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.