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Miami City Ballet closes out season with a 'new old' version of 'Swan Lake'

Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky (L) and Miami City Ballet Principal Dancer Dawn Atkins rehearsing 'Swan Lake.'
Alexander Iziliaev
Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky (L) and Miami City Ballet Principal Dancer Dawn Atkins rehearsing 'Swan Lake.'

Miami City Ballet is closing out its season with the return of choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s re-imagining of Swan Lake.

It had its North American premiere with MCB over two years ago.

Ratmansky's rendering is known as the "new old" version of the classic ballet. It uses dance notations from a late 19th Century staging by legendary Russian ballet masters Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.

READ MORE: From Peruvian folk dance to Nina Simone: Miami-born choreographer comes home with new ballet

Ratmansky did some detective work a few years ago and found them in the archives at Harvard University.

They apparently made their way to the West from Russia by way of Nikolai Sergeev, a dancer, choreographer and régisseur of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Ballet from 1894 to 1918. When Sergeev left Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, he took the notations with him.

"This archive is extraordinary because it has the notation — the recording of the original choreography," says Ratmansky. "And if you want to stage a classic, you have to consult it, to be fair to the original."

Ratmansky says much has changed in the world of ballet since the late 1800's, especially in the way choreography is preserved.

"We see it very differently now. A hundred years ago, choreography was not considered high art," he says.

"But then with the appearance of [Michel] Fokine, of [George] Balanchine and [Frederick] Ashton later on, the public started to understand that these are great masters. And every step of theirs should be protected."


Miami City Ballet
Swan Lake

MUSIC: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
CHOREOGRAPHY: Alexei Ratmansky

April 18-21
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33132

April 26-28
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
201 SW 5th Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

May 10-12
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
701 Okeechobee Boulevard
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Visit Miami City Ballet.org for more information.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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