For close to a century, choreographers have been fascinated by “The Fairy’s Kiss,” a Stravinsky ballet that tells a strange tale that’s part ancient magic, part modern obsession with creativity. The Russian composer based the plot on “The Ice Maiden,” one of Hans Christian Anderson’s more bizarre fairy tales; the score was based on music by his countryman Tschikovsky.
Here are three reasons you should go see it.
Alexei Ratmansky, the formidable Russian dance artist who is resident choreographer at American Ballet Theatre, created his version of “The Fairy’s Kiss” for Miami City Ballet. The second commission from the Miami troupe for Ratmansky, following his powerful “Symphonic Dances” in 2012, it premieres Friday at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
As a young man in Russia in the 1990s, Ratmansky made two versions of the “Fairy’s Kiss” for the Kiev Opera and the Maryinsky Ballet. But he cannot entirely explain the allure the ballet has for him, or the many choreographers, including Frederick Ashton, Maurice Béjart, Kenneth MacMillan, who have tried to capture it before him.
Ratmansky’s prestige makes this a major event for the company, and the long history of “Fairy’s Kiss” helps make it a notable one for the ballet world. The company previewed it at a “Works and Process” program at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, and the New York Times is sending a critic to review “Fairy’s Kiss.”
“It speaks volumes about the company and his admiration for the dancers,” says MCB executive director Michael Scolamiero. “He is in demand to choreograph all over the world, and his choosing Miami City Ballet puts us in very rare company.”
In the story, a Young Man (the characters do not have names), unaware of the magic kiss he received as a baby, is preparing to marry a woman in his village. When the Fairy returns, at one point disguising herself as his fiancé and at another as a fortune-telling gypsy, he is bewildered.
Stravinsky’s brief libretto reads simply: “A fairy imprints her magic kiss on a child at birth and parts it from its mother. Twenty years later, when the youth has attained the very zenith of his good fortune, she repeats the fatal kiss and carries him off to live in supreme happiness with her ever afterward.”
“He doesn’t make any decisions — he grows up and is in love,” Ratmansky says. “But then he understands that it’s going to be another happiness for him, not the life of a simple man marrying and having kids and getting older and watching them grow up. It’s not his destiny.”
MCB’s dancers are all beautiful, but some of their most mesmerizing will be center stage for this ballet. Alternating as the Young Man blessed/cursed by talent are Brazilian Renan Cerdeiro, an airborne greyhound of a dancer, and his countryman Kleber Rebello, whose breakout role was in Ratmansky’s first balllet for MCB and brings a rebellious, powerful spark to everything he does. Simone Messmer‘s icy elegance should be perfect for the Fairy, while firey Nathalia Arja (another Brazilian who got her first big chance as a teen in Ratmansky’s last piece) should be her sparkling, dragonfly opposite. And Miami-bred Jeanette Delgado will bring her inimitable mix of powerhouse technique and passionate character to the Fiance.
IF YOU GO
What: Miami City Ballet Program III with “Walpurgisnacht Ballet,” “The Fairy’s Kiss,” and “Polyphonia”
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Info: $20 to $189 at miamicityballet.org or 305-929-7010
Program repeats Feb. 24 to 26 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and March 11 to 12 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale