Check out the commercial for Ballet West’s upcoming program, Don Quixote. More importantly, come to the show!
Check out the commercial for Ballet West’s upcoming program, Don Quixote. More importantly, come to the show!
Last week I snapped a few photos during Don Q rehearsals.
2012 is here and the company is back to the drawing board (we don’t have a drawing board). Everybody has to put their Nutcracker aches and pains to the side because Anna-Marie Holmes is here, setting her version of Don Quixote on the company.
Anna-Marie Holmes has appeared as a ballerina and has taught in more than 30 countries on five continents. Born in Canada, she trained with Heino Heiden, Lydia Karpova and Wynne Shaw; in London with Audrey de Vos and Errol Addison and in addition received her grade 10 Certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music in piano.
In New York she continued her ballet studies with Felia Doubrovska and trained in Leningrad with Natalia Dudinskaya, Alexander Pushkin and Alla Shelest of the Kirov Ballet. Ms. Holmes was the first North American invited to perform with the Kirov Ballet in Russia. She also has appeared with the London Festival Ballet, Royal Scottish Ballet, Berlin Staats Oper, Het Nationale Ballet of Holland, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Chicago International Ballet, Ruth Page Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet and others. In addition, choreographers such as MacDonald, De Mille, Page, Corelli, and Darrell created many works for her.
Ms. Holmes founded the International Academy of Dance Costa do Sol in Portugal and served as its co-artistic director. In addition, Ms. Holmes staged The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Paquita and other major classics when she served as co-artistic director of the Tennessee Festival Ballet. ?Known for her interpretations of the Russian classics, Ms. Holmes has produced or set these great works in Lisbon, Oslo, Helsinki, Antwerp, Naples, Florence, New York and Tokyo. Ms. Holmes staged The Sleeping Beauty for Florence’s Maggio Musicale and Swan Lake for Den Norske Oper Ballet. She has taught and restaged many of the classics in America for such companies as Dance Theater of Harlem and American Ballet Theatre. Her staging of Le Corsaire appeared on PBS’s “Great Performances”, for which it won an Emmy Award.
Ms. Holmes joined Boston Ballet in 1985 and in 1997 was named Artistic Director of the company as well as Dean of Faculty for the Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education. During her tenure with Boston Ballet, Ms. Holmes created new stagings of many ballets, including Giselle, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. Ms. Holmes was Artistic Director of the School of the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi in 1990 and 1994 and in 1997 she received the Dance Magazine Award for extraordinary and lasting contributions to the art form. She staged La Bayadere for the Royal Ballet of Flanders and Raymonda for both the National Ballet of Finland and American Ballet Theatre, in addition to teaching at the Royal Ballet in London, Ballet du Capitole in Toulouse and the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen. Ms. Holmes became the first recipient of the North Carolina School of the Arts Rudolf Nureyev Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Ballet. In 2005 she coached Swan Lake at the Den Norske Oper Ballet and Giselle at the Royal Ballet of Flanders, as well as teaching at the Den Norske Oper Ballet, Ballet du Capitole in Toulouse, mounting Laurencia pas d’action for the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and preparing American Ballet Theatre for Le Corsaire and Raymonda. She is in constant demand as a judge, guest teacher and choreographer.
From Development Manager, Alison Hayes:
“Nothing says PARTY better than 60 pepperoni and cheese pizzas”
On Thursday January 12, kids cast members of The Nutcracker and their families were invited to dine and dance the night away at a pizza party hosted by Ballet West and the Discovery Gateway. The event is a small way for Ballet West to say Thank You to the dancers and their families who voluntarily log countless hours in rehearsals, costume fittings, and performances, all to make our Nutcracker one of the best in the country. 300 attendees nibbled pizza, cookies and candy canes and showed off their non-ballet dance moves to DJ Mark spinning tunes. Thanks to all the attendees, staff and volunteers that helped make this such a special night.
Joined Ballet West in 2008, promoted to Soloist in 2010
Tell me about the path you’ve taken to get here to Ballet West, starting from when you started dancing.
I started dancing in Ridgecrest, California, at the Sierra Academy of Dance, which is a really small studio. We probably only had sixty kids total. When I was there I wanted to go away to boarding school for dance for a long time, but my parents were really unsure about that until my teacher talked to them and basically said that if I was going to be a dancer, I needed to go. So, I went to Virginia School of the Arts and danced there for two years. And then when I graduated I was an apprentice with Richmond Ballet for two years. And then I went to Cincinnati Ballet for a year as an apprentice. And then I came to Ballet West as a corps member.
