6 MORE Reasons to see “MIRRORS”

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Miami City Ballet in “Serenade”, photo by Gene Schiavone, choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust

In case you need some convincing to give your Netflix/chill plans the night off this Valentine’s Day, here are just a few good reasons to come see Festival Ballet Providence’s MIRRORS this February 15-17 at The Vets…

  1. A unique night out in Downcity. Providence’s downtown is known for it’s historic architecture and diverse nightlife. Take a spin around the Creative Capital at night! Our theater, The Vets, is housed in a stunning building right across from the gorgeous Rhode Island State House. (PS- both are on the National Register of Historic Buildings- and they’re right in your backyard!)

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    Rhode Island Statehouse, photo by Ian McConnell Photography
  2. While you’re at it, why not check out one of the many award-winning restaurants Providence has to offer! Downtown is ripe with culinary confections to suit every palate, from the famous authentic Italian of Federal Hill to the nationally recognized modern American offerings scattered about Downcity. Time to snag those reservations! (We recommend booking in for about 1.5-2 hours before the show.)

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    Oberlin, downtown Providence
  3. All dressed up and no where to go? Head to the ballet! What’s more fun than getting all dressed up for a night at the theater? Give those new shoes a chance to dance.

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    Olivia Sullivan for Free People Providence, photo by Kelly Louise Photography
  4. Drama, drama, drama. Looking for a dose of drama but craving a break from the soap opera you’ve been binge-watching? Don’t worry we won’t tell…grab yourself a ticket to “MIRRORS” and let Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma quench your fix.

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    Vitkor Plotnikov’s Coma
  5. Everyone needs some good old fashion romance once in a while. Kick hallmark cards to the curb and give your honey what they really want this Valentine’s Day! Plus there’s a beautiful, historic hotel right next door to the theater…hint, hint.

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    Hotel Renaissance, Downtown Providence
  6. “Everything is beautiful at the ballet!” The famous “A Chorus Line” lyric said it best, ballet is just pure beauty in all its forms, from the sweepingly effortless Serenade to the intricately physical Smoke & Mirrors.

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    Miami City Ballet in “Serenade”, photo by Gene Schiavone, choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust

Need we say more? What are you waiting for?! Snag your tickets here or call (401) 421-ARTS.

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Tea for Two Dark Angels

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Katie and Charlotte having tea at Seven Stars Bakery.

Emotion, romance, and passion take the stage this Valentine’s Day weekend (February 15-17) in “Mirrors”. Featuring three ballets in one evening, this varied program offers something for everyone. We sat down for a coffee break with Dancer’s Katie Bickford and Charlotte Nash to hear a bit more what it’s been like working on this epic show. 

Both George Balanchine’s iconic Serenade and Viktor Plotnikov’s dramatic Coma feature a character called “Dark Angel”. Coincidentally, both Katie and Charlotte have been cast to learn these two dynamic roles for the upcoming “Mirrors” program. Read on to get a sneak peek…

Katie’s order: Cloud 9 tea

Charlotte’s order: London Fog & butter croissant

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On tackling Coma…

Katie: In Coma, the Dark Angel is not a man or a woman, but some sort of nonhuman presence. She is this creature who is aware of everyone’s emotions, which seem to be projected onto her.

Charlotte: Yeah, and the emotions change from one movement to another. In the first movement, I feel a sense of intensity as Dark Angel. Then the third movement feels like you have been set free.

Katie: For me, the entire ballet, Coma, feels like one moment, but from different perspectives. The first movement represents the torment of the dancers visiting their loved ones, while the third movement shows the light, optimistic perspective of the dancers portraying coma patients. The Dark Angel is still manipulating the dancers, but it feels more childlike and playful. She is very dynamic.

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Katie Bickford as Dark Angel in Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma. Photo by Dylan Giles.

On Dark Angel differences…

Katie: In Serenade, we are very feminine. We are women. In both ballets, The Dark Angel has a sense of knowledge of what is going to happen.

