Notes: Miami City Ballet Opens Season with “Slaughter on 10th Avenue”

Contributor Claudia Potamkin discovers MCB's Lourdes Lopez is back with a mixture of Broadway and Ballet

Miami City Ballet opened its 34th season with an arresting, three-work repertoire, highlighting the diversity of its dancers and the keen vision of artistic director Lourdes Lopez.

The evening showcased the performance, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Balanchine/Rogers,) which is a mixture of Broadway meets Russian Ballet meets the mob. The parody is about a jazzy strip joint hoofer (tap dancer) who falls in love with a showgirl/stripper. Dilemma, stage right: The stripper’s jealous boyfriend is a Russian mob boss who’s watching the romance unfold from the balcony and has hired a thug, waiting for the right moment to “pump him full of lead.” Enter the police and imagine the action.

Lead dancer Jordan Long studied for several summers under Balanchine muse Suzanne Farrell, who originated the role for the New York City Ballet in 1968. Long says it was her dream to dance this role. “It’s great fun for audiences and pure fun to dance,” says Long. “It’s not ballet per se, but it requires classical ballet training. What the audience sees is pure jazzy, fun”.

The dancers are a treat to watch, with their hair flowing free and wearing jazz shoes rather than being on point. Lead Kleber Robello enjoys the theatrics of the piece, “When you do classical ballet you think about every single position of your body,” says Robello. “This is a different kind of concern of movement. When you get to do tap it’s more pedestrian. You move differently. There’s a story around it. You interact with the other people on stage with theatrics in your body and face”.

Slaughter on 10th Avenue was originally conceived as a full length ballet within the full length musical comedy, On Your Toes in 1936. The subject matter mirrors and is performed close to the end of the musical comedy. The story within a story concept was a novelty and it marks the introduction of the word, “choreography” to Broadway, at Balanchine’s request.

Ballet goers reacted to the artistry of the lineup as well as the quality of the production. “We have one of the top training grounds for professional dancers right here in our own backyard,” says Lourdes Lopez, Miami City Ballet’s AD, who Dance Magazine recently named “one of the most influential people in dance today.” “Most cities don’t have what we do and I am privileged to lead this company.”

Check the MCB schedule here.

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