Tag Archives: Jerome Robbins

Dancer Spotlight: Joshua Seibel

Story by Susan Lee

Ballet San Jose‘s Joshua Seibel has some strong advice for young dancers: never let anyone tell you what you can’t do.

Seibel should know. Years of ear trouble—and multiple surgeries—have left Seibel mostly deaf.

“People probably don’t realize I should technically be wearing hearing aids,” he says.

But Seibel’s partial deafness hasn’t stopped him from dancing. This season, he was even promoted to soloist at Ballet San Jose.

Ballet San Jose

Alexsandra Meijer and Joshua Seibel. Photo by Quinn Wharton.

 

Seibel began dancing at the age of nine at the Yuma Ballet Theater. By thirteen, he was venturing out of Arizona to a summer program at the San Francisco Ballet. “The day we drove into San Francisco was Gay Pride Day,” Seibel laughs. “I was from a small town. I’d never seen anything like that!”

In 2003, Seibel attended Houston Ballet’s summer program and was asked to stay on. “Being a student there was intense. We’d train for twelve hours a day. Then we’d sometimes perform with the company at night. I was fourteen. It was a lot of work and responsibility at a young age.”

After finishing in the semi-finals at the 2006 Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, Seibel joined the corps of the Houston Ballet. “It was so different from being a student,” he says. “First of all, I was actually getting paid! And I was performing at a much faster pace. Houston does a significant number of shows every year, so I was rehearsing a lot of ballets at once.”

Seibel was also the youngest member of the company. “It was intimidating,” he admits. “I didn’t want to slow other people down.”

In 2008, however, Seibel discovered that he needed ear surgery. Recovery was challenging. At one point, he was even told that he would never dance again.

Seibel took time off, joined Ballet Memphis, and then needed additional surgeries. At one point, Seibel actually decided to enlist in the military instead of returning to ballet.  “Ballet dancers make great military candidates,” Seibel points out. “They are very well disciplined, very physically fit, and good at standing in lines!”

But after yet more surgery prevented him from attending basic training, Seibel took extra time off to decide what he really wanted to do with his life. “Then, one day, I saw my friends perform at Ballet Arizona,” he says. “That was that.” Seibel called Dennis Nahat, the former artistic director of Ballet San Jose, who’d offered him a position in the past.

Seibel joined Ballet San Jose as an apprentice in 2010.

“It was a huge accomplishment for me to make it back to the studio,” he says.

Seibel has made close friends at Ballet San Jose. “When I first arrived, I was so surprised at how much people smiled and laughed during rehearsal. And José Manuel Carreño was the first male dancer I’d ever really admired.  I even recorded one of his performances on VHS back in 2007. He has huge ambitions and goals for Ballet San Jose. It’s so inspiring.”

This year, Seibel has danced the roles of a stomper in In The Upper Room and a sailor in Fancy Free.

“I’ve been so lucky,” he says. “My ears don’t affect my balance or my turns. Now, I don’t even make a big deal out of my hearing.”

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Review Roundup: MasterPieces

As we closed the curtain on last weekend’s MasterPieces performance, the Ballet San Jose Company was glowing at their achievement, and the feeling was clearly contagious. Reflecting on their success, here are a few thoughts about the performance from our reviewers.

Carla Escoda of the Huffington Post commented on Ballet San Jose’s performance of Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, stating,

The company threw themselves into that electrifying work with great style and daring – a triumph from start to finish.

Maykel Solas, Alexsandra Meijer, and Amy Marie Briones in Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room. Photo courtesy of Ballet San Jose.

Maykel Solas, Alexsandra Meijer, and Amy Marie Briones in Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. Photo courtesy of Ballet San Jose.

Continue reading

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Guest Stager: Stacy Caddell

After an acclaimed Nutcracker, our dancers are back in the studios rehearsing for our first program of 2015, MasterPieces. This week we are joined by Stacy Caddell, who is working with our dancers to stage George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations along with Sandra Jennings, also back in the studios since December. The ballet along with the company premiere of Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free and the return of Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room make up the MasterPieces program, which will be performed on February 20-22 at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. These three works truly live up to the title of MasterPieces, and we are thrilled to be presenting this exquisite and diverse program. Keep reading to learn more about Stacy Caddell. For tickets to see MasterPieces, visit the Ballet San Jose website. Tickets start at only $25!

Stacy CaddellStacy Caddell

Stacy Caddell was born in Norfolk, Virginia where she began her dance training at the age of five. She attended the School of American Ballet and joined New York City Ballet at the invitation of George Balanchine in 1980. In 1991, Caddell joined Twyla Tharp’s company. She later toured with Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov in the full evening production of Cutting Up. After retiring from the stage, Caddell assisted Tharp at American Ballet Theatre on Known by Heart and at New York City Ballet on Beethoven’s Seventh. From 2002-2005, she served as Dance Supervisor for Tharp’s Tony Award winning Broadway show Movin’ Out. Caddell’s choreographic credits include the HBO series The Sopranos, the opera Aida for the Todi Festival in Virginia, and a ballet, our special waltz, for Ballet Academy East where she is a permanent guest faculty member. Caddell is currently a repetiteur and travels internationally to stage the works of Twyla Tharp and George Balanchine for Twyla Tharp and the George Balanchine Trust respectively.

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Guest Stager: Sandra Jennings

We’re in the middle of Nutcracker season, but we’re already thinking ahead to the New Year! This week, we were joined in the studios by Guest Stager Sandra Jennings, also ballet-mistress and coach at Mariinsky Theatre. Sandra is working with the Company to stage George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations for Ballet San Jose’s MasterPieces program. MasterPieces will be performed at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts February 20-22, 2015.

Sandra Jennings

Sandra Jennings, courtesy of Mariinsky Theatre

 

Sandra Jennings

Sandra Jennings was born in Boston and began her dance training at an early age with June Paxman of the Washington Ballet and later with E. Virginia Williams at Boston Ballet. Later Sandra trained with teachers such as Harriet Hoctor, Shanna Bereska and Margaret Gill. Continue reading

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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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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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