Dance

Villella’s Miami City Ballet ouster dominated dance news

 

jlevin@MiamiHerald.com

The controversial leadership changes that rocked Miami City Ballet sent a chill through the dance community in South Florida and beyond in 2012. But young choreographers continued to rise from a growing local modern dance scene, with notable premieres and new venues in which to develop experimental talent. Here are the year’s highlights:

• The ouster of storied Miami City Ballet artistic director Edward Villella, founder of South Florida’s most important dance institution, was the end of an era for the troupe Villella had built into one of the nation’s best. The controversy also marked the ascendance of powerful donors who pressured him to leave — a lesson, perhaps, for other cultural organizations. MCB’s future is now in the hands of his promising but still unproven successor, Lourdes Lopez.

• Miami City Ballet’s world premiere in January of Viscera by choreographic wunderkind Liam Scarlett of the Royal Ballet, one of ballet’s most buzzed-about talents, showcased the company’s vitality and fierce style of classicism at a new level.

• MCB’s other major commission, by vaunted Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, was another mark of rising status. And the March premiere of his bold, dramatic Symphonic Dances, accompanied by the Cleveland Orchestra, was grandly riveting.

• The premiere of Miami choreographer Heather Maloney’s mysterious, emotion-laden in this place in February marked her as a serious and original talent and her Wynwood studio and performance space, Inkub8, as an important place for nurturing, presenting and elevating dance.

• The South Florida premiere in March of dance theater artist Rosie Herrera’s Dining Alone displayed her trademark stunning imagery and dark irony along with a new thoughtfulness and emotional vulnerability. New York performances in the new year will give the talented Herrera a well-deserved national showcase.

• A sharp, playful intellectual spirit merged with pristine imagery and theatricality in a January collaboration by visiting choreographer Jonah Bokaer and visual artist Daniel Arsham. Look for more Miami shows from this pair, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

• The 10th anniversary show in October of Diana Lozano’s edgy burlesque-cabaret troupe CircX was a deliciously outrageous and inventive celebration that highlighted how many of Miami’s biggest dance talents — including Herrera, Ana Mendez and Natasha Tsakos — have drawn inspiration and energy from CircX.

• Miami’s hip-hop dance scene boomed, with local casting and/or production of major movies, music videos, pop tours and commercials. With the 6th Street Dance Studio earning a major Knight Foundation grant to develop its children’s hip-hop program, look for continued growth.

• From television shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Bunheads to films like First Position and Pina, dance enjoyed its hottest pop-cultural moment since the 1970s.

• The Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s farewell performances, on the cusp of the new year in New York, were a brilliant, heartbreaking end, not only to the troupe that made manifest the genius of the late Cunningham, but also to the devotion to process that he embodied.

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