Charlotte: In both Serenade and Coma, the Dark Angel also has that ability to guide people through the ballet. Both ballets are really challenging in different ways. Technically Serenade is very difficult, there is a lot of extreme bending and unusual steps that you might not typically do in a classical ballet.

In Coma, the style of movement can make you feel a bit out of control all the time, which can be tough to manage, but also exciting. 

Katie: In Coma, the music does not support us the same way it does in Serenade. The music is inspiring the feeling behind the movement, but not dictating the steps the way it does in Serenade. I feel a sense of freedom in Coma.

Charlotte: Yes, the specific musical counts in Serenade can be difficult to perfect. It can be hard to keep it looking fresh and natural, while still being on time with specific counts, but that’s the beauty of the challenge.

Sometimes when I go into Serenade, I’m thinking about my character in Coma, bringing something supernatural to the role. I like how Dark Angel feels more grounded than the other principals. There is something different about her.

Katie: Deborah [Wingert, of the George Balanchine Trust] was saying Dark Angel in Serenade shouldn’t be cold, but she’s slightly closed off and less emotional than the other women. I think this really helps the character feel more “other”. It relates to Coma because in that ballet we are more creature than human.

Charlotte: In the famous pose during the final Elegy section of Serenade, Dark Angel is hovering above the Waltz Girl, acting as the wings, rather than a full human body.

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Charlotte Nash as Dark Angel in George Balanchine’s Serenade. Photo by Dylan Giles.

On working on these iconic ballets with Balanchine Trust Repetiteur and former NYCB dancer Deborah Wingert and FBP Resident Choreographer Viktor Plotnikov…

Charlotte: I feel so grateful to be doing both of these beautiful ballets. Just being a part of them is something special. I am in awe when I watch them.

Katie: I feel grateful too, I just want to give as much as I can to them. I hadn’t seen either of these ballets before, so my interpretation feels very much my own.

Charlotte: Woking with Deb [of the Balanchine Trust] was amazing. Hearing all of her stories from working with Balanchine was really special.

Katie: Deborah is a very positive person. Everything she said really made sense, which made learning the ballet very fun.

Charlotte: It was interesting to work with Viktor on Coma, because he seems very attached to this ballet. It seems like Coma is his baby, so he has a lot of input about the emotions.

Katie: There are so many little details in Coma, and every movement means something to him. It’s rewarding to interpret that intricacy.

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On emotions…

Charlotte: Balanchine is always romantic, even without a literally story.

Katie: There is a lot of emotion in both ballets. They are so different.

They will touch you in different ways. They are full of human emotions that anyone can relate to. 

Charlotte: They are both so beautiful. Everyone should see them! In Coma, there are miniature love stories happening throughout. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful.

Thank you, ladies! To see Coma and Serenade on stage, click here for tickets.

6 Reasons to See “MIRRORS”

Here are just a few of the reasons FBP’s upcoming “Mirrors” is not to be missed this Valentine’s Day weekend at The Vets:

