press play

What an incredible, transformative experience it was to dance Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma.  I ranted so much about the ballet when we were rehearsing, staging and performing it, I thought some of you may be interested in seeing the small compilation of excerpts released by FBP shortly after the show.  It truly does not do the ballet justice the way seeing it in person would, but it does offer a nice peek at the strange beauty of Viktor’s style as well as the intense darkness of this particular work.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed dancing it!

strange comfort

photo 3 photo 2


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.

in the studio: coma

coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-29coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-20 coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-28 coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-34

coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-2 coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-35

coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-6 coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-24coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-33 coma-rehearsal-2-27-best-picks-38

I thought it would be fun to share some rehearsal photos from Coma, a ballet I can’t seem to ever get enough of.  Last year when we did Boundless Plotnikov, I posted a rambling of “viktorisms”, little tidbits of interesting language used throughout the rehearsal process.  More of a random narrative for my own personal archives than an engaging article, the post proved to be pretty fun to write, so I thought I’d do another, Coma edition, to accompany these rehearsal shots.  A bit darker than last year’s rant, I’ll admit, but this is a state of comatose we’re talking about now…

“Get out of your skin.”  Viktor describes the entrapped feeling of an unchangeable disaster like being suffocated in a prison of your own body.  He often asks dancers to perform movements as if they are desperately trying to escape this invisible chokehold, scratching their skin down to the bones always driven by frustration and sadness, never anger.

Hollow bodies, we ghost from one point to another.  Like a “glitch” in a computer screen, you never quite see us until we’ve assembled, and even then we are “transparent”.

Empty metal cubes form a frame for the passage from our world to theirs.  They are tangled and bound up in it, unable to pass through, but with a bit or urgency I am staring straight into a line of grieving loved ones shrugging why.

A stark contrast, the third movement often references “our childhoods”, wiggling our toes up to the sky like babies who see their feet for the first time every time they catch a glimpse of the great toed-wonders.  We feel the sun on our faces in a dream we wish to never wake from.

Octopus, citizens and green cards, screaming through your hand, half crucifix/half wings, big mama, pulling on the reins, petrushka, and pinocchios.

For tickets to see Juxtapose.

all photos by Dylan Giles for Festival Ballet Providence.

bruises, blisters, and some pretty roses too

photo 5

My brain is battered, bruises shroud my knees, and a blister the size of my eye protrudes like a 6th toe from the back of my left foot (we shall call the him Jed).  Inside and out, my body is painted with signs of imminent destruction, which of course means theater week must be right around the corner.

Lately it’s been tough to find a moment to sit down and write, between sublimely hypnotic Coma rehearsals, and scrambling to learn a principal part in Études after one of our most important dancers pulled a muscle just last week.  As professionals we are trained for these unexpected changes and quick replacements, but the lack of predictability always thickens the blow.

In the world of ballet, it’s important to have coping mechanisms.  In this case, the best way to achieve something that seems slightly impossible, I believe, is to visualize the task being completed extremely well.  So for the next 8 days, I will be picturing myself dancing a very tricky solo with the confidence of that one girl in class who repeats the pirouette combination 4 times just to make sure everyone has seen her quadruple on the left, and floating through the double fouettés at the end of the ballet with so much ease the audience will be waiting for me to say, “it seems like there’s enough time for a triple, don’t you think it would be better if we all just did a triple?” (name that ’90s ballet cult classic).

As I leave my apartment for another day of dancing and dreaming, I only ask one favor; Visualize it for me, won’t you?  Just picture me running off stage buzzing, “Did you see how on I was tonight?” And then two strapping men will fight over me, as I push them aside to do another set of perfect fouettés.