On stage, it was “The Jets are gonna have their way … tonight.” It was the premiere of Jerome Robbins‘s “West Side Story Suite” at Miami City Ballet. A big tangle of tension, gang hatred, rumble, and knife-fight.
But backstage, a cross-generational love fest took hold, as George Chakiris, the iconic Sharks gang-leader, now retired, paid a personal visit to the kicking young dancers of Miami City Ballet. There was love in the air for Chakiris, who hit the pavement very hard in the “West Side Story,” movie, so hard that his performance garnered for him a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar in 1962.
Enjoying all the dance-love was Lourdes Lopez, who was feted at a post-performance gala celebrating her first year as artistic director of Miami City Ballet. You go, Lourdes!
Photo credit: Daniel Azoulay for Miami City Ballet
Can Mr. Chakiris (and Ms. Moreno and Mr. Tamblyn, etc.) tour the world with this message? As “classic” companies internationally look for building ticket buyers, this collision of dance, film, passion and greatness would bring all of the Robbins/West Side lovers as well and youngsters being introduced to why dance matters. Kudos to the Miami City Ballet for hosting this!