  1. Romance. February in Rhode Island is cold and dark- let the ballet light up your love life with an unexpectedly hot date night this year! George Balanchine’s sumptuous Serenade is sure to sweep you off your feet. Let us catch you.
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    Miami City Ballet in “Serenade”, photo by Gene Schiavone, choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust
  2. Unplug and join the conversation. New Year’s Resolution to decrease your screen-time? A company premiere by renowned Yury Yanowksy, Smoke and Mirrors offers social commentary on our increasingly digital world. The concept is expertly expressed by Yanowsky’s use of, yes, smoke and mirrors, but also an interesting costume element; The women are dressed in corsets with handles that allow their partners to lift and manipulate them in entirely new ways. “It’s all smoke and mirrors,” Yanowsky said in an interview, adding, “The story is reflected in the corsets and how we are puppets of the system and how we try to get out.” Make your voice heard.
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  3. Witness genius choreography. This program marks the long-awaited return of Viktor Plotnikov’s popular dance-drama, Coma. The contemporary ballet was created by FBP Resident choreographer Plotnikov and debuted with immediate critical acclaim, being touted as “original, haunting and chilling, surreal and sad, and just plain mesmerizing” by the Providence Journal in 2007. The emotional work has earned Plotnikov international recognition from Dance Magazine as a choreographer who “revere[s] tradition, while forging a new language, and still command[ing] the attention of an everyday family audience.” Come see for yourself._S9Q9213.jpg
  4. Expand your playlist. From Tchaikovsky’s stirring Serenade for Strings, to “Fast & Furious 6” Composer Lucas Vidal’s futuristic soundscape for Smoke and Mirrors, to Arvö Part’s iconic musical works driving the emotional Coma, the music of “Mirrors” will transport you from one world to another. Each composition exudes the spirit of the ballet it reflects- the stirring spirit of romance, the apocalyptic disconnect of our changing society, and the raw, tender beauty of an unknown limbo. Listen up.viktor plotnikov's coma, photo by thomas nola-rion
  5.  Respect your roots. The first work the New York City Ballet founder and legendary choreographer created in the United States, George Balanchine’s Serenade is an icon and testament to the brilliance of its maker. The ballet evolved over time, with nuances that have since become quintessential quirks. Check out our post here for more on the fascinating history of Serenade…and study up!

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    Miami City Ballet in “Serenade”, photo by Gene Schiavone, choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust
  6. Support progress. “Mirrors” features two Company premieres in one night. That’s two masterpieces that have been celebrated by art-lovers across the globe, coming right to your backyard in Rhode Island for the first time ever! Don’t miss the chance to participate in progress in your Creative Capital. Hope to see you there!Boston Ballet_Photo by Gene Schiavone.jpg

So there you have it! Don’t miss this epic show. For tickets to “Mirrors” February 15-17 at The Vets, click here

The Story On “Serenade”

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Miami City Ballet in “Serenade”, photo by Gene Schiavone, choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust

Say the word “serenade” in a group of ballet dancers and immediately you’ve conjured visions of pale blue gossamer tulle floating  midair to Tchaikovsky’s dramatic score. The word “serenade” (that’s, “ser – eh – nahd” darling!) fills a dancer’s ears with a full orchestra of powerful strings and enlivens their muscles to unconsciously float into intricate formations. This is because Serenade is the title of choreographic legend George Balanchine’s most iconic work.

Created in June of 1934 for the School of American Ballet, Serenade was the first piece Balanchine choreographed in America. It has since become one of New York City Ballet’s signature works. When the great choreographer was creating this piece for the students of his school, he originally began as a lesson in stage technique. This is evidenced in the final product, with unique elements that the audience should enjoy searching for. For example, when a student fell during rehearsal, this was added into the official choreography. When another student arrived late one day, this too was incorporated into the ballet.

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Miami City Ballet in “Serenade”, photo by Gene Schiavone, choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust

With its large cast of 28 whirling around the stage in delicate blue costumes, Serenade appears almost like a dream. Balanchine’s detailed choreography seems to work not for or against, but perfect with the music, as if the two were never separate. The choreographer had a special relationship with Tchaikovsky’s music. In an interview, the late Balanchine said:

“In everything that I did to Tschaikovsky’s music,” he told the interviewer, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tschaikovsky who had helped me.

Balanchine’s affinity connection to the composer is certainly apparent in Serenade, the dancers dictating ever delicate intricacy in the powerful score. Those who knew Balanchine recall that for him, music was paramount. This perhaps explains why Serenade appears to be a plotless ballet, though the emotion expressed and relationships formed onstage call forth a different response from each individual audience member. For its iconic history, its breathtaking movement, and its masterful music, don’t miss Balanchine’s Serenade, coming to The Vets stage this February as part of FBP’s MIRRORS.

For tickets, click here.

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Repertory notes provided courtesy of and adapted from New York City Ballet Online Repertory Index.

Photos of Miami City Ballet by Gene Schiavone.

