Friday, December 10, 2010

Hello readers! It's been quite a long time since my last post. Nutcracker season is in full swing and there is never a dull moment here at the office! We've had a lot of very exciting things going on, and of course, we are all excited for The Nutcracker to open tonight at the Ohio Theatre!

In honor of the opening, and to make up for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, I have posted 3 Nutcracker related blogs. You can find them below this post. The first is all about BalletMet's recent tour to Syracuse, the second is an inside look at what it's like to be the Nuthead, and the third is a series of interviews with students who will be dancing in The Nutcracker this year.


I am sad to say that today is my last day interning here at BalletMet. I have had such a wonderful experience here and I feel so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with such fantastic people. Thank you to everyone who made my last undergraduate internship great. I know the lessons I've learned here will be invaluable as I graduate and begin looking for employment! My time here has been absolutely amazing and I have had so much fun! Thank you thank you thank you BalletMet!

Happy reading and happy holidays!

Hope to see everyone at the theatre!

Syracuse Tour

BalletMet on Tour!

Though we are all anxiously waiting for opening night here in Columbus, citizens of Syracuse New York have already had the chance to see what we have in store for us. Last weekend, our dancers loaded onto a bus bound for Syracuse for a weekend tour. While the dancers began making their way to New York on the 2nd, the rest of the crew headed up to load into the theater a few days later. Several trucks of sets, scenery, costumes and floor (yes, floor, we bring our Marley and sprung wood floors if the theater doesn’t have one). Our dancers performed Dec. 3-6 and received great reviews! We are proud to say that the performances were a hit! Everyone got back late Sunday night, just before a big snowstorm hit Syracuse. According to one of our Facebook fans, we must have the luckiest Nutcracker of them all! The thruway shut down AFTER our buses got into town and Syracuse got snowed in AFTER they left! Yikes! We are thankful everyone is back safe and sound and are all very excited for opening night of The Nutcracker here in Columbus!

Syracuse.com posted a wonderful review of the performance, stating that the collaboration between BalletMet and the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra resulted in a “brilliant” presentation of The Nutcracker. The authors write that BalletMet’s version of The Nutcracker is the most sophisticated they have seen! “It shows in the subtle colors and opulent sets. The dances are all the more beautiful for being presented with restraint and precision rather than-as some productions choose-a kind of overly energetic abandon.” Other highlights featured in the article included the “stunning” Arabian dance, which “yielded all the more magic when considered in contrast to the comic dance in which Mother Ginger, in her garish blue gown, expelled dancing, playful urchins from beneath her skirts.”


To read the full article, go here:

Syracuse Tour Review

Enjoy reading, and check out these great pictures taken from backstage at the performances!




Being the Nuthead




SPOILER ALERT!!! IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE NUTCRACKER, READ NO FURTHER!!!

When I first started my internship here this quarter, I wrote that my time at BalletMet would be unlike any other internship experience. I was definitely right!

As some of you may know, our famous Nuthead is Mr. Popularity during Nutcracker season. We receive a lot of requests for him to appear at community holiday events and sales promotions. You should see his appearance calendar!! He’s a busy guy!

All the fame and recognition means that our beloved Nuthead is highly in demand on a weekly basis. We are fortunate enough to have amazing parents and staff members volunteer to don the costume. However, at times, emergency situations come up and we have to find someone very quickly to step up and step into the costume. So who do you think got to wear the costume when a crisis (not really a crisis but it sounds more interesting that way) arose?! Yours truly! ME!

You could say that wearing the Nuthead costume is somewhat of a rite of passage among staffers. We’ve all done it and we all have fun stories to tell! I am proud to say that after wearing the costume, I now have some of my own stories to tell!

Let me tell you-putting on that huge costume, snazzy white velvet pants and cool white gloves can transform you into a completely different person. I made my appearances for State Auto and PNC Bank’s corporate sales events. I waved, I shook hands, I made my way through crowded cafeterias, braved balconies and conquered escalators and revolving doors!

My journeys began with carrying the costume out to my car and trying desperately to fit it into my trunk without smashing it. I felt a little cruel putting him in a trash bag and stuffing it into such a small space, but he made it into the car safely and survived the car trips. It was a little difficult carrying the costume through parking garages and along city streets, but I did it and did it successfully!

I was very lucky to have two amazing handlers who helped get me into the costume and guided me. I admit I was a little nervous at first. I made sure to eat breakfast and drink a lot of water before so I stayed hydrated and didn’t get overheated! I even ditched my high heels and wore FLAT black boots! Shocking! Absolutely necessary though-I can’t imagine trying to walk around in heels with that costume on! I’m sure I would look hilarious though! Once I got the costume on, I was surprised by how tall it made me and I was surprised at how well I could see out of the costume! I didn’t really realize the costume added a few extra feet in height to the top of my head and a few inches to each side of my shoulders-I had to do a lot of ducking and crouching through doors. I could see everything pretty well! I am proud to say I didn’t run into anything or fall down. I’d say that’s a major accomplishment!

Since I wasn’t really interacting with children and families at these events, I had to make connections with adults. I tried my best to brighten the days of the State Auto and PNC Bank workers by bringing smiles to their faces or getting little laughs out of them. It worked, and it was so much fun when it did!

It was really fun to promote The Nutcracker with such great people. I’m happy I was given the opportunity to experience the Nuthead tradition firsthand and I love that I have my own stories to tell now!

Have you seen the pictures from the Nuthead’s appearance circuit?! If not, here are some for you to enjoy.




