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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Raiford’

Dancer Preview: The Magic Flute

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

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.

In rehearsal: Aara Krumpe, left, as the Queen of the Night.

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
THIS WEEKEND

8pm | May 6 & 7
3pm | May 8, Mother’s Day
The Long Center
Austin, Texas

 

For more information, please visit our page for The Magic Flute.
For tickets, please click here.

The Building of The Magic Flute Production

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

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!

Sarastro’s Temple:

Woods:

The Meadow:

For more information on The Magic Flute.

Purchase Tickets to The Magic Flute.

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.

 
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