Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Channel Your Inner-Rockstar!

It’s the opening night for your new tour. You’re standing on stage with jitters in your stomach with a microphone inches away from your lips. The curtains draw and beaming light warms your face and blinds your eyes as thousands of people begin to cheer and scream your name. Now close your eyes and take it all in…

Now open your eyes! What rockstar are you?

I performed this exercise and the vision was clear. I am Christina Aguilera. I suppose she's more of a diva-singer-songwriter-pop-icon-extraordinaire, but that falls under the “rockstar” category, right? Christina's Jeanie in a Bottle was my first CD (in the fifth grade!) and ever since “Reflection” from Mulan, I was sold on her for life.

Wouldn’t it be great to live the rockstar life? (Even if only for one night!) BalletMet has a fantastic opportunity for you. We like to say it’s comparable to a Grammy’s after party because all the big stars will be there, hopefully including you!

This Saturday night, Feb. 27 is BalletMet's DANCE WITH THE DANCERS TOUR 2010 at the Lifestyles Community Pavilian. It's a night of amazing food, drinks, auctions, BalletMet's dancers, surprises, and most importantly we’re rolling out the red carpet for you: Lady GaGa, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, or whoever you may be.

“This might just be the best people watching experience of the year,” Barbara Markus, BalletMet's Assistant Development Director and party-planning-mastermind said. She's heard rumors that Beyonce, Jay-Z, Cher, and a few Madonnas will be in attendance.

A special feature of the night is the DJ, Mark Dantzer from Mix 107.9. Despite changing the location of the event every year, which Barbara said is a big party-planning no-no, Mark has always been there to be “the voice of the event.”

Only having a minimal budget, BalletMet relies on dedicated co-chairs, including Stacy Lily, Ashley Curl, and Elisa McCurdy to do the planning. Many businesses also make this sixth annual dance party both possible and successful.

More than $15 thousand in food was donated by local good-eats including: Made From Scratch, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Old Bag of Nails, Jeni's Ice Cream, Eggfast, Rusty Bucket, Bakery Gringham, and Spinelli's Deli.

To top that, the valued $50 thousand of auction items, ranging from dream vacations, gift cards, behind-the-scenes tours, tickets, and more, are 100 percent donated. Bid online now.

BalletMet expects 350 star guests and the funds raised support us in a variety of ways, from paying the water bill, to paying staff and dancers, and to supporting outreach and educational programs, Barbara said.

“It’s not sexy, but it’s what we have to do,” Barbara said. “What’s great is that it’s an opportunity for individuals to really make a difference.”

BalletMet is very grateful for our donors and party-goers that are willing to step up for a good cause, Barbara said.

Click here to order your event tickets.

Our sponsors for the event include: Hamilton Capital Management, AEP, Chaddock and Associates, Columbus Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery, Ernst & Young, and State Auto.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thoughts on Temporal and Midsummer

Temporal defined: not eternal; of or relating to the physical world.

The title Temporal matches the piece of work perfectly. Temporal opens with drums like heartbeats permeating through my veins and beating on my soul. My eyes pull toward the glowing moon hovering over the gold, glistening natives, who don’t know I’m watching from above the clouds. The sky and the earth meet right before my eyes.

One word: hot. A mix of sizzling red, orange, and yellow light glows from the ground. Beads of sweat drip from their faces and sleek bodies. Their fiery stares and sensual partnering leaves you wanting more.

They swivel like praying mantises waiting to strike. They lunge like primates pressing into the earth. They circle like aborigines in a ritual, tribal dance celebrating life. They intertwine like lovers, passionate for one another.

Their sizzling vigor, impeccable technique, and incredible extensions leave me in awe. The 30-minute piece shifts from place to place. I can’t tell if I’m in Africa, Asia, or the Middle-East, which reflects the multi-cultural dance training of Ma Cong, the choreographer, who somehow merges it all together. It amazes me that they’re wearing pointe shoes with their shifting of weight and off balance moves.

In-tune with physicality and the earthy world, the night takes a sharp transition into a polar-opposite work, Midsummer, which lives in the realm of fantasy.

Unlike Temporal which is very contemporary, Midsummer is the epitome of a classical ballet. Strict gender roles, theatrical elements, and storyline with specific characters make the pieces very different. (It definitely shows off the versatility of our dancers!)

I’m very drawn into the storyline, which is surprising because of my lacking knowledge of Shakespeare. (Sorry British literature enthusiasts and my high school English teacher!)

Puck is making me laugh somewhat embarrassingly loud. His veracity and unrelenting energy reminds me of a 5-year-old boy who drank a gallon of mountain dew. The two couples’ struggles are quite complicated and entertaining. Titiana really shines along with her crew of beautiful fairies in shimmering attire. Oberon's attitude gives me a real sense of his personality.

Overall, the piece was magnificent and brilliantly done and even my date, a non-dancer, wanted to go and see it again. I would highly recommend braving the snow to come see this show. You won’t regret it! I ensure your valentine will enjoy it as well! ;)

Click here to purchase tickets.

Happy Valentine's Day from BalletMet!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Midsummer for Dummies 101

I’m going to start this post off by sharing a little secret(Drum Roll) I didn’t pay any attention to Shakespeare whatsoever in high school.

If this sounds like you, definitely keep reading. We’re in the same boat.

If you were a teacher’s pet and absolutely adored Shakespeare then also keep reading to laugh at my expense and to give you a little refresher on the barebones of the story. (Although I’m sure you don’t need it…)

So back to me: My experience with Shakespeare went a little like this…

Interaction 1:
In middle school, theatre was what all the cool kids did and I wasn’t a “cool” kid (apparently). They did A Midsummer Night’s Dream and they were intolerably proud of themselves, so I went to the show with high expectations. It certainly was a comedy, but not in the way it was intended. Do I remember the funny story? No. Do I remember everyone in tights and fairy costumes blabbering in bad English accents? Yes. I wish I’d taken pictures so I could put them up on Facebook.

