Miami City Ballet
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL
March 28–30, 2008
Reviewed by Guillermo Perez
Miami had Twyla Tharp seeing red. Not only did anger sizzle up in encounters throughout her NIGHTSPOT, a premiere commissioned by Miami City Ballet, but other inflamed passions—combative, erotic—even put a blush on Isaac Mizrahi’s costumes and John Hall’s lighting, keeping what Tharp dished out as if under a heat lamp.
The piece took place in clubland, but events were plotted to suggest fable. Urban nightcrawlers brushed up against whimsical creatures, native to cabaret or myth, as ordinary conflict and festivity turned self-consciously theatrical and ritualistic. Mizrahi’s designs obeyed the dichotomy: here, looking off-the-rack; there, as if from the pages of action comics.
When discord erupted between two lovers (Callie Manning, bristling beautifully; Carlos Guerra, skulking with game), friends shadowed them like happier alter egos (a winsome Katia Carranza and Jeremy Cox, street hearty). To shake things up, there came Jennifer Kronenberg, showgirl extraordinaire and siren to lure any prodigal, and Isanusi García-Rodríguez, a mischievous emcee and Afro-Cuban spirit. Held above a fluttering red cloth in a swell of seduction, Kronenberg made a splash with Guerra, luring him into wayward lust. García-Rodríguez also took a shot at Guerra, but his went to the chin in a capoeira-inspired duel. Chastized, Guerra hooked up with Manning again.
The choreographic pieces in that scenario sometimes found only a jagged fit. But six other couples did whisk by nicely for ensemble dances, with Jeanette Delgado and Daniel Baker and Zoe Zien and Alexandre Dufaur thrust forward in a tango-tinged section. In Elvis Costello’s score the beat from an upstage band trotted down tropical paths; otherwise, an orchestra in the pit crescendoed in early modernist modalities. The music’s back and forth—not always the smoothest—provided a wall of sound though Tharp’s movement often followed its own calling. Peppered with Latin steps and hip-action, her familiar tugs and pulls, clamped-on lifts, eccentric spins, and other visual jabs shifting directions had their thrills. But, despite its color saturation, the portraiture here may not hold up in the glare of the morning after.
(Photo by Joe Gato, Courtesy Miami City Ballet)