“Serenade” choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust



 

This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

7 Questions with Choreographer Kurt Douglas

The Providence audience met former Límon Dance Company dancer Kurt Douglas last season at FBP’s Spring Up Close On Hope program. In the next Up Close installment – which opens November 9 in the Black Box – the inventive choreographer behind Thrust offers a fresh new piece entitled, Sojourn. We sat down with Douglas to learn a bit more about his latest creation for FBP…

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Kurt, can you tell us about the style of your newest premiere for FBP?

My style of movement has always been rooted in the use of momentum, weight, gravity and risk taking. I am fascinated by crafting and creating patterns that manipulate the space to create different visual textures. I pushed the dancers to explore their use of falling into the floor. This idea is not always utilized in ballet dancing so it was a challenge. I enjoy introducing and trying different ideas that may not always work. I believe trying many different options until I find the one that flows and make sense. My new work is called “Sojourn” and I am truly proud of what the dancers and I have created together.

Tell us about the beautiful music the dancers will be reacting to. Did you find the music before you began working on the movement?

Yes! I have been wanting to work with this piece of music for a while now. The minimalist style of music inspires me and allows my imagination to soar in a multitude of different directions. The music is truly magical.

It really is. So once you have the music, where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from many different places. I am particularly inspired by the environments I come in contact with and the diversity of different people around me. I love the outdoors and the unpredictability of nature. The dancers bring inspiration to me by just bringing their vulnerability into the rehearsal process.

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I love how you keep mentioning this partnership between you and the dancers in the creation process. What has the experience been like?

The dancers at FBP are truly stellar artists in every way. The community here at FBP is super supportive in and out of the studio. The energy in a room is incredibly important during my creative process. The dancers bring their A game every time we work together, and for that I am truly grateful to them.

“Their commitment to artistic excellence, creativity and courage always invigorates me.”

That’s so inspiring. Hopefully the audience can feel that as well! How do you think the Providence audiences will respond to this piece?

I think the Providence audiences will enjoy watching the beautiful dancers of FBP move in a contemporary way. They will enjoy the opportunity to get lost in the beautiful score and of the intricate visual patterns that the dancers create. The dancers truly make this piece their own and tell their own stories through the movement. I think that anyone who comes to see Up Close on Hope: Program 1 will not be disappointed.

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This is an entire program of premieres! How do you think people will react to seeing Sojourn in the Black Box Theatre?

The audience will accompany the dancers as they journey a from one unknown place to another. I hope that after seeing this work in the Black Box Theatre the audience’s imaginations will be sparked in a new and creative way. Hopefully they will reflect and celebrate their own journey’s after experiencing the work.

Up Close really is a special kind of performance, isn’t it? Does the Black Box present any challenges or unique opportunities choreographically?

One aspect about making a work in the Black Box Theatre is the intimacy of the space. The relationship between the dancers and the audience is special because the audience sits extremely close to the action happening on stage.

“You can hear the dancers breathing, see their sweat, and feel their raw and honest expressions of emotion. It’s truly a rare and memorably special opportunity to watch dance in such a close proximity to the stage. Come out and experience FBP for yourself.”

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Thank you so much, Kurt!

To see Sojourn and the rest of the premieres at Up Close On Hope, click here for tickets.

Photos by Dylan Giles.

“Ballet in the Library” Goes Under The Sea

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Here in the Creative Capital, art is constantly being imagined, created, and shared. One of the greatest gifts an artist can give is to inspire and educate developing young minds to dream up the next masterpiece. At FBP, we are dedicated to helping raise the next generation of artists in Providence with our extensive outreach program.

This season, FBP has brought enchanting dance experiences to hundreds of children in Rhode Island through our “Ballet in the Library” series, sparking the fire of passion in the hearts of countless youth along the way. In preparation for one of the most whimsical ballets the Company has ever taken on, Little Mermaid, a team of dancers led by Outreach Director Valerie Cookson-Botto will be popping up in libraries in Providence, Cranston, Jamestown, North Kingstown, and Peach Dale to perform an interactive reading of Little Mermaid. These fun events are the perfect way to get your littles excited for the ballet, while engaging in your community arts scene and exposing your children to art in a unique, approachable way.

