Tag Archives: Austin

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Jae Hoon Lim

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet our newest certified Pilates instructor Jae Hoon!

jae-hoon-lim

  1. What do you do on your free time?
    Drive (be stuck in traffic) to the next job… Just Kidding. When I’m not working I like to take social dance classes at Go Dance or go hiking.
  2. What’s your favorite cocktail?
    Old Fashioned or Manhattan at Small Victory.
  3. What are you currently reading?
    Architecture of Human Living Fascia, Childhood Disrupted, NatGeo magazine.
  4. Do you have any pets?
    I have a 3-year-old cat, named Toupée. She is a white cat with a black mark on her head, thus the name, “Toupée”. :) She teaches me to love unconditionally and to cohabit with another being (requires some patience).
  5. What’s your guilty pleasure?
    Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, Guinness, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

BONUS Question: What’s one interesting fact about yourself?
Just one!? I’ll give you a few.
I am REALLY good at darts. Wanna challenge me? I’ll play you for a pint of Guinness anytime.
I love riding motorcycles. (Sadly, I had to sell my Yamaha when I moved here. :( So, now I am saving $$ to buy Moto Guzzi V7 Special)
I am studying to be trilingual. Parlez-vous français? I’ll teach you Korean if you’ll be my French tutor.

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Brittany Harpole

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet Brittany Harpole! She was introduced to Pilates though her 15 years of classical ballet training. Here’s a little more about her!

brittany-harpole

          1. What do you do on your free time?
            Between working at Ballet Austin, two kids, and owning my own business I don’t get a lot of free time. But my husband and I love to take the kids and animals camping if we get a free weekend.
          2. What are you currently reading?
            Idea fit magazine.
          3. Do you have any pets?
            I have two dogs and 4 chickens and 2 kids if you count those as animals. My dogs are name Tilly and TJ and they love to hunt and run around our property. My 4 chickens are named Snow White, Ariel, Pocahontas and Jasmine. They lay lots of eggs and love attention.
          4. If you had to choose just one, what “health tip” would you want everyone to know?Sustainability is key. Making a lifestyle change that is sustainable is healthier and more beneficial than doing a crash diet or extreme exercise.
          5. What’s your guilty pleasure?
            Homemade Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

BONUS Question: What’s one interesting fact about you that you’d like to share?
I’m not afraid to get dirty or try something new. I might at the Ballet one weekend and the dirt bike track the next.

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Tyler Guthrie

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet Tyler Guthrie! She’s not just one of Ballet Austin’s certified Pilates instructor, she also teaches a few drop-in fitness classes through our Butler Center for Dance & Fitness.

tyler-guthrie

          1. Who’s your favorite Austin musician?
            Tameca Jones
          2. What’s your favorite restaurant?
            Justine’s
          3. Do you have any pets?
            2 rescue cats (Ballie and bama) and one dog Jojo—they are my life
          4. How long have you been in Austin?
            I moved here from California when I was 12 and left to go back to Cali when I was 18. I moved to Dallas, came back, studied nutrition and preventative medicine in New York and came back. Basically I’ve been in and out of town since I was 12.
          5. What do you do on your free time?
            I don’t really have much free time, but when I do, I paddle board, run, or play music. I’m a singer/songwriter.

Be sure to also check out her Instagram account for great health tips and check out the Ballet Austin Pilates group reformer schedule for her next open time slot.

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Elise Pekarek

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet Elise Pekarek who is not only a Ballet Austin certified Pilates Instructor but is also one of our talented Company Dancers!

elise-pekarek

        1. Who’s your favorite Austin musician?
          I always enjoy going to see my friend and fellow company dancer Jordan Moser perform with his band.
        2. What’s your favorite restaurant?
          Uchi!
        3. What are you currently reading?
          I recently finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I’m looking for something new!
        4. Do you have any pets?
          Two Boston Terriers, Nitro and Lady.

          Nitro

          Nitro

          Lady

          Lady

        5. What do you do on your free time?
          In my free time, I try to do Pilates for myself. I also enjoy going to movies and trying new restaurants.

BONUS Question: What’s your guilty pleasure?
I LOVE Sandy’s cheeseburgers and fries, cheesecake, beer, and Home Slice pizza.

 

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Felicia McBride

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! So we’re going to make things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and ask each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions. First up: Felicia McBride!

