This story originally appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of Pointe.
To celebrate its 30th-anniversary season, Miami City Ballet is making a splash. The company's closing program this spring will transplant A Midsummer Night's Dream, Balanchine's 1962 full-length ballet, to the Florida shore, diving underwater for elements of the supernatural realm. Coral Castle, a romantic old-Miami landmark, provides the model for the court in this production. The ballet premieres tonight at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
“The reimagining gives us a great chance to mount a masterpiece with inspiration from the place where we live," says artistic director Lourdes Lopez. For years, Lopez has wanted to see this Shakespeare-based ballet, with sundry music by Felix Mendelssohn, as a new concept. Now, The George Balanchine Trust has approved her vision while counting on her to keep the choreography intact.
Miami Beach–born artist Michele Oka Doner proposed the aquatic theme and has been instrumental in the redesign. Her tutus evoke jellyfish while her unitards derive patterns from a coral reef. In the spirit of this version, Bottom will turn into a manatee—tempted with sea-grass by Titania. Stunning videos on the company's Instagram account have given fans a glimpse of what to expect in tonight's performance.
Lopez also emphasizes the contribution of dramaturge Tarell Alvin McCraney. The young playwright—a MacArthur Fellow who grew up in Miami's inner city—is a dedicated explorer of Shakespeare's plays and served as playwright in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK. “He's helped the dancers think more deeply about the text, giving meaning to their steps," says Lopez, who hopes to turn this dream project for a special occasion into a recurrent company success.