Coffee and Cookies With The Four Little Wolf Pups

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A brand new adaptation of the classic tale of “The Three Little Pigs” hits the ChatterBOX Theatre TOMORROW! Choreographer Louisa Mejeur has reimagined this story with a few fun twists- including a Mother Wolf and two Wolf Pups in place of the traditional “Big Bad” villain. Today, we sat down with the Wolf Pups- Melissa, Kailee, Brenna, and Olivia- to get the inside scoop on these playful puppies! And to have some delicious Seven Stars Bakery snacks, of course…

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Treat of choice…
Melissa: iced coffee & a ginger star cookie
Kailee: hot coffee and an oatmeal raisin cookie
Brenna: hot coffee and a coconut macaroon
Olivia: London Fog and a cheese scone

So ladies, how do you get into character when you’re playing a baby animal instead of a human child?

Brenna: I try think about some of the puppies that I’ve been around lately, and channel them.
Melissa: It’s really fun because there’s a good balance between showing that you’re a mischievous little kid and also a puppy.
Kailee: There’s that nice balance and it’s also a challenge, because you have to still let the character read to the audience and tell the story.
Olivia: It actually feels like a cartoon character. These pups have a lot of energy.

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What is the relationship between the pups and the Mother Wolf?

Kailee: Louisa set everything up with a good relationship between the wolf family. There’s a good connection there that we’ve been able to build off of in rehearsals.
Brenna: This version tells the story of a bond between a mother and her children and her providing for them. It really gives the audience a way to connect with the wolves, who are usually seen only as the “bad guys.”

Do any of you have a favorite part of the ballet?

Olivia: I love the handshake.
Brenna: Louisa asked us to create our own special handshake for one section of the ballet. We found inspiration from all over- movies, ballets, sports.
Olivia: it’s one of the most genuine moments because we are actually having so much fun.
Melissa: Everyone is really focused and present with their partners, because there are so many parts to the handshake.
Kailee: Each of the wolves personalities come out in the handshake a lot.

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What makes this version of “The Three Little Pigs” different from the story everyone knows?

Olivia: It’s not a bad guy and a good guy. This version tells two stories, the wolves and the pigs.
Melissa: It was a very smart way to do it, I think. The kids can come away with this perspective that people may have reasons for acting out. It teaches a good lesson, which was just so smart of Louisa to weave in. Also, the way Louisa laid out the ballet, every character is important. It’s very smart.
Olivia: Each new character that gets introduced, the audience will fall in love with.
Kailee: Yes, every character counts.
Melissa: And there’s so much to see. You need to see it a few times to catch everything!

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Louisa has been a dancer here in the past. How is it now, having Louisa back- and in front of the studio this time?

Olivia: Everything about this ballet is just so cute and fuzzy feeling!
Kailee: Sometimes when your colleague turns boss, it can be a struggle, but there were no feelings of animosity. Everything was so respectful and just smooth and lovely.
Brenna: Louisa thought of everything. From the choreography, to the costumes, and the sets. She had a plan.
Olivia: And a plan B!
Kailee: And the pantomime is so good, there’s no need for narration in the ballet! Children will easily be able to follow the story.

I know you all have a special place for ChatterBOX Theatre in your hearts. Why is ChatterBOX so fun for the dancers?

Brenna: Children is the most fulfilling audience.
Olivia: When the kids are right there in the Black Box, you can hear every comment from them and it’s so cute.
Kailee: They are so honest, and so excited to see us after the show. It makes me so happy.
Melissa: If you’re doing ChatterBOX, and you have to do something ridiculous to make kids laugh, it makes dancing something vulnerable in a more sophisticated show a bit easier. Like everything just becomes normal, even if it’s absurd, haha!
Kailee: Over time, nothing feels weird anymore. [all laugh]

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Are you excited for the ChatterBOX Ball?

Brenna: We’re so happy to the generous support from our neighbors at Seven Stars Bakery.
Melissa: We’re celebrating 10 years of bringing people together over cookies and conversation! Everyone should come celebrate with us!

Thank you so much, dancers and Seven Stars Bakery! To meet all of your favorite characters at the ChatterBOX Ball, this Sunday March 24, at 5:30 pm, click here for tickets! 

Inside “Coma”

Deeply emotional, dark, but touching, Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma immediately captivated audiences when it premiered in Providence in 2007. A stunning work of contemporary dance created on Festival Ballet’s dancers by our resident choreographer, Coma has become a hometown favorite among Rhode Island dance fans and an anxiously anticipated event whenever it reappears in FBP’s repertoire. Likewise, our dancers relish the chance to devour Plotnikov’s rich movement and dive into the emotional depths of this ballet each time it makes a reprise.

