A banner caps a stellar year for Miami City Ballet

Arts / Article

Miami City Ballet (a Knight Arts grantee) had a banner year. After yet another remarkable and well-received season, MCB, as it is known, traveled for the first time ever to Paris and made an outstanding foreign debut. Then, it made its premiere appearance under a national spotlight when it were featured in PBS’s “Great Performances.” Finally, to some dismay, the founder and director Edward Villella, who is synonymous with the MCB and brought Balanchine to Miami, announced his retirement, turning a focus on the quarter-century achievements of the successful regional company.

So it seemed fitting that the ballet and its South Beach building get its own banner, which went up in time for Art Basel, across from the Bass Museum. Now hanging from the Arquitectonica-designed digs, it is the product of the mixed media duo Jordan Schaps and Benjamin Martin — and their muse for this project, Miami City Ballet School student Ella Titus.

The artists first came down from their New York home in September to start their process, which involved painting and splashing the legs of the dancer, photographing it all, then eventually manipulating the images digitally. The student dancer was posing in the five ballet positions (a study that the artists had done before for a dance poster in New York) for the five murals, while her legs were striped with wild colors of blues and greens, reds and yellow, in images that can convey tendons and veins and the life-blood of those dancing legs. These sessions were documented for Knight Arts, here: www.knightarts.org/community/miami/miami-city-ballet-preps-for-art-basel.

The initial, messy process, which involved splashing and spilled paint  and which itself resembled a performance, was eventually cleaned up into images with a computer-graphic feel, while still projecting that movement and power of the dance. Finally , the 10- by 38-foot banner depicting the five positions took its place on top the three-story building on Nov. 30, to decorate MCB’s home for several seasons, at least.

Miami City Ballet, 2200 LIberty Ave., Miami Beach.