Friday, March 28, 2008

Adrian Fry's Working Hard

Well, Adrian ALWAYS works hard, so this is nothing new. I talked to him a little bit about what is on his plate right now and how he's handling the ballets for the upcoming rep.

Adrian has roles in the American program that are both familiar and new to him. He learned the Tango in Through Eden's Gates last season when Kent Stowell first choreographed it, but there wasn't a lot of cast-switching so he did not perform the part. This time around he's working on it with Kathi Martuza as well as reprising his original role in the corps of the ballet. The tango's quite long and intricate (really, the entire ballet is intricate), so just learning the steps, coordination, and especially the partnering, needs some time. And time is always at a premium around here, so when Tamara Hadley arrived to stage Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (which is a company premiere), Adrian and Kathi had to put the tango on hold for a week or so while they learned their roles in Slaughter.

Slaughter is a ballet that (from what I hear and what I've seen) everybody loves. From what Adrian's told me, even just learning the ballet from Tammy was great fun and a nice change of pace from the intensity of the other work being done for this rep. "She was so encouraging, was excited to work and to share this ballet with us", he said. That's a fabulous feeling-- when someone really lets you know, through their attitude, that what we're doing is really all about the work. It's about the ballet, the choreography, and all of us honoring it, enjoying it, and preparing to give it away again, to the audience. I think it sounds like that is what Adrian feels about all three of the ballets he's working on right now.

Just was choreographed for OBT in 2006. I remember the dancers in the piece talking about how it was one of, if not THE, hardest ballets they'd ever done. And that's easy to believe when you watch them dance it-- when you can see the gut-wrenching difficulty of the movement, the way they have to push themselves practically outside of their own skins to cover space and time. Adrian told me a little bit about the learning process with this piece:
"There's an overload of information and detail, which kind of melts your brain. It's really helpful to have the original cast in the room, because there's a richness of information and choreography that tests your mental capacity to a new level." (The original cast of Just worked very, very closely with Trey McIntyre, the choreographer. Although every dancer will perform a role differently, of course, it's invaluable to have the person on whom the choreographer made the ballet pass along what they recall as the original intent, idea, and musicality of the piece.)

I asked how he felt about the anticipation of doing the piece, once he gets past the learning the choreography, and Adrian mentioned some things that I think we all, as dancers, are aiming for whether we are able to pinpoint them or not--- things like being able to "feel more as opposed to think more", "discover things about the piece through doing it".

That's what I've always felt the rehearsal process was all about, really. It's certainly about the technicalities of steps, spacing, partnering, and music, but all that cut-and-dried work is done so that in the end (meaning on stage) we can stop thinking about it and give the audience the impression that it's just been tossed off and is second nature. Which sometimes by then it is, but not always. Sometimes it takes a few performances to get to that place, in which case the stage becomes something like an extension of the studio. Learning always goes on onstage, and in fact I've learned most of what I know about being an artist when I've been performing. Interestingly enough, Adrian and I have danced a couple of wonderful ballets together over the past year, and I would have to say that they were both rich, productive, and illuminating experiences for me--- and I think for him, too! Here are photos of us in Apollo and The Nutcracker. Some of my favorite memories are from these performances.

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