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Standby, ready, Light cue go!: Ballet San Jose principal dancer, Alexsandra Meijer, calls the Summer Intensive Show.

Although it may seem intimidating, it is all about the process. And at the end of it all, "Houselights restored" means that we have survived! Job well done principal ballerina, Alexsandra Meijer.

Although it may seem intimidating, it is all about the process. And at the end of it all, “Houselights restored” means that we have survived! Job well done principal ballerina, Alexsandra Meijer.

"Standby two minutes to curtain," "Places dancers," "House lights
to half," "Light cue 0.7 go."

These were just some of the lines on the four page cue sheet of the stage
manager at the top of the show during the 2015 Summer Intensive Showcase on
July 31. Over the headset, Alexsandra Meijer, Silicon Valley Ballet
Principal Dancer and newly minted stage manager, called these cues to her
fellow stagehands. Since she joined Silicon Valley Ballet in 2001, Meijer
has been fascinated by the person who “calls the show” from behind the
scenes, and last Friday she had the opportunity to experience the job
firsthand.

Meijer did extensive research in preparation for this event. She talked
about combing stage manager's blogs and tips, as well as searching “how to
call a show” on Youtube, and being somewhat taken aback after watching a
clip of someone calling the Broadway show, Hairspray. Seeing multiple
characters, lights and the ensuing commotion was a bit intimidating.
Alexsandra called it, “SUPER intense” because the video featured, “many
complex lighting cues, with spots and specials fading in and out in many
different areas of the stage.” Luckily, her debut was not quite as
complicated! Still, calling the full run of the Summer Intensive Showcase,
which featured over 140 students in almost two hours of dancing, was a
challenge. Ms. Meijer met it well, and our staff, faculty, and students are
thankful for her efforts.

Rich with Knowledge

José Manuel Carreño is rich...with knowledge! Born into a family of
dancers, it was almost inevitable that dancing was the career he would
pursue. Although the “amazing dancing gene” ran through José’s blood, a
love and passion for Classical Ballet had to come from a passion for
learning. For Carreño knowledge is very “important in life, it’s something
that nobody can take from you.”

Carreño was a member of the National Ballet of Cuba, English National
Ballet in London, Royal Ballet in London, and American Ballet Theatre in
New York. Presently, he is the Artistic Director of Ballet San Jose!
Although he is busy planning our upcoming 2015/2016 Season, under the new
name Silicon Valley Ballet, he is wanted everywhere! This week Carreño is
teaching in Puerto Rico where he will share his love for learning with the
young dancers. “You know, I think the most important thing is that as a
student, you need to understand that it’s all about learning.” José Manuel
Carreño expresses, “It’s something that will always be with you. I always
remember my uncle telling me, “you learn from good teachers but also bad
teachers.”

We wish José the best and are waiting to hear the good news from his trip.
Remember that with learning, one gains knowledge that “nobody can take from
you.” One can learn and become a better person every day.
San Jose Ballet Artistic Director JosŽ Manuel Carre–o, center, teaches a company class at Ballet San Jose, in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Ballet Artistic Director JosŽ Manuel Carre–o, center, teaches a company class at Ballet San Jose, in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

Photo by Ballet San Jose.

Ballet San Jose at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole Dance Gala, July 19

From Ballet San Jose Music director George Daugherty:

The Dede Wilsey Dance Gala at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole is going to be an INCREDIBLE evening on July 19. Here is the official program and casting. Extraordinary dancers will wow you, the fabulous musicians of the Russian National Orchestra will fill the air with music from the orchestra pit, a long-lost Fokine ballet will come back to the stage, a collection of breathtaking pas de deux and ballets will thrill and move you, and the rolling hills of Napa at sunset in the summertime will enchant you as you hold a perfect glass of locally-produced Napa wine. What more could you want? Please join us!

