Tag Archives: ballet

Behind the Scenes With Post:Ballet

It’s a Thursday evening and Post:Ballet‘s Robert Dekkers in is five places at once. He’s in discussion with his lighting designer, conferring with dancers, and bringing me up to speed about some of the collaborators he’s working with this season. He cues the music with his phone and the dancers run through DoBe:Family Sing-a-Long and Game Night, Dekkers’ newest work, (due to premier at the end of July), bodies playing off each other in a tangle. There’s humor, exaggerated facial expressions, even partnering role reversal, with the women doing the heavy lifting.The choreography includes elements of games like charades and red light/green light set to a score that revisits singing and nursery rhymes. Read More »

How To Make a Ballerina

 

Marilyn Miller

Marilyn Miller

Note: This recipe will yield 1 premium quality ballerina.

Ingredients:

Take one part raw, unfiltered talent

Add:

• 3 cups technical skill

• 3 cups artistic flair

• 2 pinches dedication and tenacity

 

Combine ingredients and beat at high speed for 10-15 years. Spoon into proper container, cover loosely,  and store in a warm, dry place until volume of talent has doubled. Cook under hot lights until rock hard to the touch and beautiful to behold.

Deposit center stage. Garnish liberally with glitter, satin, and tulle. Serve as often as possible.

photo from The Great Ziegfield. The extravagant "Wedding Cake" sequence featured a towering rotating volute of 70 ft diameter with 175 spiral steps, weighing 100 tons.

photo from The Great Ziegfield.
The extravagant “Wedding Cake” sequence featured a towering rotating volute of 70 ft diameter with 175 spiral steps, weighing 100 tons.

 

Classical Music That Will Rock Your World

 

This WISH playlist doesn’t read like a typical YA playlist, but just like Indigo, the main character, I grew up submerged in classical music – it spoke to my heart. I had a few crushes over the years but Tchaikovsky was my first true love. Indigo listens to this type of music a lot, not just because she needs to know the music she’s dancing to intimately but because the music is achingly beautiful. It may not get any airtime on MTV or go viral on YouTube, but classical music has topped the charts for centuries. Why? Because it rocks. No one knew this better than George Balanchine, founder of New York City Ballet, and one of the world’s most famous choreographers. Balanchine had a true knack for choosing exquisite music for his ballets. Give them a listen. You might just find this music will change your tune.

art by xjaneax

art by xjaneax

Ballet: Serenade

Music: Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48

Composer: Peter IlyitchTschaikovsky

Premier:

George Balanchine used this music when he choreographed Serenade. The first performance of Serenade was on June 10, 1934, by students of the School of American Ballet, at Felix Warburg’s estate, White Plains, New York.

Serenade is a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet’s repertory. Balanchine had a special affinity for Tschaikovsky. “In everything that I did to Tschaikovsky’s music,” he told an interviewer, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tschaikovsky who had helped me.”

Ballet: Concerto Barocco

Music: Concerto in D minor for Two Violins, B.W.V.

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Premier: 1941

Balanchine said of this work: “If the dance designer sees in the development of classical dancing a counterpart in the development of music and has studied them both, he will derive continual inspiration from great scores.” This work began as an exercise by Balanchine for the School of American Ballet. In this ballet the dancers are dressed in practice clothes, probably the first appearance of what has come to be regarded as a signature Balanchine costume for contemporary works. On October 11, 1948, Concerto Barocco was one of three ballets on the program at New York City Ballet’s first performance.

Ballet: Chaconne

Music: Ballet music from the opera Orfeo ed Euridice

Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck

Premier: 1976

A chaconne is a dance, built on a short phrase in the bass, that was often used by composers of the 17th and 18th centuries to end an opera in a festive mood. This choreography, first performed in the 1963 Hamburg State Opera production of Orfeo ed Euridice, was somewhat altered for presentation as the ballet Chaconne, particularly in the sections for the principal dancers.

This is one of a handful of ballets where the dancers wear their hair down, adding to the ethereal quality of the piece. I was lucky enough to perform this ballet with Pacific Northwest Ballet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City.

