Life In Lockdown

What does a company of ballet dancers do without a studio or stage? We caught up with a few Festival Ballet dancers to find out how they have been staying active and inspired during quarantine…

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“There’s no denying the circumstances we are under right now are less than ideal. However, my view on this is we can choose to wallow in the things we are not able to do or we can look for all the things we are still capable of doing, while being thankful we still have so many recourses surrounding us! Here are a few things I’ve found I enjoy doing over these past 7 weeks. Baking bread! Shocking I know, but I’m not much of a baker and never have been so I decided to change that. Being still. As a dancer, being still is very difficult for me, but there’s something to be said about being comfortable enough with yourself to just be still. I’m still working on that one. And lastly, I’ve enjoyed finding other ways to move. Such as, planting flowers and herbs and stretching in the morning. So pick up a book or listen to your favorite song, it’s all going to be alright.”

-Kailee Felix

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“My dog Calvin is becoming an expert tracker of the trajectory of sunlight through my apartment, waking only when it’s absolutely necessary to reposition himself for the next solar snooze. For my part, I’m fortunate to be able to continue working with my amazing colleagues at Festival Ballet to help to remain connected with our audience. It’s been refreshing to hear so much support and enthusiasm for the Ballet, from so many in our community. My weekly bike trip for groceries is becoming less of an errand and more of an escape from isolation as beautiful weather sets in. Between Zoom meetings I’m occasionally checking in on the family of Peregrine Falcons atop Providence’s Superman Building, or just keeping an eye out for Sour and Patch, the pair of Downy Woodpeckers who are frequent visitors to my own bird feeder. Hoping eventually for Sour Patch Kids.”

-Dylan Giles

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“I’ve been using this time in quarantine to complete my training to be a Crisis Text Line Counselor! CTL is a free 24/7 support line for those in crisis. It feels like a really meaningful way to give back during this time of global pandemic. I’m also on Day 4 of wearing my Frog & Toad ‘Knock It Off’ Tee.”

-Melissa Wong

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“I’ve been recovering from knee surgery for the past three months, so I’ve been filling the days between physical therapy appointments with exercise, writing, and connecting with friends from a safe distance. I started a blog for my transit map design hobby (jvhdesigns.wordpress.com) and I take walks frequently in my neighborhood. Video chat applications have enabled me to take yoga classes and keep in touch with friends near and far. It is a trying time for all of us, and for me, this period of physical distancing has been part of a broader season of healing and renewal.”

-Joseph Van Harn

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“During the lockdown, I’ve enjoyed having time to slow down and focus on doing things I enjoy, and to challenge myself creatively in new ways. I’ve had fun designing and sewing dancewear as usual, and also trying my hand at making different types of clothing (like this skirt). Having some extra time to reorganize my space has helped me be more productive and feel more creative. I’m also focusing on taking care of my body and mind, and have been enjoying finding new ways to move and exercise at home. And, I love staying in touch with my FBP family by taking company class over Zoom!”

-Emily Lovedahl

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 “I think that since quarantine began, a lot has changed in my life. I understand that all people are going through a lot now. I try not to lose hope and believe that everything will be fine. I am engaged in self-development: I read, write, listen to music, draw, teach ballet, take pictures and, of course, keep myself in good physical shape. One more important thing, I am also engaged in the growth of the inner world. If I have time, I call my parents and friends to find out if they are doing well or just to have a good conversation.”

-Azamat Asangul

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“I have been cooking and getting more creative with the ingredients I have in my fridge. Besides for the classes I’m teaching on Zoom, I also take morning ballet class a couple times a week, Pilates, and yoga. I started some vegetables and herbs growing in the back of my house, and I’ve been working on some crafts like cross-stitching and sewing. I’ve also been making my way through a large pile of books!”

