Ballet Stars
Villella in rehearsal with members of Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami earlier this summer. Photo by Joe Gato, Courtesy DDTM.

This summer the legendary New York City Ballet dancer Edward Villella marked two full-circle moments. He returned to Miami for the first time since his controversial 2012 departure from Miami City Ballet, the company he founded, to coach members of Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami. This new troupe was founded by former MCB principals and Villella protégés Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra in 2016. Villella worked with DDTM dancers on George Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and Tarantella, signature pieces during his performing career. While there, Villella announced that he would be coaching dancers at NYCB starting in September—his first time returning to the troupe where he defined major ballets like Prodigal Son and Rubies, which the company performs this fall.

We spoke with Villella about keeping Balanchine's legacy alive, his big news, and his post-Miami life back in New York, where he lives with his wife Linda.

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News
Isabella Boylston and Calvin Royal III at Ballet Sun Valley in 2017. Photo by Steve Dondero, Courtesy Ballet Sun Valley.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.

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News
Gabriela Mesa, Fabian Morales and Josue Justiz Brito in Ariel Rose's Esferas. Photo by Simon Soong, Courtesy DDTM.

When Jennifer Kronenberg launched Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami with husband Carlos Guerra less than two years ago, she never dreamed their fledgling troupe would be performing in two of the country's most famous dance venues so soon.

"It's surreal," said the former Miami City Ballet principal ballerina, as Dimensions prepared to open the Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival June 26 and 27, going on to the Jacob's Pillow's Inside/Out series on June 29. "We're still very new. Some companies have been around forever and never get invited to places like the Joyce and Jacob's Pillow."

Adds Guerra, "We never thought we would reach this level in such a short time. It's been an amazing journey."

They owe their early arrival to two of the qualities that have already made the 16-member ensemble a successful and beloved presence in Miami: strong community connections, and a repertory and roster that reflect this predominantly Latino city.


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Jane Cracovaner and Elijah Laurant with MOVETHECOMPANY, which will perform at the Joyce Ballet Festival this week. Photo Craig Foster, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


The Joyce Ballet Festival Is Back

New York City's Joyce Theater kicks off its five-company Ballet Festival June 26-July 7. Showcasing a variety of styles including neoclassical and contemporary dance, the festival prides itself on featuring smaller companies. Below, check out the three companies opening this week. (Feeling festive? Enter our giveaway to win tickets to the Ashley Bouder Project at the Joyce on July 5.)

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Ballet Stars
Guerra and Kronenberg rehearsing "Transparente." Photo by Patricia J. Reagan Photography, Courtesy DDTM

Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra are used to being the center of the action from their years as leading dancers at Miami City Ballet. But managing the whirl of activity at a rehearsal of their fledgling troupe, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, is a whole other dizzying dimension—coaching ballets, fielding questions from a photographer and a dancer managing company logistics, squeezing in a quick self-coached rehearsal for themselves. Kronenberg perches on a bench as a costume designer hems her skirt, talking through schedules with Guerra before they hurl themselves into Ronald Savkovic's fraught Transparente, releasing real life tensions in choreographic drama.



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Kronenberg and Guerra. Photo by Leigh Esty Photos, via DDTM

Jennifer Kronenberg and her husband Carlos Guerra retired from Miami City Ballet this past spring, but they're still deeply involved in the dance world. Their brand-new troupe, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, has its inaugural performance this weekend. Between Havana & Heaven features a range of ballet by Septime Webre, Atlanta Ballet's Tara Lee, Miami-based Yanis Pikieris and Marius Petipa. Pointe spoke with Kronenberg about her fledgling company.

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Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra in Balanchine's Agon. Courtesy MCB.

Miami City Ballet announced yesterday that longtime principal dancers Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, who are married, will give their final performances with the company this spring. But no need to get the Kleenex out just yet; in a statement, MCB was quick to stress that the couple is not retiring. Rather, they plan to continue dancing as freelance artists both nationally and internationally. They'll also be teaching, coaching and holding master classes throughout Florida, the U.S. and abroad.

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Yuriko Kajiya and artists of Houston Ballet in Stanton Welch's Paquita. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy HB.

Whether attacking a new role with gusto or finally finishing that book, dancers are a goal-oriented lot. The New Year is a natural time to reflect on one's life and put forth goals for the season ahead. Pointe spoke with six dancers about their big dreams for 2015—and their plans extend beyond the studio and stage.

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Being in a ballet company is consuming enough. Yet Jennifer Kronenberg is branching out beyond her role as a principal dancer at Miami City Ballet.

Unlike many ballerinas, Kronenberg, 37, has taught regularly at MCB’s summer intensive. The sometimes startling gaps in her students’ knowledge has inspired Kronenberg to write a how-to guide, So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer? Kronenberg got her contract for the book’s print edition just before she discovered she was pregnant with Eva, her daughter with husband and fellow MCB principal Carlos Miguel Guerra. “I was kicking myself,” she says. “But as much as I say I want to rest, I always need to be doing something.”

That intensity is characteristic of the willowy Kronenberg, who excels in dramatic parts like Giselle and Juliet, the strutting lead in Balanchine’s Rubies and the gripping roles she originated in abstract ballets by Alexei Ratmansky and Liam Scarlett.

Though the New York native’s favorite subject in school was English, any fantasies she had of becoming a writer were sidelined when she signed her contract with MCB at age 17. But five years ago she found herself complaining to Guerra that her MCB students often didn’t know ballet basics. “They’d say, ‘Can I sit down? I have a blister.’ And I’d be like, ‘Are you kidding? You better get used to handling this.’ ” Her husband’s reaction? “There’s your book.”

Kronenberg tapped out So, You Want to Be on her iPad during rehearsal breaks and at night—and took class until two weeks before Eva’s birth in November 2012. She drew on her own mishaps, like setting her pointe shoes on fire while trying to harden them in the oven at the School of American Ballet, to illustrate common pitfalls.

“We all learn from mistakes,” she says. “But there are so many things to stress about. How nice if you knew what was expected of you.”

After Eva was born, as Kronenberg juggled rehearsals and breast-feeding, she briefly considered—but dismissed—quitting. After all, by producing baby and book, she’d already gotten through the hardest part. “If you dedicate yourself to doing something, you’ll get ahead,” she says. “That gives me the strength and confidence to continue dancing.”

 

 

Fun Facts

Unusual personal moment: Carlos Guerra proposed to her in front of his Cuban family—who videotaped it!

Fun hobby: Pre-baby, Guerra and Kronenberg would go salsa dancing on weekends they didn’t perform.

Dream role: The woman in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux. “So simple, so gorgeous.”

Secret talent: Learned Spanish in the dressing room from MCB’s many Latina dancers.

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