Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 5: First Day of Performances

Hi all!

Well, yesterday was our first day of performances. They went pretty well, aside from one incident (if you haven't read Mia's blog, I suggest you do that ASAP!). I only danced in the second show, so it was a pretty easy day. Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to do my first Drosselmeier and I'm pretty nervous/excited.

In other news, it's snowing a lot here in Alaska:

Get it? :-)

Hope you're all staying warm!


How Daniela and Mia Saved Waltz of the Flowers

'Twas the first show in Anchorage, and things were just swell,
as far as the dancers and audience could tell.
The ribbons were tied, the hair was pinned neatly,
the boys fine and noble, the girls smiling sweetly.

Act I had wrapped up; Act II underway,
but something was wrong.  Something was astray.
With a hustle and bustle people started to stir,
"Grace twisted her ankle!  Oh, how to help her!"

I'm sad to admit that indeed it was true,
Miss Shibley's poor ankle was swollen and blue.
She was to dance demi-flower, a strenuous role,
but the injury wouldn't let her.  It was taking its toll.

So how to save Flowers?  Whatever to do?
Act II barreled on, and time quickly flew.
With Mother Ginger onstage and Flowers advancing,
Danie threw on her pointe shoes, bracing herself for some dancing.

Brennan rustled Mia from stretching her side,
"You must do the other demi!" Mia's eyes grew quite wide.
"The other side?  Well I'll try, for better or worse,"
for this was a part that she didn't rehearse.

So Danie and Mia both ran onstage,
Danie without makeup, Mia's mind in a rage.
And although they were flustered and slightly alarmed,
no steps were amiss.  The ballet went unharmed.

With laughter and smiles they embraced and sighed,
"Oh what a relief!  That was quite a ride!"
Good thing Mia's mind worked and Danie was there
to fill in when Grace gave us all quite a scare.

So now we all hope that dear Grace mends quite quickly,
as the Alaskan winds blow and the white snow falls thickly.
If there's a lesson to be learned from the poem that I've shared,
it is certainly this: Always be prepared!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 4: Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving all,

Thursday is always our only day of rest when we tour to Alaska, which is something to be thankful for. We had our dinner around five and wrapped it up with some Celebrity Charades. I think we would all agree that soloist Chauncey Parsons was the winner (he impersonated Bill Murray, circa Ghostbusters, but unfortunately we didn't document it, nor did we guess the correct answer. But his presentation was spectacular.). But Ballet Master Lisa Kipp came in with a close second here:

We open tomorrow afternoon and have two shows a day for the rest of our stay here. After a day of turkey, we'll be ready.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 3: Final Rehearsals

Yesterday was our final day of rehearsals before we begin performing here in Alaska (we get today off and start performing tomorrow). I think we all feel fairly prepared and are ready to tackle our intense weekend of performing.

Of the many challenges in Nutcracker, the most time consuming, but ultimately rewarding, one is working with the kids. Whether it is in the Party Scene or navigating around the eight girls in Candy Cane, you have to pay a bit more attention to what is going on than you do in something like Chinese or Spanish. In Portland the majority of the kids are the same year after year, and they have a pretty good idea of the choreography before they even begin rehearsals. In Alaska though, there always seem to be a large number of first-timers, which means we have to spend some extra time (especially in the party and battle scenes) getting everything set. However, the kids up here are never lacking in enthusiasm, you can tell they are all very excited to be onstage performing.

Last night we had our full dress rehearsal with costumes, make-up, and orchestra. We even had an audience, which I think was filled with the employees of one of the sponsors. Even though I wasn't dancing, just hearing the applause made me so excited to get onstage and perform again. It's been about 6 weeks since Swan Lake, and I'm chomping at the bit to get out there and dance again.

I decided to continue our chronicling of the make-up process for character roles. I don't think Sarah, our make-up lady, has any busier show with us than Nutcracker. She is in charge of Grandma, Grandpa, Drosselmeier, Chinese (2 women and 1 man), and Mother Ginger. Not to mention directing the wig and make-up crew on how the kids make-up should be done, how to pin on the angel wigs, and a slew of other things. Last night I followed Mike Davis as he got his make-up done for Mother Ginger:

When he arrived at the make-up room he had already applied a base foundation so as to expedite the make-up process.

Some new eyebrows.

Instead of gluing on fake eyelashes, Sarah paints on lashes so they are more visible from the audience.

Almost done. Brows, Lashes, Eye Shadow, and Lips.

The finished product. The Mother Ginger make-up isn't as much of a transformation as some of the others in the show, but it seemed a good place to start. I'll try to get the some of the other characters once we start the run.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day Two: "Are you guys in a band?"

Soloist men's dressing room

Hello all,

Our second day in Alaska we headed over to the theater for our first day of rehearsals. We did two full run-throughs of the ballet with the children of Alaska Dance Theater. This rehearsal time also provided an opportunity for costumes to be worn for those new to their roles. Steven will be debuting as Uncle Drosselmeier on Sunday afternoon's performance here in Alaska and he donned his costume (partially) for the rehearsal. There was a mix up with his character shoes, as someone brought his tap shoes from Slaughter on 10th Avenue instead of his character shoes. But a screwdriver takes the taps right off. But it would've been entertaining for Drosselmeier to break into a litle soft-shoe in the middle of the party scene. Maybe next year.

Gavin, Steven and Javier, all prepped for the party scene. You can vaguely see Steven's taps.

