International Ballet Festival

Photo by Daniel ochoa de Olza

As dancers from across Europe, Latin America and the United States converge over the next 10 days for the 15th International Ballet Festival of Miami, director Pedro Pablo Peña is feeling simultaneously triumphant and frustrated.
Triumphant because the festival continues to draw enthusiastic audiences and has survived despite the economic downturn and the ongoing challenge of raising money for the arts in South Florida. Frustrated because, even after years of success, finding financial and political support remains difficult.

This year’s festival will present dancers from 15 countries in classical and contemporary performances as well as a show by teenage medalists from various ballet competitions. Awards recipients include classical dancer Milorad Miskovitch, Danish critic Erik Ashengreen and 16-year-old David Alvarez, who for three years starred in Broadway’s Billy Elliot.

Classical “galas” will present soloists and pairs of dancers from famous companies such as Argentina’s Estable Teatro Colon and the National Ballet of Canada as well as lesser-known troupes such as Mexico’s Compania Nacional de Danza and the Hungarian National Ballet in selections from big ballets such as Swan Lake and Don Quixote as well as Balanchine works such as Diamonds and Tchaikovsky pas de deux. A small budget, about $100,000, prevented the festival from presenting larger ensembles or entire companies, Peña says.

“In the case of classical ballet, I look for the opportunity to bring a new star or a new dancer that audiences may not have heard of,” Peña says. This year he is excited about Cuban dancers Yosvani Ramos, performing with the Australian Ballet, and Arionel Vargas, now with the English National Ballet.

“In the case of contemporary dance,” he says, “I look for new choreography, new companies that haven’t been seen here.”
The contemporary program at the Colony Theater seems especially promising, with Italy’s Balleto Teatro di Torino on Saturday and, on Sunday, Vancouver-based Move: The Company, headed by up-and-coming choreographer Josh Beamish; the New York company Evidence, headed by Ronald K. Brown, a favored choreographer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and The State of Hellectrick Danse Theater, a new collective of Miami dance and performance artists.


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