Walking in the Polaris Fashion Place holiday parade





City Tree Lighting




Columbus Blue Jackets Game

Become a fan of The BalletMet Nutcracker on Facebook to see more pictures and get updates about upcoming Nuthead appearances!

Student Interviews

It’s that time of year again! We busy staffers and interns working upstairs are being serenaded by Tchaikovsky’s melodies and I personally have loved being here for all the excitement! There’s never a dull moment here at BalletMet during Nutcracker season!

One of the most fun aspects of The Nutcracker is the fact that over 100 student dancers of all ages perform with the company dancers each year! Some have been participating for many years, and others are dancing in the show for the very first time. However, whether they have been doing it for years or are experiencing the fun and excitement of dancing in The Nutcracker for the first time, each student takes away happy memories and each student has their own story to tell.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of talking to some of the student dancers in the show, and they were kind enough to share with me what it’s like to audition, some of their favorite things about the show, and how it feels to perform with a professional company.

Enjoy!

My first interview was with Sarah Wilson, a Pre-Professional student here at BalletMet.

How long have you been dancing with BalletMet?

-7 years

How long have you been doing Pre-Pro? What does that involve?

-I’ve been doing Pre-Pro for 2 years. Last year was my first year. It’s basically all day-I’m home-schooled so I do classes on top of rehearsals every week. I’m trying to get through my junior and senior year this year.

Do you still have to audition for The Nutcracker?

-Yes, everyone does

What does the audition process involve?

-You come in and fill out a registration form and then they always measure you for height. You don’t get to pick what you audition for-you get what you get. We do warm-ups after we get our height measurements, and then we audition. They usually make up new stuff for us since we already are familiar with The Nutcracker, that way we still have to think about what we’re doing. The audition lasts an hour and a half to about an hour and forty five minutes.

Do you get nervous?

-No-not really anymore-you just go in and do it. “I still want to do my best”. I still always go in and make sure my hair looks nice. I want to be professional.


Do you have a favorite piece?

-I like “Arabian” because it’s different. It’s not exactly your typical ballet.

What pieces are you dancing this year?

-“Arabian” and “Soldier”

What piece did you do last year?

-“Flowers”-I got to do it with the company twice.


When did rehearsals start?

-Auditions were the 2nd week of September-we started rehearsing the 3rd week of September. We start with Soldiers first. There are three casts for everything-I started Arabian with the pre-pros weeks ago.


So you were Clara? Can you tell me a bit about that? How old were you? What was it like to get your letter?

-Well, I got to be Clara twice. The first time I was just Clara-I was 12 years old and I was really excited to get my letter. Now they send out emails, but when I got it they sent me a letter in the mail, which was really exciting. We went to Buffalo, New York that year to dance the show and so I was Clara there too. My older sister was also Clara. The second time, I was Clara, a party girl, a party mouse and one of mother ginger’s children. One of the girls got hurt so they kind of threw me into it. It was a lot but I did it!

Do you have a favorite costume?

-I love the costumes for Flowers. They’re just so beautiful! Last year I got to wear the purple one which is my favorite since purple is my favorite color!

Do you have any favorite or funny memories from performing in The Nutcracker?

-Sometimes the Nutcracker we use on stage would be broken already-so sometimes whoever was playing Drosselmeyer or someone would say something funny on stage to make light of the situation or make it funny for the audience. The party scene conversations are always funny too because those are all improvised.

Do you have a favorite family holiday tradition?

-My family and I usually go to my grandma’s house for Christmas Usually everyone in my family comes to see me in The Nutcracker and we go out to dinner after.


The other student I was able to interview was Laserik Ross, who will be playing Fritz this year.

How long have you been dancing with BalletMet?

-I have been dancing with BalletMet for 3 years.

What is the audition process like? Do you get nervous? Do you do anything special to prepare?

-The audition process starts first with all of the boys and then the girls. When the boys go in Mrs. Yo gives the younger boys or boys smaller than her a combination and then the boys larger than a different combination. When I first tried out for Nutcracker I did get a little nervous but not anymore. Something I do something special before I audition is get into character and go over dance moves that I need.


What is it like to play Fritz? What was it like to find out you got the part? How did you find out?

-To me playing Fritz is very fun because you get to be in the naughty and nice scene, I get to do more stuff in the party scene and I get to do sneaky bad things in the party scene also. When I found out that I was Fritz I was excited and happy and couldn’t wait to go to rehearsal. I found about being Fritz through a letter.


What is your favorite thing about playing Fritz?

-My favorite part about being fritz is being in the family scene.

What is your favorite Nutcracker piece?

-My favorite Nutcracker piece is “Ginger”.

Is it cool to perform with the professional dancers in the company?

-It is really cool to perform with the professional dancers in the company because it makes the ballet seem even more real.

Do you have any funny/favorite memories from dancing in The Nutcracker?

-One of my funny memories from dancing Nutcracker was it was the closing show and a company member (Drosselmeyer) was supposed to get mad at Fritz and instead of flopping his cape he did like a turn/jump/flopping his cape and made a noise and the whole cast was trying not to laugh on stage even me.

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition and/or what is your favorite thing about the holidays?

-A Holiday tradition I have is to have a huge feast on Christmas just like Thanksgiving and my favorite thing about the holiday is receiving presents.

Come see Sarah, Laserik and over 100 students perform with the BalletMet company dancers in The Nutcracker, opening TONIGHT and running through December 26th at the Ohio Theatre!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Backstage Pass: Dangerous Liaisons

Welcome to Wardrobe! Not everyone knows this, but at BalletMet and many other theaters across the nation, the Wardrobe and the Costume Shop are actually two different areas of one department. The Costume Shop is in charge of the design and creation of a set of costumes for a production. Once the show is in performance, however, the Wardrobe takes over. We do everything from laundering, steaming and repairing costumes before and after every performance, assisting the dancers with any quick changes or costume-related emergencies backstage, and making sure that all costumes, accessories, hair and makeup maintains the standards set by the choreographer and designer. The audience never sees us, but we’re backstage every single show, doing what we do.



