Washington Ballet Studio CompanyWashington Ballet Studio Company
Posted 25 October 2003 - 03:36 PM
In short, if you're an enormously talented preprofessional who is accepted into this program, your reward is to work twice as hard as you ever thought possible, but you get to dance a lot Lucky them, and lucky us who get to see them just before their names go up in lights!
The inaugural program of the Studio Company took place, appropriately enough, in the bare-bones large studio of the WB. You all know the drill: concrete walls (but at least the paint is fresh!), barres on two sides, wall-to-wall mirror on the other, bleachers (holding 100 people max) on the fourth side. I was one of the very fortunate 100 (how did they ever let me in?) who got to see these seven amazingly talented dancers as they begin their transition to major careers.
The evening opened with "Pas de Quatre," choreography by Jules Perrot, reset by Anton Dolin, and perceptively staged for the Studio Company by Victoria Leigh. Dancers Allison Walsh, Maki Onuki, Emily Vonne SoRelle, and Martina Chavez. After a brief pause, we were treated to Septime Webre's beautiful pas de deux, "The Poet Acts," danced by Washington Ballet stars Brianne Bland and Jared Nelson. There followed "Airs Anciens" (music from Respighi's "Ancient Airs and Dances"), choreographed and staged by WB master John Goding, dancers Martina Chavez, Dori Goldstein, Chris Louk, Maki Onuki, Stacey Price, Emily Vonne SoRelle, Allison Walsh. Then came another special treat, as WB star dancer and choreographer Jason Hartley reprised his recent Kennedy Center success in "Nocturne Monologue." The evening was brought to a stand-up-and-cheer conclusion by Jeff Edwards' staging of Balanchine's "Who Cares?" (music by Gershwin), dancers Maki Onuki, Allison Walsh, Martina Chavez, and Chris Louk.
This evening didn't just exceed my expectations, it completely blew them away. It was pre-advertised only as a Studio Company performance, but in addition we got to see three established Washington Ballet Company stars! Seeing these amazing and world-class dancers (Bland, Nelson, and Hartley) in two world-class dances, fresh from their Kennedy Center season openers and this time up close and personal from about two feet away, was an experience that will always stay with me, a completely unexpected and incredibly generous bonus.
The three Studio Company performances, danced exclusively by WB Trainees, stood up proudly, even to the above stars' firepower. "Trainees" is really the wrong word, even though it is their official designation in the company - these dancers are the new stars that we will be seeing onstage, and soon! Among so much new talent it seems almost unfair to single anyone out, but I saw some very strong dancing from Allison Walsh (Pas de Quatre), along with loads of good dancing and some real charisma from SoRelle, Onuki, Chavez, Goldstein, Louk, and Price.
The evening ended on the best possible note, with a rousing and delightful performance of "Who Cares?" You can tell when dancers are authentically happy, especially when you are watching them from two feet away, and these dancers were *really* happy, and so was the audience; I think it was from dancing Balanchine, and from the security of Jeff Edwards' staging, and from their knowing that they had totally nailed this piece!
Posted 25 October 2003 - 03:43 PM
I'm looking forward to reading even more. B)
Posted 25 October 2003 - 08:44 PM
Posted 26 October 2003 - 04:31 AM
Posted 26 October 2003 - 08:06 AM
And I agree that having the opportunity to be 2 feet away from the dancers was a treat that my dds and I will not forget any time soon.
Ms. Leigh: Beautiful work with the young trainees ... all was perfect, most particularly the costumes and hair. A slice of heaven to have an opportunity to see this classical piece so wonderfully done.
Posted 26 October 2003 - 09:01 AM
Which Pas de Quatre was this? From Swan Lake?
Posted 26 October 2003 - 09:24 AM
Mike, thank you again for writing such a wonderfully detailed report. I couldn't go to that program and was very glad to read about it.
Posted 26 October 2003 - 09:49 AM
Posted 26 October 2003 - 10:13 AM
Thank you all for your very kind words about this program! I think it was a very good start to the Studio Company, and certainly an ambitious one for such a small group! Three of my Pas de Quatre dancers were in all 3 ballets, which was quite a marathon, especially with the costume and hair changes. Getting out of the Pas de Quatre hair takes as long as getting it done in the first place! The interludes between ballets could have used another pas de deux I believe for today's performance we have a pianist to play a musical interlude during the changes, as the Poet pas after Pas de Quatre and one solo between the second and third works were not quite long enough. (Second show is this afternoon at 4:30. It is primarily for the Cecchetti Council, which is holding it's annual event in our studios all day today.)
Posted 26 October 2003 - 10:25 AM
It was reconstructed by Keith Lester in 1936 for the Dolin Ballet, and then a different reconstruction by Anton Dolin, in 1941 for Ballet Theatre. The version I learned and danced a number of years ago was this version. I have staged it a number of times, and absolutely love doing it as it is just a very special work, as well as a history lesson for the dancers, and a major challenge to teach them the style of that period.
Posted 26 October 2003 - 10:45 AM
Posted 26 October 2003 - 12:10 PM
When did rehearsals begin?
Posted 26 October 2003 - 03:59 PM
Posted 26 October 2003 - 05:03 PM
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