from the h o u s e

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Ballet is a living art form.  Its makers do not produce something to be hung and admired, used, or stored for the enjoyment of a future audience.  It is breathing and fleeting.  After a step has been made, so too it has vanished.  When a performance concludes, all that is left is a memory.

What a magical thing then, when another artist, in this case a photographer, is able to catch a bit of that living art and preserve it in time.  I am grateful to any brave soul who attempts the frustrating task of photographing moving art- especially one as precise and with such perfectionist authors as ballet dancers-  so much so, that I am able (in most instances, ha) to overlook technical imperfections and admire, commend, and spread the beauty such carefully captured art.

A small collection of photographs taken at a dress rehearsal, by the courageous and talented Saulius Ke

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theatre thoughts

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home is where the house faces

and up on high the white light traces

a hallow box the wing embraces

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home is where the curtain rises

to a careful grid of our varied sizes

we look, line, breathe and hope distance disguises

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home is where the booms stack and glow

creative floods do steady flow

and nurtured artists bloom and grow

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home is where the gold molding frames

setting and seating change their names

but forever our sanctuary the theatre remains.

{sleepy theatre thoughts by me | awesome dress rehearsal photos by Jacob Hoover}

 

c o n g r a t u l a t i n g

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Hello!

What a weekend it was.  That phrase feels familiar.  I think I say this a lot at the end of a performance, don’t I?  Well, it’s no less appropriate now than at the closing of any other production this season, but perhaps it is coming a bit delayed this time around.  My consciousness is still catching up with me as slowly replenishing sleep recovers my ability to write it all down.  Woof.

Physically one of the most demanding weekends of my life, FBP’s Swan Lake provided more than just a test of stamina; with its closing comes a new sense of pride in accomplishment and, more importantly, trust in myself.  It’s not often that I pat myself on the back, I simply was not raised that way.  But here in my little corner of the interwebs, in this little space, I’m going to give myself some recognition.  I now know that I can successfully dance as a corps member and soloist in one of classical ballet’s most difficult works, and I can do that in full hair, costume and makeup 6 times in 5 days.  This is a rather insane feat, and one that in a larger company, I may never attempt.  But here in Providence, in this little company of 18 dancers, 7 trainees and 1 apprentice, here I looked straight into the lake of tears and feathers and said “I will.”  And I did.

Stay tuned for photos from dress rehearsal, as well as behind-the-scenes and per usual, some sleepy poetic musings from my mid-performance mind…

 

first photo by Saulius Ke.

down the l i n e

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When I remove my pointe shoes at the end of the night, a layer of expired white skin peels away with them.  The water in my plastic ice trays is not able to solidify at a rate expedient enough to keep up with my feet-freezing rotation.  I have noticed an undercurrent of those  few sections of the Swan Lake score to which I don’t actually dance taking on a cacophonic harmony to those pieces I am rehearsing in the flooded soundscape that is my thoughts.  The resulting contrivance is impossible to silence, nor ignore, so I’ve taken to humming along in appreciation of my mind’s attempt to remix Tchaikovsky’s compositional genius.  As Swan Lake side effects crop up, I’ve learned it is important to pick your battles.

At the risk of dramatizing the ballet world tp the delight of Hollywood, working through a ballet like this one does feel, at times, a bit like fighting a battle.  Pushing against physical limitations which weigh heavy, feuding with stubborn exhaustion as it begs you to crumble down into a pile of feathers on the marley…resisting the urge to relax in a would-be poised position through an entire adagio as sweat rolls down your wings and every last muscle contracts…darianvolkova2

In a late night rehearsal Wednesday, our prima-in-residence, Miss Milica Bijelic, who is here from Serbia to set her ballet, lingered upon the importance- and difficulty- in “working the poses”.  Arguably one of the most challenging aspects of Swan Lake, unbeknownst to the audience, is standing in a perfect diagonal and holding an active tendu front.  Perhaps because it appears stagnant, the difficulty in this position is often underrated.  Hips lifted, lower stomach engaged, inner thighs rotating forward, rib cage pulled in, shoulders down, chest forward, cheek turned, head tilted, eyes cast…the only muscles unflexed are those we must actively relax in the fingers, foreheads and the bottoms of our feet.

Doing this for 10 seconds is tough.  Collecting a corps of 16 very different dancers into neat rows and columns of identical swans, all practicing perfect posture for the duration of Acts II & IV?  Don’t be silly, that would require hours upon hours of grueling rehearsals.  No one loves artistic precision passionately enough to even pursue such a thing…right?

…oh, right.  See you tomorrow, Tendu.

 

Swan Lake photos by Darian Volkova.

s w a n week

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Last week was…tough.

The days were long and rehearsals seemed to bleed together for hours on end with nary a true 5-minute break in sight.  Oh, the joys of a non-union company.  It was my first week back in pointe shoes, back to dancing full out, back to a sore body and blistered feet.  BUT!  If you want to get through a week of intense Swan Lake-ing and maintain your sanity, try fearing you may not be able to perform for a few days beforehand.  Gratitude in movement will come pouring out of you.

This week is our last in the studio before tech begins at The Vets.   By Saturday evening, we will have gone through the ballet a total of 8 times, with 4 full runs and 4 work-through rehearsals of all 4 acts.  Thats 4x pas de trois, 4x waltz, 8x lead swans, 8x princesses, and perhaps most lethal, 8x swan corps.  In 5 days.  Translation: a WHOLE lot of arm flapping and bourrée-ing.   I am preparing myself (with ice, protein, physical therapy and acupuncture) for the familiar cycle of warming, using, exhausting, and rehabilitating my body.  Come on, Swan Lake, let’s do this.

swanny

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The first week of Swan Lake has been splendidly exhausting.  A mix of joy and extreme fatigue seems the most appropriate way to describe my current state.  Swan Lake is one of my favorite ballets and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be doing some pretty cool roles.  (including understudying Odette/Odile!!!!!)

Just a small group of principles were called back to work last week, and the 7 of us learned the entire ballet in those five days.  SO despite all of the foot pain (and lately, there’s a lot), my Tchaikovsky-filled work days have me feeling down right ducky.  Swanny?  Not the same.  Anyway, since timing is everything and work/life harmony is always worth noting, a few other ‘swanny’ things popping up in my life lately:

these little cardsDSC07755…because April is handwritten letter month (no, really) and a few of the dancers and I are going old school with performance invitations.

this complimentary Catbird tote…DSC07745…which arrived last week, showing off a lovely new take on their signature swan design.

these ceramic swannies…DSC07749…because my mom brought them back from a trip to Savannah months ago, and they’ve been silently amping me up for April ever since.

this book sans jacket…DSC07737…because it’s pretty enough to serve as decor. (plus it’s illustrated by my dear friend’s father)

have a nice (long) weekend

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It’s been SUCH a long week, but I’m feeling so grateful for time spent with Sandy and Viktor (and Misha, too!).  Headed north this weekend for some autumn adventuring and much needed R&R.  What are you up to these days?  I’d love to hear…

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimised by rond de jambes.

Some beautiful shots at the Koch Theater, from Mr. Edwards.

How do you guys feel about overnight oats?  Thinking of giving them a go…

So sad to hear about the devastating floods in South Carolina, and the effect they have had on Radenko and his school.  Here’s how to help.

A new way of being.

Did anyone watch World Ballet Day? We’ve just started working with Viktor Plotnikov on a swan pas de deux, so this contemporary version of Swan Lake from the Scottish Ballet is feels very inspiring right now.

Understanding understudying.

Incredibly heartbreaking, but worth reading every single one.