Miami City Ballet (Miami Beach, FL)

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A female dancer on the left strikes a pose, a male dancer behind her touches her hair

Jeniffer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra in the Miami City Ballet production of Jerome Robbins’s Afternoon of a Faun. Photo by Joe Gato

The Miami City Ballet (MCB) was founded in 1985 by Edward Villella, a former George Balanchine protégé and principal dancer for the New York City Ballet. Since then, it has become an acclaimed neoclassical ballet company.

Acquiring new works is essential to the continued success of MCB. In FY 2004, it received an NEA Heritage/Preservation grant of $25,000 to introduce a new dance to its repertoire: noted choreographer Jerome Robbins’s Afternoon of a Faun.

The work is a variation of Vaslav Nijinsky’s famous 1912 version, which was based on Claude Debussy’s music Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un Faune and a poem by Stephane Mallarme describing a faun’s encounter with nymphs. In Robbins’s contemporary version, the faun becomes a male dancer captivated by a ballerina who falls under his spell.

Afternoon of a Faun holds a special place for artistic director Villella: Robbins was moved to create this lovely pas de deux upon seeing Villella as a young student at the School of American Ballet stretching during ballet class. It was also the first piece that Villella performed as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet.

Afternoon of a Faun was staged for Miami City Ballet by former New York City Ballet principal dancer Bart Cook, and was performed in February 2005 along with a second Robbins work, Fancy Free, and two Balanchine pieces: La Valse and Sonatine. A pre-performance discussion of the works was held by Villella and his artistic staff. 

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)