In honor of Coma’s return to the stage in Festival’s upcoming Mirrors program we are resurfacing this interview by local arts and culture writer Johnette Rodriguez, published after FBP’s most recent run of Coma in 2014. Peek into Plotnikov’s creative process as he describes his sources of inspiration for this epic ballet.

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“Initially inspired by the image of suspended bodies in the ’78 film Coma, Plotnikov gets inside the minds and hearts of those who are keeping a vigil next to someone who is comatose, those who must make a decision to let go of someone they love and those who are in the comas themselves. Thus, its three movements are “Our Dreams,” “Reality” and “Their Dreams.”

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“The first movement has all the suffering and bad dreams of those outside the coma,” Plotnikov explains, in a conversation about this work. “We think they can hear us and we try to comfort them; we spend time sitting with them. Plus our work makes us so busy, gives us such overload. These are the dreams that make us unhappy.”

Accordingly, one group of dancers in this first section expresses their anguish as they twist their bodies from side to side, writhing in their sorrow. During a recent rehearsal, Plotnikov told the dancers, “It’s like Rodin’s ‘Gates of Hell.’ You want to show that you are in pain but not just with your eyebrows.”

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“I give them pictures—I give them food to digest,” he notes, after the rehearsal. “This element of looking through the day sky to see the stars—-the movement won’t necessarily say that, but there is layer and meaning in every single motion that they do. I try to draw out the dancers’ passion and emotion that has to be described by limbs, torso, and heads.”

“Every single element has to be done with a certain energy,” Plotnikov continues. “The most important thing is how will it read from beginning to end.”

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The second section of Coma deals directly with two people coming to terms with their loss, as the woman visits her male companion for the last time. The choreographer knows deeply and precisely what he wants to convey in the intricate partnering of the two dancers: the female initially inconsolable, the male trying to comfort her. At one point the male dancer holds her slumped across one knee while she circles her feet along the floor, wrung-out but resigned to what she must do.  

“This second movement is the most extremely difficult physically,” Plotnikov remarks. “The music and the accents are hard. Sometimes they swim through it and find their own punctuations.”

The third section, in contrast, is, “peaceful, happy, like little kids,” he stresses. Indeed, the dancers march doll-like, arms swinging along their sides; they surprise each other with playful swipes; they treat each other as jungle gyms, sliding over and under torsos and legs; two dancers even hang monkey-like, one from each shoulder of a third dancer. The dancers also strike poses that evoke the long coma hours that stretch into infinity: pendulum arms, rocking bodies, ticking limbs.

Coma“The presence of time passing is always there when I choreograph,” Plotnikov observes. “It helps me to stretch my mind.”

“Comatose persons are not necessarily suffering,” he adds. “They are in a beautiful place already. Everything’s a little bit more intense in their dreams, because they are basically in heaven.”

Connecting the three movements of Coma is a female figure in black, taken to be the “Death Angel/Doctor/Dark Matter/what we call God,” in Plotnikov’s words. At the end of the third section, even after the Angel switches off the light, he wants to show the perpetuity. The  movement stops, but the energy does not. Life keeps going on around and beyond the dying or the dead.

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“How much can we grasp or understand of the whole universe?” Plotnikov asks. “If more humans thought about eliminating the presence of ‘you’ in the universe—if we would feel that connection all the time, much more would go our way.”

But even if the profundity of what this choreographer has put into his dance doesn’t strike audience members right away, the feelings and emotions, so startlingly beautiful and powerful in the dancers’ movements, will tug at heartstrings and move minds.”

Written by Johnette Rodriguez. Originally published March 2014 in The Providence Phoenix.
Don’t miss Coma in “Mirrors” Feb 15-17 at The Vets. For details and tickets, click here.

Performance photos by Thomas Nola-Rion. Rehearsal Photos by Dylan Giles.

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

Why Every Aspiring Young Dancer Should See MIRRORS

Dance is a visual art form, passed down from one generation to the next through shared experiences. We asked our favorite dance educator, FBPS Director and former FBP Company Dancer, Vilia Putrius, for her take on Festival Ballet’s upcoming program, Mirrors, at The Vets. Here she sheds some light on why seeing dance is such an integral part of a young dancer’s success…

“I have been looking forward to FBP’s Mirrors program all season. As a lover of dance and dance educator, it’s such a treat to see these three powerful works on one program.

‘I had never seen a choreographer work like this before.’