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Of course, community engagement is all about sharing the experience of dance with those around you, and dance is all about moving your body- so it wouldn’t be a proper FBP Outreach event without some dancing! FBP dancers will teach the children to move like they are underwater, practicing the movements of a variety of sea creatures to create an original ocean dance.

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What’s a little pop-up party without a craft, right? Children will be invited to make their very own fish to take home with them- and then bring along to the theater to see FBP’s Little Mermaid live on stage April 27-29! Fin-tastic fun for the whole family!

For a schedule of FBP’s “Ballet in the Library” series, see below:

North Kingstown Free Library- Tuesday, 4/17; 10am

Peach Dale Library- Wednesday, 4/18; 10:30am

Jamestown Library- Wednesday, 4/18; 2pm

Cranston Central Library- Thursday, 4/19; 10:30am

Rochambeau Library-Tuesday, 4/24; 10:30am

Washington Park Library- Tuesday, 4/24; 1pm

Mount Pleasant Library- Wednesday, 4/25; 10am

Olney Library- Thursday 4/26; 10am

Wanskuck Library- Thursday, 4/16; 1pm

For tickets to FBP’s Little Mermaid, click here.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

5 Questions for “Little Mermaid” Choreographer Mark Diamond

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In just a few short weeks, FBP will make a splash at The Vets, bringing Mark Diamond’s bubbly adaptation of Little Mermaid to the stage for the first time in New England. Before taking on his current role as the director of Charlotte Ballet II, Mark Diamond danced with several professional ballet companies in Europe and the US, including Hamburg Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, andPittsburgh Ballet Theater. Today we are sitting down with the choreographer to learn a bit about his version of the classic fairytale…

Hello, Mark! Let’s dive in (ha). What inspired you to create a ballet version of Little Mermaid?

When Charlotte Ballet asked me to create a family ballet, I felt that the Little Mermaid was a great story because of the juxtaposition of two worlds, the land and the sea. And also, because it is a love story.

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That beautiful opposition between land and sea must have posed some unique challenges in terms of choreography. How did you go about creating an underwater world? 

The idea of the sea (and under the sea) is that everything is constantly moving with natural beauty; which is what dance is about. The dancer playing the little mermaid can never stand or walk while under the sea; so I have men carriers, which I call the Undertow run and carry her about the stage. Costumes are flowy and representative of different sea elements and creatures. And of course the lighting and projections emphasize the exaggerated colors of the water, and of the constant movement.

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Sounds lovely! Can you describe the high-tech elements that were recently incorporated in the show?

The use of projections on top of the scenery really helps with the constant flux of visuals that are under water.

*Pro Tip: For an inside look at the making of the Little Mermaid costumes which include one-of-a-kind 3D printed elements, click here!*

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There seems to be a shift in technique used from the dancers under the sea versus those on land. What can the audience expect to see in terms of style? 

In general, the movement under the sea is natural or, in the style of contemporary dance; especially for the Undertow men. The dance styles utilized in the land scenes are all classical or “character” dance.

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Little Mermaid is such a classic story. What elements of the original story did you incorporate and what did you make your own? Did the popular Disney adaptation inspire you in any way?

I have followed the story from Hans Christian Anderson (whose works are always a bit dark and depressing) as closely as possible but not always in the details. In dance we always have to take some artistic license to make the translation work.

“I have made the interpretation more colorful and joyful and have incorporated elements of joy, yearning, humor and hope.”

I have choreographed a few storybook ballets and I always try to totally avoid any adaptations used by Disney. I also felt it would be very irresponsible to ask families to bring their children and serve them the ancient, dismal and depressing ending that Hans Christian Anderson used.

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Both creativity and balance are so key when it comes to making something exciting and original for children. The Company has been looking forward to bringing this ballet to life! Thanks, Mark!

To see Little Mermaid make a splash on stage, click here for tickets.