Certified Pilates Instructor Felicia McBride

Certified Pilates Instructor Felicia McBride

  1. Who’s your favorite Austin musician?
    My favorite Austin musician would have to be a drummer by the name of Brandon Guerra. He plays at The Elephant Room, The Brass House, The Gatsby, and Lambert’s. Although, you could say I’m biased since I’m engaged to him 
  2. What’s your favorite restaurant?
    I’d have to say my favorite restaurant right now is Ramen Tatsuya. I love having that big bowl of noodles right in front of me to devour!
  3. What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
    I love riding my bike on Townlake and going to Barton Springs in the summer.
  4. What do you do on your free time?
    In my free time I am either dancing, cooking, or working on a 1000 piece puzzle.

  5. What’s one interesting fact about you?
    One interesting thing about me is that I have one extra rib on the left side of my neck!

felicia

New Year, New Work: Working With Pontus Lidberg

By Oliver Greene-Cramer, Company Dancer

Let me start by saying Happy New Year! With the first month of 2016 drawing to a close, we are putting together the final touches on Director’s Choice.

We are about three weeks out from the performance and have just finished learning all of the choreography for the final two ballets—there are four total dance works being performed during Director’s Choice. With this blog post, however, I’ll be looking back at the process and choreography of Pontus Lidberg’s Stream. Pontus first came to set his work on us in October, just before Ballet Austin’s tour to West Palm Beach, and will return to Austin two weeks before Director’s Choice.

Swedish choreographer Pontus Lindberg.

Swedish choreographer Pontus Lindberg.

An internationally acclaimed choreographer and filmmaker, Pontus is originally from Sweden but is currently based in New York City. Given his body of work with companies such as the Swedish Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet, we were extremely excited to learn that we would be working with him.

Stream was originally choreographed on Oregon Ballet Theatre in 2013 so the process was one of resetting existing movement on our company dancers. The ballet is set to an original score by composer Ryan Francis. With gorgeous swells and ethereal melodies the music helps to guide the pulses within the movement.

Though Stream had already been choreographed, Pontus was interested in altering and modifying certain aspects so that we, as dancers, felt more natural in the movement. Therefore, instead of having us mimic a video, he took time to encourage individuality in fulfilling the steps.

Choreographer Pontus Lindberg setting his work Stream.

Choreographer Pontus Lindberg setting his work Stream.

From the first day in the studio Pontus’ aesthetic and intention was clear. Though very intricate in terms of partnering and spatial patterns, the flowing movement demands an organic and effortless mindset. Much of the choreography is connected by off balance steps or even an intentional fall. While the piece is full of floor work and complex partnering, Pontus’ desire is that everything flows naturally while working in the context of the movement vocabulary. Nothing looks forced or random; everything seamlessly connects to the next step. Though his choreography is firmly rooted in classical line, Pontus wants more than just technical cleanliness in a dancer. The choreography demands an expressiveness from the dancers that requires precision without severity.

Company dancers Oliver Greene-Cramer and Ashley Lynn Sherman.

Company dancers Oliver Greene-Cramer and Ashley Lynn Sherman.

Next week Pontus returns to continue coaching Stream in the weeks leading up to the Valentine’s Day Weekend performances. As with all of the other pieces in Director’s Choice, we look forward to sharing Pontus’ beautiful work with Austin.

IN PICTURES: Behind The Scenes of The Nutcracker

By Molly Morrow, HR & Accounting Associate

Ballet Austin’s 53rd annual The Nutcracker is an Austin holiday tradition, and the longest running production of The Nutcracker in Texas. Even if you’ve seen it every year, I hope these behind-the-scenes images shed a new light on the production.


There are people who like the ballet, and then there are people who like tattoos of the ballet tattooed into their flesh. We let you find out which kind of person you are with these fun temporary nutcracker prince tattoos.

We revamped The Nutcracker with brand new costumes and sets in 2013, and it shows. The costumes for these waltz-of-the-flowers dancers are lovely, even when you pass them outside of the dressing room under cold fluorescent lighting. Onstage under warm spotlights they are mesmerizing.

These particular flowers (Ballet Austin II dancers Nicole and Abby) are laughing and just generally goofing around while they wait for the second act to start, an exceedingly common occurrence backstage.

