Tag Archives: dancers

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Dancer Annali Rose

Ballet San Jose dancer Annali Rose

Ballet San Jose corps member Annali Rose

After the dazzling company premiere of Don Quixote, Ballet San Jose is gearing up for an awesome mixed repertory program in March. In preparation for Program Two, we caught up with Annali Rose (one of our new corps de ballet dancers this season) to discuss her dance history with Sacramento Ballet and Trey McIntyre Project, the academic interests she pursues in her free time, and the three words that best describe her (which she answered with a little help from her friends)!

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review Roundup: Ballet San Jose’s “Don Quixote”

Ballet San Jose Soloist Junna Ige as Kitri. Photo by Robert Shomler.

Ballet San Jose Soloist Junna Ige as Kitri. Photo by Robert Shomler.

Ballet San Jose’s company premiere of Don Quixote may be over, but the reviews are rolling in! We had such a wonderful run last weekend of ballet’s original romantic comedy that even now we can still hardly believe it’s over! Take a look at what some of the critics around the Bay Area have said about this production of Don Quixote (staged by Ballet SJ Artistic Advisor Wes Chapman), our special guest artist José Manuel Carreño, and our fantastic company.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Ballet SJ apprentice Thomas Baker. Photo credit: Olivier Wecxsteen.

Ballet SJ apprentice Thomas Baker. Photo credit: Olivier Wecxsteen.

After a successful run of The Nutcracker in December, Ballet San Jose is all caught up in the magic of love! The company has spent the past month preparing in earnest for the company premiere  of Don Quixote — or, as we like to call it, ballet’s original romantic comedy. While Kitri polishes her fouettés and Mercedes perfects her sultry smolder, we’re continuing our Artist Spotlight blog series, in which we have been focusing on the new dancers in the company this season.

For all the male dancers out there, here’s another interview just for you! Thomas Baker is a new apprentice with the company, and he has some pretty interesting stories to tell. Find out how Thomas got his start in ballet, his favorite memories from 2012, and the inspiration that made him such a fabulous “Fritz” in the world premiere of Karen Gabay’s The Nutcracker.

Continue reading

Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Apprentice Thomas Baker

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Dancer Kendall Teague

Ballet San Jose Dancer Kendall Teague

Ballet San Jose Dancer Kendall Teague

Welcome back to Ballet San Jose’s Artist Spotlight blog series, in which we will continue to introduce this season’s newest dancers to our online community! In our last installment, we talked to new corps member Alex Kramer. Today, we catch up with corps member and North Carolina native Kendall Teague. Read on to learn more about Kendall’s favorite dancing icon, his summer movie pick of 2012, and his history with Ballet San Jose.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Dancer Alex Kramer

Alex Kramer photographed by Jade Young

Alex Kramer photographed by Jade Young

Nine days ago, Ballet San Jose gave the South Bay a one-night-only preview of our 2013 Repertory Season with an amazing Inaugural Gala performance at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. The rep earned some very complimentary reviews from publications around the Bay Area and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Every person who took the CPA stage on November 3 — from critically acclaimed concert violinist Rachel Lee to the company dancers of Ballet San Jose, both familiar and new — gave an awe-inspiring performance. We think the gala gave Bay Area audiences a really inspiring look at the new pieces in the coming season!

Now, we’ve begun to look ahead to Ballet SJ’s new production of The Nutcracker, which will make its world premiere on December 8. As we gear up for this run of Nutcracker, we pick up where we left off with our Artist Spotlight blog series. Meet another new face in the corps de ballet: Alex Kramer, an alumnus of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and former member of ABT Studio Company. Before the gala, we talked to Alex about what inspired him to become a dancer in Grand Junction, CO, his mentor at ABT, and his thoughts about leaving New York City.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Dancer Cindy Huang

Ballet San Jose corps member Cindy Huang

Ballet San Jose corps member Cindy Huang

Ballet San Jose has always been a diverse company. As of this season, Ballet SJ is now home to forty-one dancers from countries all around the world, each one with a different story to tell. As we prepare for an exciting preview of our 2013 season at the Inaugural Gala on November 3, we continue to get to know the newest members of our company and learn just what makes them tick in our Artist Spotlight blog series.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with dancer Cindy Huang to discuss her dance background, her friendship with So You Think You Can Dance‘s Daniel Baker, and her special words for Ballet San Jose supporters.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Ballet San Jose Artist Spotlight: Dancer Mallory Welsh

A behind-the-scenes photo of Ballet SJ dancer Mallory Welsh.

A behind-the-scenes photo of Ballet SJ dancer Mallory Welsh.

Ballet San Jose dancers are deep into Nutcracker rehearsals now—Principal Ballet Master Raymond Rodriguez tweeted earlier this week that staging for The Battle had begun!—with choreographer and Ballet SJ Principal dancer Karen Gabay, who is setting all-new choreography on the company. The studios are busy with rehearsals, and Ballet San Jose School is packed every afternoon with a full schedule of classes. As we get back into the swing of things, we are so excited to be able to introduce our newest dancers to you via our blog.

We continue our Artist Spotlight series from last week with Mallory Welsh, a dancer some of you may remember from past seasons at Ballet SJ. After a season away, Mallory is back to dance in the corps for a diverse Ballet SJ season of company premieres by many exciting and renowned choreographers. We sat down with Mallory a couple of weeks ago to talk about her earliest dance memory, her biggest inspiration, and her favorite non-dancing hobby.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Soloist Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun

Ballet San Jose Soloist Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun

Ballet San Jose Soloist Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun

At the beginning of September, Ballet San Jose dancers and artistic and production staff returned to the studio with much excitement and a number of new faces. They began rehearsing in earnest for the upcoming season. This month, we are starting an Artist Spotlight blog series that will span our entire 2013 Repertory Season and will connect you, our online community, with Ballet SJ’s talented dancers and artistic staff–the freshest faces as well as those who have been a part of the Ballet SJ family for many years.

In this first Spotlight, we introduce you to the company’s newest Soloist, Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun—known to friends and family as Ommi. A former Soloist at San Francisco Ballet since 2004 and currently the only Thai ballet dancer performing professionally in the United States, Nutnaree was happy to sit down and talk with me about her dance background, her favorite summer movie, and the pieces she is most looking forward to in Ballet SJ’s upcoming 2013 Season.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,