Lourdes Lopez: On Top of Miami City Ballet Without Stepping on Toes
|MCB's new director, Lourdes Lopez.|
The founding director and some members of his company were not happy about the move. And in the end, the replacement decision was not unanimous -- Lopez was awarded the position after a vote of 9-2 in her favor. The other finalist, Jennifer Kronenberg, 35, a principal dancer with MCB, received the votes of Villella and one of the two MCB dancer representatives on the committee, as the dancers were split between the candidates.
We spoke with Lopez about the dancing, the drama, and the future.
|Lopez as the title character in New York City Ballet's Firebird.|
"I'm committed to the Balanchine and the Robbins," Lopez says, honoring her own tradition as well as MCB's. She also takes cues from the choreographers' commitment to innovation -- a vision she shares as an artistic leader. "What made those guys geniuses is that they looked beyond what they were taught," Lopez says. "The future was very important to them."
Morphoses, which Lopez co-founded with the sought-after choreographer Christopher Wheeldon in 2007, but which Wheeldon left in 2010, aims to revitalize ballet by fostering interdisciplinary artistic collaboration. Lopez has gained other experience relevant to her new position as an arts correspondent for WNBC-TV in New York, as an arts educator, and as executive director of The George Balanchine Foundation.
Some artistic partnership between MCB and Morphoses has been discussed and remains to be defined by the boards of both companies. Commissioning new work for the MCB dancers is high on Lopez's agenda, although you won't see any ballets by her onstage -- "Not a pore in my body wants to choreograph," she states. Lopez hopes to involve talent from Miami's visual arts scene and choreographers whose angle appeals to young professionals. "You have to bring in artists who create with a voice that relates to the audience that you want to bring in," Lopez says, noting that all ballet companies as well as symphonies have in mind building the next generation of supporters.
Lopez looks to technology to bring what dancers do to places people are already gathered. Live-streaming rehearsal footage to a park, a bar, or a pool patio, for instance, could introduce ballet, which has historically and problematically been seen as an elitist art form, to many potential new audience members. "I want to reach out to the community. I want everybody to come to Miami City Ballet. I'm not just targeting and it's not about identifying. It's about being inclusive of everybody," she says, acknowledging that several people have asked her how she intends to reach out to Miami's Cuban population.
Regarding the internal problems surrounding Villella's departure, Lopez says, "Every transition has its challenges; every transition is scary." And looking to tradition, in her case, proves helpful in making progress. "Mr. B. [Balanchine] really taught us to leave our ego at the door," she says. "What you do is really for the art form."
For now and moving forward, Lopez says, her focus will be on the Miami City Ballet dancers and "getting that company even better than it already is."
--Emily Hite, artburstmiami.com
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