Saturday, January 31, 2009


Hello Blog Lovers!!

As Gavin said in her latest blog we haven't fallen off the face of the Earth... But we have been pretty dead to the world by the end of the day... Whether we're rehearsing Christopher's Rite of Spring, Val's Lambarena or Peter Martin's Ash, our brains are toast by the time we all get home!! Not only are they all exceptionally difficult to dance, but they are three ballets that are VERY difficult to count!!

One thing this company is blessed with is a sense of unity and support... In Lambarena the music is intoxicating as it moves from African instrumentals into African song in which the beautiful African voices chant Mubasa (I'm sure I've butchered the spelling of the word)... Mubasa means "together" and that is exactly the feeling we all have while dancing this ballet... When it all comes together it is an amazing feeling of accomplishment and there's such a massive amount of love and support amongst the dancers... Mostly because we all have a common knowledge of how difficult it is...

I can't wait to perform this program and share these three amazing ballets with everyone in the audience... I am sure they will make everyone leap out of their seats and want to see more!!

I'll keep you posted :)


Thursday, January 29, 2009

We're Still Here!

You could all be forgiven, blog-readers, for thinking we'd dropped off the face of the earth or decided to scrap the blog--- but we haven't done either! We're just completely immersed in rehearsing for the Lambarena program and I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say our brains are as sore as our bodies at the end of each day.

The past three weeks have been primarily devoted to learning Lambarena. We're lucky enough to have coaching this week from the two African dance experts that Val Caniparoli, the choreographer of the ballet, collaborated with when he made the piece. They have not only been immensely helpful in teaching us how to move in the African style, but also greatly inspiring. Naomi taught us a bona fide African dance lesson on Tuesday afternoon which brought many intruiged spectators to peer at us through the window. It also made the wardrobe department wonder what the heck was going on upstairs (we did a lot of rhythmic jumping, and then pounded our hands on the ground at the end in a gesture of thanks to the drummer). None of us is trained in this form of dance, and I'm sure you can imagine how different it is from classical ballet. The movement of the ribcage, the hips, the shoulders, the back, are all polar opposite from what we are trained to do. The first week I was so sore I could hardly move, the second week I thought maybe I was getting the hang of it (sort of, a little tiny bit), and then this week I feel like I'm 100 years old, it hurts to move!

Even so, I think we're getting closer every day to approximating how it's supposed to look. And no matter what, this ballet is going to be glorious to dance-- the music is utterly amazing. It's soaring and earthbound, animalistic and heavenly. You will not, I promise you, be able to sit still when you watch it.

And that's not all that we've been doing! Christopher is working on creating the Rite of Spring, which is taking shape a little more each day. It's always fascinating to see how a world premiere evolves from day one of the process until the dress rehearsal (and beyond). I think the major challenge with Rite of Spring is the music. And even that may be quite an understatement. It's hard. And so far, so is the dancing! But I can already feel that it will be another momentous performance experience, masses of people and driving rhythms creating a tribal feeling amongst us on stage.

AND, the company is putting Peter Martins' Ash back together. Each of these three ballets is a killer both physically and mentally. Stamina and technical challenges combined with stylistic and musical elements to figure out are going to guarantee that OBT will be in the best shape of its life over the next few weeks! You won't want to miss THAT...

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Year, New Show

Happy new year!

2009 finds the dancers of OBT thawed, rested, and chomping at the bit for some contemporary ballet.  Rehearsals begin on Monday for our next program, Lambarena, and I'm pleased to report that the general atmosphere in the OBT studios is one of excitement and anticipation.

All three ballets on the bill promise to be interesting and rousing for both dancers and audience alike--

Val Caniparoli's Lambarena: I've never seen it in its entirety but its reputation precedes it; I have never heard anything but praise and enthusiasm for this ballet.  I'm very excited to have the fantastic African-Bach fusion music emanating from our studios and to learn new movements and stylistic nuances through Mr. Caniparoli's choreography.

Peter Martins' Ash: This returns from our 2006-2007 season, and those of us who danced it before are excited to tackle it again.  It's one of the most physically demanding ballets I have ever done, but its challenge adds to the fun and the sense of pride and accomplishment one feels when the curtain falls.  Because of its pure athleticism and tricky musicality there's a real sense of camaraderie among the cast.  We all push and carry each other through the piece with encouraging glances and palpable energy; I remember Brennan Boyer egging me on under his breath during the Sunday matinee performance.  Since we are all clearly stronger and more experienced dancers than when the ballet premiered a few years ago, it will surely be thrilling and satisfying to revisit the piece with that much more knowledge and finesse.

Christopher Stowell's Rite of Spring: I am definitely looking forward to our artistic director's world premiere.  Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is such an incredible piece of music, and regardless of how one feels about the composer it cannot be denied that Rite of Spring is a paramount and extraordinary composition.  (Silly side-note: The Rite of Spring was always my favorite part of Walt Disney's Fantasia, what with epic dinosaur battles and volcanic eruptions echoing the music's tremendous swells and crashes.)  I'm excited to see what Christopher comes up with to accompany such powerful music and what the score will sound like executed by two pianos.  While I will miss the haunting bassoon solo that opens Rite of Spring, I think the two pianos will add a new and unique twist to the piece.  That, and I'm never one to turn down live music.

The next few weeks promise to be a stimulating and refreshing change from the classical story ballets that have led our season so far.  It will surely be a lot of hard work, with both company and world-premieres on the bill, but everyone seems to be ready and anxious for the coming program.  New year, new ballets, new shows.  I can't wait.


Congratulations to OBT Founding Artistic Director James Canfield on being named Artistic Director of Nevada Ballet Theatre!  Read about it here.