Our traveling costume ‘studio,’ tucked away in the corner of the Capital Theater green room.

Dangerous Liaisons is a fun show for hairstyles. People wore their hair very differently in the 18th century, and when the dancers dress their hair in similar ways, it adds wonderful historical detail to the show, taking us one step further into the world of the story. Part of our job is researching what the hairstyles need to be, and how people of that era achieved them, then coaching the dancers in how to do it themselves.








The hairstyles we chose sought to reflect character and age, and also to accommodate hair type. For instance, Kerri Riccardi, who played the character of Cecille de Volange, is quite young. We added some curls in the back to give her a sense of great youth and naiveté. You can also see Courtney, Olivia and Zoica. Courtney and Olivia have the high bouffant hairstyle worn by older ladies of that era. Zoica has a smaller bouffant, indicating that she is younger.

And speaking of Olivia and Courtney, remember these dresses?







Looking gorgeous as usual! You might notice that Courtney’s face looks a little different. Her character is quite elderly, which requires her to do aging makeup. Up close she looks very strange, but once she is on stage and under lights, the high contrast lines soften to become wrinkles. We also gave her longer sleeves, gloves (which she loves) and a fichu (neck scarf) to cover her lovely neck and arms and give an increased sense of age and infirm.

The men have some hair conundrums as well. Men of the 18th century wore their hair quite long, and pulled into some version of a pony tail, usually with a ribbon. We decided that we didn’t want to use wigs to achieve this look, so instead we just made the ponytails.

The boys were warned about two months in advance that they would need to grow their hair as long as possible, to make it easier to attach the “queue.” Most of them were able to grow their hair long enough to do a tiny stub ponytail that we could use as a base.







You see above that Andrew Notarile was one of the lucky ones with a ponytail. Even with it, however, applying the queue can be quite painful. The base of the queue must be tucked behind the ponytail, and bobby pins used to secure it to the base of the scalp. I then tucked and pinned the remaining hair on the neckline to complete the look.

The rule for attaching anything to the head is, “if it doesn’t hurt, it won’t stay.”



The men’s costumes have other complexities as well. Tights, black silk breeches, white flowing shirt with lace cuffs, waistcoat with only half the buttons buttoned, cutaway coat with large cuffs, and finally the cravat (a lacy ancestor of the modern day necktie). All of this is fussy enough on its own, but getting it all to stay in place while dancing… that’s an entirely different thing.


First, the top of the tights are rolled around a belt of webbing or elastic to keep them from riding down. A piece of stretch fabric (referred to as, ahem, a crotch strap) is passed between the legs and sewn to the front and back hem of the shirt to keep it from coming untucked. The breeches and waistcoat are buttoned together with pieces of buttonhole elastic- two in front and two in back- to keep the waistcoat in place.


buttoning waistcoat to breeches

The cravat is especially complex. First it is attached to the collar of the shirt with buttons. Then it is wrapped around the neck, tied, and attached to itself and the front of the shirt to keep it from flying in the dancer’s face or climbing up his neck.






buttoning the cravat

And finally, the coat itself is also buttoned to the front of the vest with strips of elastic. The men have been rehearsing with their coats for weeks now, because they actually have to shift the way they dance based on the weight of the coat. It can slow them down or knock them off balance if they’re not accustomed to it. And once the jackets are buttoned down, the weight shifts and they have to adjust again!


buttoning the coat.

Finally, Andrew is looking dapper and ready to dance!






Once the dancers are in costume, they must still be careful. They are not permitted to eat or drink or chew gum, and sometimes they’re not allowed to sit, in order to avoid wrinkling the costume more than necessary. After dancing two large and difficult ball numbers, Andrew and Gabe were finished for the evening, so they removed their jackets and sat down to a favorite backstage pastime.






We hope that you’re enjoying Dangerous Liaisons. We’ll see you at the theater!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Welcome to the BalletMet Costume Studio!




We create about 85% of the costumes you see in BalletMet’s shows, and our stock contains over 6,000 hand crafted pieces. We have four full time employees that work in the studio each season, as well as a handful of professional seamstresses and tailors that come work for us on individual projects as we have need. The making and maintaining of costumes for a professional company is a side of dance that is not seen often, but it is our world, and we love it!



Currently in our shop are the following lovely ladies, from left to right:

Erin, Assistant Shop Manager and Wardrobe Manager, who has worked with the company six years and does a little bit of everything, including writing this blog!

Kate, Costume Apprentice, coming to us after earning a degree at University of Michigan (no egg-ing of cars please!) to spend a year learning about costuming dance.

Rebecca, Costumes Director, who has designed and worked all over the country, including St. Louis, Florida, Oregon, and New York.

Leigh, a free-lance stitcher who frequently works with us and other companies around town, as well as backstage on many Broadway tours.

Linda, draper and stitcher extraordinaire, who is celebrating her 25th year of making tutus for BalletMet and has singlehandedly produced about a third of our stock!

At any given time, we’re working on at least three shows at once, but currently the show that is closest to production is Dangerous Liaisons.