-Eugenia Zinovieva

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“During quarantine, I have been thankful for beautiful weather so I can spend most of my day out in the sun. I’ve been using the extra time at home to accomplish projects around the house, including refinishing some old dressers and building a raised bed garden with cinder blocks. In the evenings, my fiancé and I go trail running at a nearby state park and then watch the sunset on the beach. I’ve also been teaching and taking class in my kitchen, but I really miss being in the studio. I’m so excited for when we can all dance together again!”

-Sara Clark

 

Notes from Josh Knowles

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Josh Knowles in rehearsal for Yury Yanowsky’s “Same”

Game Changers” musician Josh Knowles’ love of the violin began when he saw a character playing one on Sesame Street at just four years old.

“I bugged my parents about it for weeks until they finally bought me a little 1/8 size violin to squeak on,” Knowles recalls with a laugh. Seeing the man Knowles has become, and hearing him play with such command now, it’s hard to imagine him “squeaking” at all. But that childhood fervor is ever present.

An accomplished musician who has since collaborated with major ballet companies on world premiere performances, Knowles’ path to success has been anything but predictable. Following his graduation from Berklee College of Music, Knowles and fellow violinist and Berklee alumni Rhett Price started playing together in Boston’s South Station metro during the rush hour commute. What began as two friends making music to pay rent post-college surprised Knowles with a rather profound experience.

“There were definitely more than a few strange and beautiful moments down there,” Knowles muses.

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David Dubois in rehearsal for Yury Yanowsky’s “Same”

“Whether it was somebody tearfully thanking us for playing her recently deceased grandfather’s favorite Beatles tune, or stamping out a lit cigarette that a homeless gentleman threw in our case, it was always an adventure playing down there.”

An adventure with an ultimately life changing effect: In 2013, a video of Knowles and Price playing a cover of a Taylor Swift song in the train station went viral, gaining several million views on YouTube.

Then the stars aligned. When the music director at Boston Ballet discovered the video of Knowles and Price, dubbed “The Subway Violinists,” he happened to be searching for a “gritty” quartet that could both improvise and play Schubert/Beethoven/Haydn to perform in their upcoming performance of Alex Ekman’s contemporary ballet “Cacti”. He reached out to Knowles, who got a quartet together for the show. This performance with Boston Ballet opened his eyes to the beauty of making music for dance. That first experience led to the many friendships Knowles has made within the ballet world, resulting in years of exciting artistic collaboration and fulfilling creation.

Since then, Knowles has found himself in an eclectic array of different musical projects for the ballet, ranging from writing poetry to composing electronic violin music.

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Josh Knowles in rehearsal for Yury Yanowsky’s “Same”

“To be honest, it’s one of my absolute favorite ways to create and collaborate. There’s a unique sense of creative freedom I feel making work for dance, where I really feel like I can explore and push my boundaries as an artist,” says Knowles, adding, “There’s also nothing like the moment when you see movement put to your work for the first time. It’s a very special feeling.” 

Creating music made for movement might not have been what Knowles anticipated when the violin first caught his attention on Sesame Street, but this unexpected path has surely been a fruitful one. “I’ve definitely found myself in creative situations that I never could have anticipated when I first started going to orchestra rehearsals as a kid. I think my favorite part of my musical path is how drastically different the shows and projects I play in are from each other, but the intent of each one is always identical.”

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Linnea Wahle and Azamat Asangul in rehearsal for Yury Yanowsky’s “Same”

The aim is always to bring everyone involved closer together. It doesn’t matter whether it’s at Lincoln Center, or a beer-soaked rock club, or the Boston subway. Music’s power to connect never changes.” 

Knowles hopes to connect Providence audiences with the transformative power of music and movement in his newest collaboration with choreographer Yury Yanowsky and the dancers of Festival Ballet Providence for “Same”, one of three pieces to be performed by the ballet company in their upcoming mixed bill program “Game Changers” (February 7-9 at The Vets). Festival Ballet’s performance of “Same” will coincide with the release of Knowles’ album How Deep The Dark, which will premiere live onstage as he weaves in and out of the dancers’ shapes, combining music and movement in an intimate way that certainly mirrors his aim to connect.

