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-
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
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.
Always memorable at VIDF is seeing Boston Ballet’s Misa Kuranaga and American Ballet Theatre’s Herman Cornejo dancing together.
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:
- Erica Sheftman
LUIS ORTIGOZA LUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZALUIS ORTIGOZA
I was recently approached by a very talented friend of mine name Quinn Wharton about doing a guest blog on this site. We have known each other for years now because he and I were in school together at the North Carolina School of the Arts along with fellow Winger Matthew Murphy. Quinn is now living and working in San Francisco at the San Francisco Ballet with fellow Winger Madison Keesler. (See how small this crazy mixed up dance world is?) Quinn is well known for his magnificent ability to capture great photos of dance with his work been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Pointe Magazine, various galleries, Album covers and tons others but you catch my drift! He has some information that he would like to share with all of you so without further ado……………..QUINN WHARTON!
Hey everyone, my name is Quinn Wharton, I am a dancer with the San Francisco ballet. A few years ago I went through an injury that took me out of dance for about 9 months. While I was rehabbing and wallowing in my misery I tried to find things to take up my time creatively. One of the things I turned to, among many, was photography. I had bought a nice camera on a whim during a tour and never really touched it. During the injury I decided it was high time that I figured out how to use the thing and take advantage of my investment. The first shoot was me and a friend on the beach for a few hours at sunset. I posted the pictures online afterward s and got some really great feedback, so I did another one, and another. Opportunities just seemed to keep coming and I kept getting more and more interested in what was possible with a camera. I have always longed to make dance more accessible to a larger audience, and to take off the pretty little princess sheen, photography seemed a great way to broaden the audience. I prefer to show ballet as a very real, athletic, graceful art form. I try to get my work to reflect that, as well as whatever piece of inspiration I had found for the shoot. I was recently approached by one of the Principals in our company, Tiit Helimets, to see if I would be interested in photographing/filming a tour to his home country of Estonia. I jumped at the opportunity, free reign to film and photograph a really talented collection of dancers?Why would I not be interested, its a fantastic opportunity to build my portfolio, and an amazing experience. Unfortunately this is the first year of the tour and as an arts endeavor it is on a slim budget. The tour doesn’t have extra funds to bring along an accessory like a photographer, they need to focus their money on the dancers and procuring rights to the ballets they are performing. So I have set up a kickstarter donation site to see if we can raise the money for me to go. There is a video on the site that I put together of all the dancers, a preview of sorts for what they will be performing, and some of who is involved. There is also an interview with Tiit explaining what the tour is about and why its so important. Its really an amazing collection of artists and the work I could create will be stunning. I just need a little help in getting there. So take a second to visit the site and support if you are able. I really appreciate it.
Here are some pics of my work and you can click HERE to help raise funds for this great opportunity!
Below are some photographs of my work. ENJOY!
Hi all! As usual - long time no blog!
So so so much has been happening here in NYC since recovering from my surgery back in September…and tonight I’m being interviewed live on The Kiner Hour - Let’s Talk Dance with Ashani Mfuko! Tune in for this broadcast tonight, 7-8 pm EST, on http://talkingalternative.com, or watch here on Ustream.tv! Call in live at 877-480-4120. (It won’t let me embed the video here…sorry )
More updates to come soon
3/30 UPDATED: Unfortunately the interview was canceled last minute To be rescheduled soon!
Chanelle Lagace and Lynn Peterson rehearsing “Dolce”
I can hardly believe it’s here! We enter production week on Tuesday, technically, but it really started yesterday as we sat in one of the music rehearsals. All of the performances will be accompanied by live music (two different programs) so it’s a lot of logistics to get instrumentalists, composers, conductors, sheet music, tempo checks, etc etc etc all together for the big week. This year we are beyond thrilled to be working with Artemis Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Matthew Oberstein for Program “A” (”Dolce” and “the last of the leaves”) and for Program “B”, “Toward Home”, we are working with six incredibly talented musicians (The Paumanok Trio, and Simon Boyar, Oren Fader, and Mat Fieldes) who are brilliantly bringing Damon Ferrante’s score to life. It is all so breathtaking to see it coming together before my eyes and ears! This week is what it’s all about. All aspects coming together.. dancers, musicians, choreographer, visual artists, and perhaps most important, our AUDIENCE!!! It has been nearly two years since our last Season in New York, so we are so excited to share the work and welcome our audience in for such an exciting week.