I’m especially thrilled for the return of Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma, one of the most beloved ballets in FBP’s repertory and a particularly special memory from my career as a dancer. Coma could be described as a “drama,” but it’s so much more than that. I remember working with Viktor while creating this ballet in 2007, watching his imagination pour out into the movement. I had known Viktor from our time together at Boston Ballet, but I had never seen a choreographer work like this before. The ballet is both technically challenging and emotionally powerful.

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The rest of the “Mirrors” program is so diverse, with the Rhode Island premiere of George Balanchine’s Serenade, which I have danced elsewhere and just adore. I especially love the corps de ballet, which shows you how important teamwork can be and what it can produce. The word “corps” comes from the Latin for “body,” and in Serenade you can really see that the corps is a moving body of strong women working together.

I’m also excited to see Yury Yanowsky’s Smoke & Mirrors for the first time. I have known Yury for years and his work is unique and bold. It is going to be a provocative statement piece with some really cool movement and ideas.

‘[I remember] sitting in the audience wishing I could dance in the spotlight one day.’

As a young aspiring dancer in Lithuania, I would frequently see shows at the National Opera & Ballet Theater, sitting in the audience wishing I could dance in the spotlight one day. I remember leaving the theater feeling just…full. Full of inspiration, full of questions and ideas about what I had seen, full of passion for this art form.

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Putrius (third from left) in class at M.K. Ciurlionis Arts School in Vilnius, Lithuania.
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Putrius (far left) with her classmates M.K. Ciurlionis Arts School in Vilnius, Lithuania.

I know watching dance had a profound impact on my education and where my dreams would take me. I truly hope that all of the young dancers in the audience will take away that the same sense of inspiration that I remember.”

Ms. Putrius serves as the Festival Ballet Providence School Director. Festival Ballet presents “Mirrors” at The Vets Feb. 15-17, 2019. Click here for more information.

Coma photos by Thomas Nola-Rion.

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.

Coffee Break with João Sampaio and Azamat Asangul

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Company dancers Azamat Asangul and João Sampaio work well together inside the studio and out! These two are roommates, coworkers, and friends, sharing an infectious happy energy and overflow of talent. We sat down with Aza and João to hear a bit more about their experience working on Viktor Plotnikov’s epic Coma, transitioning into Providence from their homes abroad, and what life is like at home…

Aza’s drink order: iced green with a lemon
João’s drink order: iced vanilla chai latte
Aza’s snack of choice: potato and leek quiche
João’s snack of choice: cheddar biscuit
Aza’s home country: Kyrgyzstan
João’s home country: Brazil
Both currently rehearsing: Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma

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On living with another dancer…

João: “I like living with Aza because he’s so calm and we have so much fun together. Plus he cooks for me sometimes (laughs), and he cleans the house!”

Aza: “Our energy is so different, it feels complete. The best roommate I’ve ever had! We don’t talk about ballet at home. We listen to music and just have fun.”

On working with world-renowned choreographer Viktor Plotnikov on his Coma

Aza: “It’s super cool working with Viktor. He’s really smart about his movement. Everything makes sense. I like his philosophy.”

João: “Being cast as a person who is in a coma, it forces you to think of how that might feel, which is so difficult, but artistically fulfilling. It’s such a beautiful piece.”

Aza: “Rehearsing a ballet like this really makes you appreciate being healthy. It also challenges our acting skills, because we have never actually experienced anything like this before.”

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On new cultures and leaving home to dance…

Aza: “I’m from Central Asia and the US is a completely different culture. In my country, people are so open and friendly. Even if you don’t know someone, you can talk to them like you’ve known them forever. Then I lived in Russia, where people are a bit more reserved. I am so happy to be in Rhode Island. I love the history of Providence. It s a beautiful city. “

João: “Moving from Brazil to the US changed my life completely. There, I lived with my parents and had help with everything. Here, I have learned to do things on my own and live independently. For Providence specifically, I don’t even have words to describe it…in a beautiful way. It’s a stunning city. But I miss Brazilian food a lot!”

On what’s to come…

João: “I’m really looking forward to dancing [George Balanchine’s] “Serenade”. I have learned it before, but never performed it, so I am very excited to revisit it.”

Aza: “I’m also excited for Yury [Yanowsky]’s piece, “Smoke and Mirrors”. I really enjoyed his previous piece, “Reverso”, so I can’t wait to start this next one.

“I love that we work with so many talented choreographers here in Providence. They are all different, which makes it an amazing opportunity.” 

João: “The diversity of the pieces in the February show, MIRRORS, is also really beautiful.”

On teaching ballet to students…

João: “I like teaching because it’s good to step out of our comfort zone. We are taught all day at work, but to transition out of that and be the teachers ourselves is really nice. Teaching adults is fun because they just want to move their bodies and be free.”

