Tag Archives: 2012 season

A Fairytale Evening: Guest Blog by Mesa Burdick

ABT's Sascha Radetsky and Ballet SJ's Alexsandra Meijer pose for a photo backstage with Mesa Burdick and friends.

ABT’s Sascha Radetsky and Ballet SJ’s Alexsandra Meijer pose for a photo backstage with Mesa Burdick (center, in blue) and friends.

At the beginning of May, Ballet San Jose School student Mesa Burdick participated in one of Ballet SJ’s online contests and won the chance to go behind the scenes of Cinderella (May 4 – 6, 2012) with two of its stars, American Ballet Theatre’s Sascha Radetsky and Ballet SJ’s Alexsandra Meijer. We asked twelve-year-old Mesa to blog about her experience. Continue reading

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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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Thoughts about ‘Clear’ from BSJ dancers Damir Emric, Josh Seibel and Francisco Preciado


Corella Ballet performs Stanton Welch’s Clear in Barcelona (2009)

Ballet San Jose’s upcoming Program of Premieres, opening this Friday, April 13, features an eclectic mix of classical and contemporary pieces—the most hauntingly memorable of which may be Clear, a 2001 creation by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch. Drawing inspiration from the events of September 11th, Clear is a male showcase in five movements described as an “abstract study of life’s connections.” It is unlike anything we have seen on BSJ’s stage in recent years.

For the last month, BSJ dancers have worked tirelessly to perfect the piece with the help of Dawn Scannell, former Ballet Mistress of Houston Ballet and stager of the piece, as well as BSJ Artistic Consultant Wes Chapman. BSJ corps de ballet dancers Damir Emric and Francisco Preciado and apprentice Josh Seibel appear frequently throughout Clear; Damir and Josh dance the duet in the second movement, and Francisco is one third of the pas de trois in the third. Damir, Francisco and Josh shared some fascinating thoughts about the work when I sat down with them during a rehearsal break last week.

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Rediscovering “Splendid Isolation”: A Conversation with Maria Jacobs-Yu

Ballet San Jose Principal dancer Maria Jacobs-Yu in rehearsal for Jessica Lang's 'Splendid Isolation III.' Photo by Chris Hardy.

Ballet San Jose Principal dancer Maria Jacobs-Yu in rehearsal for Jessica Lang's 'Splendid Isolation III.' Photo by Chris Hardy.

Choreographer Jessica Lang, a graduate of The Juilliard School and former member of Twyla Tharp’s company, THARP!, has choreographed over 75 works  for ballet companies across the country. Ballet San Jose will perform  the San Francisco Bay Area premiere of Lang’s Splendid Isolation III during Program Two, the Program of Premieres that will run April 13-15.

Jessica Lang describes her pas de deux, Splendid Isolation III, as a romantic duet set to Mahler’s “Adagietto” from his 5th Symphony. The original inspiration for the creation came from the life of Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma. In their story, Mahler asked Alma to give up her career as a composer before he would marry her, so she could devote herself totally to him and support his career instead. Splendid Isolation III explores the intimacies between a man and a woman and examines the idea of giving up part of who you are for a relationship. The work focuses around the woman enveloped in a large skirt that defines the boundary between the lovers. Through the evolution of the piece, the skirt that once separated the couple becomes the object that binds them together in their splendid isolation from the world.

Based on such a rich, incredible story, it is no wonder that BSJ Principal dancer Maria Jacobs-Yu is thrilled to be dancing the principal role in this piece for BSJ’s upcoming Program of Premieres.

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Ballet San Jose Dancers Shannon Bynum & Sarah Stein on Growing Up in San Jose

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SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA is an area of such diversity that you may be unsurprised to learn that most of our dancers come from everywhere but San Jose. Whether they trained in Japan, Russia, or Bosnia, Ballet San Jose’s dancers bring to the table a host of different cultural perspectives. And this same multiculturalism is what makes San Jose the heart of the Silicon Valley, a hotbed of innovation and progress. The city itself seems to thrive on its ability to attract people from all over the world.

