Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Second Time Around

Photo: Erin Baiano
Thursday was BalletCollective's second performance at the Joyce Theater. It marked a "first" for BalletCollective: our first two performance season. BalletCollective has never had two consecutive performances. Usually we have a one night only performance so having the second night was a special treat for the company. The dancers and musicians had a second chance to perform these ballets, and the collaborators another look at their creation, while Troy had an opportunity to take a second look at his company.

Since we had performed Wednesday night and celebrated 'til the early hours, Thursday was scheduled as a late start day. Even though I was up late celebrating, I rallied to take Willy Burmann's 10:30 am class at Steps on Broadway. Although Troy was offering company class later in the day, I knew my body needed to get moving early. Each dancer is different. My body tends to function better if I take an early ballet class, then rehearse and perform in the evening. However some dancers prefer to sleep in, rest 'til warmup class a few hours before the show.

After Willy's class I grabbed a quick lunch and took a cat nap just in time to head to the theater for Troy's company class. Troy taught class on the stage. I took again, even though I had already taken ballet class. For me I was hopeful that it would work for my body as a rehearsal does. I don't like to perform without having rehearsed that day. My muscles perform better when they are tired and have been pushed earlier that day. After our warmup Troy opened the time up for anyone wanting to rehearse. A few of us wanted to get a puff in (this means getting your heart rate up and getting out of breath) as it helps with stamina. If you have been puffed during the day in rehearsal the performance usually feels easier. I ran the first movement of Epistasis, Fireflies, with some of the dancers. Fireflies calls for a lot of energy and involves fast paced jumps. Running only the first movement allowed me to get that needed puff without completely exhausting my legs.

Warm and my blood flowing, I banged my pointe shoes on a brick wall (banging the pointe shoes helps to minimize the sound of the shoe on the stage. It is never good to hear dancers running or clunking around.) and headed downstairs to begin my pre-show make up and hair.

Soon I was ready and in the studio warming up. My third barre of the day. My legs were finally starting to feel like my legs: a bit of tiredness mixed with adrenaline. I did my crunches, got a hug and "Merde" from Troy, and off to the dressing room I went. Moments later, an Altoid in my mouth, I was beginning my traditional on-stage warmup as the audience filled up.

Thursday I felt strange. I was excited, relaxed, and tired. I wasn't sure how the performance was going to go. Some nights you have a feeling that the show will go one way or the next, but that night I was unsure. The lights went dark and we were on stage.

The Impulse Wants Company was in motion. Kaitlyn nailed her first solo. From that moment on I knew the show was going to be a good one. Twenty minutes later all the dancers but Taylor were off stage in the wings. We had just finished our last steps. While we watched Taylor execute his intense solo, some dancers were happy with their performance and some had complaints. It is interesting to do a ballet with live music two days in a row. Musically things sound different, there is a different energy amongst the dancers on stage and with the music. Therefore it is normal to have a different experience each night you do a ballet. For me Impulse went better Thursday night. No matter the difference in tempo or energy, I felt in the zone.

We bowed and ran to the dressing room to change modes into Epistasis.  My quick change (costume and pointe shoes), hair change and make up refreshening happened much smoother than Wednesday. I was up and practicing on stage within minutes. I tried a turn from my pas de deux that didn't go as well as I would have liked on Wednesday. Then it was "places".

Epistasis was happening. Right before I made my first entrance I remember thinking, "enjoy every minute, you never know when you will get to dance this again." As I am an original member of BalletCollective and Epistasis, this ballet is very special to me. And to be given the opportunity to dance the central pas de deux, something I have watched and admired for years, was a dream. Each section of Epistasis I relished in the moment. Dancing my solo in silence and the pas de deux with Taylor were amazing. I remember thinking how quiet the house was when I was making my way through my solo. Then smacking my foot on the ground at Taylor was the beginning of the end. After meeting eye to eye we parted to our respective sides of the stage. The music began and we were connected. The musical cues met us at the appropriate times and we were in control of our time together. As we joined in a series of crouching steps, Taylor whispered to me " here we go!" The "break down" music  (the fast break and transition into the coda of the pas de deux) jolts and then moments later we were breathing hard and in the end pose. We slightly catch our breath and the ballet continues. For a quick moment Taylor and I find ourselves off stage about to enter for the last time. It was a last push till the end. We looked at each other, high fifed and said "We got this!"

Photo: Erin Baiano

One last look and Taylor and I were slow dancing in an embrace as the lights went dark. I will remember this moment forever. Together BalletCollective had made it. All seven dancers were joined in that instant together. The bond and the memories had been made. We bowed together as a group, and each separately. It was an incredible feeling to be applauded and recognized alone, each of us, for our performance and hard work as dancers. I want to feel that again!

BalletCollective had made its mark. We are officially on the ballet map. Thank you to our supporters and all who were there at the Joyce.

That night BalletCollective was excited. Troy was thrilled and encouraged for the future of his company and mission to create collaborative work. The dancers: happy, relieved and hungry. We as a group celebrated at BareBurger. We cheered to the future (and for a fair review from the critics)!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Ashley, for your wonderful reports. You capture the moments!