I’m stepping back and reflecting on our two latest tours: both different and each filled with good memories…
New York, WOW, I didn’t realized I missed dancing in a big city! It’s funny because we were only away for four days and let me tell you, it felt like weeks apart. Thinking back, it all started out dancing with “Dance Theater of Harlem,” having a teacher yelling, “What are ya’ll waiting on? Go for it!” Then, “Take that risk, you know you need to take!” Personally, dancing in New York was invigorating. Then, travelling to “Steps” another morning to take a wonderful class from Elena Kunikova, who set Paquita on us, followed by the perfect warm-up class from Jane Wood (our ballet mistress) before our first performance, it just set the tone for the NYC tour. Not only were some of us allowing ourselves to get an outlook on how versatile individual styles are in New York, we were able to get a feel of different movement by surrounding ourselves with dancers from all over as well. The program in NYC had us dancing first, then, a very organic artistic piece by two former Alvin Alley dancers full of creative and free movement. The performances concluded with one final company dancing a very stylistic Russian character dance, with plenty of stomping and clapping; it was really interesting and rather delightful to watch! Sometimes we don’t realize how much we can learn from watching other individuals move and dance.
Touring to NYC felt like a breath of fresh air…even though the air as we all know isn’t that fresh in NYC. There’s so much we can each gain from being on tour and the challenge lies with what we do with it. Personally, NYC gave me that jolt, or a gentle reminder of how being different, an individual, breathes freedom for your desires. The four days were shear inspiration, motivation, and a reminder of how beautiful we all are as individuals. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. Sometime we get so used to a certain lifestyle, the way things are day to day and we forget about our similarities and also how different we are from the person standing beside us. It’s crazy how receptive New Yorkers are to everything: our mannerisms, our personal styles, life choices; anything you can imagine, New Yorkers accept! There are so many individual styles and personalities in New York, and this wonderfully craziness brought a lot of excitement the entire time. As excited as we were, our shows were a little nerve racking too. We knew former dancers, directors, editors, critics, you name it, were out there watching for both of our Sold Out performances. Every one of us just wanted to go out there with all the qualities of beauty and grace we possess, and to just take the risk and DANCE!
Vegas may not have given us as much freedom to perhaps explore the sights, but it definitely provided another opportunity to learn from one another. A combined, three ballet company effort to each perform one section of George Balanchine’s masterful three-part Jewels (Balanchine) was a great experience for all three companies. One of the dancers from Nevada Ballet was speaking with me and said, “It’s wonderful dancing and working with other dancers from different companies its somewhat like ‘show and tell’.” At first I hesitated because I wasn’t sure what was meant. I hated show and tell in school, someone would spend 10-15 minutes just boring us to death bragging! But, after I thought about it, I realized what she said was true: each of us was there to do just that, show our stuff!
We wanted to show our stuff, learn and grow as artists. It’s funny, because the first couple of days each company remained separate from one another. It reminded me of school in the sense that we’ll have our clique and no one wanted to open up at first and let anyone else in. As the weekend went on and we all started taking classes together and talking with one another we realized this isn’t a competition we’re here to dance together to support each other and put the pieces of Jewels together. By the time the last performance came around all three companies we’re cheering one another on and supporting each other as much as we could! George Balanchine Jewels (Balanchine) is such a beautiful Balanchine ballet and I’m so honored that Ballet West is going to be able to perform it in its entirety for our home audience next April!
Many of us come away with different experiences while on tour. And I think each of us have learned from the NYC and Vegas tours about finding that creative individual within us, one which will make us become even more of that stronger and unique dancer we each hope to be. This new fresh infusion and outlook is great for energy that we’re all looking forward to putting into our performances during The Lottery!
Here are a few photos of Ballet West Artists, photos by BW Soloist Beau Pearson.
~ Kat ~
Katherine Lawrence in Helen Pickett BUT NEVER DOUBT I LOVE
Haley Henderson Smith and Easton Smith in Jiri Kylian’s PETITE MORT
Owen Gaj in Nicolo Fonte’s BOLERO
Christopher Ruud and Arolyn Williams in Jiri Kylian’s PETITE MORT
Christiana Bennett and Beau Pearson in DIAMONDS George Balanchine (c) The George Balanchine Trust
(Photo taken by Amy Potter)