NYCB MOVES at the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival


One of my 2011 regrets was missing New York City Ballet MOVES’ debut performance in Vail, which occurred under the aegis of the Vail International Dance Festival, directed by Damian Woetzel. I was thrilled to return to the Festival for the third year as an intern and witness MOVES’ second tour here.

On Friday, July 27, a busload of New York City Ballet dancers arrived in the Valley, and a few drove or flew in direct from other gigs from Sante Fe to Nantucket. The dancers got the first day off and wasted no time, plunging straight into whitewater rafting and fly-fishing. Even in an idyllic place like Vail, there are unique stresses ranging from acclimation to altitude to the terrifying and inescapable oxygen tank positioned on stage left. But once everyone gathers on stage, stretching on the grass and flowers that extend from the back of the stage, taking periodic breaks to soak sore muscles in the hot tub at the nearby lodge, and wandering the cobblestone, Swiss-like streets of Vail Village……it becomes clear this is a pretty special performance opportunity for all….

There were three things I was looking forward to most on the MOVES tour. First, the Vail premiere of Justin Peck’s In Creases, a ballet that had premiered only two weeks earlier at NYCB’s annual summer residency in Saratoga to a rave review by The New York Times’ Alastair Macaulay, and was now being rehearsed and performed for only the second time since then. Second, the closing ballet of Program I, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night, which I knew would be an entirely different experience set in the moonlit Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Third, the UpClose: Stravinsky by Balanchine program at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.

In  Creases was a special treat as the young corps cast was comprised almost entirely of former classmates at SAB. I had also seen some of Justin’s other work (for the New York Choreographic Institute, for instance) and had always been amazed at its emotional and rhythmic creativity, even in Justin’s most abstract pieces. Earlier in the week I had asked Justin to talk about the silent Robbins ballet Moves for a piece I was writing for the Vail Daily, and he had this to say about the performing experience: “We move based on reflex, undetectable sound, visual cues.  When it comes to performing this, the cast takes on an intense focus.  We place a great deal of trust in one another.” Watching In Creases, I couldn’t help but notice a nod to Robbins, and maybe even to Moves in particular. As in Moves, the movement in In Creases seems un-premeditated and rather prompted by individual dancers’ concerns and desires. One moment the group is clumped at the center of stage in a gorgeous, almost kaleidoscopic hexagon of perfectly symmetrical limbs extended and supported by the men; the next, one dancer leaves the group and as she goes off into her own little world of flexes, contractions, extensions, battements, the hexagon remains silent, waiting for her return. The work is also incredibly geometric, like an extended mathematical algorithm or a collection of light-reflecting shapes that keep whirling in and out of each other. It is very beautiful and a very interesting contrast to the Philip Glass music that accompanies it, which runs like a peaceful, constant undercurrent throughout the whole thing.

In Creases

Emilie Gerrity, Robert Fairchild, Brittany Pollack, Taylor Stanley, Gretchen Smith, Sean Suozzi, Lydia Wellington and Christian Tworzyanski perform "In Creases" on Opening Night, Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado, part of the Vail International Dance Festival. Photos (C) 2012 Erin Baiano

New York City Ballet MOVES performs Jerome Robbins' "Moves" on Monday, July 30, 2012 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado - part of the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival.  Photo (C) 2012 Erin Baiano

New York City Ballet MOVES performs Jerome Robbins' "Moves" on Monday, July 30, 2012 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado - part of the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival. Photo (C) 2012 Erin Baiano

Robbins’ ballet Moves was originally subtitled “A Ballet in Silence About Relationships.” There is perhaps no ballet that so movingly speaks about the nature of relationships as Robbins’ In the Night. Everytime I see it I am amazed by the way Robbins can shift the entire emotional atmosphere between sections of a work with the most subtle changes in movement vocabulary. Sterling Hyltin and Robbie Fairchild were the young romantics in lavender, bathed in silver light. Tess Reichlen and Justin Peck were understated, careful, repressed, always touching but never really touching. And Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar blew me away as the last couple- sophisticated in all black but wild in their passion…

…See Nel Shelby’s video here: Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar perform \”In the Night.\”

Robert Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin of New York City Ballet MOVES perform "In the Night" on Opening Night, Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado, part of the Vail International Dance Festival. Photos (C) 2012 Erin Baiano

Robert Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin of New York City Ballet MOVES perform "In the Night" on Opening Night, Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado, part of the Vail International Dance Festival. Photos (C) 2012 Erin Baiano

UpClose: Stravinsky by Balanchine was a fascinating lecture-demonstration performance, one of the most inspiring, moving and educational experiences I have ever had as an audience member. The event was the first in the country to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Stravinsky Festival. The two-hour evening took the audience through the major highlights of the Stravinsky-Balanchine collaboration, beginning with Apollo in 1928, going through Firebird (1949) and Agon (1957), and ending with the Stravinsky Festival ballets, created in celebration of Stravinsky’ life one year after his death in 1971. Hosted by Damian and Peter Martins – fortuitously dressed in all black (the former) and all white (the latter) in an homage to the black-and-white ballet legacy - the evening was peppered with anecdotes and fascinating history. The backdrop featured a selection of Balanchine and Stravinsky quotes, often in deference to each other, as well as historical photographs featuring the original cast of the ballets discussed. It was strangely moving to see today’s NYCB stars caught for a brief moment in the same exact position as their forbearers, projected high above them.

