Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Today I am going to settle the score, once and for all, in the battle of which ranks superior....


With Swan Lake finished and Nightmoves about to begin, BalletMet shows its versatility with dance. But what do fans think about this? I know there are purely classical fans out there as well as purely contemporary fans, but as long as the audience is pleased, isn't that all that matters?

There are the CLASSICS like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker--how can you do anything but love those! The score, the tutus, the choreography, its absolutely beautiful! For some people, a ballet without tutus just isn't a ballet at all! Ballet=Tutus...and lots of them.

Then are the CONTEMPOS (as we'll refer to them) like the upcoming Nightmoves. These ballets are little more updated, if you will. There are no tutus, no classical music and no classical choreography. Although contemporary ballet does it incorporate elements of traditional ballet, it also allows for more creative expression.

There is something so timeless about a classical ballet, that it is hard not to fall in love with the story as it unfolds on the stage. Classical ballet is the oldest form of dance and that in itself makes it a treasure. When it comes to contemporary ballet, it is fascinating to see how dance has evolved and how creative people can be when given the opportunity to experiment with ballet. Contemporary ballet uses the classic pointe shoe, but allows for more variety in movement.

If I were a dancer, I would love to experiment with contemporary ballet moves, and would also be honored to dance in a classical piece. For me, there is no favorite. I love the creativity that comes from contemporary ballet, and when it comes to classical ballet do I even need to answer this...I named the blog a tutu for you :-p

I asked some BalletMet dancers about their views on this issue....

When it comes to which type is superior, BalletMet dancer Adrienne Benz says it best. “I love them both, not one more than the other. There is something special about telling a story that is familiar to the audience like a full length classical ballet. With contemporary, I feel there is a little bit more room for artistic freedom and I also love getting more physical with my dancing!”

However, not all dancers feel the same. BalletMet dancer Adam Hundt refers to himself as a “contemporary baby.” And that he certainly is. In BalletMet’s upcoming
Nightmoves, Adam Hundt will show audiences his contemporary side; something I, personally, am very excited about!

So who wins this battle?

No one!

That's right! The truth is, these two types of ballet are very special and very difficult in their own right; therefore they cannot battle for the best. There is no winner, but everyone has their favorite!

So, for the purpose of this blog, this debate is settled!

And for everyone's viewing pleasure, here is a clip of a contemporary piece by BalletMet dancer Adam Hundt! If you love contemporary, then you will highly enjoy this. And if you don't, give it a shot! It might change your mind! Enjoy!

Also, I can't forget to mention the upcoming holiday............

And here's a video to get you in the Halloween mood!

Monday, October 19, 2009


“Their new Swan Lake beautifully re-creates the magic that must have enchanted audiences at the drama's premiere more than 100 years ago.”

--- The Columbus Dispatch! below to read the rest!

And now for the most important review!!! …mine :)

I was blown away by the performance this weekend. The dancers really embraced their roles, the costumes looked absolutely beautiful and the production team did an amazing job of bringing it all together. Additionally, having the performance at the Ohio Theatre added so much more; the elaborate architecture suitably fit the theme of the classic Swan Lake ballet. And all I have to say about the presence of all those swans on stage at once is, WOW. They just kept coming and coming and seeing so many dancers and so many tutus on stage at once was truly breathtaking.

I said before that although I have seen BalletMet performances in the past, this time would be a completely different experience for me….and it definitely was. It was incredible to be able to go behind-the-scenes of such a timeless ballet, and then see it come to life on the stage. I am very grateful.


I could go on and on about the show but, after two weeks of Swan Lake coverage, it’s time for something new! Today I was able to talk to the Director of Education at BalletMet, Ambre Emory-Maier, and she had so much to share with me!

Ambre oversees the educational programming here at BalletMet and supervises the staff. Additionally, she manages the scholarship program and teaches in the Academy, working with trainees and pre-professional students.
Some programs in the Education Department include:
*Moving into Literacy
*BalletMet Momentum
*Morning at the Ballet (this has been around for 30 years!!)

Each program focuses on talking and reflecting as well as creating, performing and responding. Through a very set curriculum and way of teaching, the programs that BalletMet has created allow the community to connect through dance in ways they would not typically be able to do so. It is these sorts of programs that inspire children at a young age to support the arts, and possibly consider becoming involved in the future. Either way, BalletMet provides them with the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful world of dance.

And providing these experiences is no easy task. Ambre and the rest of the Education Department work extremely hard to consistently provide these amazing experiences.

"It is deeper and more complex and takes a lot more work than one can imagine, unless you are here," says Ambre about the Education Department. "Nothing here is winged, it is all purposely done. We try to keep students engaged."

BalletMet's Education Department is very committed to all of its programs and the children involved; and for those children that are able to take part in these excellent programs, they should consider themselves lucky.

For more information on each program visit:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


....and casting has been announced!

Click here to see who's who!

It is quieter here again at BalletMet as the dancers are back in Cincinnati to practice. This week, as mentioned in my last entry, I will be focusing on the production aspect of Swan Lake. Jamie Gross is BalletMet’s Production Manager and her job is basically to keep everyone on track; not an easy task by far.

“My job is to catch mistakes,” says Jamie. She admitted that she also, often, cannot help but notice production mistakes on other shows she sees, be it ballets or even concerts. “I can’t help it.”
Don't worry Jamie, you just know how to make things look good! :)

When talking about production, first things first, the show has to be loaded. This means that the production crew has three days to prep the space for the show. Designs have been previously plotted, but now is the time where the crew can actually get to work and see if their designs will work with the space. Load-in begins on Tuesday morning but must be finished by Friday morning...that's a lot of work in a short amount of time!

