theater things

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This past Saturday, A and I were asked to represent FBP at Trinity Repertory Company‘s Season Kickoff Party.   The day-long event featured live performances from over 30 theater, dance, and musical ensembles from across the state, all free and open to the public.  Just the first of what will hopefully become an annual gathering, the event lent a healthy space for the growing excitement of loyal performance art fans, as well as a welcome cultivation of new ones.  And it sure got me anxiously awaiting the first day of FBP’s 38th season!

A and I presented a short video clip previewing the coming season, and it had me missing those long days in the 4th street studios like you wouldn’t believe.  We even introduced the works to our (new?) audience a bit- though we would have much preferred to be dancing.  What is it about silent expression that feels so much more natural?  Well at least we practiced our public speaking skills, and in the company of professional projectors, no less.  Proud.

Clearly I had a good time exploring the backstage area (when I should have been studying my lines).  Check out some of my snaps below, if you’d like…

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the fourth wall

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As a child of performing arts, the view of an empty theater from behind the “fourth wall” is wildly nostalgic.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_11To me, the rows of vacant seats are not hollow, but filled instead with a warm familiarity.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_13They are balanced, orderly, reliable.  Overflowing with the promise of their imminent fullness, but still an expression of beauty as they wait.
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Arriving hours before opening to prepare for performance, I silently converse with the sacred space which lives in the absence of a dark red curtain.  I see the theater in its polished glory.

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I see its restful moments in between shows.

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And so too, its occasional center stage nap.

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Hamburg-born photographer Klaus Frahm created a series of images featuring European theaters captured from behind.  The collection feels oddly personal to me, like a visual documentation of my relationship with performing.  Equally insightful is Frahm’s philosophy regarding the art of photography as “revealing something laying under the surface”, a concept beautifully manifested in his work.

Though as diverse as the countries they inhabit, there’s a strange sense of continuity in a venue specifically intended for the sharing of performance art.  I find looking out at a theater from the perspective of the performer always provides a sense of home, whether that stage be in Rhode Island or Russia.

photos & quote via

{an interview with} an american in paris

Hello, all!  I’m so pleased to finally be able to share with you a guest post from Rhiannon Pelletier of A Dancer’s Days.  Ms. Pelletier had a chance to catch up with former Miami City Ballet soloist Sara Esty, who recently landed a role in An American In Paris, Broadway’s newest show that’s compelling dancers everywhere to hop a plane to the city- STAT.  As a child of theater, I’m loving all the ballet representation on Broadway stages as of late, and could hardly contain my excitement to sneak a peek at what it might be like to actually experience this integration.  Oh, and if the star-studded cast and original Christopher Wheeldon choreography weren’t enough, the Paris debut sent my Esty-envy right over the edge.  For a behind-the-scenes dip into the life of a ballerina on Broadway, check out Rhiannon’s take:

“At my home, Maine State Ballet, there isn’t a person in the building who fails to snap to attention when the words, ‘The Estys are here’, trickle down the hallways. We all know who they are; their names have become somewhat of a legacy. Twins Sara and Leigh-Ann Esty, from small-town Gorham, Maine, have roots planted firmly with our school and company. They not-so-quietly climbed through the ranks and took on roles as prestigious as the Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker. A dynamic duo they are.

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Sara & Leigh-Ann Esty, respectively

The two eventually migrated down to take on the Miami City Ballet where they stayed for ten years. Leigh-Ann is currently a corps de ballet member with the company and Sara Esty reached as high a rank as soloist before an exciting opportunity came her way…

Sara was kind enough to work in between her busy schedule and indulge me with a Facebook conversation about her new and exciting life.

Firstly, congratulations on your life (no, seriously). You’ve certainly taken advantage of this blossoming crossover between ballet and Broadway. How did this opportunity come about?

Thank you so much!!! So I had been with the ballet company in Miami for about 10 years and one day I literally got a random Facebook message. It was from a casting director in NYC, saying she was working on a new project with Christopher Wheeldon for Broadway and asked if I would be interested in contacting her. There was no doubt in my mind that the answer was yes! Two of my favorite worlds were colliding – how could I not be part of it? I wrote her back and soon came to find they were looking around in professional dance companies for artists interested in singing and acting for a new version of An American in Paris. The rest is history!

