Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gearing Up

There was a runthrough of Slaughter today, in costume. Although I wasn't there to see it (waa!) I was told it went well and everyone seems to be feeling very good about how the ballet is shaping up. Just like the costume run of The Undersea Adventure for the school performance (, this gives the wardrobe department a chance to see how the costumes work, what they look like in motion, and what logistical problems need to be solved before dress rehearsal. Last time I'd spoken to Kathy Scoggins about Slaughter, the costumes had just arrived from Cincinnati (OBT rented the whole production from Cincinnati Ballet) and she was concerned about the state they were in--- several of the costumes looked, well, tired. To say the least. Here she's showing me one of the best-looking of the lot, the Striptease Girl's dress:

Some of the men's shirts looked pretty sad and the tights that went with Artur's costume looked like they'd fit ME pretty well--- Artur is 6'4". I'm a foot shorter.
But Kathy worked some of her magic and spruced things up, and apparently everyone looked good today. (With a costume rental from another company, Kathy has leeway to make alterations as needed, so long as they can be returned to the orginal size afterwards).

One of the unusual elements of this ballet is that the women wear character shoes instead of pointe shoes. At first a person might think this would be a welcome change, which in some sense it is, but mostly it's just painful. The ladies are in 2 and a half inch heels and the choreography calls for a fair amount of ambitious movement, not just some standing around posing and strutting. Kathi Martuza, one of the women cast as the Striptease Girl, told me that she had had some pretty bad bunion flareups early on in the rehearsal period. As with anything, including pointe shoes, you get used to it and your body adapts after time. Kathi's got a background in jazz and tap, so the style of this ballet is a ton of fun for her. As she put it, she's been wanting to do this since she was a kid!
She and the other two women doing the Striptease Girl went over to the warehouse the other day to check out (and try out) the platform on which they dance in Slaughter. It's sort of like a fashion runway. The entire set came from Cincinnati Ballet along with the costumes, so the thing had been rigged up in the warehouse before going over to the theater.
The men have their own share of footwear issues to deal with--- the lead man has some significant tap dancing to do in this ballet. Like Kathi, a couple of them have already had some training in tap, but some others haven't at all. For them it's been a crash course and I'm sure it's taken a toll on their bodies. I took a few lessons one summer and discovered firsthand that if you don't have good technique, you can mess your hip flexors up pretty quickly.

All in all, everyone seems good and ready for this program and are excited to get it onstage. Tomorrow is a tech rehearsal onstage for the Gala performance of Slaughter on Saturday, then next week the rest of the program will get tech time in the theatre before we open on Friday. There are two or three casts for each ballet, so it'll be tight to get everyone sufficient time to rehearse on stage. But that's pretty much always the case, and a tight schedule has a way of kicking up the level of focus and drive, bringing everyone together with shared energy.

I just window-shopped the auction packages that will be up for grabs on Saturday. I encourage you to go for the week-long stay at a luxury resort in Bali. That's what I'd do, but I would hate to get in anyone else's way of being the highest bidder, so I'll selflessly sit on my hands.

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