dance, with the name itself, meaning tarantula, alluding to the legend that the spider's bite causes a feverish, hyperkinetic restlessness.
The most thrilling part about Balanchine's Tarantella is its speed: it never takes a breath. The dance demands the greatest swiftness and stamina the human body can muster, and doesn't allow a hint of flagging energy. It is frothy and witty, flirtatious and even sexy, even though the partners barely link arms.
This whirling dervish of a dance will be followed by The Four Temperaments, set to the music of Paul Hindemith. Created by Balanchine in 1946 to depict the four medieval temperaments of Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic and Choleric, the piece is captivating in both the expressiveness of the soloists and the meticulous accuracy of the supporting dancers.
Groups of women, often in sets of four, enter the stage throughout the ballet and move as one body; legs at the same height, every movement of the body occurring at the same time - a feat of unison that, when performed well, is breathtaking.
The evening will conclude with Serenade, set to the Serenade for Strings by Peter Ilyich Tschaikovsky. This ballet for 28 dancers has been called a "dance under the moon," and it will be the first time the work has been seen in Vail. Appropriately, the performance will take place under the night sky at the Ford Amphitheater. Serenade was choreographed in 1934 when Balanchine had just arrived in the United States and had recently opened the School of American Ballet - it has gone on to become one of the ballet masterpieces of the 20th century.
Tickets for the Balanchine evening with Miami City Ballet are priced at $65 and $85 for reserved pavilion seating and $17 for lawn seating.
Tickets for all performances of the 2009 Vail International Dance Festival are available online at www.vaildance.org or by phone at either 970-845-TIXS (8497) or 888-920-ARTS (2787).
What: Miami City Ballet at the Vail International Dance Festival
Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $65 and $85 for reserved pavilion seating and $17 for lawn seating
More information: Visit www.vaildance.org or call 970-845-TIXS (8497) or 888-920-ARTS (2787).