How old were you when you started dancing and when you went to your boarding school?
I was four when I started [dancing]. And I had just turned sixteen when I went to the Virginia School of the Arts. I got the contract with Richmond the day after I graduated from VSA.
So, Virginia School of the Arts supplemented the rest of your high schooling?
Yeah, VSA was my high schooling. We did academic classes in the morning at the local high school and then went in the afternoon and evening to VSA to dance.
What got you into dancing when you were four?
I used to go with my Mom to pick up my sister from ballet. And I started watching the class after a couple of times. I would stand on a chair and hold on to the back of the chair as a barre and do the barre exercises. So, the teacher saw me and pulled me in.
I know some people who start dancing at a young age get burnt out. Did you ever feel that way throughout your training?
Yeah, when I was eleven or twelve I started to get kinda burnt out, and I started to get into gymnastics. So, I was dancing two days a week, but I was going to gymnastics, like, three days a week. But, I was so tall, they had to raise all the equipment ‘cause I kept hitting my feet on the mat. I was twelve, so I was around, 5’ 6’’ or 5’ 7’’, but apparently I was the tallest person that had ever been in the gym.
What made you decide to continue ballet as a career?
I ended up missing it after a while. And, my upper body was so weak; I couldn’t do any of the arm events. I could do floor and vault really well, but anything that actually required upper body strength I was terrible at. And, I missed dancing.
What’s your favorite thing about being a professional dancer now?
Getting to do new pieces of choreography.
When choreographers come in and set new ballets on you?
Yeah. Especially when you’re first cast, so, you’re the one getting choreographed on. It just feels more creative, and it’s really nice to have something made for you. You have a better personal connection to the piece.
You have a knack for choreography yourself …
(whispered) Thank you … (laugh)
(laugh) Do you feel the same pleasure from choreographing something as you get from something being choreographed on you?
It’s as different as it is similar. I feel like I have a lot of mental energy, if that makes sense. So, getting to choreograph and getting to conduct rehearsals and work with dancers kinda helps me get that out of myself.
It’s an outlet?
Yeah, definitely … I think choreographing makes you a better dancer and you understand how things work at the front of the room with artistic staff and what kind of pressures choreographers are under. You see things on dancers, especially when it comes to acting, like, what reads from the audience and what doesn’t, and you can put that into your own dancing. Getting to see the way other people move and really concentrating on how other people do things can help you, good and bad. You can see the way someone moves and it’s like, “that looks so amazing; I wanna try and emulate that in my dance.” And then sometimes you see somebody do something and it’s like, “ok, I need to remember not to do that.”
Do you prefer doing one, dancing or choreographing?
No, not at this point. I really like being able to do both. That’s one of the reasons why I really like being at Ballet West because I get to choreograph so much, and I still get to dance full time. I feel like I’m getting kind of a head start for when I’m done dancing.
What’s the most difficult thing for you about being a professional dancer?
Just the fact that there’s not enough time for me to do everything I want. You know, we start at ten and we’re done at almost seven. By the time you get home it’s usually dark. I can’t go out during the week with friends and stay out late like people with other jobs might be able to. And then, even on the weekends, you’re so tired, all you can do is rest. You can’t go out and do whatever you want. I feel like, because I’m a dancer my social life does kinda suffer. But, I’m very conscious to make sure that I still spend time with my friends and do things outside of ballet, because if it’s only ballet all the time I go like, balls crazy.
Do you have another word that you prefer to use …
How about just crazy? What do you like the most about being here at Ballet West?
Just that I’m happy I guess. I was really sad for a while through my late teens into my early twenties. And I didn’t know why. But, I feel like I’m just happier in general. I like the people I work with. I like living in Salt Lake. I like my friends outside of ballet here. I just feel happier than I’ve been anywhere else.
Do you have a favorite role you’ve performed here at Ballet West?
Either Oberon from The Dream (Sir Fredric Ashton) or El Capitan from Stars and Stripes (Balanchine). I liked Oberon because it was super hard. It was really challenging, which I liked. Actually, probably add Carmina Burana (John Butler) to the list ‘cause those [roles] were really hard and they were technically demanding. For Carmina and The Dream, there was so much acting in it, but when I was done dancing and when I was taking bows I felt like I had really done something. And I really liked that feeling.
Are there any roles that you would like to perform before you retire?