We hope some Wingers will join us!! (as always, enter discount code “winger” for discount!). Tix here: brownpapertickets.com
Jeremy Neal and Nico Li rehearsing “Toward Home”
Mat Fieldes and Simon Boyar rehearsing Damon Ferrante’s “Toward Home”
Chanelle and Lynn
This time always feel like a dream come true. I suppose that is exactly what it is. Dances in my head, dreamed of over and over again coming to life. This is a special time and a precious collaboration. I am very proud indeed of what is to come this week.
We have been relishing in our rehearsals at The Art Students League in Manhattan during a very special part of our process: Dance on Canvas. We share the space with visual artists and they draw/paint/sketch while we work!, it’s such a special feeling. Here are a few shots of yesterday’s rehearsal..
It’s such a great feeling to be surrounded by such inspiration!
We are over halfway through setting “Toward Home”, almost finished setting “the last of the leaves” and “Dolce” will be up and running soon!! SO much to do, but it’s a fun rush!! It’s always refreshing to re-set work because I get to know it a little more every time, and make some changes and just finesse it. It’s a good feeling.
Any New York Wingers around tomorrow should stop by our fun event “Dance Your Pants Off”! It’s a silly fun event where there is a “dance contest” (ALL shapes, sizes, abilities welcome) It’s a time to show off your living room dance grooves! More info here: Dance Your Pants Off!
And tickets just went on sale for our New York Season here:
enter code “winger” for a discount
see you all soon!
We here at SYREN are excited to be in rehearsals for our upcoming New York Season!
Lots of work getting the pieces up and running! We are presenting “Toward Home” (music by Damon Ferrante), “Dolce” (Grieg) and “the last of the leaves” (Adams) in performances at Baryshnikov Arts Center March 29-April 3!
We have some new company members so we are busy teaching LOADS of material to them and refining things as we go.
All the musicians are getting ready and we are getting that itch to hear it all live again!
super exciting all around!! Costumes being made, musicians rehearsing, press releases going out, postcards hot off the press…It’s almost showtime!! I will definitely start posting some rehearsal shots and keep everyone in the loop as we approach the shows!! And as always, we definitely create an online discount for fellow winger readers!!
Watch the sold out show live tonight, right here, at 7:30p and join our online discussion:
Balanchine famously said that when you put a man and a woman on stage you already have a story; but what is not always acknowledged is the narrative power of putting a black man and a white woman together on stage in one of dance history’s most abstractly erotic dances during a time in America when racial separation, rather than symbiosis, was the rule. Thus Agon may be one of the abstract ballets but it is undoubtedly informed by the cultural politics of the time it was choreographed in – not only by the hyper-frenetic New York City of the Beat generation but also by the events at Little Rock and across the nation. The original casting of Arthur Mitchell and Diana Adams suggests the influence of this era on the ballet, if not in direct and purposeful rebellion than at least in some sort of subtle irony. So the pairing of Eric and Carla, with this knowledge, becomes even more striking; not to mention they are two of the most gorgeous people in ballet.
Damian spoke of the format of UpClose as conducive to creating footholds for the audience members, some of whom maybe be wholly unfamiliar with not just the history but also much of the choreography; it is so much more enjoyable to watch a performance and recognize musical and choreographical moments with more understanding and intelligent perspective. Heather, Carla and Eric worked on the famous sequence in which Carla is in a penchee and Eric drops to the ground on his back and promenades her as he lays on the floor; undoubtedly the public loved seeing it again on Saturday night and felt like privileged insiders when they got to see if Heather’s advice worked out for Carla and Eric…if it didn’t that might have been awkward but of course it did and Carla and Eric were nothing less than stunning in performance.
The audience also got to see Joaquin and Daniil rehearse the Chopins/Robbins duet that was last danced by Damian and ABT principal Ethan Stiefel at the Bolshoi years ago, and before that, never since 1979…Then Herman and Misa came on for some Don Quixote and the open rehearsal version of the Keigwin world premiere, Rock Steady - with Tiler, Joaquin, Robbie and Sokvanarra - closed the evening.
The gala on Saturday night had been sold out for weeks and was a huge success. In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay likened the two international programs to a mini UN of dance and there is probably no more apt way to describe it. Countries represented on stage included Argentina, Japan, Russia, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Spain, Cambodia, Brazil and the United States; companies represented included American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Keigwin + Company, Tangueros del Sur, the Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet. I will never forget the rousing standing ovation for the three Ailey men- Clifton Brown, Jamar Roberts, and Matthew Rushing - at the end of Sinner Man; three such powerful guys with so much intensity and ferocity, even, in their movement…yet that same movement is also so warm and organic and provides moments of calm freedom in an otherwise feverish dance.
