Tag Archives: karen gabay

Dancer Spotlight: Ommi Pipit-Suksun

Story by Susan Lee

After living and working in three different countries, principal dancer Ommi Pipit-Suksun has finally found a home at Ballet San Jose.

Pipit-Suksun grew up in Thailand, where ballet was not very popular.  “There’s no professional ballet company in the country,” Pipit-Suksun says.  “And there weren’t even any dancers in my family.”

Ommi Pipit-Suksun

Ballet San Jose Principal Dancer Ommi Pipit-Suksun and Soloist Rudy Candia. Photo by Robert Reed.

So how did she wind up choosing ballet? Continue reading

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A Good First Look: Ballet San Jose’s New “Nutcracker”

From Karen Gabay's "The Nutcracker," performed by Ballet San Jose. Photo by Robert Shomler.

From Karen Gabay’s “The Nutcracker,” performed by Ballet San Jose. Photo by Robert Shomler (2012).

Ballet San Jose’s brand new Nutcracker opened this past Saturday in a gorgeous swirl of snow and infectious energy. Longtime Ballet SJ principal dancer Karen Gabay has choreographed a new production from a unique perspective: that of one of the only female choreographers in the world to choreograph a Nutcracker for a major ballet company. Performed to full orchestral accompaniment by Symphony Silicon Valley, her Nutcracker has given South Bay audiences a new look at the a classic holiday tale.

In her review for the San Jose Mercury News, Rita Felciano wrote:

This year Gabay…joined that still rare breed of women who choreograph major pieces for professional ballet companies. Gabay is no beginner at making dances. Still, tackling “Nutcracker” was a huge challenge — and opportunity. Supported by the Symphony Silicon Valley, under the baton of the ballet’s new musical director George Daugherty, she gave her home team and the legion of “Nutcracker” lovers, a family-friendly, fresh interpretation of the old tale — including a new twist.

Ms. Felciano went on to call parts of this new production of Nutcracker “ingenious,” praising Ballet SJ dancers for worthy performances, and later wrote that the “national dances are every ‘Nutcracker’s’ balletic highlights. Gabay gave us convincing versions with a feminist touch to some of them.”

In her review for triviana.com Arts & Entertainment, Virginia Bock wrote:

With festive sets, elegant costumes, a familiar story and Tchaikovsky’s well-known score, “The Nutcracker” ballet has been an audience favorite and a holiday tradition for decades. Ballet San Jose’s new production adds humor, complexity and some stunning new choreography that should keep audiences coming back for years to come.

Writing for CriticalDance.com, Heather Desaulniers noted:

With its brand new “Nutcracker”, Ballet San Jose continues to inject life, vision and vitality into the South Bay’s performing arts scene. Choreographed by BSJ’s own Karen Gabay, this full-length holiday extravaganza is a thoughtful and fresh interpretation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, complete with elegant dancing and striking originality…Accompaniment by Symphony Silicon Valley was the icing on the cake.  Under the direction of conductor George Daugherty, the music was dynamic, articulate and interactive, exactly what is required of and demanded by a Tchaikovsky score.

Dr. Gary R. Lemco, in his review for “The Classical Music Guide” forums at http://www.classicalmusicguide.com, added:

Peter Tchaikovsky’s perennial Christmas favorite, The Nutcracker, hardly needs promotion, but the Ballet San Jose production, with new choreography by former prima ballerina Karen Gabay, struck a chord, both resonant to the ear and panoramic to the eye, that warrants special mention. With the Symphony Silicon Valley under the masterful leadership of conductor George Daugherty, the audience at the Friday, December 14, 2012 performance at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts recovered much of the original wonder and enchantment of both the composer and “librettist,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s, often nightmarish parable of humanity’s liberation from its primal fears to embrace its own childhood innocence.

And Dr. Lemco also gave Ballet SJ School students a very positive mention:

Ms. Gabay’s singular effort was to engage as many young dancers as possible in the ensemble pieces, so the production glowed with Ballet SJ School Students.

Bravi! Congratulations to Karen, George, the company, Ballet SJ School students, and Symphony Silicon Valley. Every good review is well deserved!

It’s been an amazing run so far, but the show not over yet! Ballet SJ’s new Nutcracker runs through this Sunday, December 23, and there are still tickets available. Buy online or call our Box Office at (408) 288-2800 during regular business hours. Tickets can also be purchased one hour before show time at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts.

Happy holidays!

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Danseur Noble Roles for the Ages: Words from Ballet San Jose’s Dennis Nahat and Raymond Rodriguez

Karen Gabay and Raymond Rodriguez in Ballet San Jose's 'Giselle' (2004). Photo by Robert Shomler

Karen Gabay and Raymond Rodriguez in Ballet San Jose's 'Giselle' (2004). Photo by Robert Shomler.

Last Thursday, Dave Wilson (better known as the guy behind the blog “Dave Tries Ballet“) asked the twitterverse at large a ballet question we found most interesting: What are the four big danseur noble roles? Fascinating, we thought. A brilliant question, we said.

But since we are simply BSJ staff, we thought it best to go to the real experts. We asked Ballet San Jose’s Artistic Director Dennis Nahat and Régisseur Raymond Rodriguez for their input.

DENNIS NAHAT is an acclaimed artist and choreographer of international stature. He has dedicated himself to creating ballets that distinguish Ballet San Jose as a company of international renown since its inception. He really knows his stuff! From Dennis:

The roles I think are most desirable by the male danseur nobles!

Basil in Don Quixote (All guys love this role!)
Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake
Albrecht in Giselle
Romeo in Romeo and Juliet
Franz in Coppélia
Ali, the Slave in Le Corsaire
Solor in La Bayadère
Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty
Prince Charming in Cinderella
Nutcracker/Prince in The Nutcracker
Lucien d’Hervilly in Paquita
The Poet in Les Sylphides
Colas in La Fille Mal Gardée

RAYMOND RODRIGUEZ joined the Cleveland Ballet (now Ballet San Jose) in 1981 as a principal dancer and has become a treasured member of the organization since that time. He currently serves as Régisseur for Ballet San Jose and has danced all of the roles included in the list below. From Raymond:

My favorites are:

Prince Siegfried – Swan Lake
Albrecht – Giselle
Romeo – Romeo and Juliet
Basil – Don Quixote

There you have it, ballet fans, from the keyboards of the experts behind Ballet San Jose in California. We hope these lists have given you further insight into our world, and we think you may find some surprises there as well. What do you think? Do you agree with Raymond and Dennis? How would you change the lists above?

Feel free to throw fun questions our way and we’ll try to get some interesting answers for you in the future!

Best wishes,
Ballet San Jose

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