Go behind the scenes with three different choreographers for this Valentine’s weekend production of The Rite of Spring.
Just 10 days remain in our 2012 Mother Ginger contest. As we draw closer to announcing a winner, we hope you’ll enjoy these backstage moments from a few of last year’s Mother Gingers.
To see the 2012 nominees and vote, visit www.balletaustin.org/motherginger/.
With our Golden Anniversary production of The Nutcracker opening in a mere few weeks, I thought you might like a peek inside a Sugar Plum Fairy’s dance bag.
Twelve-year Company Member Aara Krumpe really likes “the familiar.” Whether it’s wearing warm-ups she’s owned for years (pictured above), standing at “her” spot at the barre, or eating oatmeal for lunch every day, tradition is the name of her game.
How very fitting for a Sugar Plum Fairy…
Since Aara was 15, she’s warmed up every day at the barre in a pair of old, soft pointe shoes. As her rehearsal and performance pointe shoes “die”, she cuts off the laces and saves them for barre work. In her words, ‘they just feel better than wearing ballet slippers!’
Something else Aara can’t live without is her yoga block, which she uses to do splits, stretches and to lay flat. In another note on tradition, Frank Shott – with whom Aara will dance for the 7th year and her barre mate since 2001 – constantly steals the block.
Aara brings her ballet bag, originally a diaper bag given to her by Trainees, to and from work each day and then keeps a smaller separate bag in the studio for rehearsal. Her must-have dance bag essentials? A surprisingly small number of things:
- Cheap White Rain hairspray (she is the “wispy tamer”)
- A tupperware of oatmeal for lunch each day – “I realized I’m not a protein person. I need carbs. Oatmeal gives me enough energy and stays with me all day.”
- Emergen-C, just in case
- At least one unsewn pair of shoes and her sewing bag
- Thera-band for stretching and strengthening
With The Nutcracker rapidly approaching, I asked how long a pair of pointe shoes – which take her 30 or 40 minutes to prepare – will last. Her answer? “Two run-throughs.”
Last but not least, I asked Aara if she has any secret tricks or tips. She had two suggestions for me:
- Elasticized pointe shoe ribbons (available at Discount Dance Supply), which are more comfortable over her Achilles tendon
- Perry’s Pork Chop Fridays. See you there?
You can see Aara on stage this holiday season dancing as Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. For tickets, click here.
From the children who perform as Angels to the professionals who dance the principal role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Nutcracker is as much a part of ballet as tendus and pliés.
Today, Ballet Austin heads to Miami to perform Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. See what’s going through Company Dancer Anne Marie Melendez‘s head as she prepares.
There has been a buzz of excitement around the Ballet Austin studios over the past couple of weeks. There is something about touring that charges us dancers up like few other things. The idea of traveling somewhere, all expenses paid, sounds glamorous at first glance. But going on tour can definitely bring its own set of challenges, obstacles, and concerns especially when it involves a ballet such as Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.
Having performed Light as recently as March certainly aided in putting the ballet back together rather swiftly. Still, we took it section by section, reviewing the mechanics of the movement as well as the musicality. These elements are so important when presenting a ballet like Light because those pieces have to be so clear and must lay the foundation for the narrative and the emotional element that comes with performing the ballet.
In addition to rehearsing Light, we have also been busy revisiting The Nutcracker, as it will be fast on our heels once we return from Miami. The two ballets couldn’t be more different from each other as I literally spent a few days going from being the Snow Queen in a tutu, to running around barefoot and being dragged across the floor by my arms. It was quite confusing for my body – my calves and ankles would be tight and sore from the classical work, and my back and neck would be stiff from the more modern movement. Let’s just say there were quite a few hot baths, ice buckets, yoga sessions, etc…
As we prepare to leave for Miami on Thursday, I have a list of logistical concerns. What do I pack? In addition to what I would normally pack for any other trip like clothing and toiletries, I also need to bring an entire list of things that are dance and performance related. Outside of the obvious leotards and tights, I need my performance shoes, extra shoes for my understudy duties (which of course I won’t need – *knock on wood* – but they must be packed!), stage makeup, dance bag and all associated peripheral devices like my calf roller. And yes, yoga mat, you WILL fit in my suitcase. I have a list, and I’m checking it twice!
My other concern is food. Yes, clearly there is food in Miami, great food no doubt, but this is not a vacation. Just as most sports athletes have their eating, sleeping, and training routines leading up to events, dancers are quite similar. I normally take into consideration what I eat, but I am never pickier than I am during performance week. It’s not so much of a superstition as it is a need to efficiently fuel my body so that it can function as best it can when the time comes. Performance week is not the time to try something new, so my concern, being out of my element and out of my own kitchen, is how to maintain my routine. So far I’ve decided to bring Clif Bars, instant oatmeal, and head to the market once we get to Miami to stock up on some bananas and other easy to grab snacks.