Knowles admits the fear that can accompany a project as prolific as this one, revealing that How Deep The Dark is the most honest and raw album he has ever written. This musician is no stranger to vulnerability, though, and the chance to use this honesty for artistic discovery does not deter but excites him.

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Kailee Felix in rehearsal for Yury Yanowsky’s “Same”

“Bringing these songs into a new and different light through dance and collaboration takes vulnerability, but I’m so excited for that outcome as well,” notes Knowles, adding, “To be able to approach performing these songs with a new lens is going to be an incredible experience.”  

To experience this music video coming to life on stage, pick up your tickets to FBP’s “Game Changers” here. The program also includes Tony Award winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon‘s “Morphoses” and a world premiere by former Alvin Ailey Dance Theater artist Christopher Huggins. Find out more about “Game Changers” on the FBP website by clicking here.

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Eugenia Zinovieva in rehearsal for Yury Yanowsky’s “Same”

All photos by Dylan Giles.

3 Reasons You Need To See Game Changers

Need a reason to get out of the cold and into the theater this winter? How about an evening of groundbreaking dance and live music? Here are 3 reasons you don’t want to miss Festival Ballet Providence’s Game Changers this February 7-9 at The Vets.

  1. Listen to live music. FBP’s Game Changers will feature the debut of Boston-based singer/songwriter and violinist Josh Knowles’ forthcoming album How Deep the Dark. The evocative musician presents his work in collaboration with Yury Yanowsky, an innovative choreographer and former Boston Ballet principal dancer. Together these two daring artists will create an exciting World Premiere ballet entitled Same, incorporating the emotional power of live music performed by its composer and striking movement created on the dancers of Festival Ballet. josh2
  2. Tony Award-winning talent. FBP remains one of only two ballet companies in New England awarded the honor of performing the work of Tony Award winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. In Game Changers, the Company will present Wheeldon’s Morphoses, an intriguing ensemble for four dancers originally created for former New York City Ballet Principal ballerina Wendy Whelan. The commanding work requires impeccable technique and physical strength, as well as teamwork from the dancers involved. aza
  3. Powerful perspective from diverse voices. Former Alvin Ailey Dance Theater member Christopher Huggins makes his New England premiere with a World Premiere work created on the dancers of FBP. Huggins athletic piece features the entire FBP company in an energetic display of dynamic and exciting movement, commenting on society’s ills and the structures that restrict and oppress. FBP is putting an important conversation into motion on stage, highlighting the compelling nature of community and teamwork. josh

For tickets and more information about Game Changers, click here.

5 Reasons You Need to See “The Nutcracker”

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Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Give the gift of DANCE. Next weekend (December 13-15), Festival Ballet Providence will perform The Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center, continuing the beloved holiday tradition that offers an unforgettable experience unlike any other. Here are five reasons you won’t want to miss it…

1. DAZZLING SETS AND COSTUMES

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“The Nutcracker” transforms PPAC into an enchanted wonderland, transporting audiences to another world with dazzling sets and costumes. A gigantic Christmas tree grows sky-high before your very eyes, with the help of the magical Herr Drosselmeyer. Twinkling Swarovski crystal snowflakes suspend above the whirling snowflakes during the mesmerizing snow scene. Waltzing flowers dance across the stage in the Land of Sweets. Come see Providence transform!

2. IT’S FOR THE DOGS!

Hot dog, we’ve got dogs! Festival Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” has become known for featuring the true star of the show: a lucky pup playing the role of “Archie,” an energetic little pooch who prances across the stage at the start of the show. This year, almost 100 dogs auditioned for a panel of judges, and three talented winners will alternate in the role this December. A paw-fect holiday gift, indeed!

3. THE ICONIC MUSIC

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Tchaikovsky’s iconic score has become the soundtrack of the holiday season — come see it in its intended form at the ballet! The great classical composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky created this music specifically for the original production of “The Nutcracker,” a ballet choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1892. His music is still the most famous and celebrated in history, and what better way to commemorate that than by seeing it come to life in dance?

