Harris Theater presents a neo-classical program by Miami City Ballet 15 years after it opens its doors for the very first time as Chicago’s home for music and dance
On November 8, 2003 The Harris Theater for Music and Dance opened its doors for the first time as Chicago’s home for music and dance with a performance by the New York City Ballet. 15 years later, the Harris Theater celebrated this anniversary with a performance by Miami City Ballet with accompaniment by the Chicago Philharmonic featuring two pieces by iconic choreographers known for their work at the New York City Ballet and one new work by Brian Brooks, the theater’s inaugural Choreographer in Residence.
Clean and Classic
Concerto Barocco choreographed by George Balanchine performed to Concerto for Two Violins in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach starts off the evening. The work for ten women and and one man is elegant and clean. The dancers wear simple white leotards, the signature costume in Balanchine’s ballets. The eight women that make up the corps de ballet perform movements in unison and weave around each other creating new formations that holds the audience’s attention even when the soloists emerge. They are the anchor of the ballet, always on stage pushing the dance forward.
Two solo female dancers mirror and echo one another’s movements also emulating the two violins in Bach’s composition with extreme musicality, which then transitions into a duet for a male and female dancer. The duet weaves in and out of the corps de ballet creating a beautiful structure of formations on stage. The piece is effortlessly simple yet extremely detailed all at once.
Bringing Brooks Back
Brian Brooks’ One Line Drawn opens with exactly that: a stark and straight line of dancers standing still surrounded by fog against a backdrop of lowered electrics creating a stunning grid of lights.
Brian Brooks has been forming his relationship with the Harris Theater steadily over the past three years. As the theaters’ first ever Choreographer in Residence, he has created three works for three different companies performed at the Harris Theater; the first performed in 2016 by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the second by his own company, Brian Brooks Moving Company, and finally this premiere for Miami City Ballet.
The contemporary dance features dancers moving in and out of the space from the dark background to the light filled foreground, sometimes in solos, duets, trios, and larger groups. All dancers wear grey tunics and shorts, the female dancers only distinguished from the males by the pointe shoes on their feet. The movements are quick and spiraling, the dancers in constant motion when they are in the light. The mixing of contemporary movement with the stark lighting, and foggy dark atmosphere, gives the dance a very mysterious and edgy feeling.
The final piece of the evening is Brahms/Handel co-choreographed by Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp and performed to Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Opus 24 by Johann Sebastian Bach. The individual styles of Robbins and Tharp reveal themselves in the choreography and costumes of this lighthearted and joyous finale ballet.
Robbins dancers are dressed in blue and have an air of regality and elegance about them, while Tharp’s dancers, dressed in green, are a bit more quirky in their movements cartwheeling with flexed feet around the stage. Brahms/Handel reminded this reviewer that classical and neo-classical ballet doesn’t have to be overly serious or follow a strict narrative. This piece gives the audience permission to abandon their preconceived notions about ballet and laugh and smile along with the the dancers.
Miami City Ballet provided something for everyone, mixing a simple and elegant classic by a ballet icon, with a contemporary premiere features exciting lighting and atmospheric effects, with a witty and fun one-of-a-kind ballet, perfect for the Harris Theater’s celebratory 15th anniversary performance. For more information about upcoming Harris Theater Presents performances visit the Harris Theater Presents website.
Learn more about dance by seeing dance through dancers eyes in the Picture This Post series, “Choreographers’ Eyes - Dancers Explain Dance”. Watch this video preview of the story here—
Concerto Barocco - Katia Carranza, Jennifer Lauren, Reyneris Reyes, Emily Bromberg, Adrienne Carter, Julia Cinquemani, Mayumni Enokibara, Samantha Hope Galler, Ellen Grocki, Alyssa Schroeder, Nicole Stalker
One Line Drawn - Nathalia Arja, Lauren Fadeley, Samantha Hope Galler, Ellen Grocki, Ashley Knox, Jennifer Lauren, Simone Messmer, Helen Ruiz, Renan Cerdeiro, Jovani Furlan, Shimon Ito, Alexander Peters, Kleber Rebello, Emilien Rivoire, Chase Swatosh, Amir Yogev
Brahms/Handel - Jeanette Degado, Kleber Rebello, Tricia Albertson, Alexander Peters, Laure Fadeley, Chase Swatosh, Jordan-Elizabeth Long, Ariel Rose, Ellen Grocki, Shimon Ito, Ashley Knox, Alex Manning, Nicole Stalker, Emilien Rivoire, Adrienne Carter, Julia Cinquemani, Mayumi Enokibara, Nina Fernandes, Helen Ruiz, Alyssa Schroeder, Raechel Sparreo, Santiago Castanada, Satoki Habuchi, Aaron Hilton, Harrison Monaco, Eric Trope, Amir Yogev, Damian Zamorano
About the Author:
Hayley Ross graduated from Ohio University in 2016 with degrees in Dance and Journalism. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hayley began dancing at the age of four. She has studied Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, and African dance and regularly can be found taking dance and Pilates at Chicago's Lou Conte Dance Studio. Hayley has completed internships at CityScene Media Group, OhioDance, the Chautauqua Institution, and American Dance Festival. She currently works in the Marketing department at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as the Marketing Manager. Learn more about Hayley at hayleyross.weebly.com