When master ballet choreographer George Balanchine unveiled Bugaku in 1962, audiences were stunned by what critics have called "the sexiest show in ballet." Borrowing from ancient Japanese classical dance, the ballet enacts a marriage rite set to the music of famed pan-Asian composer Mayuzami. In other words, two dancers get it on whilst a Westernized, Japanese classical mash-up plays in the background. It's "Balanchine's most erotic ballet," Miami City Ballet's Ailency Martinez tells us.
The ballet company's website is even more explicit in its description of what is to be expected on stage: "One critic said it had 'the subtlety of Japanese painting on silk, the strength of Japanese wrestlers.' Yet another described how 'The lovers stalk each other with expressionless hunger.' A third suggested that it might well have been called 'The Deflowering.'"
If that's not enough to entice you to trick your grandmother into accompanying you to "a nice evening at the ballet," the Miami City Ballet season opening Ballet Program I also features two other highly-acclaimed and diverse choreographies. Theme and Variations is Balanchine's tribute to Imperial Russian ballet with elaborate tutus and Tchaikovsky music that has become the archetype of classical ballet.
Fanfare, a Jerome Robbins choreography, is sort of the opposite. It is a fun take on composer Benjamin Britten's "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," in which each orchestra instrument is represented by a dancer. The company is split into two groups that are sub-divided by instruments before coming together as an "orchestra" for the finale. The choreography was especially chosen to mark the return of Miami City Ballet's live Opus One Orchestra, which has been on hiatus for the past two years.
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Program I will be performed Friday, October 15th though Sunday, October 17th at Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown). Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. and the Sunday performance is at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $19-$169. Call 305-929-7010 or visit miamicityballet.org.