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Merce Cunningham’s “Duets”: Rehearsal Process with Patricia Lent, Merce Cunningham Trust

Master Choreographer Merce Cunningham. Photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Seminal choreographer Merce Cunningham. Photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Contributed by Harriet McMeekin, Ballet San Jose corps de ballet

 

The rehearsal process we’ve experienced so far is vastly different from our normal rehearsals at Ballet San Jose: no music. Silence. Sing-song rhythms echoing in the studio. We eventually graduate to the soft beep of a stopwatch. “And begin,” then gradually “stop,” and “cue.”

“Not bad, only 15 seconds slow,” she says.

It’s a process that’s taken getting used to but has bolstered my confidence in my inner rhythm. I am better able to connect and communicate with my partner and fellow dancers without words. This is critical, as we don’t know what music we’re performing to until we get onstage.

Ms. Lent gave us a little history about the Cunningham ideology, but Wikipedia sums it up neatly:

The most famous and controversial of these [radical innovations] concerned the relationship between dance and music, which [Merce Cunningham and John Cage] concluded may occur in the same time and space, but should be created independently of one another.

Initially the Cunningham/Cage concept of separation between choreography and music seemed sacrilegious. How do you choreograph if you’re not inspired by the music? How do you dance the steps if the music doesn’t tell you what to do? Typically, the music is the primary focus of classical ballet. You might learn the steps to start, and there might not be music at first, but the ultimate goal is to dance “with” the music. The Cunningham ideology requires getting used to a different style and method of working. Holding the music in different regard. Not relegating it but respecting it as its own separate entity.

The dance happens onstage. The music happens while the dance is happening. It’s their occurrence in time that binds them together.

 

See Ballet San Jose perform “Duets,” along with works by innovative choreographers Jorma Elo and Jessica Lang, beginning this Friday, April 19, at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts downtown. Buy tickets online at www.balletsj.org, or call our Box Office at (408) 288-2800. See you at the theater!

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Neoclassical Master: Works by Sir Frederick Ashton in Ballet San Jose’s 2013 Season

Rudy Candia and Alexsandra Meijer in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Méditation from Thaïs." Photo by Robert Shomler.

Rudy Candia and Alexsandra Meijer in Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Méditation from Thaïs.” Photo by Robert Shomler.

One week from today, Ballet San Jose’s 2013 Season will continue with our mixed repertory program, Neoclassical Masters. We’re especially thrilled to be performing two incredible ballets by legendary ballet choreographer Sir Frederick AshtonLes Rendezvous, a suite of witty, light-hearted dances set in a park; and Méditation from Thaïs, a rich and poetic pas de deux set to the beautiful violin solo “Méditation” from Massenet’s opera Thaïs.

The stagers of these incredible works–former Royal Ballet soloist Hilary Cartwright (Les Rendezvous) and former RB principal Bruce Sansom (Méditation from Thaïs)–shared their thoughts about Ashton’s choreography for our Playbill, and we want to give you a sneak peek! Read on for some interesting insights to the pieces, and don’t miss seeing them performed for the first time on the CPA stage next weekend.

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What to Wear to the Ballet: Silicon Valley Edition

Alexsandra Meijer in Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, which opens tomorrow. Photo by Chris Hardy.

Sure, you can attend the ballet dressed as Cinderella! Ballet SJ Principal Alexsandra Meijer models the fashions in a photo by Chris Hardy.

The following blog post was contributed by guest blogger Elizabeth Werness, a writer, beginning-level ballet dancer, and longtime friend of Ballet San Jose School principal Dalia Rawson. She loves reading fashion blogs, going to the ballet, and dressing up. Ballet San Jose does not necessarily endorse the products Elizabeth has linked in this post, but we do think these styles are pretty darn cute!

Nailing “casually chic” without swerving off into “sloppy” or “trying too hard” is tricky. So as a resident of Silicon Valley, what do you put on for Ballet San Jose’s upcoming performance of Cinderella? We explore some of your sartorial options.

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Playbill Notes: The Story behind the Story of Cinderella

From Texas Ballet Theater's 2010 production of Ben Stevenson's Cinderella. Photo by Ellen Appel.

From Texas Ballet Theater's 2010 production of Ben Stevenson's Cinderella. Photo by Ellen Appel, courtesy of Texas Ballet Theatre.