Interaction 2:
I didn’t come back in contact with Shakespeare until high school. By then, I’d realized that was my friend, so reading it really wasn’t a requirement, but more like a suggestion. My thoughts about Macbeth obviously had no impression on me whatsoever.

Interaction 3:
During the next year of high school I realized that sonnets are actually pretty cool. Even if half of the words are no longer or never were in the English language, I still appreciated it.

Interaction 4:
Now senior year is what really left a bad taste in my mouth with Shakespeare. My closest experience to Shakespeare was “acting out” Julius Caesar in my theatre class. Mind you, I didn’t sign up for this class and I was severely intimidated by my teacher. I got in trouble for stumbling over words. I got in trouble for pausing too long. I got in trouble for pretty much about everything in that class, especially being late, but that’s not really Shakespeare related. Anyway, one day, my character had to stab Caesar. I’m not a really “stab Caesar” kind of person and of course, I wasn’t doing it right. After failing to stab Caesar properly, I kind of gave up on Shakespeare.

BUT – I’m making an exception for Midsummer and if you’re not the biggest Shakespeare fan, so should you!

The Story:
Here’s a short intro to the story in 21st century layman’s terms.

The main plot follows two sets of couples (Hermia & Lysander and Helena & Demetrius), who have difficult love affairs. Their romances are further complicated after entering the enchanted forest where Oberon, King of the Fairies and his Queen, Titania live among the fairies. Oberon’s servant named Puck is an ornery kid playing tricks on everyone and he’s a main character in the story. Other visitors to the forest include Bottom and some of his friends who want to rehearse their play Pyramus and Thisbe.

It’s a complex story of love where reality crosses into the out-of-control world of fantasy. In the end, true love triumphs…

To learn more, you’ll have to come see the show. Now that you have this basis, you shouldn’t be too lost in following the story.

Midsummer Fun Facts:
-A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written and performed between the years 1595 and 1600.

-The setting for the comedy is in Athens, Greece.

-Midsummer in England was June 24, which was the feast of John the Baptist. It was alleged
that on Midsummer night all the fairies and witches held their festival.

-The number of spoken words in the play is 17,200. (Luckily, remember, this is a dance show, so we don’t have to hear all those!)

In Elizabethan times, boys and men played all the parts in Shakespeare’s plays.

Food for Thought:
(Or more like quotes for thought)

“The course of true love never did run smooth”
–Lysander tells Hermia that true love is never perfect and that all lovers have troubles.

“I’ll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes.”
-Puck tells how fast he went to fetch the magical flower.

“My heart is true as steel”
-Helena explains her feelings for Demetrious.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
-Puck comments on the trials and tribulations of Helena, Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius.

“My Oberon! What visions have I seen! Methought I was enamoured of an ass.”
-Titania’s first words after she awakes from her love-charm.

I'm seeing the show tonight! I hope to see you there.

A Time to Dance

BalletMet collaborated with Ministry in Motion Ohio Worship Arts, a Columbus community-based worship and performing arts organization to host a liturgical dance workshop and showcase open to the community this past weekend.

The 51 participants were a diverse group with different levels of dance experience with varying denominations. There was a melting-pot of ethnicities and ages with dancers as young as 13 and as old as in their 70s. (It’s definitely my new aspiration in life to be still dancing when I’m in my 70s!)

The day began for participants with a morning devotion and prayer. Following this was a variety of dance classes: modern taught by BalletMet instructor Maria Glimcher, ballet taught by BalletMet’s Katy Tombaugh Henn, jazz taught by Mariah Layne French from XClaim Dance, a local faith-based dance company, flag worship taught by Rochelle Pitts from God’s Glory Dance Ministry, and finally a choreography class taught by BalletMet’s Director of Education, Ambre Emory-Maier.

Ambre, who coordinated the event, described the workshop atmosphere as “uplifting and positive.” The participants were eager to learn and to be in the company of other like-minded people who love to dance, she said.

After the day’s work, the participants prepared for their time to take the stage in the evening’s showcase in the BalletMet performance space, where Ambre was stage and production manager.
The proceeds from the showcase, which totaled to $277, were “love donations” from the audience. These funds were donated to the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus for Haiti aid.

In all there were 9 dances with varied music from contemporary rock, gospel, classical, Latin-inspired, and even a live, original song. The costumes were of simple, conservative dress with an emphasis on the color, which hold important religious and spiritual meanings.

A special feature of the performance was a pas de deux performed by BalletMet trainees Monica Giragosian and Emelio Lugo. The piece entitled Bach Cantata #10 was choreographed by Michael Uthoff, Artistic and Executive Director of Dance St. Louis.

This is BalletMet’s third year hosting this event and it’s an event that Ambre looks forward to every year because of the community outreach. Often, liturgical dancers never get the opportunity to dance in a large space with mirrors and perform on a stage, she said.

“We see a need within the community that we’re trying to meet,” she said. “By offering our facility and dance expertise participants begin to know BalletMet. By doing this type of program we’re not making a statement about religion, but rather building a partnership for which all can learn.”

Ministry in Motion’s founder Lorii Williams Wallace describes the workshop as a “wonderful partnership” that fosters both personal growth and fellowship with others. It’s a great opportunity for members of the community to get dance training from professional dancers, she said.

After dancing for many years Lorii started Ministry in Motion to use dance as a means to “unite people, to heal, to develop others, and to create wonderful visions by bringing the words in the Bible to life.” Since then, the organization has worked with over 100 churches, dance companies, and organizations.

Click here to learn more about Ministry in Motion's upcoming events and how to get involved.