We still have the costumes from the original production in 1996, and our plan was to pull those costumes out of stock and refresh them for the new production. Sounds fairly easy, right? Well.... it just so happens that our current company is--on average-- about four inches taller than the company that was dancing here when this show was first performed! Thankfully, many of the pieces only needed minor alterations to be usable, but in other cases some major work had to be done. Here are two transformations we’re especially proud of...



Beautiful, isn’t it? This is the dress worn by the character of Mme de Rosemonde, aunt to Valmonte. This year, the character will be played by the fabulous Courtney Muscroft. What was less fabulous was the gap-osis she was suffering the first time she put the dress on! She had at least an inch of space between the bottom of the bodice and the waistband of the skirt, and the hem was a good 4-6 inches shorter than it needed to be. The bodice could be let out, but there was no altering that skirt...It was clear we needed to make an extension. And the best way to create an extension is to make it look like you did it on purpose.

So first, we pulled out the leftover show fabric and cut an extension, then made some piping to help the extension look more like a feature.




By some miracle, the original lace used for the dress was still hanging out in our lace box, so we added a few more rows to the center inset.



The real challenge was that gold trim. We didn’t have anything remotely like it. But we found three other trims that resembled certain aspects of the original...



And we combined them to make an almost identical replica!



Here’s the final piece with its extension. Would you have guessed that wasn’t a design choice?? We love the oohs and aahs this piece is getting as it stands by the door of the studio for passers by to see.



Our second major victory was the dress for Mme de Volanges, played by Zoica Tovar and Olivia Clark. Now, Zoica and Olivia are unable to share a dress due to their difference in height. So we altered the original dress to fit Zoica and then began drafting an entirely new one for Olivia. But unlike the Rosemonde dress, there were no leftover materials to work with. In fact, not a single fabric or trim used on the original dress remained. We had to replicate the dress totally from scratch.



Can you see the differences? The brown taffeta looks the same, but it’s actually half the weight. Olivia couldn’t believe how light the finished dress was. We mimicked the bright orange of the organza in the skirt by layering a deeper rust with a bright yellow. Rebecca was lucky enough to find an almost identical black dotted tulle at JoAnns. Thank you, Halloween season! And the silver trim is covered with black mesh to dull it’s luminosity.






Between Leigh, Kate and I it took about a week to get this dress ready for fitting, and another few days to finish it. But it was worth every moment. (Well, Kate might not agree. She had to sew the 26 closures.)

So the height challenge has been an interesting one, but we’re satisfied with the result. Before we sign off, we wanted to share a few more of our favorite pieces from this show...



This is Marquis de Merteuil, which you might recognize from our brochure. Linda and Kate both love this dress, for it’s color and the effectiveness of the decoration. The trims are light and simple, but give a feeling of sumptuous wealth. Linda remembers making this dress back in ’96, and loves it still.


Here’s Rebecca’s favorite. We had to replace one men’s coat due to the height issue, and this new one was a beaut! Note the rust lining.



Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed the delicate detail work required to execute these little neck scarves, called fichus. They are for the maids, and each one is tacked so that the individual folds stay exactly in place every time they’re worn.



Leigh helped create the original Dangerous Liaisons as well as Linda, and she remembers this dress well. She made those rosettes by hand. Yup, that’s right. No store bought flowers, if you please!




Well, thanks for stopping by and coming on a tour of our little world. We’ll share more later if you’re interested. But until then, come see our beautiful costumes and talented dancers at Dangerous Liaisons next week. Merde!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Good morning readers! It’s been a little while since my last post. I can assure you that as always, things are still busy and exciting here at BalletMet.

As many of you know, BalletMet is home to both a professional company and dance academy which we are very proud of, but, among all of the wonderful things here at BalletMet, we have something else we are extremely proud to share, and that is our Education and Outreach Programs.

Some of you may not be aware of BalletMet’s Education and Outreach Programs and their commitment to community involvement and student development. You should know that here at BalletMet, our Education Department’s mission is “to provide quality dance experiences that are informative, inspirational and accessible so that the entire community may appreciate and enjoy the art of dance.” This means that the Education Department wants to provide dance experiences for everyone. BalletMet also maintains a strong commitment to maintaining arts education in schools. Through its DanceReach programs, BalletMet strives to make dance education available for all students. Programming is constantly refined to increase educational impact and is designed to help students express themselves through movement, through their spoken words and through their writing. Programs such as Moving into Literacy and Morning at the Ballet focus on these goals. BalletMet also wants to ensure that every child has the opportunity to experience the ballet. Through its KidTix program, underserved children and special needs individuals are given the opportunity to attend a BalletMet performance. For many of these students, this performance is a first-time experience with the performing arts. I know I remember just how special my first performing arts experience was. Can you? If you can, maybe you remember how special you felt sitting in such a big, beautiful theatre. Maybe you remember how excited you were to see just what was behind that big red curtain or maybe you remember how you couldn’t stop talking about the performance after it was over. Maybe you wished you could see it again and again. No matter what we may remember, first experiences such as the ones BalletMet’s Education Department can provide are special, unique, and available for adults and children throughout the state. Though BalletMet is able to bring students to the ballet, the Education and Outreach Programs often go beyond the theatre and go directly into the classroom.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to speak with BalletMet’s Director of Education, Ambre Emory-Maier. Ambre has accomplished a lot during her time here. She has developed BalletMet programs such as Aladdin: Finding the Magic in Dance and Moving into Literacy and oversees the Dance Academy’s Scholarship Program. Ambre also has a dance background herself. Though she is a very busy lady, she was kind enough to answer some questions I had for her. I hope you enjoy reading some of the things she had to say. I know I enjoyed speaking with her.

How has your dance background helped you develop programs for BalletMet?