With opening night of Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella nearly upon us, we wanted to take a moment to share with you a bit of the fascinating history that surrounds the original Cinderella fairytale. Read this excerpt from pages 6-9 of Ballet SJ’s Cinderella Playbill, which can be downloaded and read in its entirety from the Ballet San Jose website.

One of the great ironies of life, and of art, is that out of pain is born beauty. A country is torn apart by war. A mother dies young. Artists hundreds of years apart give birth to story and music that will become the stuff that dreams are made of. Such is the path of this ballet. —Cinderella.

The Cinderella story is perhaps one of the best-known and best-liked fairy tales in Western culture. Like many folk tales, the origins of Cinderella can be traced back centuries, and individual elements of the story can be found in almost every corner of the world. It has been estimated there are at least 1,500 variations on the theme of Cinderella worldwide.

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Ballet San Jose Looks Ahead to Program Two and ‘Cinderella’

Texas Ballet Theater’s “Cinderella” from Jeff Resta on Vimeo.

WITH PROGRAM ONE already a week behind us, Ballet San Jose is still bustling with activity. After a fantastic and inspiring run of Program One, the staff and dancers have barely had time to stop and savor the reviews. And there have been some good ones!

Steven Winn, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, liked the “dancers’ ingenuous charm and infectious high spirits.” Of Jerome Robbins’ contemporary romp Interplay, San Jose Mercury News correspondent Rita Felciano wrote: “…rarely has intricacy looked so easy.” Beeri Moalem of Examiner.com gave Program One 4 out of 5 stars, commenting that the “Corps de Ballet, soloists, and principals were all marvelous.” A big thank you to Steven, Rita and Beeri. We’re so glad you all enjoyed the show!

Now, we look ahead to another exciting series of premieres in Program Two (April 13-15), including George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, set to Tchaikovsky’s “Unfinished Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat,” and Clark Tippet’s Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the bill are Splendid Isolation III, a stunning pas de deux choreographed to Gustav Mahler’s “Adagietto” by Jessica Lang, and Stanton Welch’s Clear. If Program One was, as Steven Winn wrote, a “diverse and entertaining evening,” our next spring repertory program will offer audiences an even wider variety of classical and contemporary works.

But the 2012 spring season doesn’t end with Program Two. From our conversations with Ballet San Jose School students and other supporters around the Bay Area, we know many BSJ fans young and old are particularly excited to attend Ballet San Jose’s company premiere of Ben Stevenson’s full-length story ballet Cinderella (Program Three, May 4-6).

Cinderella is two months away, but you can whet your appetite by watching Jeff Resta’s gorgeous slideshow above with photographs from Texas Ballet Theater’s 2010 production of Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella. We can’t wait to see this piece on our stage in May!

Tickets for Program Two and Cinderella are currently on sale. And here’s a tip from Dennis and Lauren in the Box Office: You can save 20% on tickets to Programs Two AND Three when you purchase a discounted 2-program subscription. Visit the Ballet San Jose website or call (408) 288-2800 for more information.

See you in April!
Erica

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Opening Weekend Tips from Ballet San Jose’s Lee Kopp

Regular visitors to downtown San Jose know all the secrets–the best parking spots, the best coffee shops, and the best places to catch a show on a Friday night.

But there are few locals who know their way around downtown San Jose better than Lee Kopp, Ballet San Jose’s Director of Marketing and Publicity. Lee has been with our organization for over 12 years! To those of you planning to attend Program One this weekend, Lee offers some tips to save you time and enhance your experience. Whether you are a first timer or a season(ed) subscriber, get ready to lose yourself in the magic of ballet. It’s going to be a spectacular show!

The Program

We’ve posted at length about all three of the pieces that make up Program One of Ballet San Jose’s 2012 Season: Marius Petipa’s Paquita, Jerome Robbins’ Interplay, and David Lichine’s Graduation Ball. Read back through our most recent blog posts for fun information about the choreographers and stagers of the pieces.

