Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dancing Older Ballets vs. New Creations

As a dancer, there are two main things we dream about: placing our own, personal stamp on ballet’s masterworks and having new ballets created on us. The processes of each are so different. Some days I find myself preferring to have my own artistic process with a role that was created 10, 20, 50 years ago, but others I feel and remember the unique sensation that comes from dancing something made only for me.

Dancing older ballets such as George Balanchine’s Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Square Dance, Allegro Brilliante or Jerome Robbins’ The Cage, or Glass Pieces brings me so much joy. The ballets are tough and physically demanding yet so fulfilling. Tthough the steps were created on past generations, they fit my body and style as no others could. Balanchine and Robbins’ ballets just feel good to my body. They feel right. 

Having a work choreographed specifically for you, made on your body, is a challenging and exciting process. If the choreographer doesn’t know you as a dancer it can be harder to feel the same as when dancing Balanchine. Yet, I can only imagine how Wendy Whelan must feel dancing one of her iconic roles like the pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain. It seems that Wendy, Chris and Jock Soto jelled at the perfect time. After the Rain is a captivating piece of art that showcases both Wendy and Jock’s strengths, beauty, uniqueness, and their love for each other. I haven’t had this experience yet at NYCB, but am hopeful for a choreographer to take a chance on me and create something special. 

Through BalletCollective I have found this feeling in both Troy’s Gutter pas de deux and the pas de deux from Warehouse under the Hudson. My first experience was with Gutter. While on vacation, and in the first year of BalletCollective, Troy choreographed the Gutter on the two of us alone in a studio, even though it would be performed by other dancers. Troy choreographed it on us in an effort to save time when he had the group of dancers together. This was an amazing experience for me. I think it worked so well because Troy knows me inside and out, he understands me as a dancer and we have chemistry together on and off the stage. Gutter begins slow and filled with curiosity, then soon picks up as young lovers grow and laugh together. As luck would have it, Troy and I had the opportunity to dance Gutter at the Young Choreographers Showcase. Dancing Gutter with Troy was an incredible experience. 

Warehouse under the Hudson was created for Taylor Stanley and me. He and I have built a wonderful partnership throughout the years of BalletCollective. Warehouse under the Hudson allowed me to be emotionally free and at times angry and dramatic. The steps to this pas de deux feel like me. Troy’s choreographic ability to create steps that just work with my body has given me the feeling that I desire when watching Wendy dance After the Rain

Dancing Gutter and Warehouse under the Hudson have given me the unique feeling that only comes from a new ballet. However, at this point, I have had more experiences dancing older roles than new. Most recently I danced Peter Martin’s The Infernal Machine, a pas de deux originally created on Janie Taylor and Amar Ramasar. Just a few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to perform my debut in this ballet. It is definitely a stand out in my career. Having the chance to work so closely with Peter was incredible. He was engaging and excited every time we rehearsed. He was also interested in tailoring the piece to me and my dancing abilities. This highly energetic ballet was just a thrill to perform. The night I debuted in The Infernal Machine, I felt like a different dancer. I morphed into this creature. It was a one of a kind feeling. Once we hit the floor in our last pose, the audience went crazy. It was the first time I had experienced such an incredible response from the audience. I loved making The Infernal Machine my own. 

The Infernal Machine, Gutter and Warehouse under the Hudson have changed my life, not only as a dancer but as a person. Whether an old ballet or new creation, both bring experiences that we as dancers treasure. I am grateful for the opportunity to dance such great works with the hopes of reinventing the old and making the new my own!   

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