Behind Ballet Austin
Posts Tagged ‘Ballet Austin II’
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Kody Jauron, “Hansel”, lets us in on why Hansel and Gretel isn’t your mother’s fairy tale.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the creation of Hansel and Gretel! Working with choreographer Nelly van Bommel has been an enjoyable and memorable experience. Nelly is whimsical, playful, theatrical, and innovative. Her sprightly personality is reflected in the choreography of this production, the theatricality she built into each individual character, and the fantasy world that she invented.
This is not your mother’s Hansel and Gretel. For starters, the story takes place in the 1950s. Hansel and Gretel are not expelled from their house because their parents cannot afford to feed them; instead, the two run away from home after accidentally breaking their mother’s most prized possession; her vacuum. Children can also look forward to a newcomer to the story, the forest fairy!
Perfect for the entire family, Hansel and Gretel has something for everyone. Kids will enjoy the fun-loving characters and seeing a familiar fairy tale translated on stage. Adults will appreciate the cutting edge choreography and unique movement quality.
This is definitely a Hansel and Gretel you won’t forget.
Get tickets to Hansel and Gretel here.
Monday, September 19th, 2011
Returning Ballet Austin II dancer, Sarah Hicks, performing in Quiet Imprint. Photo by Tony Spielberg.
Five new dancers are leaping into Ballet Austin II this fall! Sara Hays, Kody Jauron, Nicole Voris, Mandy Wenk and Benjamin Wetzel will all be a part of the apprenticeship program for the 2011/12 Season. They will be joining the ranks of Ballet Austin II veteran members Sarah Britton (Hicks), Whitley Saffron and Daniella Zlatarev who are all returning for their second season. To learn more about the second company, read their bios here.
These dancers have a lot to look forward to this season, and so does their audience. They will first be taking their talents on tour as they travel to Orange County, California to debut Quiet Imprint, a work by New America Talent/Dance winner (2006) Thang Dao. This production is critically acclaimed, earning nominations for Best Ensemble and Best Choreographer from the Austin Critic’s Table. The performances of Quiet Imprint will be held at the Rose Center Theater in Westminster, California on October 8-9. The dancers will then be back in Austin to perform Peter and the Wolf. This whimsical spin on the classic Russian fairytale, which includes participation from the children in the audience, takes place October 29-30, and November 5-6 at Ballet Austin’s Austin-Ventures Studio Theater.
Ballet Austin II dancers are hard at work already preparing for both of these productions. And, if it is any indication of what is to come, this season is sure to be a great one for all of the new apprentices!
View their schedule here!
Friday, September 9th, 2011
Choreography by Stephen Mills
Photo by Tony Spielberg
Friday, August 19th, 2011
Cable for Kabalevsky
Choreography by Choreography by Nick Kepley
Photo by Tony Spielberg
Thursday, July 7th, 2011
This is the last in a four-part blog series about our annual Summer Intensive program. This week, our Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin discusses the mindset of students and BA artistic staff during the last week of Session One.
As we move into the third week of our Summer Intensive, there is a noticeable shift in the energy and pace of our studio process. The end of this week marks the close of the first session and there is a heightened sense of urgency, both in preparations for the performances on Friday, as well as the departure of some of our students.
Mr. Mills and I have spent the last 2.5 weeks teaching, rehearsing and observing our students and have started to compile a short list of dancers who we think would be a good fit for our Trainee Program or for a contract with Ballet Austin II. Though the extended audition process is understandably nerve-wracking for the students, it gives us the opportunity, in essence, to “read between the lines” of a dancer’s nervousness. We have begun to recognize which elements, both positive and negative, are most representative of each dancer’s work on an ongoing basis, an assessment that is highly significant when we are considering an extended commitment.
Those who are departing at the end of this session will have a conference with me before they leave during which I will talk to them about what possibilities are likely for them here. Though our short list is a clear sign that we’ve begun to discern our strongest candidates, definitive offers, particularly for Ballet Austin II contracts, will not be made until we are midway through the second session. This not only allows fair consideration of dancers who we will not see until Session Two begins next Monday, it also affords the opportunity for first session dancers who continue into the second session to assert themselves. Every year there are at least one or two students whose work in the final weeks of the program substantially distinguishes them, and they end up with an invitation to stay at Ballet Austin for the year.
The second round of students will will arrive this next Monday, beginning their registration and placement classes in the afternoon. We look forward to meeting them!
Friday, May 20th, 2011
Here at Ballet Austin, we’d like to extend a warm congratulations to both Elise Pekarek and Michael Burfield, who will both be joining the company for the 2011/12 Season. Both Michael and Elise just finished the 2010/11 Season as members of Ballet Austin II. Scroll down to find out a little bit more about each of them. Congratulations to you both!
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 teaches classes for Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School and Pilates studio.
Michael is originally from Lubbock, Texas where he studied at Ballet Lubbock under the direction of Yvonne Racz-Key. After graduating high school Michael went on to the Pacific Northwest Ballet on full scholarship as a Professional Division Student, and got to perform with the PNB Company in Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Coppelia. Michael was a part of Ballet Austin II for the 2010/11 Season, before being invited to join the Company.
Monday, April 18th, 2011
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.
For more information on the work, click here.
To buy tickets, go to The Hobby Center’s website.
Thursday, April 7th, 2011
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.
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.
– Kody Jauron
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Ballet Austin II: That Spring Thing
Choreography by Stephen Mills
Photo by Tony Spielberg
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
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.