My dance training and the educational experiences I had growing up certainly had significant influences on me. My background has helped shape who I am, but no one person did that. You are who you are. Every experience you have and every person you come in contact with helps you grow and learn.

Ambre then went on to tell me that many of the BalletMet staff had dance backgrounds. How wonderful that people who grew up with dance are able to work around something they love so much.


Do you have any personal highlights or any particular stories that have stuck with you? Maybe about a particular child or group or class who seemed particularly moved or benefited by/from a program?

All kids benefit from the program, though it’s easier to see the impacts of experiential programming. At Morning at the Ballet, all the kids were talking to each other before the show started, and one of the kids was looking ahead to the stage and he said “is that a big screen”? It just goes to show the level of awe and wonder. For many of these kids, this is their first time experiencing the performing arts, and for many, it may be their only experience with them. With these programs, we are working on dispelling the stereotypes-the negative stereotypes. People may say “I don’t look like a dancer or move like a dancer or know anything about dance” but we want to show people that anyone CAN MOVE-and that has value.

I really like the ideas and goals behind Morning at the Ballet and Moving into Literacy. How are the programs designed to help students communicate through writing? Why do you think it’s so effective? Can you explain a little more about how these programs work?

We work to ensure that our programs are aligned with state standards and we attempt to cater to a school’s needs, such as programming to improve reading and writing. Our Moving into Literacy program is typically geared toward 2nd graders, but can be adapted. The programs can also be adapted to different school district’s learning curriculums. For example, in Westerville, they incorporated their lessons on Asian culture and wrote haiku poems. Other schools have focused on developing “how-to” writing. Another school did the program around fairy tales, and the children wrote their own fairy tales. Dance is just another language you can use to express yourself and communicate.

Aladdin, Finding the Magic in Dance is different. It’s designed as a curriculum unit-a 6 lesson unit and follows the creative process of BalletMet’s Artistic Director, Gerard Charles, from conception to the premiere of Aladdin. The program was funded by the Ohio Arts Council. It incorporates lessons in subjects such as math, drama and science. Teachers who participate in this program receive proper training in the elements of dance and in the curriculum itself. More than 90 teachers have participated in the program.


What are you most proud of? Is there a program you feel has worked really well or is there something about working for BalletMet that makes you particularly proud?

I’m proud of all of our programs; it’s hard to choose a favorite or something I am particularly proud of. I am really proud of our staff and I am proud of our mission. I am proud of what we do.

After speaking with Ambre, I know I am even more proud to be a part of BalletMet. For more information about BalletMet’s Education and Outreach Programs, please go to:

http://www.balletmet.org/education.php

Do you have any special memories from arts experiences you had at school? Has BalletMet’s Educational Programming made an impact on you? Please post and share!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Friday! We are proud to announce that Requiem!!, our season opener, has run with great success and winning reviews. Only two performances left! Though the Capitol Theatre fills with the familiar sounds of Mozart, Requiem!! is anything but familiar, and certainly not one may consider traditional or safe. On the contrary, Requiem!! is exciting and thrilling its audiences. In honor of Requiem!!, I am dedicating this post to fun facts and press highlights.

Fact number 1: Some of you may not know that BalletMet was the first North American Ballet Company to perform Requiem!!, German choreographer Birgit Scherzer’s signature piece. Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Fact number 2: The characters M and Death are the only two characters seen throughout the entire work. They appear both literally and metaphorically. Death is always present, at times close and at other times far away.

Fact number 3: M is based on different accounts of Mozart’s life. As Birgit Scherzer did research for the piece, she found it very difficult to combine Mozart’s many characteristics and attributes into once dancer. Because of this, she created M1, M2 and M3. Though M is for Mozart, M also represents the German word for human - mensch," According to Birgit Scherzer, "It can be any of us."

Fact number 4: The suitcase seen in part 2 of the 3 part show is highly symbolic. It symbolizes being on a journey and not being at home. It also is a symbol of Mozart’s constant movement from one place to another. Other symbols include the black umbrellas, which come from the fact that it was snowing when Mozart died and so people were seen with umbrellas. (Snow also denotes winter when nature is dead). Umbrellas can also be viewed in a more generally sheltering or reassuring way.

Fact number 5: What’s up with those 2 exclamation points? In a recent interview, Artistic Director Gerald Charles said “they signify that it is more than just a dance to Mozart's music of that name. It is a dance piece in its own right with its own purpose and artistry."

The show is certainly unique, and audience members and reviewers have submitted rave reviews and provided very positive feedback.

Here are just a couple of press highlights for you to read. If you haven’t seen the show yet, maybe these reviews will inspire you to go this weekend!

“No one could accuse BalletMet Columbus of going easy on its audience in the company's season-opening program: Requiem!! by German choreographer Birgit Scherzer…it's stunning theatricality packs a punch to the solar plexus. No waltzing flowers here. This 90-minute thriller…in every way matches the depth of feeling and poignancy of its music, Mozart's Requiem.”
Barbara Zuck, The Columbus Dispatch


“…I realized this show wasn’t Swan Lake or The Nutcracker. Requiem!! isn’t a nice little Romance where Prince Charming falls in love with Princess Peach in toe shoes. This was horror at the ballet. Ok, maybe “horror,” isn’t a genre that translates adequately. I’m sure, as a dance, this more likely would fall under the category of “psychological thriller.” Regardless, my point is that if you’re not the typical Ballet-goer, this might be exactly the production to whet your appetite for dance. Oh, and it’s October – the perfect time to go see something a little darker than normal.”