Today I was shown the ground layout of the show, as well as what they call “minis” which draws out what will be on stage for each scene. These are good visual aids for stage managers and choreographers to use. Jamie also told me that Carla Chaffin, designer of the original 1997 Swan Lake set, is here to give input.

“It is great to be able to use local talent,” says Jamie.

Additionally, I was taken into one of the dance studios where the floors were marked with tape to signify where the props will be and where the dancers should stand. This was AMAZING. It may not seem exciting to some but, to me, it was incredible to stand in the room where ballets begin; to know that all the hard work that goes into creating a beautiful ballet happens here. When watching Swan Lake on Friday night, I will remember that moment.

For as elaborate as this performance will be, it is amazing to think that set production began only days before. Preparation is very challenging and intense at times and the production crew works extremely hard to make the audience’s experience perfect. And although Jamie claims there are always, what I like to call, “uh-oh moments", I believe that the audience will have a difficult time noticing them. The staff and dancers at BalletMet do an amazing job of drawing the audience into a story and not letting go until the very end.

In reference to Swan Lake, Jamie would like our readers to know that if everything runs smoothly and there is nothing visibly wrong with the show, then the production staff has done their job well.

“We are just adding to the magic of it all.”

All I have to say is that I am beyond excited about attending a BalletMet performance as their intern! I have been to shows in the past, but it now it is a completely different experience.

And it’s finally here!!
……Hope to see you there! :)

Before I go, I’d like to end this week’s entry with a few quotes from BalletMet dancers Adrienne Benz and Adam Hundt about their experience with Swan Lake!

“I really enjoyed the camaraderie between BalletMet and the Cincinnati Ballet. It is interesting to work with different dancers and different styles. And my calves really hurt but I can’t complain because the girls have it so much worse than the guys for this piece!" ---Adam Hundt
Swan Lake is an extremely difficult ballet but as usual it needs to look effortless! Dancing the role of Odette (white swan queen) has been eye opening and a great challenge at the perfect time in my career!” ---Adrienne Benz

…Enjoy the show!

Monday, October 5, 2009


BalletMet dancer Carrie West; photo by Will Shively

Coming soon to an Ohio Theatre near you....

BalletMet and The Cincinnati Ballet have teamed up to present the timeless masterpiece Swan Lake, October 16-18. For the next two weeks, I will take you behind the making of this treasured ballet, including a peek at costumes, production and thoughts from the dancers.

A little history of Swan Lake...
his 21st birthday, Prince Siegfried is reminded that he must choose a bride at his upcoming ball, despite his reluctance to do so. In an attempt to be alone and ponder his future, Siegfried arrives at a lake that is, unbeknownst to him, ruled by the evil sorcerer Baron von Rothbart; a lake where young maidens are held under a spell that transforms them into swans. As the lake fills with swans, Siegfried takes aim at one, but holds his fire as the swan transforms into a beautiful woman! Love at first sight, Seigfried promises this woman, Odette, the only thing that can break von Rothbart's evil spell; eternal love. However, Odette warns the prince that if his vow is broken, she will remain a swan forever.

The ball ensues the following evening and trouble is in store for Prince Siegfried!

To read more about Swan Lake, go to

Today at BalletMet, all the dancers were in Cincinnati practicing for Swan Lake, so it was a little quieter around the building. In fact, when I pulled into the parking lot there were only a few cars there, as opposed to a full lot as usual, and I thought for a second that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be there either; that maybe it was some special day and everyone forgot to tell the new intern not to come in. I’m happy that was not the case because today was great.

In preparation for this week's bIog, I visited both the costume shop and the production department and spoke to the managers in each about what they are doing to prepare for Swan Lake. However, today I am going to focus specifically on costumes, and next week I will talk more about production.

BalletMet's costume shop manager Rebecca Turk is in her fourth season with BalletMet and could not be happier. She has been involved with designing and directing costume production for over ten years and it is a combination of her passion and the emphasis that BalletMet puts on artistic expression that keeps her here.

"Part of what makes this job rewarding is that you love it, and I am exceedingly passionate," says Rebecca.

However, although as fun as it seems to spend time around beautiful costumes all day, Rebecca's job requires so much more and one of her main duties is to keep the shop in order.

"You have to keep positive and roll with the punches," she explains. "Stressful situations will arise often and you have to be able to deal with them consistently. There are no boring days."

This is something Rebecca loves about her job; each day is different and everyone in the costume shop takes great pride in their work.

When speaking with her about Swan Lake, she showed me the beautiful, handmade costumes for Odette and Odile, and explained to me the costume situation for this production. Since BalletMet is teaming up with The Cincinnati Ballet to present this piece, the two companies have been working together to create a unified look. The piece will include costumes from both BalletMet's previous performance and The Cincinnati Ballet's as well as new pieces based on both designs.

The costume room is currently littered with swan costumes, and it could not look better.

In reference to Swan Lake, Rebecca would like our readers to know, "that this is an amazing opportunity for the audience because an amazing amount of collaboration had to happen to make this possible. It’s really wonderful."

Here are a few pictures from my day in the costume shop! And as much as I wanted to include the gorgeous costume that Odette will be wearing, I wanted to keep it a surprise even more!

The evil Baron Von Rothbart's costume!

The costume of the swans!

The Prince's vest!

Click below to see a different take on Swan Lake...enjoy!!