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.

moments on stage

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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©

opening night: boundless plotnikov

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This has been the shortest theater week of my life, with tech rehearsals on stage beginning just yesterday.  That being said, it was a nearly 12-hour day spent clarifying spacing, lighting, costumes, and cues.  We moved into the Vets, staged an entire ballet, and ran a full dress rehearsal of the show, all before 10 o’clock.  I did not set foot outside the theater for over 9 hours.  9 hours, people.  We’re talking looooong day.  And today begins early once more, with another dress rehearsal on stage before tonight’s opening.

This is one of the most emotionally polarized shows I’ve ever been a part of.  Surrender expresses the turmoil of  lust, betrayal, deceit, and the ultimate triumph of love.  As choreographer, Viktor Plotnikov, says, it’s all about “surrendering to love” and “just letting things be”.  But as is the case in real relationships, the path to peace is not a smooth one.  The youngest of Plotnikov’s constantly conceiving brainchildren is Sharps and Flats, a comedy whose satirical tone could not be more opposite that of Surrender, making it the perfect foil to such a stark opening.  S&F also explores human relationships, but this time within the (slightly clumsy) structure of an orchestra of “broken musicians” navigating their way through their maniacal conductor’s ascent into musical madness.  The show closes with audience favorite, Orchis, returning from its premiere last season by popular demand.  This gravity-defying ballet leaves its audience speechless, with its dancers creating haunting, curved lines and “round shapes”, inspired by the understated beauty of drying, decaying orchids.  This is probably my favorite ballet to dance of the three, and not only for it’s breathtaking choreography but for my love of it’s inventive, commissioned score by Sonya Belousova, a young compositional genius.

If you are in the area, buy your tickets now.

If you are not in the area, buy some plane/train/bus tickets, then buy your Boundless Plotnikov tickets here.

in the wings

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As I sat on the edge of Stage Left’s half of the aging party scene set trying not to splinter my snowflake-thin mesh performance tights, I noticed how familiar Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers sounds when underscored with a motley collection of stray coughs and mucus coated percussions erupting from tired dancers in the wings.  For the first time, I considered just how different everything must look and sound from those red velvet rows across the orchestra pit.  Without any instruction, my neck stretched to its full extent and did its best to crane around the obtrusive lighting boom so to sneak a glimpse of…I don’t know…maybe just the first row of theater goers.  Unsuccessful in peeking but too tired to expend any additional energy, my head returned to its position between my slouched shoulders and I was back in my own mind, realizing I had a far better view of the bedraggled dancers backstage than the gussied up civilians under gilded skies in the house of the theater.

My eyes scanned the clumps of vibrantly-costumed dancers surrounding me.  We’d spread ourselves over the set like a thick layer of melting butter, consuming every surface with our tangled legs and piles of dirty warmups.  One group of Trepak girls in red dresses whispered and giggled, stacked on the rickety stairs down which Clara descends before Battle Scene.  photo 4

A collection of diverts donning elaborate headpieces pooled together on the dusty floor, stretching and staying just alert enough not to miss their cues for coda.  A little circle of exuberant party girls in springy ringlets line one wing, eagerly studying the dancers onstage, anxious for their turn to deliver flowers to one of the ballerinas during curtain call.photo 5

Their excitement is tangible and it thickens the air in that light way that whipping up meringue lightens eggs.  The 6-counted bars of Waltz begin to swell and I know this section is nearing its end.  Trumpets rein supreme over all else, and my fellow dancers and friends of the corps de ballet smile and float through their bruised toenails, finishing the dance with an impressive level of collective ebullience.  They exit the stage and join me on the already crowded set backstage to watch the Grand Pas close the ballet.  Their presence beside me shakes my internal monologue and suddenly it’s all just second nature.  I don’t even consider the somewhat strange fact that I’m sitting next to what I can only describe as a giant collapsed Christmas tree (which up close just resembles a pack of light bulbs caught in a faux forest), wearing huge knit socks over my dead pointe shoes and a pipe cleaner, wire, rhinestone tiara above my hairnet-hugged bun.  This all just seems normal…inexplicably soothing.  In way it really feels like home here, backstage at PPAC.

@festivalballetprovidence

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Hello all!  Just popping in before the first show (eeek!) to let you know I’ve hijacked the FBP instagram account for the  Nutcracker weekend to bring you behind-the-scene peeks into our performance.  Follow @festivalballetprovidence to see all of my posts (and apparently a little selfie action) from the wings and dressing rooms of the magnificent Providence Performing Arts Center.  Now it’s off to warm-up class! xx

theater week- tech day

{vintage dressing room photo & theater week ‘merde’ flowers from my mom}

Theater week for Swan Lake begins today!  You know what that means!

…but in case you don’t, here’s a cheat sheet in list form:

costume fittings (check)

lighting cues

flying sets

spacing- the stage is quite a bit bigger than the studio

hauling the contents of my locker (stinky shoes, leg warmers and various types of tape) to the theater

layers and layers of warms ups! it’s always freezing

marking (read: no need for pointe shoes :)

In a few hours I’ll be traipsing bourrée-ing across the PPAC stage, and I must say I’m pretty darn excited about it!  Let the swan transformation begin.