An annual gala is a tradition for most dance companies. Miami’s Cuban Classical Ballet is no different.
CCBM will present its Classic Grand Gala on Saturday, June 5 at the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater. However, instead of a usual fundraising gala, CCBM will use this performance as a celebration of dance and a joyous tribute to live performance. It will be both live with a socially distanced in-person audience and broadcast live from the company’s website.
“Every year, we organize a big gala,” explains the artistic director of the CCBM, Eriberto Jimenez. “It’s more elegant and it’s a big event, but it’s not a fundraiser. It’s our biggest show of the year, and we try to do mostly classical ballet.
This year’s show will be a repeat of a 2014 show that paid homage to some of the greatest and most established classical ballets. The ballets chosen belong to the golden age of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, a company that broke down barriers in Paris in the early 1900s – with colorful and vibrant costumes and sets and collaborations with the greatest musicians and set designers of the time – and affected how audiences looked at dancing from then on.
“It’s important for audiences to see a range of classical ballet in the same program,” Jimenez said. “And these ballets should be seen again and again.”
The favorites of the Ballets Russes will be La Vivandière Pas de Six, The Specter of the Rose, La Bayadere Suite, The Hindsand Carnival close. The program will be one hour and 15 minutes without intermission, in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.
The CCBM was created by Pedro Pablo Peña (1944-2018), of Cuban origin, in 2006 to carry on the tradition of Cuban classical ballet outside the island. Jimenez, who arrived in the United States in 1989, became Peña’s right-hand man.
Over the years, even while dancing, Jimenez was responsible for directing, coaching and choreography repertoire, as well as supervising all backstage needs. Later, he began to accompany Peña to business meetings. It’s obvious that Jimenez was trained to take on artistic direction when the time came.
“I got everything thanks to Pedro [Pablo Peña]Jimenez says.
Now as artistic director and in preparation for the June 5 gala, Jimenez has staged and coached each of the ballets. It pays particular attention to pursuing the vision of preserving classical ballet repertoire and technique and demonstrating the distinctive talent and artistry of Cuban dancers.
Most of the dancers who will be seen during the gala are Cuban and part of the South Florida dance community. To complete the company, the CCBM has partnered with Florida’s St. Lucie Ballet, whose dancers will form the ensemble.
The opening of the show will be the jewel of a ballet, La Vivandière Pas de Six (Where Markitenka, as it is called in Russia), premiered in 1844, with choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon and Fanny Cerrito, and music by Cesare Pugni. The pas de six is the only section of the one-act ballet that is preserved and notated (documenting the movements). The difficulty lies in Bournonville’s expressive technique and the casual and charming quality of the dancers.
The performers will be Paula Zapata and Ihosvany Rodriguez, accompanied by Eleni Gialas, Myriam Ayala, Jennifer Villalon and Niuris Rodriguez.
The Specter of the Rose created in April 1911, directed by the great choreographer Michel Fokine and the costume designer Léon Bakst. It featured Hector Berlioz’s 1841 orchestration of Carl Maria von Weber’s piano music, “Invitation to the Dance”.
The ballet tells the story of a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a rose she received at her first ball. The ballet’s premiere was a huge success, especially for the portrait of Nijinsky and the huge leap he made through a window at the end of the ballet. Ronna Olarte and Carlos Caballero Hopuy will dance the parts of “The Young Girl” and “The Rose” respectively.
The complete ballet in four acts, The Bayadere – with music by Ludwig Minkus and original choreography by Marius Petipa – premiered in 1877. This exotic ballet follows an undying love between the nobleman Solor and the temple dancer (bayadere) Nikiya, who is disturbed by the revenge of the beautiful temptress , Gamzatti. For this rendition, Gamzatti is played by Daynelis Muñoz; the warrior, Solor, is Jonhal Fernandez; and the corps de ballet will feature the St. Lucie Ballet.
The chic and the atmosphere The Hinds is a one-act ballet created in 1924 with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska (Nijinsky’s sister) and music by Francis Poulenc. The plotless ballet depicts the random interactions of a group of mostly young people at a house party on a summer afternoon. CCBM will reenact a scene where a group of sophisticated women are enjoying a pleasant evening.
Finally, the 1910 ballet, Carnival, featured music from Robert Schumann’s piano suite, “Carnaval, Op. 9”, choreography by Fokine and costumes by Bakst. The ballet has been described as a series of lighthearted, humorous incidents interwoven with poignant moments and an undercurrent of satire. The characters are the melancholy Pierrot (played by Carlos Caballero Hopuy), the capricious Columbine (Muñoz), the mischievous Harlequin (Rodriguez) and four couples. All the fun and frolic will bring the evening to a delightful end.
– Cameron Basden, ArtburstMiami.com
Cuban Classical Ballet of the Miami Classical Grand Gala. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at The Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost between $39 and $59 through livenation.com.