Miami City Ballet 2002

Eric Quilleré partnered Jennifer Kronenberg in Miami City Ballet's Giselle.
Photo by Steven Caras, courtesy Miami City Ballet

Miami City Ballet

Broward Center of the Performing Arts
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
January 11�13

Jackie Gleason Theater
Miami Beach, Florida
February 1�3

Reviewed by Guillermo Perez

Giselle has at last found a permanent home in South Florida. And, in a place known for flashy style and boisterous activity, Miami City Ballet's version of the Romantic choreography couldn't be more cautiously traditional. Staged by ballet mistress Eve Lawson, with the help of principal dancer Eric Quilleré (a former member of the Paris Opéra Ballet who has set his own Giselle on Ballet de Marseille), this work let the company depart�with heartfelt enthusiasm�from its hallmark Balanchine repertoire toward a chancier adventure amid the passions of nineteenth-century dance drama.

This first incursion into full-length narrative (seasonal Nutcrackers not counted), with all the new demands it made on the troupe in acting and movement style, turned into a box-office hit and came off in its artistry as unassumingly successful. For the production, cash-conscious MCB had to rent sets and costumes from American Ballet Theatre but luckily managed to hire an orchestra. Care showed in the bright rendition of Act One's village scenes, especially when Katia Carranza and Renato Penteado had their merry, enterprising way with the peasant pas de deux. The wonder and menace of the haunted forest in Act Two seemed murmured, then blared through the fairly uniform formations of the Wilis. The ballerinas playing Myrtha weren't always in full command, though Michelle Merrell was more adept at her woeful tyranny.

Occasionally, animation did wane or sputter into uneasy bustle. But as the dance traced tragedy toward salvation, this Giselle proved a fitting vehicle for the principal ballerinas�already champions of Balanchine's peculiar stamp and speed�to advance into favorable territory.

Among the three Giselles I saw (the fourth, Iliana Lopez, danced on Sundays), Deanna Seay, while throughout a superior technician, looked more at home in the glow of the village while Jennifer Kronenberg (whose first-act mad scene also had dramatic force) brought ethereal shimmer to the heroine as a darting, arching forest spirit. Her partnership with Quilleré's Albrecht stood out, adroit in harmony and tension.

Mary Carmen Catoya, a Venezuelan who has been with the company for three seasons, was steady on stylistic demands and superbly projected Giselle's virtues�with youthful passion first and later unearthly ardor. Minhua Zhao courted her as Albrecht, and Astrit Zejnati, with tremendous masculine relish, rivaled him as a terrific Hilarion. All claimed from ballet's distant past newfound wealth for the company's future.

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