A photo posted by Molly Morrow (@mrmollymorrow) on

This life-size Ballet Austin nutcracker is a fun photo op for ballet goers. But it has blossomed into so much more. His head is the size of my living room and he is easily a foot taller than me. He calls me Moll Doll, I call him Mr. Nuts. :-)

I hope you enjoyed my look at The Nutcracker from behind the curtain and I hope that you get to create your own magical experience at the Long Center for this year’s The Nutcracker, running from December 5–23.

Ballet Austin Company Dancer Shares What It’s Like Working With New Choreographers

By Oliver Greene-Cramer, Ballet Austin Company Dancer

Company dancers Christopher Swaim, Jaime Lynn Witts and Oliver Greene-Cramer in the studio learning a new piece by Pam Tanowitz (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Company dancers Christopher Swaim, Jaime Lynn Witts and Oliver Greene-Cramer in the studio learning a new piece by Pam Tanowitz (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Working with a new choreographer is often a very rewarding experience for a dancer. We get pushed and inspired in new ways while working in the familiarity of our own studio. As with many companies, at Ballet Austin we have the pleasure of working with multiple guest choreographers during the season. This season being no exception, Pam Tanowitz and Pontus Lidberg will be setting work on us for the Director’s Choice performance in February.

There are many different ways that choreographers choose to work with the company. From playing games to get to know us all the way, to just setting already choreographed steps. It’s always interesting to work in new ways. Even if you don’t end up being featured in the piece there are still opportunities to discover something new in the audition.

Working With Pam Tanowitz

Choreographer Pam Tanowitz in the Ballet Austin studios (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Choreographer Pam Tanowitz in the Ballet Austin studios (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

One the most interesting processes came to us this week with Pam Tanowitz and her assistant Melissa Toogood. Based in New York, Pam is quite aesthetically similar to Merce Cunningham. Her almost pedestrian intention and love for chance echoes many of Cunningham’s methods. The piece that Pam set on us, Early that Summer, had already been created, but instead of merely giving us steps Pam wanted to work with us on changing and modifying the piece so it felt natural for our bodies. Both Pam and Melissa spoke to us about adhering to technical purity, while also fulfilling the steps in our own way. Any piece becomes far more interesting for the dancers with that kind of collaboration. Pam also spoke about how much she loves to discover new things in an old concept.

Another distinct aspect of this particular piece is that Pam didn’t choreograph to specific counts. Instead of adhering to a strict musicality, she instead encouraged the dancers to find the natural rhythm of the group, as well as our own individual movements. As a ballet company, this is a very foreign concept for many of us because so much of what we do is very defined with unison and formations. While being scary at points, it is very exciting and liberating to find such freedom, as well as making personal choices.

Limited Studio Time

Pam Tanowitz sets choreography for upcoming debut in Director's Choice. Company Dancers Christopher Swaim and Oliver Greene-Cramer pictured. (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Pam Tanowitz sets choreography for upcoming debut in Director’s Choice. Company Dancers Christopher Swaim and Oliver Greene-Cramer pictured. (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

In the case of Pam we only had one week to put this piece together, and for most guest choreographers we only have a few weeks. Regardless of how brief the process is, it is really wonderful to connect with the new work.

Next up is Pontus Lidberg who we work with for three weeks in October before Ballet Austin travels to Florida to perform Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project and before the fourteen performances of The Nutcracker.

We look forward to sharing all of these with you and hope you enjoy the works from Pam Tanowitz and Pontus Lidberg featured in Director’s Choice as much as we do.

The Inside Scoop On Fête and fête*ish 2015

By Christi Cuellar Lotz, Director of Development

Scene from Fête 2014

Fabulous table decor from Fête 2014

Fête and fête*ish 2015 are this Friday! Ballet Austin is excited to announce a new partnership with Fashion X Austin (otherwise known as Austin Fashion Week). They’re also one of our media partners for the event. They caught up with Laura Villagran Johnson of Austin Social Planner last week for some inside scoop on the event as it takes shape and prepares to be the best ever!

Read full article on Fashion X.

Meet the Mad Men and Women of Hamlet

By Molly Morrow, HR & Accounting Associate

Famous for the skull, the bloodshed and those six little words “to be or not to be,” Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been revamped and re-imagined by countless artists over the centuries in a hundred different mediums, including dance.

Ballet Austin’s production is a gorgeous modern interpretation that uses the body to soliloquize and prefers the sound of water to the sound of words. We thought we’d give you a little background on the characters of Hamlet to help you translate Shakespeare into ballet this Labor Day weekend.

