Arts Ballet's Season Finale Stays on Pointe

To close its 16th season, the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida is dedicating its finale performance to ballet's Russian forefathers and to Venezuela, which has heavily influenced the company's neo-classical repertoire.

The shows will be held Saturday, May 3, at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center and Sunday, May 4, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

From the dramatic change in backdrops to the detailed costumes, seeing a full classical ballet production exposes South Florida audiences - especially younger show goers - to the history and beauty of the art form, says Art Ballet's Artistic Director Vladimir Issaev. The renowned Russian-born ballet master spent 10 years in Venezuela before relocating to Miami, where he's kept the flame of classical, neo-classical, and modern ballet alive since 1997.

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Issaev is in awe of the company's 16-year run, which has taken its professional troupe to Europe, South America, and Mexico. Arts Ballet may have started small but now sells out more often than not.

"We don't get much money, but we work hard," Issaev says.

For its tribute to ballet's Russian roots, the company will present Paquita, which was first staged in 19th-century Russia by Marius Petipa. Set to music by the legendary Austrian composer of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre Ludwig Minkus, the two-act theatrical piece tells the story of Paquita, a young Spanish Gypsy girl who saves the life of a French officer, who she marries. The plot takes place in Spain during the occupation of Napoleon's army.

Although some of the original choreography has been lost over the years, the wedding scene in Paquita has remained a classic within ballet repertoire, and will showcase the virtuosity of Arts Ballet dancers Jun Tanabe and Kaori Fukui, who portray the main characters. The work features variations and pas de trois. Dancers will don costumes from the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg (formerly known as the Kirov).

The company pays tribute to Venezuela with Fuga con Pajarillo. Choreographed by Issaev, the work adapts a popular folk dance, the Joropo, to pointe ballet. Ballerinas in this piece will be draped in dresses inspired by the bougainvillea flower, while a male soloist will wear a traditional Venezuelan liqui-liqui.

The piece was selected "for my love of the country," Issaev says. "It's my second home." Moreover, he says the melody of the music will take the audience on a poetic journey.

The company will also present Issaev's "The Dance of the Hours" from the opera La Gioconda with music by Poncielli. The popular, recently-premiered piece, which earned Issaev best choreographer for the festival in Palm Springs, will be danced by Arts Ballet dancers Takayuki Asai and Hill Lillian. The duo will also dance the classic Copelia's "Pas de Deux," while dancers Jorge Barani and Meisy Garcia will perform "Flames of Paris Pas de Deux."

--Kai T. Hill, artburstmiami.com

Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida's season finale takes place 7:00 p.m., Saturday, May 3, at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, 3385 NE 188th St., Aventura. The second performance takes place at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $25.; aventuracenter.org or browardcenter.org.

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