Photos via Charlotte Ballet.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

Welcome yon Tande

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FBP’s Up Close On Hope (UCOH) series is all about showcasing emerging choreographers in collaboration with our versatile company of dancers to produce a uniquely intimate experience. This month FBP welcomes two new choreographers to our UCOH roster. Today we are welcoming yon Tande, local performance artist and choreographer, to the FBP family.

yon Tande works in the areas of “performance, exhibition, curation, and education”. He has performed with a number of professional dance companies including Martha Graham Dance Company, and has taught internationally at an impressive collection of institutions including Peridance Center, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, and The Ailey School. yon Tande earned a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts/Dance (Howard University), an M.F.A. in New Media Arts and Performance (Long Island University) and is presently an Institute for the Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts Driskell Fellow.  That’s quite the resumé!

Bringing his worldly talents to Providence, yon Tande has worked as the Dance Manager for AS220, choreographer for Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol, and is currently the Program Director at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island. Today we hear from yon Tande himself, all about his background, creation process, and the poignant adaptation of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, coming to the Black Box Theater this March…

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Hello, yon Tande! Let’s start at the beginning. What is your first dance-related memory?

Performing for my entire family around the house as a young boy, dressed in all kinds of get-ups that I could put together. Also, being the only boy in a dance class full of young girls and not having any sense of discomfort.

Haha! Your sense of self is still so strong and inspiring. How has your experience performing and working with so many incredible dance companies shaped you as an artist? 

It has given me the opportunity to experience a range of approaches to creating dance from the highly reverent to the supreme irreverent. This has nurtured in me the importance of being true to my particular voice and the necessity to continue to nourish my artistry.

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So were you always interested in creating movement?

I have always been a creator of movement. From my early young teen years of dancing in the circles of Chicago House clubs, to the more formal training in dance studios, I have always loved creating movement. In my years as a young choreographer, discovering my vocabulary was difficult, but the basic idea of creating movement always provoked my interest as a means of sharing my point of view about the world with the world.

I love the idea of choreography as a medium for commenting on the world, to the world. What is your choreographic process like?

Working on my independent projects, I have found that I can have a more flexible process of seeking, crafting and throwing away. Working as a guest choreographer means that time is a premium, so I have to come in much more prepared with specific ideas to share. I love to collaborate with dancers, as I am very interested in how they respond to the same ideas that I bring to them.

How does music speak to you?

I have always thought of music in dance like a score for the environment, in that it frames the particular scenario that I’m working to create rather than completely dictates what is happening. I am more interested in how music functions as dynamic rhythm and how that instigates me to create.

“That’s why I love the Stravinsky Rite of Spring; its absolutely driving dynamic is invigorating.”

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We are so excited to share your work with the FBP audience for the first time ever! What has your experience working with the dancers of FBP been like so far? 

Due to the state of dance presently, I think versatility is expected more now than in the past. It has been very interesting to witness the translation of my dance language through the dancers’ bodies. This, for me, is a key component to working as a choreographer.

I like to leave space for the dancer to bring their whole self to the process. I have never been interested in the dancer trying to do exactly what I do; I want to know how the dancer’s body understands the information. I have found this to be the case at FBP. Time is limited, so efficiency is paramount, nevertheless, when the dancer finds a way to put their “stank” on the movement, that’s awesome and exciting.

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Their “stank”, haha- I love that! The piece you are taking on for Up Close On Hope, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, is so iconic. How are you using the work of other artists to inspire and help guide you through this momentous undertaking?

Well, you know, this is the “golden fleece” of contemporary choreography. It is the “sacred” cup that eventually, we all drink from (in some way, shape or form). The music is innovative, challenging and frightening, everything that intrigues me as a creative. So many choreographers have created their version that it’s difficult not to refer to all the versions I have seen.

Nevertheless, I decided once it was confirmed that we would do this, I was not going to look at any other Rite of Spring. But, of course, that music comes on, and all the versions lying dormant in my memory start to come up, especially that of Graham’s (whose I am so close too and Bausch’s, whose I love so much). However, what I am mainly inspired by is ritual. Ritual is a recurring factor in all my work, as it communicates in a clear and simple way.

