She also has broader though not fully defined plans with bigger implications for the troupe. She wants to turn Morphoses into a creative arm of MCB, inviting guest choreographers and the troupe’s dancers to make pieces, possibly staging them at nontraditional venues like museums or malls or at the troupe’s in-house studio series Open Barre. And she wants to incorporate more choreographers, including major ballet modernists such as William Forsythe and Jiri Kylian, into the troupe’s repertoire.
“Miami City Ballet really functions as a very traditional — and I mean that with full respect — dance company,” she says. “What it doesn’t have is a choreographic arm.”
But she insists she won’t take the troupe too far from its classical base of Balanchine and Robbins and modern dance masters such as Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp.
“We’re not going to do Pina Bausch,” she says, referring to the experimental German choreographer. “The foundation of Miami City Ballet’s repertoire will not change. I’m bringing in other choreographers that are very similar, that will complement those. … I strongly believe the more information you have, the more accomplished you are as an artist.”
A changed city
She is still groping to understand a city that changed enormously while she was away.
“Miami is on the brink of this huge cultural explosion,” she says. “I want Miami City Ballet to ride that momentum, and to initiate it if possible. … I think the city is ready to embrace a ballet company and ready to embrace the arts.”
Many would say that explosion is well underway. And the ballet has been struggling to win the city’s embrace since its inception.
The perennially cash-strapped company recently received $3 million in new donations, but much more will be needed to realize Lopez’s vision. And the new artistic director, who signed a 44-month contract, is aware of the potential pitfalls. She’s already gotten some pushback over whether the adventurous pieces she thinks would play well in Miami will work in more conservative West Palm Beach.
“They can run to the end of my contract and say we’re no longer in need of you,” she says, shrugging. “I hope they don’t judge me on whether I’m able to raise gazillions of dollars. I hope what they’ll see is it’s not just Miami City Ballet I’m trying to move forward.”