“There are men who say there is no time, no space. But Stravinsky made time – not big, grand time – but time that works with the small parts of how our bodies are made.

- George Balanchine

Chase Finlay in "Apollo." Choreography © The George Balanchine Trust.  Upclose: Stravinsky by Balanchine New York City Ballet MOVES Vilar Performing Arts Center, 7/31/12 Credit Photo: © Erin Baiano

Chase Finlay in "Apollo." Choreography © The George Balanchine Trust. Upclose: Stravinsky by Balanchine New York City Ballet MOVES Vilar Performing Arts Center, 7/31/12 Credit Photo: © Erin Baiano

The UpClose program should be a model for all ballet companies. It is so much more valuable and enjoyable to experience a work of art – whether a work of visual art, a ballet, a piece of music – when you have an understanding of its historical context, an anecdote to inform its story, a personal relationship to associate it with, a face to place with it….particularly when the work does not have an obvious narrative. I have to admit I never got Picasso until I took my first art history class in school, and I was amazed by how much I could appreciate a Picasso knowing where he was when he painted it, who he was dining with and being inspired by, what came just before and after it….It was wonderful to hear Peter Martins share his memories of his first encounter with Stravinsky, and to hear ballerina Heather Watts (pulled from the audience by Damian) talk about being in the room with Balanchine and Stravinsky. The chronological shift from narrative to abstract in the legendary partnership- from Firebird to Stravinsky Violin Concerto – was striking.

VIDEO: Damian Woetzel and Peter Martins host UpClose: Stravinsky by Balanchine

Don’t forget to like the VIDF Facebook page for daily updates and constant video/photo footage! And see vaildance.org for ticket and performance information. Stay tuned for more updates from International Evenings of Dance, NOW: Premieres, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and more!

- Erica Sheftman


My First Year at SAB


As the year is finishing up, I wanted to share some photos from my classes here. SAB winter term has been amazing! I have learned so much from my teachers, and I love the classes. I have also been able to see the New York City Ballet perform many times which has been a great opportunity.

School of American Ballet

Technique class with Suki Schorer

Technique class with Suki Schorer

Katrina Killian's pointe class

Katrina Killian's pointe class

School of American Ballet

Photos by Rosalie O’Connor/Courtesy of the School of American Ballet


Happy New Year with Free Art.



Enter a comment on the YouTube page comment section and be entered to win a free hand drawn print by Monchito. Applies only for US residents. Winner will be announced 2/2/2012

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Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas to all!
This is the first year in a long time that I have not produced a show this time of year! A very strange feeling for me! I have been keeping busy teaching at North Carolina Dance Theatre and have had the pleasure of working with some students at Spirit Square. Isabel Macgill has visited often, taking class with me and at NCDT. She has been a busy girl working with Hilton Head Dance Theatre in South Carolina as well as keeping up with her school work in Savannah.
This past weekend, Alston Macgill, fellow Winger and longtime student, who is currently studying at SAB paid me a visit with Isabel and her Mom. We had a great class and followed that with a performance of NCDT’s Nutcracker. My daughter Sofia could not wait to get out of class and on to the show!
Lots of fun! Here are a few pix.

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Nutcracker Season


When I was home over Thanksgiving break, I saw Columbia City Ballet’s The Nutcracker. My little sister, Isabel, was in the performance as a party girl. Here is a photo from the dress rehearsal.

Isabel is in red. Here, the party-goers are preparing for the revealing of the Christmas tree

Isabel is in red. Here, the party-goers are preparing for the revealing of the Christmas tree

She also did a Nutcracker with her studio, Hilton Head Dance Theatre. This is a photo after one of the shows.

Isabel (right) and a fellow dancer

Isabel (right) and a fellow dancer

I dislocated my patella this summer. I have been going to physical therapy for a while now, and I am getting stronger. My physical therapists have been such a great help!

Me and my physical therapist

Me and my physical therapist

I am settling into SAB and it’s going great!


Beginnings..


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SYREN has begun work on our 18th piece.. We have a campaign running to help underwrite the (huge) costs of studio space here in the city. I hope you’ll check it out by clicking above! Feel free to re-post/tweet/facebook~share anywhere. It would be a big help to us.