But what about the dancers who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area? What has it meant for them as people and as artists?

Meet Shannon Bynum and Sarah Stein, the only current Ballet San Jose dancers who were born and raised in the immediate area. While all BSJ dancers seem to have the same easy camaraderie with one another, it is immediately apparent that Shannon and Sarah have known each other for a long time. Last month, I grabbed dinner with them and talked to them about growing up in San Jose. Continue reading

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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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Unraveling Jerome Robbins’s ‘Interplay’

With Interplay/Jerome Robbins Week winding down over at the Ballet San Jose Facebook page, I sat down to write this blog post with only a vague idea in mind. I had spoken to Ballet San Jose Artistic Consultant Wes Chapman a couple of weeks ago about Interplay. Armed with a few insightful quotes from Wes and a vague, surface-level idea of the life and times of Jerome Robbins, I put my fingers to the keyboard and wondered if this blog post would be at all interesting to fans of Ballet San Jose.

After all, Interplay holds a different weight and importance for our company than Graduation Ball does (see: recent blog posts by BSJS Ballet Mistress Dalia Rawson and Ballet San Jose Principal Ballet Master Raymond Rodriguez). Interplay is a company premiere, not a revival. Whereas a few of our dancers and staff have experienced Graduation Ball once before, everyone has had to approach Interplay with totally fresh eyes. I write from the point of view of the Marketing staff — a couple of floors away from the dancers — but I can at least imagine how simultaneously paralyzing and exciting that might be for any artist.

Sometimes it is helpful to take a look at the history of a new piece. I can think of no better candidate for this blog post than Interplay, especially given Jerome Robbins’s fame and the overwhelming popularity of West Side Story even now, over 50 years after its initial film release to a mainstream audience in 1961.

Robbins initially choreographed Interplay for Billy Rose’s Concert Varieties, and the piece premiered June 1, 1945, at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. The American Ballet Theatre premiere took place at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on October 17, 1945, while the New York City Ballet premiere came 7 years later on December 23, 1952. Like all of Jerome Robbins’s works, Interplay is very distinctly New York…and also distinctly American. (The piece is set to composer Morton Gould’s “American Concertette.”)

For the reasons mentioned above, it’s little wonder that Interplay is considered by many in the ballet world to be an American masterpiece. Without Interplay, it is doubtful that Robbins would have brought us the 1957 Broadway production of West Side Story we know and love. And West Side Story itself is at once a celebration of America’s virtues and its problems.

When I asked Wes Chapman to contribute some introductory information, he told me that “Robbins’s most famous choreography, West Side Story, displays elements and common themes from Interplay. You might think of Interplay as a precursor to West Side Story.” Wes explained that if you looked at the pieces side by side, you’d see pretty clearly the development of Robbins’s choreography over time. The elements that are now familiar to most of us as the Sharks-vs.-Jets rivalry from West Side Story, which first premiered on Broadway in 1957, can be easily traced back to Fancy Free (1944) and Interplay (1945), ballets that Robbins had choreographed over a decade earlier.

Wes is certainly excited to have the opportunity to stage Interplay for Program 1 of Ballet San Jose’s 2012 Season (March 2-4, 2012). Since he first saw the piece performed by the Boston Ballet years ago, Wes said he has had an ongoing relationship with Interplay. As Artistic Director of ABT II, now American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, he brought Interplay into the ABT II repertory.

Wes emphasized that Interplay is a “good representation of Robbins’s work. It’s a show that the audience always seems to enjoy very much. It’s set on a playground, so the costumes are fun as well — the girls wear ponytails and lots of bright colors. It’s a very youthful piece.”

As contemporary ballets go, Interplay is said to be one of the best. As a representation of American youth in 1940s New York, Interplay is more than a ballet — it’s a slice of history. Today, the work remains in the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet repertories. And now, because of our recent partnership with ABT, Ballet San Jose has the chance to put its own spin on a Jerome Robbins classic.

Erica, Social Media Coordinator

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplay_(ballet)
http://www.abt.org/education/archive/ballets/interplay.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome_Robbins

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