Tag Archives: san jose performing arts

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

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 , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Continue reading

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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!

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

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Ballet San Jose’s Volunteers: They Make the World Go ‘Round

volunteers like Rommel and Minnie have generously donated their time to Ballet San Jose, and we appreciate every moment!

Volunteers like Rommel and Minnie have generously donated their time to Ballet San Jose, and we appreciate every moment!

With 2012 Season subscriptions available for renewal and single tickets for Programs 1 and 2 now on sale, we are gaining momentum in our sprint toward March 2. Ballet San Jose‘s dancers are working closely with people like David Richardson and American Ballet Theatre’s Susan Jones to stage Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 and Paquita, respectively. Meanwhile, we second-floor dwellers are also working hard to get the season’s programs up and running on schedule.

However, the hard work isn’t limited to employees or dancers in the company. Volunteers from around the area have generously stepped forward to donate their time as well.

A number of our season subscribers, parents of Ballet San Jose School students, and long-time supporters have volunteered to help us with community outreach. Since Tuesday, volunteers have arrived at the Ballet San Jose studios every evening and spent hours calling last year’s subscribers, urging them to renew before the 2012 Season opens. The volunteers have a great time talking about last year’s ballets and discussing the upcoming pieces. And with this “Season of Premieres” fast approaching, there is certainly a lot to talk about.

In fact, I’ve heard the volunteers had so much fun Tuesday night that many of them asked if they could come back for a second night of outreach.

Lee told me that he couldn’t have asked for a better crew:

It’s a whole different ball game when the person calling you from Ballet San Jose is a volunteer—a volunteer who really loves the organization and believes in what we do. We are incredibly lucky to have help from people who truly believe in our artistic staff. You can’t really put a price on that kind of support.

As someone who is relatively new to the organization, I can’t describe how cool it is to know that Ballet San Jose has these kinds of supporters. They aren’t limited to doing outreach over the phone; Ballet San Jose is fortunate enough to have volunteers who are willing to help with any number of tasks, from working the “Will Call” booth during shows to helping out at the boutique during The Nutcracker. I come from a small business background, and this is my first foray into the world of nonprofits. Bit by bit, I’m discovering that there are some amazing things about nonprofits that you just don’t find anywhere else.

This morning, we announced an addition to Program 2 (April 13-15) of Ballet San Jose’s 2012 Season: Stanton Welch’s Clear, an introspective work and showcase for male dancers that was inspired by September 11. It looks like this piece is going to be phenomenal. So if you get a call from one of our volunteers in the next couple of weeks, make sure you renew your subscription to see the amazing shows we have lined up for the season. You won’t want to miss any of them.

–Erica
Social Media Coordinator

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Tales from the City: San Jose’s Arts Culture

Ballet San Jose packs up the roadboxes for another show.

Ballet San Jose packs up the road boxes for another show. Photo by Ballet San Jose.

WHEN YOU THINK of a city brimming with culture and diversity, San Jose may not be the first metropolis that comes to mind. After all, San Francisco, New York and Chicago are old cities; their places in national memory are characterized by everything from world expositions to groundbreaking political movements to entire decades in United States history.

San Jose may not be San Francisco, but we do have a culture that is unique to our area. Much like Ballet San Jose’s dancers, the people who make up San Jose’s diverse population hail from all parts of the world. It is an important piece of the Silicon Valley puzzle, a symbol of that elusive entrepreneurial spirit.

In some ways, nothing characterizes the essence of San Jose better than its local arts programs. As we look ahead to Ballet San Jose’s 2012 Season, which begins this March, these things are always on our minds. When the curtain rises, we aren’t just putting on a show for the audience — we, along with organizations such as Symphony Silicon Valley and Opera San Jose, are functioning as parts of a larger arts culture.

Talia, a marketing intern here at Ballet San Jose, said it best when she wrote about walking into our building at 40 North First Street for the first time:

Interview day. Burgundy red carpet, white worn-down walls, wall to wall pictures elegantly hung along the stairways. Though it may not seem like much, the front lobby of the Ballet San Jose building looked beautiful to me. It was full of memory. At that moment, something told me that I was going to like it here at Ballet San Jose — not because this vintage building reminded me of New York but because of the warm, historical vibe that washed over me as soon as I stepped through the door.

I snapped back to reality and pressed the button for floor number two. (If I listened carefully, I could hear the dancers upstairs, practicing their routines.) As I waited for the elevator door to open, I didn’t know exactly what would happen. I did know that my day was about to take a whole new turn.

Since starting my internship at Ballet San Jose, I have accomplished many things. Whether I am creating engaging videos that draw people to our Nutcracker, sorting through stacks of mail, or exercising my creativity to develop an archival binder of striking news-clippings, candid pictures, engaging blog posts and reviews about our Nutcracker…I feel like I am creating something, like I am participating in the Silicon Valley arts culture — like I’m really a part of San Jose.

Until next time,
Ballet San Jose

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