4. MEMORIES TO LAST A LIFETIME

Create memories for the whole family. Instead of giving yet another material gift, why not give the gift of quality time? A memorable outing to gorgeous downtown Providence, while sparkling in a holiday dress, offers a truly unique experience to be shared and remembered into the new year.

5. VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS

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Spark the imagination of a child or child-at-heart with Visions of Sugarplums. You may be dreaming of Sugarplums dancing in your head, but Festival Ballet’s Sugarplum Fairy performs incredible feats in real life, soaring through the air, pirouetting around and around, and shimmering across the stage in her sparkling tutu and regal tiara!

For tickets to FBP’s The Nutcracker December 13-15 at PPAC, click here.

5 Reasons You Need To See “Carmen”

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Jennifer Ricci in “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles

Need a good reason to come see Viktor Plotnikov’s fiery “Carmen” at FBP November 1-10? We’ll give you 5!

  1. The music. “Carmen” boasts one of the most iconic and powerful scores in the history of music. If you think that sounds dramatic, try listening to the classic “Habanera” without swaying your shoulders and humming along!

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    Eugenia Zinovieva and Alex Lantz in “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles
  2. The passion. From the scorned love of Micaela and Don Jose to Carmen’s fiery seduction, this ballet is not lacking in sensuality. Love, lust, and desire converge- and we’ve saved you front row seats!

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    Eugenia Zinovieva and Alex Lantz in “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles
  3. The choreography. FBP’s “Carmen” was the first full-length ballet choreographed by Viktor Plotnikov, now the Company’s Resident Choreographer. “Carmen” gave rise to the distinct and captivating vision of this prophetic dance maker, with a breathtaking style you’ll want to get lost in.

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    Jennifer Ricci and David Dubois in “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles
  4.  The drama. We won’t give too much away here- but with epic fight scenes and frisky factory girls, this ballet will have you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.

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    Mamuka Kikalishvili and Jennifer Ricci in “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles
  5. The intimate setting. FBP’s “Carmen” was originally created for the main stage, but this adaptation for the Black Box Theater at Up Close On Hope brings the action even closer, immersing the audience in every emotional step.

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    Eugenia Zinovieva and Alex Lantz in “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles

There you have it! Five fantastic reasons not to miss FBP’s “Carmen” in the Black Box Theater this November. But hurry! Get your tickets here.

Coffee Break with the Stars of Carmen and Seven Stars Bakery

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Eugenia Zinovieva and Alex Lantz in Viktor Plotnikov’s “Carmen” photo by Dylan Giles

FBP’s “Carmen” opens this weekend at Up Close On Hope, so we sat down with dancers Eugenia Zinovieva and Alex Lantz (who will be dancing the roles of Carmen and Don Jose), for a coffee and a snack at Seven Stars Bakery to hear all the tea…

Drink order: Eugenia & Alex both- small hot coffee half-caff

Treat of choice: Eugenia- Vegetarian sandwich, Alex- Yogurt Parfait

You two premiered together in this ballet three years ago. How does it feel to revisit these characters and this ballet? What has changed?

Alex: I can tell that I’ve improved as a dancer. There were things last time that really scared me, and those things don’t make me so nervous anymore.

Eugenia: The steps that needed a lot of work last time feel much easier this time, which opens up space to work on more detailed things. It just kind of flew back together and felt very smooth and easy.

Alex: Because we work together so much, there’s a natural rhythm to it.

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What do you find challenging about dancing these roles?

Eugenia: Character-wise for Carmen, she is so different from me as a person. Portraying her personality takes a lot of digging in and finding a part of me that I would never enact in real life. I want to react to things on stage the way I would, but I have to hold that back and react how Carmen would instead.

Alex: Don Jose’s character progresses so much throughout the ballet, I have to try and stay with him on that journey. Maintaining the character arch as he becomes more emotionally vulnerable is challenging.

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What do you enjoy the most about this ballet?

Eugenia: The music! It’s iconic.