The evening was topped off nicely with a trip to the Brewhouse, a restaurant just out the front door of our hotel. They have a seafood chowder to die for, and Raychel, Steven, Ian and I planned on eating there after the run-through this evening. After the fantastic chowder, we were heading towards the door when two men sitting in a booth stopped us. They said, "We've just got to ask: are you guys in a band?" "...No," we responded. One of the men said, "Oh, well, you just look so trendy and from-outta-town, so we thought that you must be a band." We then proceeded to tell them that we danced for Oregon Ballet Theatre, and that they come watch us dance this weekend. We exited the restaurant not know whether or not to feel flattered or confused.

When we returned to the hotel, we took our first "band" photo. Since our trip to the Brewhouse was centered around the seafood chowder, we named the band, "Trendy Chowder." Our first album drops around Christmas. (just kidding)

Steven, Adrian, Raychel, and Ian. We are: Trendy Chowder

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 1: Northward Ho!

Today we began our 1 week tour to Anchorage, Alaska. This is the 5th year OBT has gone to Alaska, and the 4th year we've gone to Anchorage (the first year we went to Juneau). Today was mostly uneventful considering we spent the majority of it traveling. After arriving we had some time to unpack and then there was an optional class and a trip to Fred Meyers to get some produce and whatever might have been forgotten back in Portland. Most of us are pretty exhausted, so I think it's going to be a pretty quiet evening here in the hotel.

Here are some pictures from our day:
Mountain from the PDX airport.

Our fiesta plane to Seattle.

Flying over some ice, close to touch down in Alaska.

Some pretty mountains outside the Anchorage airport.

View from my hotel room.

Warming up before class.

More warming up.

Tomorrow Adrian will write about our first day of rehearsals and I think we may even have a dress rehearsal of sorts on the schedule.

Also, we'll be updating OBT's twitter page from time to time, so if you want more up to the minute coverage, check that out.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Alaska Bound

Hi all,

As you can see, I'm in the beginning stages of packing for our venture north to Alaska. Thought I'd give you a peak in my bag to glimpse a couple necessities of the traveling dancer.

1. Theraputic tools: blue foam roller (for rolling out muscles), softball (also for rolling out muscles), and foot massage ball.

2. Dance gear: my arsenal of tights and t-shirts will be making the trip north with me. I sweat through a few shirts a day so always try to keep some fresh ones on hand.

3. My Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers duffel bag that I keep my stage make up in. I used this bag as a backpack in first grade but then it later became my make up bag. It has the words, "Adrian Fry, Party Scene" written all over it because the first Nutcracker I was in required that all children turn in our makeup so it could be checked; we were to write our name on it as well as what part of Nutcracker we were in.

4. Holiday flavored Clif Bars. They released a seasonal flavor, Iced Gingerbread, that's exceptional.

5. My performance shoes. I have several pairs of shoes for the show, as I'm rotating four roles this year. I'll be the Host in the Party Scene, The Rat King, The lead Spanish, and Cavalier.

Well, I better get packing. We leave tomorrow morning at 6! Steven and I will be blogging about the tour like we did at the Kennedy Center. Hope you will come along with us as we brave the last frontier together.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Costume?

You know we're officially into the Nutcracker season when Steven starts wearing his special fleece candy cane warmup suit.

It must not only keep him warm, but also give him amazing jumping-through-hoop powers. The guys started rehearsing the Candy Cane role today, so we'll be seeing a lot of men hanging around with hula hoops after class, working on folding themselves in half fast enough in the air to whip through the hoop twice before landing. It's pretty fun to watch!

Actually, seeing everyone start working on the old familiar steps has made me think about how
as well as we know the Nutcracker choreography, that doesn't make it any less challenging. Each of the divertissment in Act 2 has its own tricky steps or moments. It's interesting to continue exploring the choreography year after year, seeing how it feels as we continually grow and evolve as dancers. Nutcracker is also a unique opportunity to consider how to expand upon the work you've done in previous seasons. It would be too stultifying to simply do it the same, again and again, so each year I like to figure out ways to do certain things differently--- how to do the same steps, but in a more interesting way, for both me and the audiences.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ready or not it's time for Nutcracker!!

Hey everyone!

The last time you heard from me the company was in the midst of Swan Lake. Swan Lake was an amazing experience for me!! My Mom flew out from California to see the show and she had not seen me dance in over two years. She was blown away!! She was so impressed by every single one of the dancers.

But that's not what I wanted to blog about :)

NUTCRACKER HAS BEGUN!!! Not only have I never danced Balanchine's Nutcracker, but I have two weeks to learn it before we leave for Alaska. I'm excited to learn a new Nutcracker because I've been doing the same one and the same parts for the last few years. It's nice to change it up every now and then :)

I'll make sure to update everyone on how well my brain is handling having to learn Nutcracker in TWO WEEKS!!

Wish me luck :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The closing performance of Swan Lake was three weeks ago, and now the company has had a break to recouperate and prepare to face the familiar (but always tough) Nutcracker season. We start a two-weeek rehearsal period tomorrow, then leave for Anchorage, Alaska. Our annual week-long trek to Anchorage spans Thanksgiving, with six performances. Then it's back home to Portland for tech rehearsals here before our opening at the Keller. We have a two-week run here, finishing up on Christmas Eve. I'm always kind of stunned looking at the calendar right about now--- a lot of things are going to happen in a very short period of time!

The dancers began trickling back into the studio after the layoff last week for classes. My own layoff this time around was a fun one because it had the perfect balance of rest and work. I went to Victoria, B.C. to perform with Ballet Victoria, which is now run by Paul Destrooper (whom many of you must remember from his three years as a dancer here at OBT). That was a lovely "working vacation", in a way.

So tomorrow we hit it again. As many complaints as there are about the repetition of Nutcracker year after year, the first few strains of the music always make me feel comforted and happy. Sort of like opening up the dresser drawer full of winter clothes for the first time after a long summer--- warm and familiar. But remind me of this in a few weeks.... I may feel differently!