New Work for Ballet Austin II
By Michelle Martin, Associate Artistic Director

The 2008/09 performance season marks my 17th year with Ballet Austin. A major factor in my longevity here has been the inspiration that I get from observing and participating in the development of new work and emerging artists. Rarely has this been more evident than in the upcoming production of That Spring Thing.

The apprentices (Ballet Austin II) have had the unprecedented opportunity to work with two past finalists from our New American Talent/Dance choreographic competition. Thang Dao (NAT/D 2006) and Viktor Kabaniaev (NAT/D 2008) have each created a new ballet on the apprentices. This unique combination of early-career choreographers interested in expanding their own choreographic ‘voice,’ paired with the “emerging talent” focus of the apprentice program, leads to incredible potential in the studio. Both Viktor and Thang are highly collaborative in their processes, requiring the dancers to help build the movement material themselves instead of waiting to be given specific direction.

The choreographers began their residencies by giving the dancers basic phrases of movement, kind of like a pencil sketch. As rehearsals continue, the dancers are being asked to expand on this sketch, experimenting with the shapes and movements to find the most interesting extensions of the original material. Many, if not most, senior artists really enjoy this process but it can definitely be intimidating for younger dancers. Thang and Viktor work with incredible patience and respect and seem to be enjoying the clean, well-primed ‘canvas’ our apprentices provide. This thoughtful placement of a sketch followed by the rich exploration that yields dimension and color, the symbiotic development of artists and art – this is what keeps me here at Ballet Austin.

For more information on That Spring Thing, click here.

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