Alex: Viktor’s specific language with this ballet has such a good style to it, you can get really engrossed in it.

What makes this version of Carmen special?

Eugenia:  In a lot of the versions of Carmen that I’ve seen, Carmen is just a one-dimensional sexual being, but in this version she has some really tender moments. There are more sides to her. She’s gritty and bold, she’s an animal. I like that Viktor really differentiated her character that way.

Alex: I think it’s also interesting how Micaela really drives the plot in this version. Don Jose’s story is really effected by his relationship with Micaela and how he ruins that. This begins his decline, and it’s great how FBP’s version of this story really highlights that.

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For more information and tickets to see Viktor Plotnikov’s “Carmen” November 1-10, click here.

Listen Up: Creating The Sound of Hansel & Gretel

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Ty Parmenter and Brenna DiFrancesco as Hansel & Gretel, photo by Zaire Kacz.

FBP’s chatterBOXtheatre does not shy away from a little noise. We encourage our young audiences to laugh out loud, applaud enthusiastically, jeer the villains, hum the music, and well, create chatter!

Saturdays and Sundays October 12-20, Hansel & Gretel audiences will have another layer to listen to; Composer David Ikard created an original soundscape just for this show! It’s textured with recurring melodies and haunting sound effects that transport listeners into the dark world of this familiar fairytale. Today, we hear from David about how this intricate composition came together…

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Hi David! Tell us, how did your partnership with Ilya Kozadayav to create the soundscape for Festival Ballet Providence’s Hansel & Gretel come about? 

My collaboration with Ilya started after he had seen some of my work performed at the University of Oklahoma. I was working with another faculty member in the dance department, at the time. Ilya saw the piece and thought that my particular style might lend itself well to this project. So, he contacted me and we started bouncing ideas around.

So you had composed music for dance before, then?

I had worked with choreographers on a few other projects, but never one of this scale. Typically, the pieces I had completed ranged from eight to twelve minutes… never a whole ballet.

Very cool. This score has quite a spooky sound to it, which feels very appropriate for autumn, with Halloween right around the corner. Did you have any outside inspiration while creating it, or were you focused completely on the story of Hansel & Gretel?

When Ilya and I began the process, he showed me some images to relay a sort of visual representation of how he wanted the whole work to feel. There was definitely an underlying level of creepiness that we were trying to create. However, most of the sonic material of the piece comes directly from objects or scenes within the story.

It sounds like you must have had a pretty detailed idea of each scene. How closely did you work with choreographer Ilya Kozadayev throughout the process?

I worked very closely with Ilya throughout the process. We discussed what would be happening in each scene ahead of time. We would talk about the actual physical location of the scene, which characters would be present and what they would be doing. Then I would try to paint the scene in sound, almost like creating a “sonic set,” in a way.

One frequent adjustment that needed to be addressed was rhythm. I come out of a background of experimental electronic music. For the most part, rhythm is somewhat frowned upon, within this circle. I know, this is a rather strange problem for someone who has written for dance almost exclusively for the past four years, but it was an issue that I had to remedy. So I would think of ways to put cues in for the dancers and areas of rhythm that would help them with timing issues, etc.

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Alex Lantz and Linnea Wahle as the Witch and Gretel, photo by Dylan Giles.

That is so interesting and unexpected! Listening to the finished product, much of the ballet does have a very danceable rhythm. It certainly helps us dancers tell the story. How do you approach composing when the ultimate goal of a work is narrative storytelling?

No matter what type of music I’m writing, the ultimate goals are to make it interesting (both to me, and to others) and to make it emotionally affective. Is this sound interesting to me and does it relay the appropriate emotional content? Driving the narrative with sound is a little tricky. It’s kind of like making all of the sounds of a movie before the film has been shot.

The intent of the ChatterBOXtheatre is to inspire the imagination of children through music and dance. What elements of this soundscape should our audience listen for? Were any of these sound effects particularly fun to create?

I really enjoyed making the scene where Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods. On a whole, I would recommend that they listen closely to each sound.

