LEAFYPAGE

Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros Dies at 63; Helped Ballet in Miami

The company’s debut program focused on works by George Balanchine — the City Ballet founder whose repertory still dominates Miami City’s — but also included Mr. Gamonet’s “Transtangos,” which became a company signature.

Mr. Gamonet was prolific, creating multiple ballets every season. He described himself as a neoclassical choreographer, indebted to Balanchine but also to the theatricality of his parents. His range extended from remakes of Spanish-themed classics like “Paquita” and “Carmen” to original pieces set to Bach or, in “Big Band Supermegatroid,” to swing music.

In a 1989 review in The Washington Post, Alan M. Kriegsman wrote that Mr. Gamonet’s works showed “a talent full of flair and spice, as well as an instinctive feeling for dancerly rhetoric, but also — not unexpectedly — some compositional shortcomings and immaturity.”

Music always came first for Mr. Gamonet, with close study of the score. “Two in the morning,” Mr. Mursuli recalled, “and he would still be preparing, making notes in the score with his headphones on.”

The ballerina Iliana Lopez, who originated many roles in Mr. Gamonet’s pieces for Miami City, said, “He came with the choreography in his head,” and added, “He made me feel beautiful and free in his work, and not every choreographer can do that.”

In rehearsal and in class, Mr. Gamonet was often comic, with a nickname for everyone, but he expected dancers to work as hard as he did. “He would always say, ‘Nobody’s hand is handcuffed to the barre,’” Mr. Mursuli said. “If you didn’t want to work hard, you could leave.” But, he added, Mr. Gamonet was also generous: “I can’t tell you how many times he helped dancers who were short on money.”

In 2000, Mr. Gamonet’s position with Miami City Ballet was eliminated. From 2004 to 2009 he ran his own company in Miami, Ballet Gamonet. At the Ballet Nacional del Peru, he revived his past works and created new ones, including a full-length “Romeo and Juliet” in 2019.

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