“The narrative embedded within ritual asks us to focus on the dance in a different way, not as just movement, but as human communication- a need, a desire, a function.” 

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We are so excited to bring your work to the FBP audience for the first time! What can the audience expect to gain from seeing your work at Up Close On Hope?

The legend of Rite of Spring is so great, in that it incited the audience to reject it vehemently. I wonder what that would be today. What would it take for an audience to be so strongly moved by concert dance today. The audience should see/feel rhythmic articulation, group cooperation, bold dynamism and hopefully things I don’t even know. Maybe they will gain an urgency about being alive.

“I want the audience to be moved: kinesthetically, intellectually, and soulfully. I hope that it engages the audience so fully that it infects them with the desire to seek out dance and performance and to get involved.”

 

Beautifully put. Why do you feel that collaboration and creation are important in a small community like Providence?

This is how we get to know each other, it is how we begin to see each other in our truths. If we never endeavor to work with folks and create together, we cannot experience the broadest sense of humanity. Even working in likeness tempts the fate of difference. What if I discover this person actually does not share the same values, what now?! In this process of collaboration and creation the sharing of resources, itself, becomes a value.

 

Thank you, yon Tande!

To see yon Tande’s “The Rite of Spring” at Up Close On Hope, click here.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

Say Hello To Kurt Douglas

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FBP’s 40th Anniversary Season continues with the second installment of Up Close On Hope (UCOH). FBP’s Black Box Theater series has become known for presenting world premieres from emerging choreographers in an intimate setting. Next month, Up Close honors that tradition by introducing the FBP audience to two new UCOH creators. One of those choreographers is the brilliant Kurt Douglas.

Currently serving on the faculty at Boston Conservatory, Kurt Douglas has shared his talent with a number of renowned dance companies including Limón Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Douglas has performed on stages all across the globe, and was given the prestigious Princess Grace Award recognizing exceptional professional dancers in 2002.

We checked in with Kurt to hear a bit more about his background, his experience touring the world with the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line, and what it’s like working with the dancers of FBP on his latest creation…

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Hey, Kurt! Let’s jump right in. What is your first dance-related memory?

My earliest memory was from my first year as a student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High school of Music Art and the Performing Arts in NYC. I remember sneaking up to the top floor dance studios to watch the senior dance majors during their Martha Graham Technique Classes.

“It was like watching electricity fly through space. I was inspired, I was hooked.” 

Wow. It seems you really were hooked- from there you earned your B.F.A. from Boston Conservatory and your M.F.A. at Hollins University. How do you think this education shaped your career as an artist? 

Investing in my education has given me an opportunity to gain perspective into the possibilities of what movement can evoke. I was able to learn from my professors as well as from my colleagues.

“Observing and learning from the journey of my fellow students inspired my creativity and empowered my own agency.”

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I love the idea that observing can be very empowering. So when you started dancing professionally yourself, how did that part of your career influence your expression as a choreographer?

Working with these incredible companies has helped me gain tools while I continue to develop my own choreographic voice. The experience and growth I gained from touring the world and experiencing other cultures can never be replaced. For that I feel truly blessed.

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Your career has been very diverse. What was it like to tour the country performing the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line and how did this differ from the previous companies you were a part of?

The biggest difference was the amount of performances per week. With A Chorus Line we performed 8 shows a week compared to 2-3 shows a week while in the other companies. Getting to perform A Chorus Line was an amazing experience. The most challenging parts were vocal maintenance (taking care of my voice) and keeping the show feeling fresh after 250 performances. The best rewards were performing at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. The time I spent in these countries taught me so much about myself.

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And now we are so lucky to have you in our lovely little corner of the world! What is your favorite part of the creation process? 

My favorite part is working in the studio with the artists. I love trying to figure out solutions to complex choreographic challenges while in the rehearsal process.

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How has your experience been working with the dancers of FBP? 