John Theiss, CityScene Magazine


For more articles about Requiem!! and to read the full reviews, please follow the links below. Enjoy your weekends, and don’t miss your chance to see this spectacular show tonight or tomorrow.


http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/weekender/stories/2010/09/30/season-opening-celebrations-to-salute-germanic-gems.html?sid=101


http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/10/02/review_balletmet.html

Friday, October 1, 2010

Greetings! It’s been awhile since our last post and a lot has happened since summer has ended and fall has begun. One particular new thing is that BalletMet has a new Marketing Intern (me), and I am going to use this post to introduce myself, give you an intern’s perspective of BalletMet and tell you about my first day on the job.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Abby and I am currently a senior at Ohio State majoring in art history and minoring in business. I have interned in museums, galleries and arts councils in and out of state and recently finished an internship at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City where I served as a Development and Special Events Intern. As I began making preparations to graduate this December (scary, but very exciting), I decided I wanted to further expand my knowledge and broaden my work experience with one more internship. Though I study the visual arts, I grew up performing with my city’s children’s choir and high school choruses. Before I found my niche with singing, like many little girls, my dream was to be a ballerina. I begged my mother to enroll me in ballet and gymnastics classes at our local YMCA. However, it didn’t take too long for me to realize that I was not the best at ballet. I wasn’t the best at gymnastics either, I recently read one of my weekly gymnastics performance reports and saw that my teacher had written that I “had difficulty with skipping” and that my somersault “needed work”. I quit ballet. I kept the cute pink tutu.

Though I wasn’t the best at ballet, I still loved to watch my local company perform. My mother and I went to our local theatre’s family series and to our local art museum on Sundays. She took me to The Nutcracker when I was 8 and I fell completely in love. My mother loves to tell people that when the curtain fell, I stood up on my seat, clapped as loud and furiously as I could, and shouted “bravo!" just like I remembered seeing on Sesame Street, over and over again. Just as my mother loves to tell that story; one of my favorite stories to tell is that the first exhibition I ever saw in an art museum was Edgar Degas. After loving the Nutcracker, my mother thought I would like to see his ballerina sketches and Little Dancer sculptures. I did. I love that my appreciation for ballet and for Degas has somehow led me to BalletMet.

A long time supporter of the performing arts, I thought working for a world class performing arts organization such as BalletMet would provide me with insight into how a professional company is managed. When I was offered an internship position here in marketing, I knew an opportunity to learn another facet of the arts industry to which I have not yet been exposed was simply one I could not pass up.

I am in the middle of my first week here and I am in love with it already. My friends would all tell you that I called them after my orientation day gushing about the projects I will be working on this quarter. I am especially excited to have been given opportunities to write, help coordinate a Nutcracker volunteer orientation, and help with The Nutcracker Ball. I got a taste of working in special events this summer and can’t wait to get back into it with this particular fundraiser.

I am also particularly excited to work with the marketing team and learn new skills there. I am already noticing major differences between working for a visual arts organization. For example, in a museum, you put on a few big exhibitions a year. These exhibitions tend to run for a few months, giving museum staff much more time to plan, have events and market the art currently hanging on your walls. In a performing arts institution such as BalletMet, you have many more shows that each only run for a week or two. Because of this, working in the performing arts can put an employee or performer in a very fast-paced environment. It’s fast and sometimes extremely stressful, but also exciting, rewarding and very fun.

You may be curious about my first day at work. So I’ll now begin by telling you about how I got lost on the way, spilled juice all over my shirt, and spent my day making hundreds of copies and got coffee for everyone. Just kidding, none of those things happened. While a first day can give anyone jitters and all interns fear spending their days simply making copies and fetching coffee, my first day was great.

Everyone here was very welcoming and positive when I first met them; further indicating that BalletMet is a great place to work. First, my supervisor, Communications Manager Jennifer Sciantarelli, gave me the grand tour of the place. I didn’t realize the school and employees’ offices were all in the same building. I played it cool, but I was so excited to see dancers rehearsing! Jennifer showed me some of the studio spaces and where the costumes are made. I can't even begin to tell you how exciting it is to see little things like this. I love seeing how everything works behind the scenes. In the past, when I’ve done museum work, I always loved going to the storage facilities to see where the art is kept, or seeing the crates of art being prepared to be hung. It always made me excited to be a part of something so big and so rewarding to so many people.

Of course a first day of work never goes 100% smoothly. We had issues finding a computer for me to work on (something that is not new to me at all). However, once we got that under control, I began my first project, which is to write an article for Outlook Magazine. This is so much more than a typical internship;I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot more than making copies and fetching coffee! On my way out, I saw some young children preparing for their ballet class. It reminded me of when I was little and made me so happy to see. Though it very different than running into curators, art handlers and people listening to audio guide headsets, I have a feeling I’m going to love seeing ballet slippers, hair pulled back into neat ballet buns and love hearing Mozart, Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky every day.

Today, we found a free cubicle in the office and I have happily been typing and working away since this morning. I’ll end here by saying that I am very thrilled to be a part of BalletMet this quarter. If any of you are in the office, stop by the building or see me around please say hi or introduce yourself. I’ll be the one with the red hair and high heels (I'm always in heels).

I’d love to get to know as many of you as I can! Until next time…

Abby

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Dancers



Take a look at the summer intensive experiences of two dancers, one a student from BalletMet Academy, the other a visiting student living in the dorms!

Wow! This year's summer intensive has been such an exciting experience. While the long days in the studios are pretty exhausting, they are also exhilarating since all of the dancers love what they do. The BalletMet summer experience is more than just sweat, blisters, and rehearsals. Throughout the five weeks, we have grown together as more than just roommates and peers, but as lifelong friends. From "So You Think You Can Dance"viewing parties, to having an impromptu photo shoot in the garden outside of our dormitory, we never had trouble finding fun things to do at night after a day of classes or on lazy Sunday afternoons.


