Tag Archives: raymond rodriguez

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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BSJ Principal Ballet Master Raymond Rodriguez Talks ‘Graduation Ball’

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LAST FRIDAY we caught up with Ballet San Jose‘s Principal Ballet Master Raymond Rodriguez and talked to him briefly about his experience staging — and performing in — Graduation Ball.

Born in New York City and trained at the American Ballet Theatre School, Raymond joined Cleveland Ballet (now Ballet San Jose) in 1981, where he danced principal roles for many years. Most recently, Raymond served as Régisseur with Ballet San Jose until this year, when he was appointed Principal Ballet Master of the Company. When Ballet San Jose last performed David Lichine’s Graduation Ball in February 2002, Raymond appeared as The General — a role he will reprise this season! But this time, Raymond will also stage the ballet himself.

When we asked him about the difference between performing Graduation Ball and staging it, Raymond said: “When staging a ballet, I have to know every single role. At this point, I could put on a one-man show. [When I’m just] dancing, I worry about my own role, as opposed to when I’m staging a ballet, which means I have to worry about everyone!”

Sounds stressful! But Raymond said he is also extremely excited to be playing the role of The General again this year.

“As soon as I put on the wig and the fat suit, my whole personality is transformed,” he said. “When I tried on the wig for the first time the other day, my body suddenly hunched over. I started making faces. I felt like I was becoming The General.”

He added: “I think that’s the case for a lot of the dancers — once they are in costume and makeup, they really immerse themselves in their roles.”

In fact, that magical transformation is one of the things Raymond said he loves most about Graduation Ball as a ballet and as a story.

Graduation Ball is a great company piece for storytelling,” he explained. “It’s great for both children and adults because it tells a story of being a young college student at a ball. Adults can relate because it brings them back to a time when they were first dating and falling in love. It’s an amazing acting opportunity for all the dancers in the company.”

With its lighthearted storytelling, cast of quirky characters and evocation of first loves, Graduation Ball is the perfect complement to the rest of Program 1 of the 2012 Season: the iconic classical ballet Paquita and Jerome Robbins’ contemporary American masterpiece Interplay. Given that Graduation Ball is the only company revival in the 2012 Season, you can see why we were so eager to bring it back. The piece has found its niche in Ballet San Jose’s repertoire as a much beloved story ballet and comedy extravaganza.

We can’t wait to see what Raymond and the dancers make of it this year!

Ballet San Jose 

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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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