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By Guillermo Perez
A hometown talent takes over Miami City Ballet.
Despite the institutional tremors that rattled Miami City Ballet in 2012, the 27-year-old company remains standing on high ground, windows open to the future. Lourdes Lopez, the new artistic director, has taken to her hectic schedule with vision and practicality, with a wholehearted commitment to spruce up her present post. “I’m very happy to be home,” the Cuban-born, Miami-raised, former New York City Ballet principal told the audience upon the October opening of this season’s first program. This month, the company’s second program includes a world premiere by Liam Scarlett, Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, and the pas de deux from Don Quixote.
Photo of Lopez by Erin Baiano, Courtesy MCB.
MCB’s founding artistic director, Edward Villella, gave shape to the current performance lineup before his controversial and precipitous departure (set to start in April, Lopez, who signed a 44-month contract, had to take over around Labor Day). Yet Lopez still applied her own stamp through coaching—she’s taught ballet for years and served as executive director of The George Balanchine Foundation—and showcasing young wonders such as 2011 “25 to Watch” Renan Cerdeiro (a high-strung god in Apollo) and Nathalia Arja and Jennifer Lauren (winsome Blue Girls in Les Patineurs) in the October program. But the real buzz among dancers at an opening night party was the prospect of a more cutting-edge repertoire.
Above right: MCB in Balanchine's Apollo. Photo © Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB, © Balanchine Trust.
According to The Miami Herald, Lopez has Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, and Christopher Wheeldon on her viewfinder and will perk up every program in 2013–14 with a company premiere. She wants to bring Morphoses, the troupe she co-founded with Wheeldon, on board as a new-choreography resource. Already MCB’s cool quotient jumped when the dancers strode out as a flash mob at Wynwood Walls, the heart of a trendy arts district, leading Lopez—who’s comfortably bilingual—to tout this sort of event in a local Spanish-language publication.
“I have a great responsibility to the ongoing cultural development of this community,” declared the artistic director before the first curtain last fall. And, by the end of that evening, a standing ovation for Paul Taylor’s red-hot Piazzolla Caldera also appeared to embrace the Latina who’s promised to keep MCB’s fires burning.