Try to see where it’s coming from, how it develops, and where it goes. Also, they might want to think about how they would tell a story in sound, themselves.

For example, in the forest scene, I set the characters in the woods and have various sorts of insects and scary birds drive the drama. At the end of the scene, Hansel and Gretel come upon a creepy house in the woods. So, I needed to paint the image of a scary cabin in the audience’s mind’s eye. Well, what does a cabin in the woods sound like? This can be a complicated thing to portray in sound. I came up with wind chimes and the distant sound of shutters hitting the side of a house. Then I added a harmonica tune, in order to let the audience know that it wasn’t an empty house. It would be interesting to see how the children would set this scene in sound.

Thank you so much, David!

To learn more about Hansel & Gretel, click here.

To hear from Hansel & Gretel choreographer, Ilya Kozadayev, click here.

For tickets, click here.

Bringing Hansel & Gretel To Life

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Azamat Asangul and Linnea Wahle as Hansel and Gretel, photo by Dylan Giles

Fall is officially here, and with the shift in the wind comes a spooky family production at Festival Ballet Providence’s chatterBOXtheatre! The classic Grimm’s Brothers tale, Hansel & Gretel, comes to the Black Box on Hope Street, Saturdays and Sunday October 12-20, 2019. We sat down with Hansel & Gretel choreographer Ilya Kozadayev to get the inside scoop on how he created this fun fan-favorite…

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Hansel & Gretel choreographer Ilya Kozadayev

So Ilya, what is your approach when choreographing a children’s ballet? Do you think being a father yourself helped you see the ballet through the eyes of a child?

Being a dad, I have learned that kids are very intuitive when it comes to following a visual story. I tried to focus on clearly developing characters in the beginning, making their later journeys easier to follow. In this case, the plot of Hansel & Gretel is written for a young audience, so there is no need to simplify the story. My goal was to lay out the scenes and transitions clearly.

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Linnea Wahle and Alex Lantz as Gretel and the Witch

Even though Hansel & Gretel was written for a young audience, this is quite a grim (Grimm, heh) story. How do you get into the minds of dark characters like the Stepmother and the Witch? What goes into developing these characters? 

I read the book as a child, so I already had a preconceived notion of the dark characters built up in my head. However, I wanted to refresh these old childhood images. To do this, I researched some cases of neglected parenting, living in isolation and even serial killers and cannibalism. I watched a few scary shows, refreshing these dark characters to create ‘still images’ in my head, which I then I animated.

That’s sounds like a cool- and creepy- process. Are the evil characters connected in any way in your mind?

I am sure on some level the two evil characters are connected. Perhaps it is the stepmother who walks her (hungry) kids into the woods on purpose, to later lure them with food and eat the children as a witch? It is interesting that in the story the stepmother dies as does the witch…

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Kirsten Evans and Mamuka Kikalishvili as Stepmother and Father, photo by Dylan Giles

Hmmm, we’ll have to leave it up to the audience to decide! How important is it to you that this young audience walks away from the ballet with something that makes them think?

It is important to me that young audience walks away with an experience! We cannot dictate anyone what to think as creators, and the story itself is written with many lessons without choreography. In my opinion, performing art, and dance in particular, being a physical, visual form communicates to those observing it in a different way, on a different level. Hopefully it reaches young minds and their experience leads to ‘a lesson’.

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Azamat Asangul and Linnea Wahle as Hansel and Gretel, photo by Dylan Giles

Why do you think it is important to make ballets specifically geared toward children like we do with chatterBOXtheatre at FBP?

I think its important to expose children to art in general. This is live art that is so close you can “reach” the characters with your hands, see, hear and “feel” their movement. At ChatterBOX, observers are so close to live action. In an age where communication is isolated with a screen this kind of live, raw experience is important.

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Azamat Asangul and Linnea Wahle as Hansel and Gretel, photo by Dylan Giles

Thank you, Ilya! Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with David Ickard, the composer who created an original soundscape for FBP’s Hansel & Gretel, coming soon to the blog!