Lee’s Tip: You can also look at the recent posts on the Ballet San Jose Facebook page. We’ve shared some great articles about Jerome Robbins and Interplay that are simply fascinating!

The Theater

All performances of Program One will be held at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, which is located at 255 Almaden Boulevard (at the corner of Park Avenue) in downtown San Jose. If you are coming to see Ballet San Jose for the first time, here are some helpful tips about attending our performances.

Lee’s Tip: Did you you know that you can arrive a little bit early to your show and pre-order your refreshments for intermission? It’s true! Instead of standing in long lines, pre-order your drinks and find them waiting for you on the table next to the concession stand at the beginning of each break.

The Best Parking

Parking for the theater can be found at the Adobe office building directly across the street from the theater at 345 Park Avenue. This Adobe parking facility has a live attendant on duty and costs only $5.00 (cash only). Additional parking can be found just a block away in the open air lot at the corner of Almaden Boulevard and Woz Way, directly across the street from the San Jose Convention Center side entrance. This open air ground lot costs $7.00 and accepts credit cards in machines located throughout the area. There is no live attendant.

Lee’s Tip: Adobe’s garage is a great parking deal with a little extra security. I recommend parking in this underground covered garage and entering/exiting the garage through the West Lobby. It’s a short walk from the theater, and you can’t beat the price!

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Staging ‘Paquita’ with American Ballet Theatre’s Susan Jones

Ballet San Jose is honored to have ABT Ballet Mistress Susan Jones setting Paquita for our 2012 Season. Photo by Sarah Sterner.

Ballet San Jose is honored to have ABT Ballet Mistress Susan Jones setting Paquita for our 2012 Season. Photo by Sarah Sterner.

We’ve seen more than a few new faces around the Ballet San Jose studios in recent weeks. During the staging of Paquita, we’ve been especially lucky to have Susan Jones of American Ballet Theatre with us. An alum and current Ballet Mistress of American Ballet Theatre, Susan has shared her incredible experience and vision with our dancers over the past couple of weeks.

Born in York, Pennsylvania and trained in dance from an early age, Susan studied with Lucille Hood and Mary Day from the Rockville School of Ballet and Washington School of Ballet, respectively. After an apprenticeship with the Joffrey Ballet, Susan danced with American Ballet Theatre for eight successive seasons, after which she retired in 1980. Since then, Susan has staged a number of ballets for ABT as Ballet Mistress of the company.

Ballet San Jose Artistic Consultant Wes Chapman knows Susan very well and says he is extremely excited to have her on board.

“I met Susan in 1984 when I started dancing for American Ballet Theatre,” he told me during a conversation last month. “She was the Principal Ballet Mistress of the company at the time, and I got to know her well. Susan is extraordinarily smart with an incredible brain for this kind of ballet work.”

Wes returned to American Ballet Theatre in 2006, this time as Principal Ballet Master. From there, his relationship with Susan developed an entirely new dimension.

“After I went back to ABT in a management capacity, I got to know Susan from a very different point of view,” Wes said. “I was always fond of her as a coach, but I became even more fond of her as we worked together to stage several ballets and run ABT summer programs.”

He added: “This will be the first time I’ve had the pleasure of hiring Susan to stage a ballet for a company that I’ve been a part of. She brings an amazing amount of experience to the table.”

Susan has come to Ballet San Jose to stage the classical ballet Paquita after Marius Petipa’s 1881 revival. Wes hinted that this Paquita will definitely be the ballet we know and love but from a slightly different perspective: “Susan will be staging her own vision of Paquita after Marius Petipa’s choreography. It will be Petipa’s Paquita the way she sees it. It’s really going to be something to see.”

Thanks to Susan’s dedication and the hard work of Ballet San Jose’s dancers, Paquita will open this Friday, March 2, along with Jerome Robbins’s Interplay and David Lichine’s Graduation Ball. We are so excited to see the finished product, and we sincerely hope you’ll join us for the event.

See you there!
Erica

Sources:
http://www.abt.org/education/archive/other/jones_s.html

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