Mambo No. 2 a.m.
Miami City Ballet
Jacira on Sunday, February 11, 2001
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
OK, fans, I know I don't usually do reviews of Ballet,
but this wasn't just any Ballet... This wasn't even CLOSE
to the um-teenth Nutcracker Suite you may recall
being dragged to see as a kid (not to knock the Nutcracker
Suite, which I still ADORE!), but suffice it to say that
Edward Villella's dream of reaching out to a more diverse
audience is well within his reach. This is ballet like
you've never even imagined it!
In part this is due to Mr. Villella's vast experience as
the Founding Artistic Director, and in part it is a result
of his having grown up in an eclectic city like New York.
Drawing from this, he has tapped into the roots of the
latest Latin dance craze (Cuban Pete would probably say
this is the second time around for this craze, and he'd
Although the Miami City Ballet's Fifteenth Anniversary Weekend celebration
included three Ballets, Bugaku, Mambo No. 2 a.m. and Stars
and Stripes, I'm only going to tell you about Mambo No. 2 (the other
two are definitely worth seeing, but after all, this is a SALSA website!)
Actually, Mambo No. 2 a.m. is really act IV of a ballet called
The Neighborhood Ballroom, but it is the first to be finished.
I guarantee you I will be back to see the whole show when it opens in
the 2002-2003 season!
Mambo No. 2 a.m. is a melting pot of influences,
starting with the original music by Pérez Prado and His
Orchestra. They used cuts from the Havana 3 a.m.,
Kuba-Mambo and 10 Grandes Exitos albums.
It is choreographed by Edward Villella, with my friend,
the all-time great Mambo dancer himself, Pedro "Cuban
Pete" Aguilar and his partner, Barbara
The dances cover several different historical time periods,
with their corresponding popular dances. Although
the grace and strength of the ballet dancers shines through,
from what I hear on the grapevine, at first they were
having a hard time loosening up from all that classical
training and getting down with the Latin Beat of Mambo...
they weren't able to hear the "clave".
That's where Pete and Barbara came in and showed them
how it was really meant to be danced.
In the opening scene we see elements of a conga line, and
even a Rueda de Casino, where the woman changes partners
in a circle. The various styles of salsa could be glimpsed,
mixed thoroughly with the impeccable timing, and smoothed
out with the fluidity of neoclassically trained dancers.
The costumes deserve a special mention all their own.
Haydée Morales crafted the most stunningly gorgeous costumes
that are a mix of textures and colors. They reflect the
light and the movement of the dancers, and are a colorful
and evocative combination of folklore and sensuality.
Plans are to take this show on the road to New York in
the near future, and possibly to Venezuela, if they get
the funding. I urge everybody to write to the National
Endowment for the Arts www.nea.gov
and tell them to send the Miami City Ballet some
more money!!!) ...and if you are in New York when
they come to town, DON'T MISS THIS SHOW!