But the dorm chaperones made sure to keep us busy with an array of weekend outings. We celebrated our country's independence at Red, White, and Boom, the acclaimed Columbus fireworks spectacle and slid down swirling slides at the water park Fort Rapids. We watched Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" and the classic musical "My Fair Lady" in the beautiful Ohio Theatre and were treated to a live performance of "The Producers" by the Columbus Children's Theatre. We even were lucky enough to have a few delicious ice cream socials in the cafeteria. And-of course-who could forget our epic, double whammy, back-to-back weekend trips to the Easton Town Center mall?

We've been named the greatest, and best behaved, group to ever grace the hallowed halls of the Schottenstein dormitory at Columbus College of Art and Design. But we'd like to think that what the chaperones don't know won't hurt them…. Only kidding of course!! It's been an unforgettable summer session, and the memories and friendships I've made here in C-bus I will always cherish.

-Shelby Shenkman







This is the last week of the pre-professional intensive, so my schedule is a little different than it was the past 4 weeks. My day starts at about 7 a.m every morning Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturday. I do my hair, then eat a healthy breakfast and I am out the door by 7:55 a.m. for the 15-20 minute commute to the Academy. First I check the schedule to confirm there weren't any changes, and then head to the dressing room where my locker awaits me. The reason I have a locker is because I am a year round student in the Pre-Professional (Pre-Pro) Program. I grab my warm ups and I head into the studio to warm up my muscles. Since this is Week 5, the Pre-Pros are living a typical week as a member of BalletMet's company. Most of the days we start out with a Ballet class which ranges from an hour and a half to a two hour long class. After that we get a 15 minute break to maybe grab a snack and to refill your water bottle.
We have two separate rehearsals that are either one hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. After dancing the morning away we get a 45 minute lunch break. Next we have yet another rehearsal for one hour, and lately we have been having a Flamenco class for one hour. To end the day we have a Modern class for one hour and thirty minutes. Yesterday, I took part in some demonstrations for the BalletMet Dance Academy Open House and was at the studio until 8:30pm! Once my day is over I go home eat some dinner, take a cold shower to refresh myself, then I relax and recharge for the day ahead.

Weeks 1-4 my day still started at 7am and was full of a variety of classes. Instead of long rehearsals, we had set classes like Ballet, Variations, Modern, Corps, and Enrichment, which could be anything from Yoga to Dance History. We get to work with the Artistic staff a lot which is an amazing experience.

I like the Summer Intensive because I get to meet people from all over the country as well as see people from past years. Last weekend I got to have a friend over who I met last year who I became very close friends with because she was moved up into the 5 week program. There wasn't a dorm room open so she spent the week at my house. She came over for a sleepover this year, and we went and saw the Titanic exhibit at COSI, accompanied by one of the other students that is in the intensive who is from Italy!!! After boarding the Titanic we went to Polaris and shopped a bit, came home had dinner and then we took them back to the dorms.

I really enjoy being a local student and having the opportunity to dance in my home studio, but with some different faces.

-Sarah Wilson

Monday, July 19, 2010

Macho Dancing Men

Male dancers have become more and more prominent in society over the past few years. With television shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance?, not to mention blockbuster hits like Step Up, the perception of the male dancer has been reborn. No longer is dance thought of as strictly a feminine art, but as a multi-faceted, strong and athletic art form that requires both a strong mind and body. Because of this, many men who are non-dancers have found that dancing, especially ballet, is a great way to increase strength and flexibility, and help them improve on and off the field.

To prepare for their 2007 season, The Ohio State University football team participated in a yoga class at BalletMet twice a week over the summer. Kirk Barton, an offensive lineman, said that the more flexible he is, the more powerful he can be on the field without risk of injury. “Flexibility is key, you never saw Gumby tear an ACL. Yoga also uses controlled breathing to maintain mental focus, which can be key under pressure,” Kirk said. OSU football coach, Jim Tressel, even took a few fitness classes at BalletMet!

Ohio State isn’t unique in this idea -- the Cleveland Browns players and the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Lynn Swann, are known for their cross training in ballet. They found it gave them more flexibility in their hips and even helped prevent injury! Swann took tap, ballet, and jazz classes as a young man and also while in college. He attributes his athletic skill to the strength he built in dance. "Certain dance movements are fundamental to the movements you need to make in sports. A basketball player can't jump without doing a plie. It may not be graceful and deep with your feet turned out, but it's the same thing,” Swann said (Dance Magazine, Jan. 2004)


But what about male ballet dancers? What sparked their interest in dance at a young age? We asked a few male BalletMet dancers why they began dancing. David Tlaiye, a BalletMet dancer of five years, began dancing when he was 11 years old. “I began dancing because my sister danced and I had to wait for her in the waiting room, leaving me with nothing to do. So I started dancing because I was bored,” David said. He improved at a fast pace, which allowed him to move up into more advanced classes. David was convinced to keep dancing once he realized the advantage of being around ladies all the time.




