By Tania Castroverde Moskalenko
Guest Columnist
Miami, FL, USA

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors.Terry Pratchett

Miami City Ballet was founded in 1985, the same year that, as a young woman, I left Miami, Florida. For 33 years, the company and I have been on divergent but parallel paths, reaching, growing, rising … building our palette.

Despite my departure and the establishment of my career leading arts organizations in various parts of the country, my roots always pulled me home toward South Florida. I
Tania Castroverde Moskalenko

grew up in Miami after arriving from Cuba at the age of six as a political refugee. In Miami I learned to live life on the hyphen as a Cuban-American. In Miami I took my first ballet lesson and fell in love with the Ballet. So, it was a great privilege when, last summer, I was invited to join the Miami City Ballet as its new Executive Director.

The Miami City Ballet is at the top of its game. Since 2012, the company has been under the artistic direction of Lourdes Lopez, a strong and talented Cuban-American who danced with the New York City Ballet for 24 years under George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Lourdes’ artistic vision has garnered rave reviews for the company both nationally and internationally. The company is now considered alongside the top companies in the U.S., such as the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco Ballet.

Miami City Ballet

This past year has been a significant one for the company with tours to New York, Chicago, and L.A., and festivals such as Les Étés de la Danse in Paris and Spoleto in South Carolina. In June, the company performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in Ballet Across America, a weeklong festival with a spotlight on women’s creativity and leadership in ballet. Our home season in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, has had record attendance with Nutcracker surpassing all attendance and revenue goals in our 33-year history.  

Miami City Ballet - Heatscape

We recently launched the 2019-2020 season which features an array of timeless classics, modern works, and sensational theatrical crowd-pleasers, with music ranging from classical scores to Frank Sinatra. (View full season here.)

The new season includes four exciting company premieres: George Balanchine’s Firebird,  newly commissioned by MCB with original sets and costume design by Anya Klepikov and video projections by Wendall Harrington; Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes from Tony Award®-winning choreographer Justin Peck featuring fifteen men, showcasing the power of MCB’s male dancers; Jerome Robbins’ I’m Old Fashioned with the grandeur and glamour of the silver screen as the iconic stars Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth glide on a giant screen alongside the MCB dancers; and, Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth showcasing the breathtaking music of Max Richter and Dinah Washington in an intimate, soulful pas de deux.

The season also includes Balanchine’s spirited Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, a Broadway-infused ballet set in a 1930s speakeasy and Mercuric Tidings, a masterwork programmed in honor of the late Paul Taylor. Also in the season are Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs with costumes by Oscar de la Renta, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances. The season closes with the full-length spectacle of Petipa’s electrifying story ballet Don Quixote, and there is, of course, the return of Miami City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®.

Miami City Ballet - Midsummer Night's Dream

In addition to all of the performances and activities by the professional company, Miami City Ballet has a premier classical ballet school that serves over 1,000 students annually. Approximately 800 students train year-round, with another 400 during the summer months. Fifty-five of our year-round students are in our pre-professional division, a rigorous program for aspiring dance professionals. To ensure that gifted students are able to pursue the training they need, MCB School offers over $550,000 in tuition and housing scholarships to more than 130 students per year.

Our community engagement programs aim to break down barriers and ensure that everyone has access to great art. Each year we touch over 19,000 youth, seniors, and other traditionally underserved people through a growing array of initiatives. The Ballet Bus program breaks down two of the largest barriers to participation in the arts: the cost of training and the challenges of transportation. The program provides not only transportation and the full cost of tuition but also free dance attire, healthy snacks, homework assistance, and mentoring for up to 10 years of support. Other programs include Explore Dance which brings MCB’s outstanding faculty into local classrooms; Behind the Ballet pre-performance talks; Ballet for Young People bringing free performances to more than 7,100 school children; and the Palm Beach Summer Dance Camp offering free classes to public schoolchildren in disenfranchised communities in the Palm Beaches.

None of this work would be possible without the talented team of professionals leading the areas of Development, Marketing, Finance, Production, Community Engagement, and the MCB School. This past year, the Board of Trustees made a commitment to continue strengthening the company by investing in its growth and sustainability. Guided by a comprehensive strategic plan that focuses on four distinct areas—artistic excellence, premiere training, community engagement, and organizational strength—our leadership is determined that our company rise to the next level with fiduciary and organizational capacity and responsibility.

It is incredibly energizing to have come back to Miami and to be leading this organization alongside another Cuban-American woman. Indeed, Miami City Ballet is the only major US ballet company with both a female Artistic Director and Executive Director. An important note since while more women work in the nonprofit sector than any other industry, and they are the majority of nonprofit employees, female CEO’s only account for 50% of small nonprofits, 34% in medium nonprofits, and 14% in large nonprofits.

It is an exciting time in Miami City Ballet’s history, and I am excited to see this amazing company with new eyes and extra colors. Miami City Ballet’s palette has been created from the diverse, vibrant, resilient, and inspired communities that make up South Florida. We are a reflection of these communities and we are proud to export these attributes to audiences across the globe. As we continue to grow and strengthen, I invite you to join us next time you’re in South Florida!

(Miami City Ballet production photo credit: Iziliaev)

Miami City Ballet – 2019-2020 Season   


Tania Castroverde Moskalenko is the Executive Director of the Miami City Ballet. 

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.