To learn more about FBP’s Hansel & Gretel click here. For tickets, click here.

Bringing “The Seasons” To Life

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By Ruth Davis

On Saturday, June 1, 2019, students from the Festival Ballet Providence School will showcase their talents in Culmination 2019 at Sapinsley Hall at Rhode Island College.  This year’s production features an original one-act ballet, The Seasons, conceived and choreographed by FBP’s school director, Vilia Putrius and set to music by Alexander Glazunov.  This monumental work features children in vibrant costumes portraying characters from frigid Winter Frost and icy Snow Crystals to fluttering Butterflies and Birds. The production also includes multimedia art and projection, and even a few surprises.

For eleven years, Vilia was a leading dancer in FBP’s company until her retirement from the company in 2017. In the fall of 2018, Vilia returned as Director of the FBP School, leading the teachers and classes of more than 150 students from pre-ballet to adult.  Asked about the end of her first year as director and about this culminating event, Vilia said, “Working on Seasons has awakened so many memories for me, of being a student myself in Lithuania and the excitement of dancing with the other students in front of all of our parents and friends.  It will be wonderful seeing all of these young dancers in costume, proud of their achievements and sharing their gifts, just as I remember.”

We thought you might like to hear some of the thoughts of two FBP school students who each offer their own perspectives:

First up is William Kinloch, a 10 year-old who at this young age, is already a veteran of the FBP school (he began taking classes when he was only three years old).  He looks ahead at opportunities and the inspiration he finds in ballet and in his own studies.

William Kinloch

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I was inspired to come to ballet class after I saw The Nutcracker at the San Francisco Opera House in December of 2011. The show sparked my passion for dance, which gets stronger every passing day.

Overall, I enjoy how expressive and meaningful ballet is.  In terms of technique, I love the movement of ballet – how you can make it flowy or rigid or any other form that suits the moment of expression. One of my favorite moves to practice is the grand battement. I love this move because the action of it is to throw your leg as high as you can into the air. It feels reaching as high as I can to the heavens.

Culmination is most definitely my favorite show of the year because the show is based on kids and we all have a role that is alike, something in common to share with each other. It’s really fun putting it all together and taking the stage together. This year we have something special to offer called The Seasons. It is a ballet that collects all four seasons of the year, and every kid dances a role in one of the seasons. For example, my ballet level, BB3, is dancing in spring; I am a bird, and the girls are playing greenery. It has been so fun to collaborate to with other ballet levels. I love dancing with Maddie, the spring fairy.

I think about being a professional dancer every day. I always dream about myself as a dancer at professional companies. My biggest dream is to be a professional dancer. I am moonstruck by João Sampiao at Festival Ballet, and I hope some day to be like him. I love how clean his movements are and how intentional everything he does looks. I love how pointed his feet are and I love how kind he is.

Amanda Emby

Next is Amanda Emby, age 17, who started classes in 2011 and looks back on this past year and on the many rewards dancing at FBP has provided.

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Amanda Emby

This past year at Festival Ballet Providence School has truly been such a challenging, yet amazing experience for me. I feel very lucky to be coached and mentored by the outstanding faculty here at the School. They encourage and inspire me to grow as an artist every day.

I have had the privilege of performing this year alongside the company in productions such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

Being able to not only perform with the company, but to see firsthand the hard work and dedication they pour into their productions is a unique experience for myself and all of Festival’s students. They show us that our aspirations are attainable with dedication, determination, persistence, and a lot of sweat!

Observing them, pushes us to work hard despite any obstacles that may occur.

There will be many little ones taking the stage this year for the very first time… even a furry friend! Yes, Petipaw will be making his debut on stage this Culmination. He’s going to be the star of the show, if I don’t say so myself!

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Petipaw and FBP Ballet Master Mindaugas Bauzys

In The Seasons I will be featured as Summer Fairy. She embodies elegance, grace, and radiates as if she’s the sun. Not only is it amazing to dance a principal role, but to dance alongside my best fiends and venture into this journey together… teamwork makes the dream work!  Having a second family at FBP School provides a great sense of community and camaraderie! 