We have had small pieces with 2 people and street clothes, we have had big pieces with eight dancers, fancy costumes and lots of “stuff” going on. Everything is different right now. We are starting from a different place altogether. A quintet. A fugue. An approach by me that is more about listening, watching, and crafting.

This approach has been a huge learning process and we’ve just begun. We are having a rich and powerful time in the studio right now. Improvisation. Studies. Assignments. Notes. Trial. Error. Retry. Regroup. Try it slower. Quicker. Upside down. Such a journey! What a gift to share space with these incredible dancers.

We are truly digging in to this new work, and into the music (Bach’s fugue). We look forward to sharing glimpses of our creative process with all of you Wingers! See you soon!

Oh by the way! We are hosting a 1 day Fall Workshop on November 12th at Mark Morris Dance Center. Drop me a line if you’re interested! Or just click here for details: www.syrendance.org

Thanks for listening, Wingers-
Kate


5×4


Hello.

This post is for everyone who lives in San Francisco and the greater bay area. Not you? Discontinue reading BUT you cant because your eyes like the pretty pictures.

My company TAGsf is kicking off its fall season 5x4 at Kunst-Stoff Arts on September 23rd and 24th and I am very proud of the program of this program. The program is very intimate with an MTV unplugged type feel. Well…. that’s the feeling that i get but you can be the judge of that. This is the first time that I have invited fellow dancer Alex Jenkins to create a new work titled  Town of Wood which from what I have seen thus far is SICK and Im very proud of her work because she is proving to be a truly uniquely talented dance maker which is hard to find often times. On my end Ive been working like a mad man on  a new dance theater work titled NEMESIS which explores the random life encounters that can lead a person to good or evil and explores the concept of identity/the mask. How you see yourself vs how you are seen. Aside from myself and another dancer I’m using a couple actors with no dance training which is funny because whenever i show my friends rehearsal footage they think that they are dancers which is good. Another exciting feature about the evening is that we will be showing a new motion picture by the same title as my piece shot by the talented Quinn Wharton. The program is an hour, short and sweet because everyone growing up in this high paced society has a short attention span which is another discussion within itself. All of the info is posted below and I’ll see you at the show.

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posted below is the NEMESIS teaser trailer that which you can see sooner than later.

and just cause here is rehearsal video.

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More Rehearsal Footage + Photos from Vail, Week 2


A huge aspect of the festival in Vail is collaboration. New partnerships that dive across company and country boundaries,  that emerge between dancers, choreographers, musicians, and movement styles. Most of these new partnerships are tested for the first time in Vail, several weeks or even days in advance of their debuts. For this reason, mornings and afternoons at Vail are often just as thrilling as the spectacular evenings. Rehearsals are spread out among three venues in Vail: the Vail Mountain School, the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater itself.

Over the long weekend I spent in Vail, I got to observe and film rehearsals at all three spaces. At the Amphitheater on Saturday morning, the classics shone: the music of Drigo, Tchaikovsky, Chopin (and occassionally, some mambo) reverberated throughout the mountains. Later in the afternoon, I watched Christopher Wheeldon rehearse Wendy Whelan, Tyler Angle, Craig Hall and Fang-Yi Sheu at the Vail Mountain School; a new work set primarily to the music of Max Richter. I really love getting to film dancers at the Mountain School. The rugged backdrop of the school gym, transformed into a sunlit ballet studio for the festival, actually creates this magical aura of workmanship and creation. It’s the idea that beauty and grace occurs in the most unpredictable of places; that it is intensified when viewed in the simplest of environments, stripped of performance glitz and seen only for what it is at its core.

I got goosebumps watching Wendy and Tyler rehearse Wheeldon’s new pas de deux. It is set to Max Richter and Dinah Washington’s moving “This Bitter Earth”- I heard that Chris had planned to use Shostakovich and changed his mind on the plane to Denver.

Watch Wendy and Tyler rehearse the piece at Vail Mountain School here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IotMSNYbrX0

Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle perform Christopher Wheeldon's "3 Movements and 4 Repeats," as part of UpClose Premieres, on August 8, 2011. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle perform Christopher Wheeldon's "3 Movements and 4 Repeats," as part of UpClose: Premieres, on August 8, 2011. Photo by Erin Baiano.

 

Here is some more footage of the Wheeldon rehearsal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSgpQ8iu8uk&feature=related. Featured is the unparalleled mondern-dance master Fang-Yi Sheu, who dances a pas de deux with Craig Hall (of New York City Ballet) [the clip also features some more of Wendy and Tyler]. I loved Craig and Fang-Yi together. She has this rare, exquisite quality that is at once feral and extraordinarily feminine, and it goes beautifully with Craig’s strong, powerful movement.

