Finding fun activities to do, not to mention working out, can be incredibly challenging now that the temps in our great state have reached triple digits. So we’d like to invite you to stop by Ballet Austin this Sunday to beat the heat and catch a movie with us in our AustinVentures StudioTheater. We are partnering up with Austin Film Festival once again to bring you the second installment of our summer Dance Film series. This Sunday, at 3pm, we are screening The Company. $10 not only gets you in the door for the movie, but ALSO gets you access to one of our incredibly popular Ballet Fit classes (my personal favorite) directly following the show. Interested? Scroll down for more information on The Company, Ballet Fit and Sunday’s instructor and new Ballet Austin Company member, Elise Pekarek.
The Company (2003):
Through a tale composed of true accounts, Director Robert Altman (“M.A.S.H.”, “The Player”) brings us an intimate look at the intense lives of ballet performers at the Chicago Ballet Company. Allowing freedom from tightly scripted dialogue, Altman elicits genuine performances from his cast. This, along with a plot comprised from real-life stories, gives “The Company” such an authenticity as it reveals to us the lives of those who endure the pressures of ballet and performance art.
Ballet Fit incorporates a variety of ballet-inspired movements to improve flexibility and balance, and also strengthen, lengthen and tone muscles. This class is focused on fitness and fun. By integrating classical ballet movements with additional exercises such as crunches and push-ups, Ballet Fit will promote overall toning, help reduce weight, increase muscle strength and flexibility, improve coordination and posture and firm target areas. This is a class for dancers and non-dancers alike. No previous ballet experience is required. Wear workout clothing and ballet shoes or socks. Resistance bands used in some classes are provided during class.
Elise Pekarek, Instructor and 2011/12 Company member:
Originally from the Chicago area, Elise began her ballet training with Judith Svalander in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Elise attended summer programs at Ballet Austin and Pacific Northwest Ballet, and in 2007 was accepted into Ballet Austin’s Trainee Program. Elise spent two seasons as a Trainee, followed by two seasons as an apprentice in Ballet Austin II. She was recently invited to join the Company for the 2011/12 Season. Elise teaches classes for Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School and Pilates studio.
This is the first in a four-part blog series about our annual Summer Intensive program. This week we wanted to give you a run-down on how the program works, as well as why it is so valuable – both to us and the dancers which attend. Please check back each Thursday to see more behind-the-scenes coverage including day-in-the-life features, as well as posts by our artistic directors regarding their processes. We hope you enjoy!
Starting next Monday, our halls will be overrun with nearly 300 ballet dancers who will arrive for the first leg of our nationally-recognized Summer Intensive. Ranging in age from 9-22, these serious ballet students are split into either the Senior or Junior Summer Intensive programs depending on their age.
The Summer Intensive program is the culmination of an annual 30-city audition tour which takes place the winter prior to the program. This year, we are so pleased to welcome students from 36 states and 4 different countries into our home!
Summer Intensive is incredibly important to both ballet students and our company. Whether students stay for three weeks or six, they leave the program having greatly improved their skills and technical abilities. Aside from this obvious benefit, however, the program also allows our own artistic staff to select students for our Ballet Austin II Apprentice and Trainee programs. The three and six-week programs allow us to observe the students’ work ethics and styles, ensuring our ability to select dancers who be a great match with our company.
Over half of the current professional Company dancers have been through BAII – a program where dancers come and live year-round and work in-residence at our studios. Dancers may only stay in BAII for a maximum of two years, after which they may be invited to join our Company, or otherwise will move somewhere else to continue their career development.
Summer Intensive 2011 starts this Monday, and we cannot wait to meet everybody! Check back next week for a day-in-the-life feature of one of the participants!
For more information the program, please click here. See you next week everyone!
Ballet Austin also received nominations for Kai, La Sylphide and Studio Theater Project. To read more about the Austin Critics’ Table Award Nominations and to see the full list of nominees and categories, please click here.
As Community Education Director at Ballet Austin, enhancing the education and experience involved with our productions is number one on my list. There is so much more to learn about one of our ballets beyond just seeing it on opening night. This is why I love being in the studio when the dancers are rehearsing – it is an awe-inspiring experience! Better yet is when Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin share the history and context of the work, and how it came to be. Not everyone is lucky enough to get the chance to experience this except during Studio Spotlight, a rehearsal that is open to the public the week before we head to the theater to open the show.
During Studio Spotlight for The Magic Flute, you’ll not only see the dancers up-close and personal, you’ll also get a behind-the-scenes look at the costumes, which are really intricate and fantastic, and the shadow work, which lends a mystical air to the entire production.
Stephen and Michelle will be on-hand to answer questions and to tell a bit about the process of creating the ballet, and they’ll also be happy to answer your questions about the work and about ballet in general.
Sign up now if you haven’t already! You’ll be completely amazed!
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.
We just finished planning for this Saturday’s dance workshop and we are so excited for attendees to get a sneak peek at all of the elements that make our world premiere of The Magic Flute so uniquely special!
During the workshop, which explores the art of making a ballet from an opera, we will show how the giant-scale shadow puppets work in conjunction with the choreography – something that requires quite a bit of challenging coordination among everyone involved! We’ll also be revealing the whimsical costumes for the production’s most colorful characters such as the Queen of the Night and some of the animals. Since several of these costumes are still a work in progress, this costume preview will be even more exciting and exclusive for attendees.
Best of all, attendees will get to work with dancers to create their own ballet productions at the end of the workshop – they’ll choose who choreographs, designs sets and designs costumes, and when they put it all together, they’ll show their new ballet production to the entire audience!
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!
On Wednesday, October 27, the Austin Film Festival will play host to the Austin premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-centered thriller, Black Swan. Here’s how the festival describes the film:
“Visionary director Aronofsky, takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.”
Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills will introduce the most talked about film of the festival in front of what is sure to be a packed house. There is already Oscar buzz around this film, so it’s certainly a must-see if you can secure yourself a ticket or an Austin Film Festival pass.
You can find more info about the film and the festival on the Austin Film Festival’s site.
The Red Shoes is one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films, and the legendary director recently sponsored a full restoration of this Oscar-winning cinema classic. We’ve teamed up with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for a special screening—the first public showing of the restored film—at the Alamo South Lamar this Thursday, August 5 at 7 pm. The event is complete with a four-course themed meal with wine pairings presented by Executive chef Trish Eichelberger and an after-party at the always entertaining Highball. And best of all, all proceeds benefit Ballet Austin!
Tickets are $75. Click here to purchase and for more info.