All of these logistics are not unlike the mechanics of the choreography – they are the foundation of what we are ultimately trying to present. Overall, I am both nervous and excited. I think a certain amount of nerves is healthy, it means you care about the outcome of something. I’m excited to share Light and Ballet Austin with a new community, and I’m curious how both the company and the work will be received.
This evening, Paul, Ashley, and I just finished watching the documentary “The Last Days.” I think continuing our education is an important way to prepare before we leave on Thursday, as it continually informs the work we are doing in the studio and on stage, and most importantly, it reminds us of how vital it is to keep telling this story.
In Miami? You can see Anne perform Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project on stage this Saturday and Sunday. Tickets here.
The past few weeks, our Company Dancers have alternated between rehearsing the siren-filled Light and joyous Nutcracker. If you, friends or family are in Miami, you will not want to miss this:
“Art can only start a conversation; people solve problems. But hopefully art can be a catalyst to get people thinking about things in a way they don’t ordinarily.” – Stephen Mills in this Associated Press article.
Below, watch our two :30 video promos, “From the Darkness” and “Into the Light”:
For tickets and information, please visit the Arsht Center‘s website.
In addition to our annual run of The Nutcracker at the Long Center, our dancers also perform in “school shows” for elementary school students.
As part of Ballet Austin’s educational programming, volunteer Docents visit 100 schools throughout central Texas each season to provide students with an educational presentation about dance and The Nutcracker as a precursor to attending the shows. The Docent Program is an invaluable educational tool for our community.
Below is a note from Deb Haas on the joys of being a Nutcracker docent AND an Academy parent:
Perhaps you’d like an opportunity to do more than simply drive to and from rehearsals for the next couple of months. If so, I hope you will consider being a volunteer Nutcracker docent, and help the Ballet Austin Guild bring the joy of The Nutcracker to school children throughout the Central Texas area.
My daughter, Miriam, loved The Nutcracker from the first time she saw it (she was 4) and told me then that dancing in The Nutcracker was “her dream”. Well, all her dreams have come true – she will be making her ninth appearance in the production this season, as a rat, which means she has danced virtually every Academy role from angel on up. For all those years, my role has been driver and docent.
As much as Miriam loves dancing, being a docent is hands down my favorite part of The Nutcracker. There is something so special and fulfilling about the opportunity to bring an art form I love to students, who often, have never seen a live ballet performance. For my presentations, I rely on the wonderful materials provided by Ballet Austin’s Community Education Director, Pei-San Brown. In addition to the presentation itself, each docent receives a bag chock full of props including, of course, a Nutcracker.
Docent training and presentations take place in November and early December before students attend the school shows at the Long Center. Soup to nuts, being a docent won’t take more than 8 hours out of your busy holiday schedule – and it means so much to our community. I hope you can join us.
Nutcracker Docent Co-Chair
Training for Nutcracker docents begins Nov 1. Want to get involved? Find our more or sign up here.
We are proud to announce our new, 3-part video series chronicling our Summer Intensive program. Watch below:
Part 1 – “Resident Life:”
Part 2 – “The Program”
Part 3 – “Starting a Career”
We are excited to announce main casting for Ballet Austin’s Golden Anniversary Production of The Nutcracker. More parts to be announced soon.
Frank Shott, Paul Michael Bloodgood
Aara Krumpe, Ashley Lynn Gilfix
Anne Marie Melendez, Chelsea Marie Renner
Beth Terwilleger, Oren Porterfield
Orlando Julius Canova, Ian J. Bethany
Kody Jauron, Andrew Mankin
James Fuller, Christopher Swaim
Christopher Swaim, James Fuller, Preston Andrew Patterson
Rebecca Johnson, Anne Marie Melendez, Jaime Lynn Witts
Sugar Plum Fairy
Ashley Lynn Gilfix, Aara Krumpe
Paul Michael Bloodgood, Frank Shott
Orlando Julius Canova, James Fuller
Elise Pekarek, Brittany Strickland
Edward Carr, Christopher Swaim
Anne Marie Melendez, Rebecca Johnson
Ian J. Bethany, Michael Burfield
Russian Male lead
Preston Andrew Patterson, Ian J. Bethany
Michael Burfield, Jordan Moser
Beth Terwilliger, Oren Porterfield
Jaime Lynn Witts, Michelle Thompson, Chelsea Marie Renner
Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker runs Dec 8-23 at Long Center. Come celebrate the holidays with us. Tickets.