MCB's "Carmen": Ballet with a Flamenco Flair

Jeanette Delgado with MCB dancers in Richard Alston's Carmen. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB.

 

Love. Betrayal. A feisty Spanish gypsy woman with a terrible fate. Though perhaps best known as an opera,Carmen continues to captivate audiences. Now, Miami City Ballet is tackling choreographer Richard Alston's version of the tale. Before the last leg of performances Mar. 20-22Pointe spoke with MCB principal Jeanette Delgado about interpreting the title role in the American premiere of Alston's flamenco-flavored ballet.

How do you get into character?

The music is the most helpful thing because it's so intense and powerful. I try to listen to the opera while I'm warming up. And sometimes I read sections of the book that I've highlighted. That puts me in the mind frame of who I want to be. Once I get onstage, I try to be really present and respond to the people I'm dancing with in a natural way that's not forced.

 

How does the flamenco feel play into the choreography?

Richard Alston was really adamant about us using our backs. There's a lot of twisting and spiraling of the upper body to give that sense of flamenco and Spanish flair. He also talked about the dynamics of the music. When certain notes are very precise, he told us to be just as dramatically sharp.

 

What has been the most difficult part of the ballet so far?

Developing the character so quickly. Ideally, you have three acts to really evolve. Even though it's probably physically harder to dance a three-act ballet than a one-act, I think emotionally, this is more challenging. There's a lot more I have to do in my mind in a very short amount of time to portray everything Carmen's gone through.

 

Do you identify with Carmen in any way?

She has a wild side that's very uninhibited and free-spirited. I like that element of her, that she gets to be fiery and say and do whatever she feels. When I was younger, I felt that I had more of that kind of character. I'd like to be able to tap into that onstage.

  

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