You can see Amanda and William and all of the FBP School students performing in Culmination 2019 at Sapinsley Hall (Rhode Island College), June 1, 2019 at 1:30pm and 6:00pm. Click here for more information and tickets.

Ruth Davis manages Public Relations and Communications for Festival Ballet Providence. Photos by Jim Turner and Dylan Giles.

The Next Generation of Swan Lake

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Ty Parmenter as the Jester in Swan Lake, photo by Thomas Nola-Rian

FBP’s 41st Season is nearing its grand finale! We are bringing together students and professionals to celebrate the end of another fantastic season with a full production of the iconic Swan Lake. We spoke with a few members of the children’s cast, Hannah Yelnosky, Isobel Lewis, and Cullen Gamache, to find out how they are preparing for this exciting opportunity.

Hello, dancers! So first tell us, what role do you dance in Swan Lake, and what is the best part about your role?

Hannah: I dance the role of Neopolitan Corps [in the third act of the ballet]. The best part about this role is that we get to dance with a tambourine. We are allowed to be a little sassy and using the tambourine lets us do that! Ballet class is all about technique, but this role is exciting because we can let some of that technique go and really try to build a convincing character.

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FBP Students rehearsing Swan Lake, photo by Dylan Giles

Isobel: I dance as a village girl [in the first act of the ballet], and the best part about my role is that I get to watch and react to everything going on on the stage.

Cullen: I am a Youth villager in Act I. I really like the acting parts we get to do in this scene. We have to look at the jester and act surprised and laugh at him. I really like interacting with the Jester.

Okay then, what is the hardest part of your role?

Hannah: The hardest part about this role is that there are seven other girls in the corps. It can be tricky to make sure that we are all on the same counts and that our spacing is correct. Because we are a corps it is important to talk to each other before and after rehearsal to make sure we are all on the same page.

Isobel: The hardest part of my role is probably the timing of our dance and understanding the timing. It’s hard because you have to be on every count and know exactly what’s coming next and be ready.

Cullen:  The dancing is the hardest part. It’s not that long, but when it comes down to it, there’s a lot of traffic. I bumped into a lot of people my first time doing it. When we first started learning, it was only a couple of weeks away from the performance. There’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time.

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Cullen Gamache rehearsing Swan Lake, photo by Dylan Giles
What is it like dancing alongside the professional company in such an iconic ballet?
Hannah: Swan Lake is my favorite ballet and it is such an honor to be given the chance to perform alongside the professional company. It is so inspiring to watch them in rehearsal because they are what we all are striving to be. After every professional show I’m a part of, I always leave with an extra burst of motivation because being around professional ballerinas gives you that determination to be like them.

Isobel: It’s really cool, especially as a village child, that I get to see everything that’s happening and watch the technique of the company dancers and how much effort they put into their work.

Cullen: You look up to them as somebody you want to be when you grow up. When already training as a student, dancing next to professionals is inspiring. You think, “I can be like that one day.” I really like Alex and Ty’s dancing. I’ve had Alex as a teacher and I really look up to him.

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FBP Students rehearsing Swan Lake, photo by Dylan Giles
What are you looking forward to most in Swan Lake?

Hannah: I’m most excited about dancing in such a beautiful venue on such a big stage. Being a senior, it is possible that this might be my last professional show ever, so I am just trying to soak in this experience that I may never get again.

Isobel: I’m most excited about watching the dancers perform and dancing in a professional ballet next to professional dancers. I’m preparing by practicing a lot at home and trying my very best at each rehearsal.

Cullen:  Just being in Swan Lake, being in the theater it’s all very exciting. I’m excited to miss school, too. I like performing for people I know, like I had my classmates come to Nutcracker and my friends and family are coming to Swan Lake.

 

Catch the incredible children’s cast on stage at Swan Lake, Mother’s Day weekend at The Vets! Click here for tickets.