Jordan Levin

Miami City Ballet announces world premiere by famed choreographer Alexei Ratmansky

Miami City Ballet dancers Renan Cerdeiro (left) and Simone Messmer in Peter Martins’ Calcium Light Night
Miami City Ballet dancers Renan Cerdeiro (left) and Simone Messmer in Peter Martins’ Calcium Light Night © Alberto Oviedo

A new work by one of the most renowned choreographers in ballet will be the highlight of Miami City Ballet’s 2016-17 season, the company announced this week. The Fairy’s Kiss, from Russian-born Alexei Ratmansky, artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, will have its world premiere Feb. 10 at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center.

Ratmansky’s new narrative ballet, slated to be 45 minutes long, with approximately 25 dancers, will join five company premieres, including major works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and MCB’s first by British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan. The season, which opens Oct. 21, continues artistic director Lourdes Lopez’s philosophy of emphasizing new works and productions at the Miami troupe.

This will be the second ballet that MCB has commissioned from Ratmansky. The first — the sweeping, dramatic Symphonic Variations — premiered in 2012 during founding artistic director Edward Villella’s final season. It has been popular with Miami audiences, and the company will perform it during its debut at New York’s Lincoln Center in April.

The Fairy’s Kiss, also known as Le Baiser de la Fée, is layered with ballet and musical history. It has had various incarnations since composer Igor Stravinsky created the score in 1928, to pay homage to the music of Tchaikovsky. The story is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Ice Maiden, in which a fairy enchants a young boy with a fatal kiss and later carries him away from his fiancée and the mortal world. Bronislava Nijinska, sister of legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, choreographed the first version of the ballet in 1928. The famed British choreographer Frederick Ashton staged the work for the Royal Ballet in 1935, and MacMillan redid it in 1960. Balanchine, the Russian-born genius who changed ballet in America, staged The Fairy’s Kiss in 1937, 1940, 1946, and 1950; and in a new, abstract version called Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée in 1972, which remains in the New York City Ballet’s repertory.

Ratmansky, who was artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet before coming to the United States in 2008, has been hailed as one of the most important and talented ballet choreographers in the 21st century. Known for his acute musicality, his ballets range from abstract, though often emotionally fraught, works to revisions of Soviet and classic story ballets.

“In Russia, it’s still very much about the stories,” Ratmansky told the Miami Herald in a 2012 interview. “The way ballet goes here in the States, it really responds to my ideas, my feelings of how ballet should go. Because it’s about movement, about classical dance and new times.”

The company will also add Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht Ballet, a grand 1980 work for 24 women and a single man to music from Gounod’s opera Faust. Also new will be Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, which he made for NYCB in 1983 to the driving minimalist music of Phillip Glass, and is different from the more dramatic, naturalistic Robbins works like Fancy Free and Dances at a Gathering in MCB’s repertoire.

Other company premieres are the 1977 pas de deux Calcium Light Night, the first dance created by Peter Martins, Balanchine’s successor at NYCB, for whom Lopez danced for many years. (MCB danced their first Martins’ work, Barber Violin Concerto, in January.) Another ballet new to Miami will be Carousel Pas de Deux, by Kenneth MacMillan, a former director of the Royal Ballet and a popular late 20th-century British choreographer, set to music from the musical Carousel. The final company premiere is modern dance choreographer Twyla Tharp’s 1983 Bach Partita, which she made for 36 dancers at ABT; Tharp works such as In the Upper Room are among the most popular in MCB’s repertoire.

The troupe will open the season with the evening-length romantic ballet Giselle. Balanchine’s Serenade and jazzy Who Cares?, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, and contemporary balletmaker Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, which MCB premiered in 2013, will round out the season, together with the holiday staple, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.

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If you go

Program I — ‘Giselle’

Oct. 21-23 at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

Nov. 5-6 at the Broward Center, 201 Southwest Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Nov 11-13 at the Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

Program II — ‘Serenade,’ ‘Carousel Pas de Deux,’ ‘Calcium Light Night,’ ‘Glass Pieces’

Jan. 13-15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami

Jan 20-22 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach

Feb. 4- 5 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale

Program III — ‘Walpurgisnacht Ballet,’ ‘Polyphonia,’ ‘The Fairy’s Kiss’

Feb. 10-12 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami

Feb. 24-26 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach

March 11-12 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale

Program IV — ‘Bach Partita,’ ‘Arden Court,’ ‘Who Cares?’

March 17-19 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach

March 31 to April 2 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami

April 8-9 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale

‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker’

Dec. 9-11 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale

Dec. 17-24 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami

Dec. 28-30 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach