fauns and roses


We are headed to The Vets this week, and already I feel the familiar excitement of performance time.  Choreographer Dominic Walsh returns to Providence tonight, so it seems an appropriate time to look back on this interview from a few weeks ago, when he was in town setting his works.  In the clip, Dominic sheds some light on the inspiration behind his reinventions of Le Spectre de la Rose and Afternoon of a Faun.  Being able to learn about the birthplace of his creativity and take special note of those influences now, while preparing his pieces for the stage, has been so rewarding.  I especially love seeing the Rodin sculpture of Nijinsky that inspired the iconic first pose in his Faun.  Dominic makes such a poignant statement about creation:

“That time of The Ballets Russes was so exciting; They were breaking barriers.  There was this dedication to exploration and excellence.  So I think to reinvent these works is one way to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of the cultural institutions, and therefore our community.”


Very well said.  If you have a minute, check out his interview below.  The extended version is even juicier, if you’re interested.

For tickets.

Photo of FBP ladies in rehearsal for Dominic Walsh’s Afternoon of a Faun by Alex Lantz; Second photo featuring Ty and Marissa Parmenter in Dominic Walsh’s Afternoon of a Faun.

the fading of light and love


We enter the back of a sublimely bare church, the void of prayers sated only by a rich wash of morning light.  Soothing acoustic plucks guide a white dress through satisfyingly simple, narrative movement.  Intimate perspectives drift over pews, peeking their way down into a dreamy scene.  The videographic rendering of indie rocker Rob Drabkin‘s Stay (The Morning Light Fades) is refreshingly elegant.

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Featuring clean choreography by Amanda Copple of Denver’s Michelle Latimer Dance Company, the music video is indulgently fluid in all of its facets.  Copple, partnered by charming fellow MLDC dancer Luke Kamppila, weaves the melody into each step, chords rolling over shoulders like a third dancer, visible only through the expression of its creator.  As our trio of dancers spill out from the pews of Colorado Springs’ Shove Chapel, we follow their “catch and release” love story, desperate movements shadowing the beauty and pain of an endangered relationship.  Copple and Kamppila float in and out of each others arms, the discord in their energies demonstrated by opposing directional focuses and out of sync turns.  They swim through the open air into feathery lifts and gentle connections, then combust into an irreparable dissonance.  Director Dillon Novak reflects on the result of a “once in a lifetime” videoshoot, offering,

 “Partitions of stained glass and countless rows of outstretching pews and columns become the physical bounds of a relationship. Beginning in the back of the sanctuary, a history of love unfolds into a dance. Their story travels through radiant light and crushing darkness, fighting their way towards the front of the church.”

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The composer and musician Rob Drabkin himself, who chose the video’s venue not for any religious or nuptial semblance but for the pure enchantment of its natural light and stained-glass windows, sheds perhaps the most insightful light on the collaboration.  Drabkin’s soulful singing reflects his own experience with the ache and relief which shadow the ultimate expiring of a faded relationship.  Stay‘s delicate chord progressions materialized as movement in Drabkin’s mind from the moment he conceived them, and when the song was complete, a need for choreographic accompaniment became impossible to ignore.  “It was time to take a risk and put the idea into motion.”  And we’re so glad you did, Mr. Drabkin.

Catch the full music video on vevo.


uncharted territory

IMG_8848fremd (adj): 1. foreign or unfamiliar; 2. alien or strange.

A stark white square of light carves stage left into a startlingly austere canvas, inhabited by a single dancer.  Bare, heavy beats sober the audience from it’s Balanchine-induced Theme commendation, while somehow indulging our senses with the strange pleasure of a new, uncomfortable, addicting drunk.  Our lone dancer cuts through his fluorescent enclosure, sharply slicing space, seeking some meaning, perhaps chasing time…

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strange comfort

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Sprawled downstage center, eyes closed and hoodie zipped, I waited with my fellow coma patients to repeat the same 8 counts for what would be the…sixth time?  By now my energy had expired and I was losing track of the process.  The staging for Coma requires more planning, practice, and precise execution than most ballets, and packing one’s patience is essential.

I craned my neck over to the left and raised my eyelids to half-mast, noticing that Alex’s motionless body had adopted a similar sense of relaxation.  Despite a conventionally unpleasant setting, rumpled on a cold, hard floor with harsh lights jabbing at our tired limbs, the simple comfort in our presence was obvious.  Testing the limits of this strange comfort, I made the conscious decision to direct my sight up into the cool blue lights glowing above me.  Staring into their gleam, I realized how relatively unaffected my retinas were, if not slightly soothed by the familiarity of this specific brilliance. I made a note to myself, to channel this bizarre relaxation in the final movement of Coma, when our unconscious hearts replace the reality of their suspension with the bliss of a restful place.

losing my senses


I can still remember with remarkable clarity, the first time I saw Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma.  I was 13 and a member of the Junior Company at FBP, which relegated me to the very first row of the theater, waiting with the other young dancers to deliver bouquets to the principals at the end of the show.  Not ideal seating for a ballet, but secretly, it was exactly where I wanted to be.

When the curtain rose for Coma, the entire audience hung breathless.  Dancers swung just feet above the stage, their horizontal bodies cutting through the air like blades.  The effect was startling, so striking and beautiful that I actually felt deaf for a moment.  Visual imagery overwhelmed me and for a moment all I could do was see it.  But I was seeing not in the traditional method of perception through retinal observation; I was not looking, I was seeing it.  Not observing, but absorbing.

Moments later, a bell chimed, waking my ears from their momentary impedance, and the dancers abruptly rose from their positions.  A haunting oscillation between silence and sound flooded my eardrums, and I realized the visual components, though stunning, may not even be my favorite part of this ballet.  It took me about 16 seconds to fall in love with Arvo Pärt’s tragically beautiful music, particularly Spiegel im spiegel, used in the end of the ballet.  After a number of difficult movements depicting heartache, sadness, and the grief of the living, two of the “coma” dancers (the ballet is split into “coma patients” and “visitors”) dance together with a dream-like serenity that plucks you up out of your seat and into the weightless world of a vast oblivion.  It’s delicate and devastating.  A completely heedless surrender to the bliss that envelopes the unaware moribund.  Profound in its simplicity, and harrowing in its youthful intonation.  I was transfixed.  So much so, that my plucky little teenage self mustered the courage to approach the great Viktor Plotnikov (after performing my flower delivery duties, of course) to let him know how much the ballet moved me, and also to ask for a bit of insight into the plotline and inspiration.  In the true Plotnikov fashion that I would become all too familiar with in years to come, Viktor simply replied, “Tell me what do you think it is about?”  And then I was speechless.


Eight years later, the ballet is being revived for the third time, after being performed the season following its premiere upon popular audience request to see it again, and then traveling to Venezuela with the company several years later.  FBP doesn’t perform Coma until this spring, but my entire season has secretly revolved around whether or not I would be cast in the masterpiece which struck my senses so intimately all those years ago.  I invite you to imagine my sheer elation when I learned that not only was I cast in the ballet, but I would be dancing the very part which taught my eyes to see  music, the final pas de deux to Spiegel im spiegel.  It’s an honor that I don’t take lightly, and although we’ve already begun setting the ballet, I am extremely anxious to begin rehearsals with Viktor this week.  I hope to uncover more clarity in my own divulgence into this ballet, but this quote from Mr. Plotnikov during the early stages of Coma’s choreography does shed some light on the subject:

“This ballet is abstract, but with a deep emotional quality I think people will be drawn to. The piece portrays the difficult feelings friends and family experience when a loved one is in a comatose state, and flipping the coin, also depicts the vision I have of those actually in the coma. I feel the mind of one in a coma is a beautiful place to be, as is the transition to the next place. Arvo Part’s music is important to the piece, an amazing composer who gives both the notes and the silence equal weight. This is very appealing to a choreographer such as myself. I feel extremely fortunate to have been granted the rights to the music for this piece, as it’s not easily given.”  (Dance Magazine)

It seems the music was just as vital to Viktor’s creation as it was to my artistic awakening.  Stay tuned for more on this enigmatic masterpiece…

sneak peak here, photos via here and here.

exploring the darkness

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For the past few weeks, A and I have been “setting the mood” with creative lighting in the studios before our Moonlight rehearsals.  Remember when we danced under chandeliers?

Yesterday, our director suggested this artificial form of inspiration was merely a crutch, stifling the growth of our professional artistry.  So we kept the lights on.  And I fell apart.

The first run was rough.  I kept catching myself in the mirror, hating what I saw (dancer problems), and throwing off the piece.  While I should have been deepening my plié and relaxing into the floor, I was self-consciously tip-toeing around the studio robbing this gorgeous pas de deux of all emotional purpose.  So, after some encouragement to dig deep into my emotional history, we ran the piece once more.  And I fell apart.  In a good way.

Without the dim lighting helping me to feign dissolution, I was forced to crawl into one of the darkest corners of my mind.  Here, in this routinely averted fold of grey matter, I became so distracted with the weight of my despair that I forgot to notice what my body was doing until the last chord rang out and our run was over.  If that sounds dramatic, it’s because it was.

moments on stage


Hello, all!  Just wanted to pop in and share some photos from the dress rehearsal of Boundless Plotnikov.  Below is a mixture of shots from Surrender, Orchis, and Sharps & Flats.  Enjoy!

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All photos taken and owned by A. Cemal Ekin©

in rehearsal: sharps & flats


After writing about Jim’s message yesterday, it only feels right to share some of his rehearsal photos from Viktor Plotnikov’s brand new satirical ballet, Sharps & Flats.  It was an especially fun process, learning this ballet with Viktor, Misha and the company.  Many nights were spent laughing at ourselves and each other, as we mimed with our mouths like a codfish choir and bumped into one another a few too many times trying to get the many canon sequences just right.  Enjoy!

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in the studio with boundless plotnikov

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There are just 4 short days until the opening night of Boundless Plotnikov.  We’re busy putting the finishing touches on the ballet before it’s time to hit the theater tomorrow night to begin staging.

It’s been over a month since I last performed, and I am really missing the stage.  The lights.  The wings.  The way our score fills up the house like helium into a balloon, sticking to the perimeter and engulfing every inch of empty air with its sound.  One of my favorite things about this profession is the electric and exhausting magic of theater week.  Bring it on.

For tickets.

Photos by A. Cemal Ekin.

Running On Air

As my third and final week of spring break (read: almost a month of unpaid vacation) proceeds, I find myself anxiously itching to get back in the studio.  While several weeks of layoff throughout the season are to be expected in a ballet company, these three consecutive weeks have left my body feeling strangely underworked.  I’m desperately missing the incomparable quench that is achieved only by beginning one’s day with company class.  My now-rested brain searches for the challenge of tackling new choreography, my heart misses the comfort of my colleagues and friends, and (oddly enough) my legs and feet long for that specific breed of torture defined only by  a day packed with rehearsals.  Fortunately for me, these recently estranged aspects of ballet life that I more often than not greet with familiar, informal salutation will soon return to my daily routine with a vengeance.  In two week’s time, my shell-shocked muscles will be rudely awakened to the intense reality that is Swan Lake…

Oh, did I mention we’re closing the season with Swan Lake? ONLY MY FAVORITE BALLET EVER.  Yup.  I might be a liiiittle excited.

{photo above: my partner Ian and I performing George Birkhadze’s My Sorrow}