Wednesday, April 9, 2014

From Wunderland to New Works, Looking forward to Edwaard Liang's Next Piece

As an assignment for my Ballet II class at Ohio State, an intermediate class for non-dance majors who love to dance, we were required to go out and see BalletMet’s performance of Symphony in C. A group of us planned to attend the Sunday matinee performance together. As an intern at BalletMet, I had been excited about this production for months. I had quite a bit of insight as to what the show would consist of, as I had done a lot of research and produced some marketing materials for the show. In my excitement, on the way to the theatre, I asked my friends what they expected to see in the show. While all of us are dancers, none of the other girls really knew what to expect. I told them a little bit about what I knew of the show and we sat in the theatre anticipating the opening of the curtain.

The first piece in the production was by far my favorite and the favorite of each of the girls who attended with me. This piece was entitled Wunderland  and was Artistic Director, Edwaard Liang’s first showing of original choreography set on the BalletMet dancers. Especially to those who have the notion of Ballet as incredibly feminine and dainty, Wunderland  was unexpected and dynamic. Through his choreography, Edwaard showcased the inherent strength and athleticism dancers posses through intricate formations, innovative shapes, and impressive lifts. The choreography was filled with intensity and passion through the use of partnerships that tested gravity, showing both dependence and resistance. As the drama and beauty of the Wunderland came to a close, the audience around me rose to their feet for a standing ovation.

After seeing Wunderland I am really looking forward seeing to Edwaard’s next piece of choreography. The production is entitled New Directions, New Works and premieres April 25th at the Capitol Theatre. As this is a world premiere performance, BalletMet is keeping a lot of the details of the piece under wraps. The mysteriousness of the piece makes it even more anticipated and exciting! All I have been able to gather at this point, is that the new work will feature live music. Two pianists playing Rachmaninoff’s compositions are to accompany the dancers onstage, one of whom is Ty Boyle, BalletMet’s music director. Live music onstage is always a treat for audiences and really lends itself to the excitement and realness the dancing. I can’t wait to see how this piece will come together.

The production also features two other pieces to be performed by BalletMet dancers. The first is called Carousel and is choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon’s graceful and elegant interpretation of a 1945 broadway musical about new love. Lastly, the company will perform 18+1 a fun, Latin inspired piece choreographed by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. 18+1 is a piece with a contemporary twist and is full of exciting, lively choreography. New Directions, New Works is set to be an exciting medley of three very different pieces of dance, and I am very excited to attend the performance!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ohio State Athletic Trainer Keeps BalletMet on its Toes

At BalletMet, dancers work hard to maintain a strong and healthy physicality in order to perfect their art.  This is not easy.  Dancers often perform movements that are unusual and hard on the body, causing strain or in some cases more serious injuries.

Luckily for BalletMet’s company dancers, they have the luxury of receiving free services from Hope Davis.  Hope is a certified athletic trainer who works with BalletMet through the Ohio State Sports Medicine department.

According to Ms. Davis, the market for certified athletic trainers has expanded significantly over time.  Other professionals that share Hope’s title are typically found on the sports field, but more recently, they can be found in schools and in performing arts organizations.

Ms. Davis says she considers dancers to be performance athletes (along with gymnasts, musicians and others), and she thinks dance should be recognized as a form of sport.  She says that there are specific types of injuries for every sport.  For example, high-impact sports such as football and soccer are often correlated with collision injuries.  Injuries in dance can be acute or traumatic.  Most of them are chronic in nature and build up over time.  Hope explained that many injuries go ignored by dancers, because they do things with their bodies that are typically not normal, so they are not as concerned when their bodies start to feel sore or strained.  Injuries are often swept under the rug, in fear that they may hold the dancer back. 

When Davis was just 5 years old, she started dancing with hopes that the discipline would improve her awkward composure.  She loved to dance, and worked hard at it too.  She would occasionally encounter minor injuries, like any other dancer.  However, one back injury left her bedridden for weeks.  During this time, Davis saw multiple doctors, most of whom gave her the same piece of advice: stop dancing.  She didn’t want to stop, so she kept seeing different doctors, hoping for a different opinion.  Eventually, one doctor fixed Hope’s back defect, and she was able to return to dance.  Her experience with overcoming injury inspired her to help other dancers do the same.

Educating dancers on what to do to prevent injuries is one of the biggest parts of Hope’s job.  She teaches her clients specific exercises to help them be less susceptible to physical damage.

A typical day in the life of Hope Davis
·   8 a.m. - 10 a.m. - Start at clinic
·   10:15 a.m. – arrive at BalletMet and teach a conditioning class with pre-professional dancers for 45 minutes
·   11:00 a.m. - lunch break in between meetings with dancers
·   1:00 p.m - 4:30 p.m. – “open for business” in her BalletMet office

Davis works very closely with the BalletMet dancers, seeing anywhere between three and nine BalletMet dancers a day.  She is on location every day to work with them, and is with the dancers before, during, and after all performances.  When dancers visit Ms. Davis, she assesses any new or preexisting injuries and determines whether treatment requires a doctor.  Sometimes all she has to do is first-aid work and/or taping, but she stays prepared for any and all things.  Thanks to Hope’s assistance, BalletMet is able to keep their dancers on their toes and on the dance floor.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dracula Rehearsal!

As soon as I walked into the studio today, I immediately knew the company was getting ready for Dracula. Crosses, lanterns, and capes were strung around the room; as well as a coffin and cage that I couldn't ignore. Seven company dancers were preparing for BalletMet’s upcoming show Dracula, on October 26th through November 3rd at the Capitol Theatre.

Only the men were at the rehearsal today due to the women and other characters actually getting their “fang fitting” for the show. The scene that was first being rehearsed included opening the coffin and a realistic beheading. Much of this scene was simply the dancers learning blocking around the coffin. Our Ballet Mistress, Rebecca Rodriguez-Hodory spoke with me about the difficulty of the rehearsal. She described that dancers don’t normally get theater exercises; they simply have to learn acting from the way in which they dance.  Ms. Rodriguez-Hodory also explained that with each show, a different set of dancers is used, and some dancers even have to learn more than one character.

Even with just the rehearsal process for this scene starting, the overall vibe of what each dancer was portraying fits Dracula perfectly. The disturbing props, powerful operatic music, and passionate dancing all form a BalletMet performance that is sure to fulfill your expectations; not to mention, all happening just in time for the Halloween season. 

Jonathan Hill - Marketing Intern