“Working with the incredible artists at FBP has been truly rewarding. The dancers energy and commitment to the process is astounding. Each dancer brings their unique and rich movement history to the process and I can’t wait to share it with the Providence community.” 

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Thank you so much, Kurt!

To see Kurt’s world premiere at Up Close On Hope, click here.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

Live Music Brings New Dimensions To Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale”

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Next weekend’s “Director’s Choice” program is packed with all kinds of excitement- an iconic classic, a Tony Award-winning choreographer, a world premiere- but there’s one thing everyone is buzzing about: LIVE MUSIC.

FBP’s brand new adaptation of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale will feature inventive choreography by Viktor Plotnikov, spoken word narration by local actor Nigel Gore, and live music on stage, played by a septet of musicians from the Rhode Island Philharmonic under the expert direction of Alexey Shabalin.

The Russian-born musical genius has received a number of impressive accolades celebrating his talent, from distinguished awards in Moscow to special performance opportunities here in the United States. Shabalin is currently a violinist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Artist-Director of the RI Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Shabalin has also devoted much of his time to working with aspiring musicians at prestigious universities including Brown University, MIT, Providence College, and Rhode Island College. We caught up with the accomplished conductor to get the inside scoop on this exclusive collaboration…

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Hello Alexey! We are so honored to have you on our “Director’s Choice” artistic team. How did you get involved in this collaboration with Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) and The Soldier’s Tale?

 

The community of musicians and artists here in RI have a tight connection, so I got to know Mihailo Djuric a long time ago. It’s a great pleasure and a privilege for me to celebrate this special occasion – the 40th anniversary of Festival Ballet.

 

Thank you for helping us celebrate! Now, I have heard multiple versions of the Soldier’s Tale score using different combinations of instruments. Will the “Director’s Choice” audience be hearing the original version of the score? 

 

Yes. There are many versions of The Soldier’s Tale- the play, suite, trio- but there is not a ballet version. In 1918, [Igor] Stravinsky wrote the score for the play The Soldier’s Tale and revised some of the movements several times. In 1924,  J.& W.Chester  published the final version of the score. Later on, Stravinsky recorded his composition 3 different times using the 1924 version of the piece. We will also be using the original 1924 version of the score.

 

And what about the changing instrumentations? It seems the arrangements evolved with the piece over the years. How is it decided which instruments will play?

 

As Stravinsky said: “The discovery of the American Jazz has affected my life to the greatest degree. My piece [The Soldier’s Tale] uses the same instruments as they did in jazz of early 20th century, with the exception of saxophone, which was replaced by bassoon”.

 

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How much of the score has been modified to accommodate Viktor’s vision for this new adaption?

 

“The involvement of this new component, the art of ballet, gives this composition a new dimension.” 

 

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It’s such a special treat for the dancers of FBP to perform to live music. Have you worked on this sort of collaboration or conducted for a ballet before? 

 

I am symphony orchestra conductor, so this is a totally new experience for me. Now I am dealing with the syntheses of expression of human body and art of sound. I enjoy it very much!

 

What are you most excited about for this production?

 

 We are very excited to present to the audience the different vision of  The Soldier’s Tale as a world premiere ballet. I think for all artists, it’s essential to present something that the audience has never seen, heard, or read before.

 

That is so true. But Stravinksy’s scores are notoriously challenging to perform. How are you working to make sure everything goes smoothly with the dancers and musicians?

 

All of the musicians are great professionals from the RI Philharmonic, and I believe that we will be able to overcome the many difficulties of the score. Without exaggeration, I can say that the score of The Soldier’s Tale is a concert for seven solo instruments- violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, double bass and percussion- as well as a narrator.

 

Stravinsky himself said: “My musical ideas of the ’20s were directed towards the style of instrumental solos. The sound characteristic of the The Soldier’s Tale is the fiddling of the violin and the rhythmic patterns of the drums, the violin is the soldier’s soul, and the drums are delivery”.

 

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Thank you, Alexey!

 

To see Alexey and the dancers in action, and hear the magnificent musicians performing Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale live on stage, click here.

 


 

This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.