When Adam Sklute added the Innovations program to our season two years ago I revved up my creative engine. I wanted to tell a story that was close to my heart. Well, it’s actually close to any ones heart if you’ve ever lost someone very close to you. My father passed away in August of 2006 after battling cancer for 4 months. He was 52 and didn’t have any health problems to speak of. It snuck up on us, family and friends felt that he was taken too soon. I saw the grief my mother went through and still goes through. But I also realized a change in some people that knew him. They stepped back and looked at their lives. Realizing how quickly it can all go away, some people had a reality check. I remember Ballet Master Bruce Caldwell said to me simply, “Use it, grow from it.” So when Innovations came up the next year, I wanted to see if I could “Use it.”
I had the idea of the story and feeling but I needed music. I was interested in using local music. A Salt Lake City band that I found while searching for music on Myspace caught my “ear.” I Hear Sirens, this band produces a great ethereal ambient hard-rock sound. I can listen to them and time stands still. The band allowed me to use their music for the first audition process of my piece, “Curtain Up” for the ’07-’08 season, and was interested in playing live if it was chosen. The Curtain Up show uses our second company, Ballet West II. That process was a little tough, I was still dealing with a lot of emotions and grief. I wanted to show the “meat” of my ballet. Let’s just say the “meat” was undercooked and raw. I needed to step back and try again the next year. This time I started at the beginning and wanted to start to show the three couples and their relationship personalities. Lovers, Fighters, and Strangers. All doing similar movements and partnering but with minor changes to show their differences in their relationship personality. Second time was a charm and Adam chose it to be in the Innovations program. I had about seven months to think about the best way for the piece to make sense. I decided to just have two couples, I blended the Fighters and Strangers. That way it could be more focused and less cluttered. Rehearsals started about three weeks before we were in the theater and I had my work cut out for me. While learning Nicolo Fonte’s choreography for 4-5 hours a day, then switching gears and creating my work for an hour or so, I was stressed. But luckily my fiance Kate Crews supported me along with the dancers in my piece and Ballet Mistress Pam Robinson-Harris, they are all so beautiful.
“I Hear Sirens” was excited to have this opportunity to perform live at the Rose Wagner with the dancers. They have been great to work with on this collaboration. I went to where they rehearse a few times, a little room at the Positively 4th St studios. They are loud, we had to quiet them down a bit to while in the Rose. But they were very understanding and did anything they could to make it work.
I didn’t want my piece to be extremely sad. I wanted to have some hope in the end. Yes, there is tragedy when the Lover Male passes on and with it comes all stages of grief. But I had to take what my Mother has been going through the past few years and shrink it into a few minutes. She has found hope within her moving on process. She has had support from many people who knew what kind of man my Father was. And many of those people have learned more about life from his passing by stepping back and looking at who is around them and how they treat them. In the end I wanted to remind people that those who have passed on are still with us.
Arolyn Williams, John Frazer and Megan Furse
Megan Furse, John Frazer, Arolyn Williams
Arolyn Williams and Owen Gaj