Don Quixote with Herman and Misa of course brought the house down as did Daniil in his gala fare solo, Les Bourgeois. He’s young and cute and that’s what makes his parody of cynical French nonchalance charming; of course the solo is also inflected with ridiculous virtuoso tricks that no one can match Daniil in. Here is a an excerpt from the performance.
Also, some footage of Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood in rehearsal for International Evenings of Dance; on Friday night they danced Wayne McGregor’s Limen and on Saturday night they danced Christopher Wheeldon’s Tryst. The two of them are capable of such lyrical plasticity and have gorgeous physical chemistry together; she is so angelic and frail, and he is quite the opposite- dark and powerful - and when they are together they are otherwordly.
After the performance, patrons and dancers danced and mingled until midnight at a tent flowing with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, set up at the Betty Ford gardens. Memorable moments included Sarah sliding across the floor in her platforms Jackson-style, Keigwin/New York City Ballet dancers freestyling, and tango star Gabriel Misse leading a train through the tent, seducing men and women, and being the general Argentinian life of the party.
Saturday night’s international evenings of dance was punctuated by the special brand of live theatrical spontaneity that isn’t easily produced or replicated. Nothing has stopped festival performances this summer. Audiences huddle in parkas through thunderstorms, assembled together in bunches under rare umbrellas; dancers perform way above sea-level in the midst of the mountains, with oxygen masks resting on benches in the wings for use in rare pauses during pas de deuxs. On Saturday, Herman and Misa were to close the first half of the show with the second act pas de deux from Giselle; after a breathtaking opening pas de deux, Herman came on for his solo and was greeted instead with the closing coda music. He smoothly walked off but upon his return it was the same coda music. So the coda music played for a bit, and then Damian, who had run like I didn’t think was possible backstage after Herman’s first entrance, came onstage and announced that due to a technical mishap we would break for intermission. The whole thing was handled so smoothly and graciously that most of the audience weren’t positive anything was amiss. After the intermission, we saw Wendy in the Ratmansky solo, Fandango – the ending is unforgettable, a deep backbend on her knees with her arms flat on the ground behind her, chest upward to her band of seven as the flamenco reaches a climax (watch for footage soon). Then Damian came back on to announce that Herman and Misa have generously insisted on dancing the opening pas de deux of Giselle once more to lead into Herman’s solo and ultimately, the coda. I was imagining this happening at the MET Opera House and concluded that NYC balletomanes would die happy if they got to see a Giselle encore and after reading this would probably pay off stagehands to pull a Tonya Harding and injure the forearm of the first violin or something to that effect. Herman and Misa are both so amiable and giving; all smiles, they kept repeating “It’s okay, it happens!” I was blown away by their artistic and tenchnical consistency; their second time around they were better than the first, and when Herman flew on with his unparalleled cabrioles everyone went wild. All were so poised and composed, especially Damian, ever the hero, who brilliantly turned the malfunction into a real dance event that the balletomanes would kill for.
And then Misa, as though she hadn’t just danced the Giselle pas de deux twice along with all its other constituents, came on with Daniil to deliver the most sensational Le Corsaire pas de deux I’ve seen since Noche Latina at ABT; thirty-two spot on fouettes with doubles and triples casually thrown in…it was unbelievable. Daniil as the slave is something I am sure we will be seeing for many years to come; he may be blond (cough cough) but is he fierce… I would say I’m well-versed in ballet vocabulary but I doubt if there are names for half the things he effortlessly throws in there.
Other highlights of Night Two included Carla and Robbie Fairchild in the White Swan Pas de Deux, Sarah Lamb in the Dying Swan, Tiler and Joaquin in 3 Chopin Dances and an always ethereal Wendy with a fresh out of retirement Albert Evans in Wheeldon’s After the Rain. I loved this when Rachel Foster and Jeffrey Stanton danced it last week but there is nothing like Wendy in that soft pink leotard, her blonde hair keeping pace with the wind and the piano and her famously sculpted legs carving out the heartbeat of the music.
Afterwards, the entire cast gathered at Pazzo’s restaurant in Vail Village for pizza, pasta, salads and for some, shots. Lots of photos were taken, toasts were made, numbers exchanged. Around midnight most were shuttled back to the hotel to get some rest for their early flights; Herman, for example, was due to dance with Angel Corella’s company in Spain in the following forty-eight hours, and Daniil was soon en route to Japan where he is guesting with Tokyo Ballet.
Heroes all around.
Stay tuned for more about closing night, with Gabriel and Natalia leading Romper el Piso, as well as more video and photo footage/reportage from International Evenings of Dance and UpClose: Tango with Damian, Natalia, Gabriel and Suki Schorer. And don’t forget about the hundreds of photos on the Vail Valley Foundation Flickr.