Ballet: Square Dance

Music: Concerto Grosso in B minor, Op. 3 no. 10; Concerto Grosso in E major, Op. 3, no. 12 (first movement), Sarabanda, Badinerie e Giga (second and third movements)

Composer(s): Antonio Vivaldi / Arcangelo Corelli

Premier: 1957

In Square Dance, Balanchine joined the traditions of American folk dance with classical ballet. He felt the two types of dance, though widely different in style, had common roots and a similar regard for order. He wrote: “The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet.” This ballet is known to be one of the most demanding for the corps, both in the complexity of the steps and the amount of stamina required to perform it.

Ballet: Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze”

Music: Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6

Composer: Robert Schumann,

Permier: 1976

Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze” was one of Balanchine’s last major works. Against a setting inspired, in part, by the works of the 19th century German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, a series of dances unfolds for four couples. While not literally a biographical narrative, the ballet draws on the life of Schumann, its alternating moods suggesting the episodes of joy and depression that marked the composer’s short career and difficult romance with Clara Wieck. Original dancers were Suzanne Farrell, Kay Mazzo, Heather Watts, Karin von Aroldingen, Jacques d’Amboise, Ib Andersen, Peter Martins and Adam Lüders.

MORE READING:

How to become a professional ballet dancer

World Ballet Day

A day in the life of a professional ballet student

Naming Characters

Choosing a name for your characters isn’t always as easy, especially if you have a lot of names to come up with or one of the characters is from a specific place, like Iceland, for instance. At these times you have to dig down a little deeper into the well of creativity to come up with a name that works. In the past I’ve consulted old school directories, combed through my personal memory archives for people I’ve met in the past or (when I needed a Brazilian boy’s name) researched names online.

red name tag

So where did the name Indigo come from, you’re wondering. (Or maybe you aren’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway). It’s an unusual name, I’ll admit, and there’s a story behind it. Before I tell the story, humor me and guess which of the following is true:

a. Indigo’s mom is an interior designer who named her daughter after her favorite wall accent color.
b. The name is a secret identity.
c. It’s a family name.

If you guessed a or c then you failed this pop quiz (kidding). The real answer is b, the name Indigo is a secret identity. Specifically, it is my secret identity, but only for a few weeks each year when I am a summer camp counselor. Don’t ask me why the counselors all have alter egos – this mysterious practice has never been fully explained to me, even though I’ve been working at this camp for five years now. All I know is the first day I showed up for training I was told to pick a name – although there were certain rules: I couldn’t pick a name that was already being used by another counselor and the name had to fit on the special counselor name tag. These counselor name tags were standard-issue (to counselors and counselors only) yet highly coveted because they are leather. (The campers all dream of the day they will have their own fancy leather name tags; my daughter is already thinking she’ll either be “snowflake” or “pegasus”). Once I had chosen a name and been handed a name tag, I was hustled down to the leather craft table, the area of camp that is treated with the utmost reverence because of the extensive array of hand-tooling equipment (not to mention the cost and the coolness factor). Several tables are covered with row upon row of shiny metal embossing tools. I dampened my leather tag with a sponge, grabbed a rubber mallet and pounded each letter I-N-D-I-G-O in the fanciest lettering I could find, then pounded in a few decorative elements and butterflies for good measure.

IndigoTag

The tag turned out pretty well; it’s legible, although the last few letters are a little cramped. It’s gotten more decorative (and heavier!) from the trinkets I’ve collected from campers over the years. I wear it every time I’m at camp and when I’m not at camp it swings from my rearview mirror. I guess you could say the name is very much a part of me even though it’s not my real name.

Mostly this secret identity thing works really well, except for a few random encounters with other counselors outside of camp. At that point I always feel a little awkward because I’ve worked elbow to elbow with these people and I still don’t know their names. It feels a little funny to say, “Hey, Bluebird, how’s it going?” anywhere outside of camp.

But then again, they’re stuck in the same awkward name conundrum that I am, and when they say, “Hey, Indigo, how are you?” I just smile.