I wanna do Basilio in Don Q. I wanna do pretty much any Kylian ballet. I wanna do The Gray Area by David Dawson. I wanna do Romeo and Juliet; I wanna do Romeo. And I wanna do either In The Middle Somewhat Elevated or The Second Detail by William Forsythe.
You’ve got a list, you were ready …
(yelling) I WAS READY! I’m a big ol’ bun head, so …
Oh, you want some ballets, I’ll give you some ballets …
How do you get ready for a show? Do you have any preshow rituals?
I like to be ready early. So, I like to do my make-up early and get into my costume early ‘cause the worst thing for me is putting on a cold costume and then going on stage. I feel like my body just tenses up. I usually take a shower before and after the show. And I always rosin my tights for my feet, and I rosin the inside of my shoes. And I blow warm air into my shoes before I put them on ‘cause I don’t want to have cold shoes. And I give myself barre.
Do you do a full barre?
Yeah, I usually do a full barre unless it’s a matinee and we just had class, then I’ll do a shorter barre.
Do you have a favorite Ballet West moment?
Probably doing The Dream (Sir Fredric Ashton) with Arolyn [Williams]. One of the other dancers had gotten injured and couldn’t perform, so, last minute they (artistic staff) told us we would go on and do it. We had just done it that morning and it’s, like, the most tiring thing I’ve ever done. But, there was so much adrenaline because we had been put on last minute. The show went so well, it just felt like everything went right. Everything was so easy; it just felt so amazing. It was the most rewarding performance. Getting promoted was cool too.
(laugh) What do you think is your biggest asset as a dancer to the company?
I’m really quick picking up choreography and picking up nuances in the choreography. So, I think the staff knows that if they need somebody to learn a part quickly and be ready to go on stage that they can count on me to do it. And that I’ll be consistent with what I do.
What is your favorite thing to do when you have a show off?
Watch from the audience (laugh). We never really get to watch ballets from the audience because we’re either in them or covering a part. So, if I have the chance that I can go out and watch a show from the front, it’s really fun. And it kind of reminds you what people see. You get so used to being on stage and looking out into the audience and only thinking about what’s happening on stage from your point of view. So, it’s really cool to be able to go out into the audience and see things from their (the audience’s) point of view.
I suppose Nutcracker gives the most opportunities to watch from the audience for the dancers.
Mmm hmm … I wish I could go out and watch myself perform while I’m on stage. Well, you see videos and stuff, but videos aren’t the same as live. If there was a way to go super Sci-Fi and see what I look live in an actual performance, it would be really interesting. I wonder if I would like my dancing less if I did (laugh).
What’s the weirdest or funniest thing that’s happened to you on stage?
I think the funniest stuff that happened is problems with costumes or props, especially if you’re dancing and you can feel your costume coming un-done. And there’s no way to put it back up and not be super obvious. Like, your sleeve comes un-buttoned and your sleeve is just whapping around. All you can think about is the fact that you have this big piece of fabric flapping everywhere. And then come notes time the next day and artistic staff didn’t even notice. (laugh) You don’t even have a note about it, but in my head it was like, so glaringly obvious. It’s like, oh no, I’m ruining the ballet …
That sounds more nerve racking than funny to me.
I don’t know; I feel like I’ve seen funny stuff happen on stage, but I’m not the funny one.
That’s probably a good thing.
I hope so.
What do you like to do when you’re not dancing?
I really like going to the gym because it’s nice to do some sort of physical activity not involving ballet. I have a group of friends, and we have brunch together every Sunday. And I like going to fundraisers and events for the Utah Aids Foundation. I like to watch episodes of Archer and 30 Rock and quote them constantly. I like singing in funny accents and voices.
Edward or Jacob?
They’re both like, ten years too young.
I think you went a little past what I was asking there, but … Where do you stand on illegal immigration issues in the United States? No, don’t answer that … Where do you stand … (pause) … in the elevator.
At the back to try and give room for other people.
If you were stuck …
In an elevator …
In the Capitol Theater elevator, what person in the company would you want to be in there with you?
Katie Critchlow … ‘cause we could sing and talk to each other in annoying voices and pass the time until somebody rescued us.
If one person in the world could rescue you from being stuck in the elevator, who would it be?
(long pause) Meatcat.
The Cheesy Blasters mascot from 30 Rock.
He’s a cartoon cat with sunglasses and a skateboard. I would love for some cartoon character to rescue me. It would be like being in a child’s movie or something.
Threw me off on that one, Tom …