Colorful Miami City Ballet steams up night at Wolf Trap

July 25, 1996|By J.L. Conklin | J.L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Miami City Ballet was in a retro mood when it opened its two-day Wolf Trap engagement Tuesday night. With well-groomed performances of ballets featuring the music of George Gershwin in George Balanchine's "Who Cares!" or The Andrews Sisters in Paul Taylor's "Company B," this attractive and talented dance company had audience members singing along or knowingly bobbing their heads to familiar tunes.

But it was the world premiere of a work by the company's resident choreographer, Jimmy Gamonet De Los Heros, "The Big Band Supermegatroid," set to signature pieces of the 1940s, that capped off the troupe's performance and energized the audience. Performed in front of an art-deco lime-green-and-orange tropical city skyline designed by Jose' Varona, the dance had plenty to offer visually and choreographically.

Although he was born in Peru, Gamonet is familiar with Hollywood movies from the '40s, for all the screen stereotypes are present and accounted for in his dance's five sections. There are also plenty of Balanchine-inspired moments, but Gamonet is stimulated by the master, not enslaved by him.

The first section, "When the Saints Come Marchin' In," offered up a patriotic phalanx of brown-uniformed men and women who broke ranks to boogie. In the midst of this well-planned melee, dancers Sally Ann Isaacks, as the girl on shore, and Douglas Gawriljuk, as the sailor, were in the spotlight.

The only down side to this section was that the main characters simply appeared together. Of all the sections, this one is ripe for a pinch of narrative. Another small flaw was in an awkward partnering move that should be performed flawlessly or discarded.

"Moonlight Serenade," with the silky-smooth dancing of Marife Gimenez and David Fonnegra, followed with a romantic pas de deux that gave a nod to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Here, Gamonet's choreography floats effortlessly on Glenn Miller's music, butthe section seemed abbreviated.

Deanna Seay's strong personality and exceptional dancing shone in "String of Pearls," an homage to the "I Can Do" attitude that made Rosie the Riveter a poster girl in World War II. Gamonet expertly weaves Seay through her five male partners as she flirts and outmaneuvers them, until they finally exit, bearing her high above their heads.

The seamier side of life was depicted in "Stratosphere," featuring Arnold Quintane as a gangster and Maribel Modrono as his girl. Quintane's dancing was delightfully macho and one could almost hear the wise-cracking and gum-snapping in Modrono's sassy performance.

The work climaxed with Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing," with the entire cast swinging and jitterbugging with high-voltage energy. It was obvious throughout the ballet that Gamonet had researched the popular dances, and it was here that authenticity and technical fortitude were forged to create a white-hot performance.

The Miami City Ballet, founded by New York City Ballet principal Edward Villella, has a deep pool of talent with dancers including Iliana Lopez, Eric Quillere, Paige Fulleton and Laurel Foster and is undoubtedly this country's most vibrant and colorful ballet company.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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