The Miami City Ballet has long been a renowned ballet company within the country. With a repertoire of more than 130 works, the Ballet continues to uplift and empower the Miami community. Taking Miami history one step further with its Fresh & Fierce programming, the ballet will host the world premiere of Sentimiento, a love letter to Miami Beach. With costumes by internationally celebrated fashion icon Esteban Cortázar, the show is full of nostalgia for South Florida while honoring Miami's diverse history.
Portrait By: Andres Oyuela
Initially approached in 2019 by Miami City Ballet's artistic director, Lourdes Lopez, Cortázar shares the project feels like returning home.
"I derived inspiration from personal experiences I had here in Miami, like my childhood in the 90s, watching photographers like Herb Ritts come to Miami and take some gorgeous pictures and witnessing those moments. There was a lot of glamor and elegance in those pictures. The tropical Art Deco architecture mixed with colors, the Tropicana years of Miami in the 60s," he shares. "We took inspiration from ballroom dancing and merged it into ballet."
Sketch Courtesy of Esteban Cortazar
But the real inspiration came from the show's music, composed by Ernesto Lecuona.
"The music is quite an homage to Cuba because the music comes from a Cuban composer. It's an exquisite, classic ballet. But it has an edge because it comes from a young choreographer's mind, heart, and soul," Cortázar notes. "I feel like the juxtaposition between this classical feeling mixed with today's world makes the ballet very special; it's what I was inspired by as well."
With the upcoming show serving as the world premiere, Cortázar faced limitless possibilities regarding potential costumes. Choreographed by Miami City Ballet School alumnus Durante Verzola, Cortázar notes the dance also served as a significant source of inspiration.
"When I saw the choreography, I could understand the movements and get inspired by that. So it's exciting to do a new piece; in fact, I don't think it would have been as exciting if I was creating pieces for something that has already existed and has already been performed. I think the fact that no one has seen this, yet feels like a ballet that's been around for decades," he says. "There's something grand and mature about the ballet, yet it feels young and fresh."
Sketch Courtesy of Esteban Cortazar
Although designing for years, this project required a different approach.
"I have to think about other [design elements] that I normally don't have to think about, so the functionality of things that they don't rip that easily, that they can last for many different performances, that they can move appropriately to the dancers' movements," he says. "There are a lot of these elements that have to come into place. The kind of fabrics we choose that are flexible and can move, there are many things you think about when you're creating something different."
While Cortázar previously worked with different dance companies, he shares this project was unique because of his connection with the city.
“[This project] means new experiences. It means reinvention. It means home. I'm doing it in a place that really feels like home. For me, it means it's very personal; it means something deeply profound because it's very personal," he professes.
Sentimiento premieres April 14 and runs through the 16 before moving to other South Florida ballet companies. You can purchase tickets here.
Photography by: Photo By: Andres Oyuela