As Ballet Austin’s 2010/11 season draws closer to an end, we dancers are actually busier than ever before. Not only are we rehearsing for The Magic Flute, set to premiere May 6th during Mother’s Day Weekend, but Ballet Austin II is also excitedly preparing to once again perform Thang Dao’s Quiet Imprint at the Hobby Center in Houston, Texas this weekend.
Quiet Imprint, set to live music performed by Khanh Ly, tells the story of the many Vietnamese that were displaced during the Vietnam War. Dao created the piece on Ballet Austin II last season. After a great response from not only Ballet Austin patrons but also the Vietnamese community, we were fortunate enough to perform it again last October.
I had the honor of being part of the original cast of Quiet Imprint and saw it evolve from an idea into the inspirational and moving piece that it has become. When Thang Dao first created this work, we spent eight weeks of intensive work-shopping trying tons of different choreographic material – most of which did not even make the final cut – and becoming comfortable with Dao’s movement quality. Conversely, when the ballet was reset on the new members of Ballet Austin II this season, we only spent about a month preparing. Our focus shifted to joining dancers from the original cast with those who were completely new to the choreography and, from there, learning how to make the movement flow as if it had been created specifically for this new cast.
This time, we’ve only had roughly two weeks to rehearse for our performance in Houston. Originally, we were all a little nervous about taking such a long break from this material and then performing it for a whole new audience in such a short amount of time. However, rehearsals have been going much smoother than I could have ever anticipated. In fact, it is almost as if we never stopped rehearsing the piece. The choreography has become ingrained in our bodies, and there is even a new life being brought to steps I though I had already mastered. For example, while working with one of my close friends, Kody Jauron, we danced a partnering section almost effortlessly, despite the same material being challenging to coordinate back in October.
Even with a short amount of time to prepare, Ballet Austin II is eagerly looking forward to this weekend’s performances. It is so exciting to not only tour and bring this piece to a new audience, but to also return to a work that helped to bond our group early in the season.
To read more on Ballet Austin’s previous performance of Quiet Imprint, please click here.
So far in this bird series, I have shown you how the tutu base is finished for wear and how the bodice fronts are patterned and feathered. Today we will be looking at patterning the tail piece with the tutu that will be worn by Emily Cloyd as our example.
I first assembled the tutu onto the dress form according to the dancer’s measurements and attach the feathered front.
For patterning, we like to use this plastic sheeting that is similar to a plastic party tablecloth. It is durable, flexible, see-through and easier to work with than other patterning mediums.
This is a basic pattern for the bird tail that was created earlier. You can clearly see all the notes I have taken on it through the different drafts I made. I will lay a clean sheet of pattern plastic on top to trace and create a rough draft for Emily’s tutu based on this.
After I have cut the pattern draft, I will apply it to the tutu to see where I need to make changes that are specific to this dancer and the shape of her costume.
Now that I have checked this draft and made the appropriate notes, I will make a final draft of the pattern and then cut the fabric.
Please check in next week for the assemblage of the tail and not long after that I will share with you the big reveal of all our lovely birds!
As a precursor to this weekend’s Ballet Austin II performance of Red Roses, I was asked to give insight on the production and preparation process. As a dancer in this production, I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to dance in a ballet that is so highly praised by audiences and to be in a piece that has had such an impact to the history of Ballet Austin.
Red Roses is one of Ballet Austin’s most beloved and highly acclaimed pieces of choreography in their repertoire. Being the very first ballet set on the company by Artistic Director Stephen Mills, this ballet also has a strong and prevailing history with the company.
Red Roses features the music of the internationally renowned French star, Edith Piaf. Her timeless music is prized for its transcendent qualities and ability to inspire heart-wrenching, powerful emotions despite being written in her native French. Both Mills’ choreography and Piaf’s voice work in tandem to create a strong relationship between the dancers. Through the dancing and the music, the audience is surrounded by an endearing love that is alive and everlasting.
The ballet also touches other emotions and stages of relationships, however, by pairing blissful couples with the quarreling. Stephen Mills explained to us that by doing this, the ballet is exploring the yin and yang quality to love.
I am very excited to be dancing as the fighting couple alongside my good friend, Sarah Hicks. Though our offstage relationship is far from violent, it has been especially enjoyable flipping, twisting, kicking and pushing each other in rehearsals for the past few weeks! It is also incredibly helpful that our rehearsal director, Allisyn Paino, previously danced in this role. With her experience in this part, she’s given numerous suggestions to help make the partnering happen more smoothly and to refine the theatricality of the fight scene. She has also been especially focused on making sure the violent looking choreography is actually safe for Sarah and myself.
Outside of this particular scene, I find myself also wrapped up in the powerful music and choreography that flows throughout Red Roses. The charisma of each individual couple charms audiences as many facets of love and romance are presented to them. Lovers and dreamers of all ages will be able to relate to the characters in this ballet. Whether you are deeply in love, searching for true love or even at odds with a significant other, I know that Red Roses will leave an excellent, everlasting impression.
Red Roses The AustinVentures StudioTheater
8 PM | April 9
3 PM | April 10
For more information and tickets to the show, please visit the Ballet Austin website.
When last we left off, I was waiting for the tutu skirts. They’re here!
They are currently all hanging in the gondola (a big wardrobe box we use for storing and transporting costumes) with their bodices.
They do not arrive fully completed. We will finish and shape them as needed.
My next step is to have fittings with each dancer and mark where her hooks and bars will be placed on the skirt basque (the upper part of the tutu skirt with no tulle) as well as the placement of the buttons which will attach to the tutu bodice. The example below is the tutu that will be worn by dancer Rebecca Johnson.
Next week, I will start patterning the tail pieces, which will be pretty complicated, but I am excited for the challenge!
On April 9th and 10th, Ballet Austin II is proud to present its performance of Red Roses at Austin Ventures Studio Theater, choreographed by artistic director Stephen Mills. Recently nominated for an Austin Critic’s Table Award for Best Ensemble, the program also includes premieres by Jennifer Hart, winner of Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s choreographic competition and Nick Kepley, winner of Canton Ballet’s choreographic competition.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here! April 9th performance is at 8pm; April 10th performance is at 3pm.
Currently, my major project in the costume shop is to build the six birds for The Magic Flute. These photo blogs I am keeping will follow my construction of the bird below, which will be worn by dancer Michelle Thompson.
I will use the rendering by designer Susan Branch to build the bird. The base is a teardrop shaped tutu and I am making the feathered front and tail to go on it.
After a fitting, the inside structure of the tutu bodice is finished out. The white elastics will eventually connect to the skirt.
The bodice is put on a dress form and covered in clear plastic for drafting a pattern.
The pattern for the feathered front piece is finished. The solid, pink line is the finish line for the piece.
The bodice front piece is cut out of three layers of fabric and will be covered in feathers.
Curious to see how the bodice turns out? I’ll have more for you next week!
Words and photos by Emily Cavasar, Wardrobe Assistant and Shoe Manager.
In part 1 of Studio Theater Project‘s video blog, Stephen Mills talk about his upcoming work Luminaria featuring the music of Jordi Savall. Luminaria makes its Austin Premiere at Ballet Austin’s Studio Theater Project March 25 – April 3, 2011 at the AustinVentures StudioTheater. Check out the video!
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.
Get a glimpse of Ballet Austin behind the scenes and read more about our upcoming performances, as well as get an inside look into the lives of company dancers and Artistic Director and Choreographer Stephen Mills.