Archives for posts with tag: ballet

Last night, after a tiny work happy hour with non-arts-related coworkers, I headed downtown to catch VelocityDC at the Sydney-Harman Hall.

The first thing I noticed about the overall setting was the energy. Even while standing in line for will call, the audience was buzzing. They were in a wide range of casual to “evening” wear. They were a wide range of ages. But they were all excited.

As I walked into the theater  right before 8:00 pm, the energy just popped up another level. I was expecting my usual pre-show habit: to awkwardly waddle around people to my seat, sit down, adjust my jacket and purse, and then peruse the program for titles and piece notes.

Instead, a DJ was spinning soul and Urban Artistry was performing for and with the crowd. The audience was clapping to the beat. There were lots of cat calls and “woo-woos!” coming from everywhere. I didn’t get a chance to look at the program, but I didn’t mind. I was immediately ushered into the performance, rather than into a piece of paper previewing the performance.

After an almost stand-up-ish intro from Dance/MetroDC Director Peter DiMuro, (could the whole night be more of a revue, with more comedy and singing and DJs?) we were sped right into a full evening of diverse dances that forced me to live in the moment.

So from here, I’d like to summarize what I learned – from a choreographer’s prospective – in seeing these pieces from the second row.

Edwin Aparicio

  • Live music is awesome.
  • Precision and rhythm is so impressive.
  • Colorful footwear is badass.
  • Give the audience breaks in high-powered energy with changes in pace and intensity.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company

  • Lighting can be a powerful partner in a solo.
  • You don’t necessarily need a face to see emotion.
  • Arms and hands can lead movement and still look technically “difficult.”

Dr. Janaki Rangarajan

  • Really, really subtle eye movement translates to the audience! (Well, at least to the second row.)
  • Just like with Edwin Aparicio’s flamenco, feet can be a powerful percussion instrument.

The Washington Ballet

Corey Landolt flexes some muscle for the Washington Ballet.

It's possible Corey Landolt's whole "look" (physique, tattoos, painter overalls, scruffy face) is the most redeeming thing about "High Lonesome." Yum.

I feel like I should preface this and say I heart the Washington Ballet so much. I love them because they’re local, they’re expressive, they’re beautiful (of course) and they’re fantastic storytellers. So, the reason I didn’t really like this Trey McIntyre piece was because it took away the dancers’ expressions and had a weak, try-too-hard-to-find-a-story story.

So, here are the “mean” things I learned:

  • Pointe shoes do not work to rock music. (Too heavy!)
  • Beck is not dance-friendly music. (Too slow!)
  • The Washington Ballet has a great costume closet with lots of random white clothes (guessing here).

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

Another caveat: I cried the hardest at the end of this piece than I ever have before watching dance. And I tear up quite a bit.

  • Diversity is beautiful.
  • Simple shades of one color is a great, quick costume for an ensemble.
  • Repeated “pedestrian” movements are very powerful when they are repeated in different themes with different people in different numbers.
  • Looking the audience in the eye is a powerful emotional tool.

CityDance Ensemble

  • Bootay looks awesome peeking out of shorts on both men and women (professional-dance quality men and women, obviously).
  • Making an abstract movement-focused piece’s intention clear in the program notes is extremely helpful.
  • Yummy modern dance extensions that feel SO GOOD as a dancer can also look really well-done on stage.
  • I want to see them more.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet

  • You know, sometimes the forgotten works of Balanchine should remain forgotten. (Yikes! I am mean to the ballet choreography today!)
  • Ballet music does not make for a good show closer for such a high-energy evening.

There’s one more VelocityDC performance tonight, and especially at the $18 price tag, there’s no excuse not to go.

(I actually paid almost as much for parking as much as I did for my ticket. I’m not sure which message is stronger: This is an awesome dance ticket price, or parking is way too ridiculously expensive.)

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Look at these cut, strong, ferocious, masculine (basically, just incredibly sexy) ballet dancers of the Washington Ballet.

Photography by Steve Vaccariello. Courtesy of tWB’s Facebook page.

Brooklyn Mack by Steve Vaccariello

Dylan Ward by Steve VaccarielloLuis R. Torres by Steve Vaccariello

Emma & Melissa at Sofitel

Last night, my sister waltzed her way into town from college and we sashayed to the Washington Ballet’s Jeté Society happy hour.

(She let me wear a really cute green dress of hers. She’s a good sister.)

I was excited for the happy hour for a couple of reasons:

  1. It was a swanky event (chance to wear a cute dress)
  2. There was the chance to meet dancers and/or directors (I heart Septime Weber)
  3. I could network with D.C. dance enthusiasts

The night started off well when the doorman at the Sofitel was impressed with my pronunciation of jeté (spoken like a true gal who only took French in high school because of her history with ballet). We only had to stand awkwardly by ourselves with our glasses of wine – trying to decide how and with whom to network – for a few minutes before a gentleman started talking to us.

Then one of my friends showed up. Then the gentleman closest to us joined our conversation. Pretty soon, we were the happening-est table at the happy hour.

While I never glimpsed dancers nor directors (I don’t blame them – it’s their off-season!), a couple of my jokes fell flat (“Well, you guys know that Balanchine, amirite?!”), and it pretty quickly became clear that a few of the gentleman were there for eye candy rather than to contribute to ballet talk (“So did you see their Genius3 program? No? Great Gatsby? No? Oh, the Nutcracker… cool…”), it was still quite a graceful evening.

I have a ballet crush on the Washington Ballet as a whole. They’re the first ballet company I’ve seen with a really quality, fun-loving personality onstage. I’ve been a subscriber for almost two years now and I think maybe it’s time to bump up my support by becoming a member of the Jeté Society. After all, I love swanky parties and rubbing elbows with artistes!

Yes, you read that right. A ballet.

I’m fairly recent to the Phish scene and fairly far away from the ballet scene. But as I was driving home from dance class last night, car-dancing to my favorite Phish jam so far – from “Harry Hood” to “Antelope” at their 12/05/2009 John Paul Jones Arena performance – I realized “Harry Hood” is the perfect ballet vehicle.

I could picture it all perfectly. I heard where the pas de deux started. I heard where corps de ballet came in. There’s a couple solos at varying paces for the lead ballet dancers. There is this fabulous gradual build-up and a chaotic, explosive conclusion.

I’ve been interested in choreographing to a jam band song for a while now. This song, specifically, is not right for a modern piece or even jazz-y choreography. It’s right for a ballet, no joke.

Here’s one version of Phish’s Harry Hood. What do you think? Ballet-worthy?