Saturday, October 3, 2009

ArtsPreview 2009-10: The season in dance

A scene from Israel Ballet's Don Quixote.

By Sharon McDaniel

Yes, Virginia, there will be a Nutcracker at the Kravis Center. But Santa is bringing it by sleigh -- from Russia. With Ballet Florida out of commission and Miami City Ballet staging it only in Broward and Miami, the door is open for the Moscow Classical Ballet (Dec.24-26, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach).

Of the dizzying list of ballet companies with titles like Moscow this or Russian that, Moscow Classical is just what it says: an actual company based in Moscow. It was founded in 1966 under the old Soviet Ministry of Culture, and still receives some financial support from today’s Russian government.

A scene from Moscow Classical Ballet's The Nutcracker.

Moscow Classical stages for an authentically Russian Nutcracker, too, incorporating elements from the 1892 original and a major 1934 revision. So arrive early and read up on the slightly different story line and some of its unfamiliar characters. Hints: Clara’s name is now Masha; there’s a Mouse Prince with seven heads, plus a Mouse Queen.

The touring company of 50 dances to taped music. (And you just might recognize a handful of local children on stage, too.) For tickets $20-$65, call (561) 832-7469 or (800) 572-8471 or visit

Complexions Contemporary Ballet: They choreograph for TV’s So You Think You Can Dance. And they performed in films by the late actor/dancer Patrick Swayze.

They are choreographer Dwight Rhoden and dancer-extraordinaire Desmond Richardson, co-artistic directors of the high-voltage Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Since the two Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre stars founded Complexions 15 years ago, modern dance hasn’t been the same.

Considered one of the hottest troupes today, the New York-based Complexions has thrilled viewers worldwide with emotional, high-energy performances. Rhoden’s spirited ballets mix urban street dance, multimedia, art and poetry. And the 14 multicultural dancers are breathtaking for their athleticism, infectious spirit and incredible classical-ballet technique.

For its only West Palm Beach appearance this season, Complexions opens the dance series at Lake Worth’s Duncan Theatre with two performances early next year. For tickets, $37, call (561) 868-3309. (Jan. 15-16, Duncan Theatre)

A scene from Miami City Ballet's Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

Miami City Ballet: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, a fast-paced favorite, is back in the Miami City Ballet lineup. The George Balanchine masterpiece was created for the 1934 Broadway hit On Your Toes (Rodgers and Hart). Not only does it include such remarkable elements as tap dancing and gangsters as characters, it also has that great Richard Rodgers score.

The Balanchine is programmed along with a premiere: Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section, the finale of The Catherine Wheel. It features 13 dancers in golden dance wear, jogging and soaring nonstop through golden stage lighting. The effect is the unity of light and costumes, music by David Byrne and movement that is artful and aerobic.

For tickets $19-$169, call (561) 832-7469 or (877) 929-7010 or visit (Jan. 15-17, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach; Jan. 22-24, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale; tickets $19-$169, call (954) 462-0222 or (877) 929-7010 or visit

Israel Ballet: This is the only company in Israel devoted to performing the great classical ballets. And one of the most colorful – and international -- is Don Quixote, the story of the would-be noble knight of La Mancha, whose famous adventure includes chivalrous acts in the name of his beloved Dulcinea.

The ballet is also famous as one of the most technically difficult for dancers. It is full of exceptional solos and scenes requiring the peak of classical technique.

Israel Ballet was founded in 1967 by ballet stars Berta Yampolsky and Hillel Markman who continue as its artistic directors. The production includes lavish costumes, a multimedia staging and richly romantic music.

For tickets $25-$75, call (561) 832-7469 or (877) 929-7010 or visit (Feb. 13, Kravis Center)

The Batsheva Ensemble in performance.

Batsheva Ensemble: Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin is making his debut at the Arsht Center. But his audacious work Minus 16, turned up at the Kravis Center a few years back, performed by Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance. As artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company, Naharin has led the troupe to an international reputation as one of the most vibrant in contemporary dance.

Its second company, Batsheva Ensemble, will perform the well-known Deca Dance [Dec. 5-6, Arsht Center], a reconstruction that mixes excerpts from Naharin's inventive work spanning the last 10 years (including Minus 16!).

Based in Tel Aviv, the company was founded in 1964 by the mother of American modern dance, Martha Graham. Naharin, a Graham-Batsheva dancer, began directing and choreographing for the company in 1990. His well-known technique for movement, called Gaga, develops dancers of great flexibility, agility, expressiveness and explosive power. This year, Naharin received the American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement.

For tickets, $25-$90, call the box office at (305) 949-6722 or visit

Moscow Festival Ballet: The Moscow Festival Ballet was founded in 1989, around the time of the Soviet Union's breakup. As one of the newer, independent touring companies, the Festival Ballet attracts award-winning graduates of the leading dance schools across Russia.

Its founder/director, Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Sergei Radchenko, brings together the great Russian ballet traditions in full-length classics such as its South Florida offerings: The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Coppélia.

In The Nutcracker, area children will join the Russians on stage in the holiday favorite. Swan Lake, one of the loveliest classics, is a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and the triumph of good over evil. In Coppélia, a delightful family ballet, a toymaker creates a lifelike doll. His wish to bring Coppélia to life sets off a comedy of mistaken identities.

Shows: Saturday, Dec. 26, The Nutcracker, Sunrise Theatre, Fort Pierce. Tickets: $27.50-$99; (772) 461-4775, Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.: Swan Lake, Sunrise Theatre. Tickets: $45, $55; Thursday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.: Coppélia, Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium, FAU, Boca Raton. Tickets: $40, $45; (561) 278-7677,; Friday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.: Coppélia, Eissey Campus Theatre, PBCC, Palm Beach Gardens. Tickets: $40, $45 (561) 278-7677,

Irina Dvorovenko.

Festival of the Arts Boca: For the final concert of its fourth year, Festival of the Arts Boca 2010 will celebrate Russian artists and music -- and its first ballet performance [Saturday, March 13, Count de Hoernle Amphitheatre, Mizner Park, Boca Raton]. The duo of American Ballet Theatre stars Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky will perform two ballets: Splendid Isolation (to the Adagietto of Mahler's Symphony No. 5) and the Black Swan Pas de Deux from Swan Lake (music of Tchaikovsky).

Even better, Irina and Maxim will have live music by the renowned Russian National Orchestra, the festival's resident ensemble, conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos. The program also includes the RNO in a slew of Russian orchestral favorites: Borodin's Polovetsian Dances from his opera Prince Igor, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

For tickets, ($25-$150) call (866) 571-ARTS (2787) or (561) 368-8445. Visit for other events from March 5-13.

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