Jimmy Orrante, a BalletMet dancer of fifteen years, began dancing when he was in high school. “I began dancing to meet girls,” Jimmy said. In fact, Jimmy’s ties to dance led him to his future wife! Former BalletMet dancer and wife of Jimmy, Sonia Welker Orrante, met Jimmy at a BalletMet Summer Intensive Program. BalletMet Academy dancer, Chris Evans, began dancing at age 4 and has studied in the pre-professional program at BalletMet for three years. Read more about Chris’ experience in our post about “How To Become A Professional Dancer". In the future, Chris hopes to dance for a ballet company abroad.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What it means to be a Nonprofit Organization

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Nonprofit (adj.) - not established for the purpose of making a profit; not entered into for money

We hear this word a lot in our community and culture, but what does it really mean to be a nonprofit organization? Well, a whole lot more than a definition can explain.

Let’s break it down:

For-Profit Organization

Goal: generate profit

Organization is run by the owner or a group of shareholders.

Owner and/or shareholders keep the profit.

Non-Profit Organization

Goal: provide a particular service to a community

Organization is run by a board of trustees who have no monetary investment in the organization.

Profit is used to provide the service in which the nonprofit was formed to offer.

Both need to generate profit in order to grow and survive.

What is BalletMet’s particular service to the community?

BalletMet’s mission is to celebrate dance by engaging the community through quality performances, instruction, education programs and creation of new work. We want to share our love of art with others, and hope that they are inspired and entertained by it. It is our hope that people will experience movement and feel a connection – whether it be taking classes, attending shows, or supporting our company.

How does BalletMet engage the community?

BalletMet is actively working to encourage appreciation and participation in the arts in the Columbus community. BalletMet offers reduced ticket prices for schools to attend a “Morning at the Ballet,” and students who may have never seen dance before have the chance to enjoy a performance and learn theatre etiquette. High School students have access to "High 5" tickets available at Kroger, and can buy a ticket to one of our shows for only five dollars!


BalletMet also engages students in dance by providing dance programs in schools. The staff work with teachers to incorporate dance into educational curriculum, and BalletMet Academy students travel to schools in the inner city and all over Columbus to perform. We have special programs such as our Momentum program and Moving into Literacy that engage students in dance and music that encourage wellness, discipline, and education. It is BalletMet’s hope that the public will realize that dance is for everyone, and a love that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

That’s why the Academy provides many dance scholarships for students, especially those that may be underprivileged and wouldn’t normally be able to experience dance. From beginner dance scholarships to scholarships for the Summer Intensive Program, BalletMet strives to make dance available to all who are interested.


If you have any questions about the programs we offer don't hesitate to contact us. We would love to start a program at your school!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I have a feeling we're not in Summer Dance camp anymore...


So what happens when a dancer turns 13 and just a little too old for the fun days of BalletMet's summer dance camp? It's time for the big leagues. As a former dance student myself, I have come to realize just how dedicated dance students are. We're not like a one-season sport that only peaks for a few months; we work year round with few breaks, and even then are usually concerned with losing technique so we pick up a class here and there. When it comes to summer dance students use the break from school to focus fully on their craft.

Around the time a serious dancer turns 12 or 13 they'll begin attending Summer programs, usually called intensives, programs, or studies. And they're not just using the name to sell spots: It is intense. Students will begin their day around 9 a.m., taking various classes with small breaks, not ending the day until 5 p.m. The programs are designed to push a dancer's limits, build endurance, and give students an idea of what a real professional dancing career is like.

These programs are available at dance schools across the country, and BalletMet is fortunate to host a Summer Intensive and a Pre-Professional Intensive. The Summer Intensive is four weeks long, but can be reduced to three weeks for younger students who may be participating for the first time. The Pre-Professional Intensive is tailored towards students on the cusp of a professional career. The great thing about this five-week program, is that students have the chance to be invited to become a part of BalletMet's year-long Pre-Professional program or even receive a trainee position with the company. Every level, from age 12-20, takes classes from a renowned faculty with years of professional dance and teaching experience.

As an intensive student for three years myself, I can honestly say that BalletMet has a fantastic program and truly pushes dancers to their physical and emotional limits. The technique classes are difficult, and I can vividly remember plopping down on the couch when I would get home at the end of the day and feeling like every muscle in my body was sore. But it's about more than just physical improvement. BalletMet focuses on developing you as a dancer in a very holistic manner, mandating classes in yoga, acting, dance history, and even personal safety. Enough about my experience -- hear from Molly Ahler, a student who attended BalletMet's intensive for several summers and has been accepted to the University of Arizona's school of dance.

"I have attended BalletMet’s Pre-Professional Summer Intensive for three summers in a row. BalletMet is such a warm and kind environment. The staff, faculty, and students are all so happy and you feel welcome as soon as you walk through the door. They really have your best interest at heart. The best part about the intensive would be the feedback you get from teachers. They want you to learn and grow as a dancer and individual, which is not something you find everywhere. Every night after I got back to the dorms, I would write down corrections to help me become a better dancer. I had a new notebook every summer to take notes. Everything you learn follows you after you leave the program.
BalletMet helped me grow as a dancer because they know how far they can push your limits. I really liked the fact that the teachers wouldn’t just give you the answer to a problem or correction. You as a student, needed to figure it out on your own. They would help guide you, but they wouldn’t spoon feed you the answer.
The intensive as a whole was incredible. The teachers were hard in class, but positive and had a good sense of humor. You get to take so many different classes and are made to think outside of the box at times.They offer a diverse selection of classes during the intensive as well as night classes. I have recommended it to many friends and some have attended or will be attending the program. I had a blast the summers I attended their intensive and it was a positive learning atmosphere. "

As Molly's testimony proves, BalletMet's Summer Intensive shows results as well. Dancers who have participated in our program are now dancing in schools and companies such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Conservatory, Richmond Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Austin, Ballet West, Butler Ballet, our own Professional company, and more.

To find out more about our programs see the Summer Intensive web site and Facebook page.