The Ghost

The Ghost played by Stephen Mills and Hamlet played by Paul Michael Bloodgood (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

The Ghost played by Stephen Mills and Hamlet played by Paul Michael Bloodgood (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

The Ghost sets the story in motion. As soon as the Ghost is alone with Hamlet, he drops a pretty heavy bomb on our leading man: he was murdered by his own brother, Claudius, who is now married to Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. Logically, the Ghost charges Hamlet with avenging his death.

Fun fact: It is frequently written that Shakespeare himself played the Ghost in the Globe’s productions of the play. Stephen Mills carries on that tradition and will play the Ghost in Ballet Austin’s production.

Hamlet

The poster child for Prozac in the Elizabethan age, the Prince is also a comedian: playful, clever and full of wit. In the text, Hamlet’s first line even contains a pun – “A little more than kin, and less than kind.” Less than kind is right: Hamlet proves Claudius’ guilt by reenacting the murder with a troupe of traveling actors, accidentally kills Ophelia’s father (maybe check behind the curtain next time,) eventually returns home to confess his undying love for the now-conveniently-dead Ophelia and murders Claudius.

In Ballet Austin’s production, Hamlet’s conflicting desires and descent into madness are expressed through three alternate Hamlets that appear to him as visions. Hamlet will be played by company dancers Frank Shott and Paul Michael Bloodgood, and Hamlet II-IV will be played by James Fuller, Oliver Greene-Cramer and Orlando Canova.

Both Hamlet and Ophelia casts in rehearsals. (Photo Credit Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Both Hamlet and Ophelia casts in rehearsals. (Photo Credit Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Claudius

Claudius is a man of pure and unspeakable evil. He murders Hamlet’s father, marries Hamlet’s mother, and then, like any good sociopath, convinces everyone that Hamlet himself is to blame for all the dying and suffering. Lucky for us, Shakespeare’s sense of justice and blood-lust is dead on, and Claudius ultimately gets what’s coming to him. Claudius is played by Ballet Austin company dancer Edward Carr.

Gertrude

Gerturde and Hamlet dance by Aara Krumpe and Paul Michael Bloodgood. (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

Gerturde and Hamlet danced by Aara Krumpe and Paul Michael Bloodgood. (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

The woman who brought Hamlet into this world is of course complex, heartbreaking and infuriating. Once married to Hamlet’s noble father, she chooses with inexplicable and breathtaking speed to marry her dead husband’s brother, who is also her dead husband’s murderer. Her failed attempt to explain herself and her actions to Hamlet inadvertently leads to Polonius’s murder. Gertrude dies, as does most everyone in this play, from being poisoned. She is played in this production by Aara Krumpe and Rebecca Johnson.

Ophelia

Ophelia is a doomed woman if ever there was one. In love with a man who is existentially preoccupied at best, and suicidal at worst, she is driven mad with grief from the news of her father’s death and drowns herself. Ophelia’s drowning is a scene of surprising beauty in Ballet Austin’s production, as Ophelia dances in a track of real water on stage. This fall she is played by Ashley Lynn Sherman and Jaime Lynn Witts.

Polonius

Brian Heil as Polonius and Frank Shott as Hamlet during rehearsals. (Photo credit Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Brian Heil as Polonius and Frank Shott as Hamlet during Hamlet rehearsals. (Photo credit Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Polonius is the pompous, long-winded armchair poet of this tragedy (there’s at least one in every Shakespeare play). Ironically, for all his advice on being true to one’s self and having a method to one’s madness, Polonius is a coward: he hides behind a curtain when Hamlet confronts his mother Gertrude about her marriage to Claudius, thus sealing his own fate. Polonius is played by Ballet Austin II dancer Brian Heil.

Laertes

Fencing rehearsal (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Fencing rehearsal (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Laertes is vengeance personified. His whole reason for being is to rain on Hamlet’s parade, just because Hamlet may or may not have killed his sister and his dad. Laertes also happens to be quite handy with a sword. Claudius poisons the sword, of course, and then – just for good measure – poisons a goblet of wine as a kind of Shakespearean Plan B, because you can never have enough poison. Ballet Austin brings the magnificent swordfight to life with a fencing match that dances across the stage, an unusual and distinctly inspired element of this ballet. Laertes is played by Christopher Swaim and Jordan Moser.

Purchase tickets today to see Stephen Mills’ modern interpretation of Hamlet, guaranteed to leave you thankful for your seemingly undramatic family drama.