Choreography by Nicolo Fonte
Photo by Tony Spielberg
The Magic Flute Rehearsal
Choreography by Stephen Mills
Photo by Tony Spielberg
The Magic Flute opens TONIGHT and runs through this Sunday. If you would like more information, or are interested in purchasing tickets, please click here. We hope to see you at the show!
Aara Krumpe, a Ballet Austin company dancer, reflects on the innovative nature of The Magic Flute, as well as her experience in preparing for it. The production premieres this weekend, May 6-8, at The Long Center.
This weekend will be the world premiere of Stephen Mills’ The Magic Flute. I have worked with Mr. Mills for twelve years now and I think this production is his most complex and elaborate full-length ballet. It has been a very unusual process for the dancers because there are so many elements involved: choreography, music, props, costumes, and of course, the shadow puppets.
In this production I will be dancing the role of Queen of the Night, a strong and powerful woman who is also manipulative and evil. Typically to prepare for a role, I study films and books to develop inspiration for my character. Original ballets, however, are a special treat for the dancers. A simple look or a hand gesture can define a role, and everything is magnified in shadow for this piece, so I restrained myself until Mr. Mills choreographed the ballet in its entirety to decide how to augment his steps with my interpretation of the character.
For the past two weeks, the dancers have rehearsed in the morning at the studios then headed over to the warehouse to work with the scenic elements. The shadow puppets are incredible! The simplicity of light creates a magical world of larger-than-life imagery. Our costumes were designed by Susan Branch-Towne to be very elaborate and distinct so the audience can distinguish which character is in shadow. I particularly love my costume! I have an exquisite dress with an amazing cape and a six-inch-high white wig (which I have yet to rehearse in) created by Allison Lowery.
As we head into the theatre this week, we will add a new element of the ballet with each rehearsal, the most challenging of which will be the music. We have been rehearsing with a recording of the opera but we will dance to an instrumental rendition performed by The Austin Symphony. Although I am anxious about the absence of vocals in such a powerful score, I like that Mr. Mills chose to tell the story primarily through dance.
I am very excited to see this ballet come together! I constantly marvel at Stephen Mills’ vision, and this ballet is shaping up to be a masterpiece. I hope you come to see for yourself!
The Magic Flute – World Premiere
8pm | May 6 & 7
3pm | May 8, Mother’s Day
The Long Center
Ballet Austin’s The Magic Flute hits the stage a little over a week from now (Mother’s Day Weekend, May 6-8), and our production and artistic staffs are hard at work producing all of the elements that will come together to create this innovative, world premiere. Today you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of The Magic Flute, whose scenic elements were masterfully created by local scenic designer, Michael Raiford.
Ballet Austin is working with the New York-based company RoseBrand to develop and produce several sets of “Portals” and “Legs”, which will form the different layers of the scenery. Portals hang in front of the background, which in our case is created by rear-projection of images, and help frame the scenery. Legs are similar to your standard “wings” on a stage, and in the case of The Magic Flute, form tree patterns. You can see the way all the elements come together in the rendering below!
RoseBrand creates these scenic elements through a system known as “precision cutting.” In other words, they receive electronic images or patterns of what each element should look like, and then they are created and cut out with a laser. You can see a life-size version of Portal #1 below:
After the portals are printed and cut out, they are mounted onto mesh to make them more sturdy and prevent them from tearing during use. Below is part of Portal #2, the grey vines. This portal was actually produced in TWO parts, which will hang side by side, to make future traveling, storage and touring easier.
Separate elements have also been designed and created for different parts of the production. You can see the changing stage scenery in the renderings below. As the creator of The Magic Flute, Ballet Austin owns all of the scenic elements, allowing us to store them for future productions, rent to other ballet companies and possibly tour to other cities!
Note: All image credit, including those of the Rosebrand workshop and the stage drawings / renderings, is given to Michael Raiford. Mr. Raiford, a local scenic designer, created all of the scenic elements for The Magic Flute. You may view a Flickr portfolio of his work here.
Video courtesy of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Check out this little sneak peek video of Nicolo Fonte’s Lasting Imprint from when he created it on Cedar Lake Contemporary ballet. In the video, Nicolo also discusses some of the thinking behind the work. We will perform this work as part of the upcoming Studio Theater Project!
For Tickets and more information about the Studio Theater Project, click here.
When discussions began at Ballet Austin about relocating from our longtime home in an historic firehouse near the University of Texas campus, there were countless motivations at play. One of the paramount goals was to house all of the things we do – our Academy, our open Butler Community School classes, the professional Company, and the artistic and administrative staffs – under one roof. And when the leadership and Board of Ballet Austin located a former printing warehouse in the heart of a burgeoning entertainment district in downtown Austin, they knew that this building could not only meet that goal, but that it also had the potential bring dance to a much wider audience in Austin.
At that point, though, it was still just a warehouse with the lingering scent of printing ink. So we enlisted the help of the architect Marla Bommarito and the Bommarito Group to help transform an industrial space into one that could accommodate the many facets of Ballet Austin. Marla and her team laid out a plan that included cutting many windows into the exterior walls, as well as building studios with windows to the corridors in the building. This makes for an environment in which, no matter where you are in the building, you can see dance happening at all times of the day. On top of that, the plan included a 287-seat theater, offices, and wonderful public spaces. Out of this plan, and the generous donations of hundreds of Ballet Austin supporters, the Butler Dance Education Center was born.
As proud as we are of our building, we did not have a way to show the life of the building to those who haven’t had a chance to visit. And as much as we love the beautiful pictures we have, we wanted movement. So we enlisted the help of longtime friends and collaborators, photographer and director of photography Andrew Yates of Andrew Yates Photography and Beef and Pie productions along with editor Ariel Quintans of Beast Editorial, to produce a video that shows the life of the spaces that we are fortunate enough to inhabit every day. Although I am of course biased, I think the result is incredible. Check out the video above for a virtual tour of our downtown Austin home, the Butler Dance Education Center.
In our last installment of the La Sylphide video blog series before the performances this weekend, Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin talked to us about August Bournonville’s penchant for lavish storytelling in his ballets. And La Sylphide is one of his shining examples, one of the greatest and oldest surviving Romantic classical ballets. See you at the theater this weekend!
For Tickets and more information about La Sylphide, click here.
“In recent years, women’s collections have included lightweight wrap cotton sweaters, leather ballet flats, skirts made from shredded fabric, feathered skirts and gowns with jeweled bodices — all of which are fashion staples for professional ballet dancers,” says fashion writer Marques Harper. His feature in today’s Austin American-Statesman Life & Arts section centers on the influence of ballet in current women’s and children’s fashion, due in part, he says, to the popularity of the Oscar-nominated Black Swan.
Marques explored this connection by visiting with Ballet Austin Company dancer Aara Krumpe and Wardrobe Assistant Emily Cavasar (both pictured in the gorgeous photo above that ran with the article). He dropped in and photographed a fitting for Aara’s costume for her principal role as the sylph in our upcoming production of La Sylphide. Click here to read the complete article.
Learn more about our production of La Sylphide through our interactive micro-site, including the history of the ballet, artist profiles, rehearsal video and more.
Click here to explore the interactive!
Four our second installment in the La Sylphide video blog series, we sat down with Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Company Dancer Paul Michael Bloodgood, who will dance the principal role of James, to discuss the challenging and beautiful characteristics of the Bournonville style of choreography.
For Tickets and more information about La Sylphide, click here.