Aza: “I like the experience of teaching at a few different schools. When I’m teaching it helps my own dancing, because I am reminding myself of the correct way to do everything.”

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On finding a home at FBP…

João: “I feel so blessed that my path brought me here. I couldn’t be happier to be in Providence. The dancers here are all so beautiful.”

Aza: “It’s a good environment here. Everyone is healthy and inspiring from one dancer to another.”

João: “It allows you to be free. I feel like I can put myself into the work and be happy while I’m dancing.”

Aza: “Some days you come in in the morning and you’re so sore and tired, but you see other dancers working hard…it’s inspiring.”

Thank you Aza and João! To see these two in action, grab your tickets to MIRRORS here.

Special thanks to Seven Stars Bakery for sponsoring this post.

A Nutcracker Friendship

Nutcracker season is a very special time of year at the ballet. The dancers are all working hard together to bring this spectacular story to life, and there is certainly a feeling of magic in the air. For two dancers, teamwork and friendship doesn’t just follow their Nutcracker season, it fuels it.

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Samantha Shorr and Gabriella Sluter backstage at PPAC for FBP’s The Nutcracker

FBPS student Samantha (Sami) Shorr and Adaptive Dance student Gabriella (Gabby) Sluter met four years ago at a party. Well, a Victorian-era holiday party set to Tchaikovsky’s famous “Nutcracker Suite” and rehearsed in the FBP studios on Hope Street, to be more specific. The two girls became fast friends in rehearsal for their roles in the Party Scene of FBP’s Nutcracker, helping each other bring joy and rhythm to their dancing. Now Gabby and Sami look forward to performing in the classic holiday production on one of Providence’s most beautiful stages every year. We sat down with them to hear a little more about how they help each other overcome backstage jitters and what it’s like to dance with one of your best friends…

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Samantha Shorr and Gabriella Sluter backstage at PPAC for FBP’s The Nutcracker

So girls, I think the whole audience must be wondering: What does the energy backstage at PPAC before a performance of The Nutcracker feel like?

Sami: I get very excited but try to stay calm so I don’t mess up on stage. When I am with Gabby, I feel better because she makes me so happy and less jittery.

Gabby: It is a happy feeling backstage. I like being with Sami backstage because she is my friend. She is my special friend. We stretch together. Sami helped me with my makeup. Sami helps me on stage. We take fun pictures together in our costumes.

Do you have any special rituals or things that you like to do together before you go on stage?

Gabby: I like to eat my snack with Sami. We read books. I like to hug Sami. She helps me pay attention. We do thumbs up.

Sami: We either give each other a thumbs up or a high-five. I say to Gabby, “You got this!”

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Samantha Shorr and Gabriella Sluter backstage at PPAC for FBP’s The Nutcracker

What makes performing The Nutcracker alongside your friend so special to you?

Gabby: She is my friend. I like to be silly with Sami.

Sami: It is very cool that Gabby is accepted in the dance world because she is super sweet and deserves to shine like the rest of us. Having her on stage is just so much fun.

This year, Sami, you are dancing the role of Clara! How exciting! Have the two of you done anything special to prepare for this new role?

Sami: I still cannot believe that I am Clara this year.  I’ve looked up to all of the Clara’s since my first Nutcracker over 7 years ago.  To learn more about the role and find more ways to express Clara’s emotions, I’ve enjoyed watching  Live Streams of The Royal Ballet rehearsing their Nutcracker.  I also communicated with a former Clara, Olivia Luciano, for additional insights and moral support.

Gabby: I love Sami. Clara is my favorite in the Nutcracker. I was Clara for Halloween last year.

Gabriella’s mom, Tabitha: Gabriella said “ I have good news, Sami is Clara!” This was one day after a rehearsal. She truly is so thrilled that Sami is Clara. All I have to say if Gabriella is having a tough time transitioning to rehearsal is, “Gabriella, you are going to see Sami and Gabi (Sami’s sister) today at dance!” Gabriella gets right up and is motivated and focused to go to rehearsal. She can’t wait to be with them. I love to watch Sami dance.

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How has your friendship helped shape the way you dance?

Gabby: I can’t wait to go to dance to see Sami. Sami helps me. Sami is my friend. Sami help me to do my Nutcracker moves.

Sami: When I am dancing and I need to express happiness, I think about Gabby and it instantly makes my dancing more cheery!

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Students backstage at PPAC as Party Girls in FBP’s The Nutcracker, Gabriella Sluter pictured in the foreground and Samantha Shorr directly behind here.