That’s incredible. Has Broadway always been something on the bucket list?

I think I’ve always had a theatrical personality and drive about me, but it wasn’t till around high school that I made the promise to myself it would happen someday.

Coming from a small-town atmosphere, was the prospect of opening this premier Broadway show in Paris, one of the biggest cities in the world, overwhelming? … I mean, you are the “American in Paris!”

Haha! Yes, I mean all I was prepared for was to do what I know how to do… The rest was icing on the cake. I love the show and the experiences and places it has brought me so far. It can be overwhelming at times but mostly exciting and extremely gratifying!

What an adventure… Could you describe a typical day for the cast while you guys were in Paris?

Well, we had the mornings off typically and then would rehearse a bit after around noon. Shows were around 7 or 8. Other than that we had Paris at our finger tips!

I understand that you and Leigh-Ann have been blessed to work side by side one another for almost all of your professional careers. How are you coping with being separated for the first extended period of time?

Leigh and I have been dancing by each others sides for over 20 years. Being apart in life, let alone at ballet, has been a bit of a struggle. Good and bad I would say! The worst thing is just missing each other and having to catch one another up on our daily activities, people, and lives where as we never used to have to do that. We have gotten more used to it, and because we are so close, nothing changes whenever we see each other. It also came at an appropriate time I think. Independence is such an important thing for siblings, and we are really loving finding ourselves as individuals. Needless to say, I hope we get to dance together again one day!! This time is important and healthy though. :)

There are rumors twirling around that you’re dating a fellow cast member, can you confirm or deny them?

Haha, yes I can happily confirm them. What can I say, Paris is a magical place! We started out as friends. I’ve always wanted to find someone who is first and foremost a good friend :)

Last question! How did it feel to perform as the lead for the first time at the Palace Theatre?

It was unreal, surreal, emotional, empowering, exciting – all of the above! Life dreams –

I can’t thank Sara enough for taking time out of her wonderful, busy life to indulge her fans! You’ll never meet more gracious, humble, extraordinary people than Sara and Leigh-Ann.

* Sara is dating fellow cast member Will Burton (and may I recommend them both as perfect candidates to stalk on Instagram). She will be performing the lead in An American in Paris July 21-26. Don’t miss it. She’s incredible 

UPDATE: Sara will now be performing the role of Lise for the production’s Wednesday matinee performances beginning July 15th.”

Thank you Rhiannon and Sara for your contributions.  Such a fun read!

home for the holidays

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A small group of us decided to continue the cast party following the final curtain call Sunday night.  I guess despite our public disdain for what always seems to be the longest weekend of the year, inside we were all fostering a hidden desire to stretch it out just a few hours more.  As we shuffled down Washington Street, Stable-bound, I glanced to my left, completely randomly, and came face-to-face with the red luminescent glow that turns our city’s title into a badge of honor and beckons passersby to ignore their downtown destinations and surrender to the hypnotic nature that is a visit to the Providence Performing Arts Center.  It’s so mysterious a mirage to many, but so familiar a face to mine.

We kept on our way, but not before I gave in to my compulsion to snap a quick photo of the great PPAC in its quiet, midnight glory.  It looked so different post-show than during our residence, when the bulb-lined mirrors are the only reflections we are shown for the duration, and the gilded house greets us with open arms each morning.  How lucky we are to live inside of a music box for one week of each year.  Now that I think of it, I completely understand our subconscious geographical attraction to PPAC only hours after we’d cleared our dressing rooms and said the formal see you next year; its magic is not reserved for those gracing the iconic red velvet seats, no, it is shared by those who fill the stage as well. So see you soon, old friend, thanks for the memories.

@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

when your heart is an empty room

I am currently obsessed with this collection of photographs that are circling the web.  Taken by New York based artist Andrew Moore, these eerily stunning photos capture the beauty of abandoned buildings in the process of decaying.  Upon viewing the collection, I was particularly enthralled with the special fly-on-the-wall peeks inside various expired theater houses, for the obvious reason that theaters like these are where I feel most at home, but also because I find the juxtaposition of such extravagant interiors in ruins to be incredibly moving.  These theaters have been forgotten and left to their own demise, but if you take the time to enter one and look around, I think you’d realize a whole new type of magic has emerged from under the glistening gold walls.

{photos via} {to check out more of Andrew’s work}