Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Telluride Rehearsal Fun

Fire Island Dance Festival
Photo by Whitney Browne

The next few days were hard work. No more easy days! We started every day with ballet class taught either by Troy, Lauren or David. Each class was very different but our "teachers" welcomed some fun. Along with their varied styles of teaching was eclectic or pop music, depending on their mood, a nice change from formal classroom routines. Though the studio space was limited, the room was fully equipped and had an amazing sprung floor (the floor was made by using tennis balls placed in the corners joining the wood planks to create spring). It was such a pleasant surprise to find that the floor was great. (Often times, when performing at smaller theaters or other venues, the flooring can be a problem - causing injures, and pain to your joints.) The class environment was intense. We worked hard, pushing ourselves to break through the altitude difficulties and move toward better stamina. It was a process but BalletCollective is used to process!

After class, we moved to the stage for rehearsals! 

Troy usually began rehearsing Dear and Blackbirds with Harrison and me first because we needed only 15-30 minutes to run the piece (this allowed the other five dancers to take a quick break before moving on to the other two ballets). At the Fire Island Dance Festival we performed an excerpt of the pas de deux; in Telluride, we were to show the complete nine minute plus pas. At this intense degree of altitude, Harrison and I felt out of shape. Just a week prior out by the ocean, we were performing seven minutes without any problems. Yet, at 8500 feet above sea level, we couldn’t even get through the first movement --only 2.5 minutes! We started out slow, stopping when we felt like we were going to “die”, making sure we did not overdo it the first couple of days. We wanted to gain momentum but not peak too soon (a dancer tries to time the readiness of the piece and the performance just right so you are at your highest level the day of the performance). We worked our way through all four movements daily.

New Salle Piece
Photo by Troy Schumacher

After that 15-30 minutes I was pooped! But I still had another ballet to rehearse: The Impulse Wants Company. Putting together The Impulse Wants Company was refreshing but also tedious. It is always nice coming back to a ballet you are familiar with. Your body has wonderful muscle memory and, in a way, magically just knows what to do or how to move depending on the ballet. Especially when a ballet was created on and for you, the steps never seem to leave you. Six of the seven dancers were originals to the piece so we only had to work Claire into the piece. Troy, not having a choreographer’s assistant to help with the staging, had to basically relearn Claire’s part to be able to coach and assist in her slotting in. Thankfully Claire had done her homework and taught herself most of the ballet on her own before arriving in Telluride. (It is very common for dancers to be asked to learn a ballet from performance and rehearsal footage. It saves lots of time!) Most dancers check out videos of new ballets they are to learn anyway, just to begin familiarizing yourself with the context and style of the ballet, so teaching yourself is just one step further. 

Claire fit in nicely, beginning to make the role her own right from the start. We made it through Impulse, but it was definitely rough. Luckily we had six more days 'til it was to be performed!

After a quick lunch break, Troy and I started to work on the last piece, title to be determined, with the other five dancers not involved in Dear and Blackbirds. Currently it is noted as New Salle piece as the collaborators are Troy, Ellis and David Salle, an artist often exhibited at MOMA. I mentioned “Troy and I” because I am his ballet mistress or as he likes to call it, the “Assistant to the Choreographer”. I have filled this position before, click here to read about my experience during Cut Capers, and had a wonderful time working side by side with Troy and the other dancers, just in this new capacity. The New Salle piece was a work in progress. Troy had choreographed about 12 minutes while we were in New York City, but had hopes of finishing the piece before our workshop performance in Telluride. Daily we would go through each section, of which there are eight, work, clean and then he would continue to create. 

By the end of the day, sometimes 5pm but mostly 6pm, we were all exhausted. A quick stop at the local market, Clark’s, to grab any needed ingredients for the evening's meal and we were off to the Mesa for dinner and bed! 

More on the New Salle piece!

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