Here are Fang-Yi and Craig in performance at UpClose: Premieres, an evening which saw the debut of Wheeldon’s work, as well as the premiere of an ensemble piece by Emery LeCrone (set on dancers from Colorado Ballet), and new works by Richard Siegal, Trey McIntyre, and Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley.

Fang-Yi Sheu and Craig Hall perform Christopher Wheeldon's "3 Movements and 4 Repeats", as part of UpClose: Premieres. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Fang-Yi Sheu and Craig Hall perform Christopher Wheeldon's "3 Movements and 4 Repeats", as part of UpClose: Premieres on August 8, 2011. Photo by Erin Baiano.

More highlights from the weekend:  Asha Thomas (Freeland Artist) and Clifton Brown (of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) brought the house down with Alvin Ailey’s “Wade in the Water,” from Revelations. I first saw Clifton dance last year at the festival and was blown away by the intensity in every part of his body, from his eyes to his fingertips. His power lies in the emotion his body manages to transmit even in stillness. On Saturday, August 9, as part of International Evenings of Dance II, he performed Ailey’s “Song for You.” The evening was dedicated to former First Lady Betty Ford, who recently passed away. She led the effort to bring world-class ballet to Vail in 1989, helping to bring the Bolshoi Ballet Company to Colorado to perform under the auspices of the Vail Valley Foundation. You could hear a pin drop, and when Clifton took his final pose, the entire theater rose in what was ostensibly a tribute not only to his performance but also to the former First Lady. Following the performance, all audience members were invited to light a candle and partake in a candle-lit walk through the Betty Ford gardens, which surround the amphitheater…Following the walk, her life and contributions to culture - and dance in Vail in particular -were celebrated with lovely desserts for all.

Clifton Brown performs Alvin Ailey's "Song for You," as part of International Evenings II, which honored former First Lady Betty Ford. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Clifton Brown performs "I Wanna Be Ready" from Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" as part of International Evenings II, which honored former First Lady Betty Ford. Photo by Erin Baiano.

 

 

 

Always memorable at VIDF is seeing Boston Ballet’s Misa Kuranaga and American Ballet Theatre’s Herman Cornejo dancing together.

Misa Kuranaga (Boston Ballet) and Herman Cornejo (American Ballet Theatre) rehearse Diana and Acteon pas de deux. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Misa Kuranaga (Boston Ballet) and Herman Cornejo (American Ballet Theatre) rehearse Diana and Acteon pas de deux. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Here is a montage of best moments from their appearances at the past two festivals, including excerpts from Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux (2011), Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire (2011), Pas de Deux from Don Quixote (2010) and Pas de Deux from Giselle (2010):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRbIDOszddg&feature=channel_video_title

And I could devote an entire entry to VIDF Artist-in-Residence Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley but in the interest of sharing while I have your attention, you MUST see this clip if you have not already. The clip features Lil’ Buck performing the “The Dying Swan” ala Memphis Jookin’ in an unforgettable partnership with the celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and it went viral when Spike Jonze published it online (Festival Director Damian Woetzel produced and directed the performance, and introduces the duet in the clip above). Lil’ Buck has arms that rival both Pavlova’s and Plisetskaya’s: they are virtually boneless and ripple ceaselessly and effortlessly they way that only waves should be able to. His feet are unbelievably flexible; he not only bourrees in his sneakers as though en pointe, but also balances on the side of his arch while collapsed in an ecstatic backbend toward the ground. His Dying Swan is whimsical and moving… simultaenously light-hearted and startlingly emotional as he curls up in one last breath and taps Saint-Saens’ last notes on the sole of his shoe. Lil’ Buck’s jookin style is almost entirely self-taught, and though he did study ballet with the New Ballet Ensemble in Memphis, he started relatively late, at age sixteen…which is astounding as he has the plasticity of a dancer who has been at the barre for years.

Here he is in performance:

Charles "Lil' Buck" Riley performes "The Dying Swan" as part of International Evenings of Dance. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Charles "Lil' Buck" Riley performs "The Dying Swan" as part of International Evenings of Dance. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Please check out the YouTube channel and Flickr for footage of more amazing events from later in the week, from the return of the Trey McIntyre project, to the diverse array of stars and dances at Dance for $20.11, Dancing in the Streets with Trey McIntyre, and an evening of ballroom dance. AND Dance TV: a program which debuted this year and featured stars from show like “So You Think You Can Dance’ and “Dancing with the Stars,” including Anna Trebunskaya and Quest Crew!!
The entire crew of the Trey McIntyre Project in "Old Man Mos", part of "The Sweeter End" piece in Dance for $20.11. Photo by Erin Baiano.

The entire crew of the Trey McIntyre Project in "Old Man Mos", part of "The Sweeter End" piece in Dance for $20.11. Photo by Erin Baiano.

 - Erica Sheftman



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