Take Five

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Festival Ballet runs on…Seven Stars Bakery, of course! We’re kicking off a new series to help you get to know the FBP dancers- join us for a quick coffee break between rehearsals!

First up, we caught up with Company Dancer, Beth Mochizuki, and her sweet, silly son Stefen for a chat and and afternoon pick-me-up.

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Beth’s drink order: Hot decaf coffee
Stefan’s drink order: Apple juice
Treat of choice: Soppressata sandwich

When we last checked in with Beth, she was preparing to dance Maid Marian in Mary Ellen Beadreau’s “Robin Hood”, a role the whole family was looking forward to seeing her portray.

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“Stefen’s very excited to see the show! We checked out the picture book of Robin Hood from the library and we’ve been making our way through the story at home, so he’ll be fully prepared when he comes to the ballet.”

Born in California, Beth came to New England to study at Tufts University in Boston. While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies, Beth managed to also begin her professional dancing career with an Apprenticeship at Festival Ballet. Talk about multitasking!

Stay tuned on our Instagram for more coffee chats with the dancers of FBP and Seven Stars Bakery!

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.

Meet our Nine(!) New Dancers

Festival Ballet Providence’s 41st season is about to be underway as the chatterBOXtheatre opens with Robin Hood this weekend. Just like this world premiere production of a classic tale, so much of this season mixes the familiar and beloved with the fresh and new. Our programs feature treasured classical ballets alongside daring contemporary works and bold new creations from our audiences’ favorite choreographers. We are also celebrating artistic director Misha Djuric’s 20th year at the helm (complete with an exciting evening of dance planned for November 3), while also welcoming nine new dancers making their debut with the company this season!

Get to know the newest members of the FBP family before you spot them on stage:

COMPANY DANCERS

Jay Markov

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Photo: Nathaniel Solis

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Previous Schools: Master Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet School
Previous Companies: Ballet Arizona, Los Angeles Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I look forward most to the ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ program in February and Swan Lake in the spring.

Charlotte Nash

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Photo: Kenneth Edwards

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Previous Schools: Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School
Previous Companies: Houston Ballet, BalletMet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m looking forward to performing Serenade because I love dancing Balanchine ballets.”

João Sampaio

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Hometown: Três Rios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Previous Schools: Núcleo de Dança, Carlos Henrique Bonforte Balletarrj School of Dance
Previous Companies: Tulsa Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m excited for the chance to learn Balanchine’s Serenade–it’s sure to help me get through the cold New England winter!”

 

APPRENTICES

Jessica Alvarez

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Photo: Michael Woodall

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Previous Schools: Master Ballet Academy
Previous Companies: commercial dancer with Bloc LA
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am most excited to perform in Swan Lake and Serenade for this season.”

Emily Lovdahl

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Photo: Marc Darling

Hometown: Racine, WI
Previous Schools: The Studio of Classical Dance Arts (WI), Milwaukee Ballet II, BalletMet Trainee Program
Previous Companies: Nevada Ballet Theatre
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m looking forward to so many things this season! Dancing Serenade (with NBT in 2017) is one of my favorite memories and I can’t wait to revisit it! I love Swan Lake and am really excited to be part of the company all coming together on this iconic ballet. I’m also really excited to explore the contemporary rep and challenge myself in that facet of my dancing!”

 

TRAINEES

Athina Alimonos

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Photo: Michael Cairns

Hometown: Hadley, MA
Previous Schools: East Street Ballet, Massachusetts Academy of Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m most excited to continue developing myself as an artist through the diverse repertoire Festival Ballet Providence has to offer.”

Nora Ambler
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Hometown: Cambridge, MA.
Previous Schools: Fresh Pond Ballet, Boston Ballet School, Orlando Ballet School
Previous Companies: American Repertory Ballet.
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“This season I am most excited for the opportunities I will have to meet and learn from new dancers, teachers and choreographers. The repertoire here is very diverse, and I am looking forward to being exposed to so many different styles!”

Sara Clarke

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Photo: Mark Santillano

Hometown: Vernon, CT
Previous Schools: Connecticut Concert Ballet, Mercyhurst University
Previous Companies: dancEnlight, Lake Erie Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am excited to be joining a company with such a vast repertoire so I can explore different movement vocabularies and expand my artistry. I’m also excited to dance a Balanchine work for the first time and to dance in Swan Lake”

Julia Guiheen

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Photo: Maximilian Tortoriello

Hometown: Madison, NJ
Previous Schools: Studio Allegro School of Ballet, Butler University
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am looking forward to working with lots of new choreographers as they create and set their work on the company. I’m also excited to get to know, dance with and learn from the other FBP dancers!”