Tag Archives: Choreography

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.

Studio Theater Project: Nicolo Fonte’s ‘Lasting Imprint’

Video courtesy of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Check out this little sneak peek video of Nicolo Fonte’s Lasting Imprint from when he created it on Cedar Lake Contemporary ballet. In the video, Nicolo also discusses some of the thinking behind the work. We will perform this work as part of the upcoming Studio Theater Project!

For Tickets and more information about the Studio Theater Project, click here.

Sara and Cassiday from Mix 94.7 Dance at the BCS!

I have listened to Sara and Cassiday on the Mix 94.7 JB & Sandy Morning Show. I love their energy and sense of fun. I got to see that energy, mixed in with a LOT of fun! Sara and Cassiday came to take the Broadway Fit 101 class Tuesday night at the BCS.

According to Cassiday’s blog, “It was not only fun, but a GREAT workout as well. I will be going back to take more classes from them soon!” Sara was a bit nervous but agreed that it was a lot of fun! Check out the video of Sara and Cassiday dancing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” during Broadway Fit 101 at the BCS! Wonder if they’ll be back next week to learn Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance?

New American Talent/Dance Recap

Nelly van Bommel’s Fanfarnèta. Photo by Tony Spielberg.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for New American Talent/Dance, our biennial choreographic competition, over its two week run. It was an incredible experience showing three world premiere works from three immensely talented choreographers (KT Nelson, Nelly van Bommel, and Dominic Walsh). I was behind the scenes counting the audience votes and it was riveting every time—hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! And if you weren’t able to join us, check out more pictures below.

This year’s judges (Alicia Adams—Vice President of International Touring, Kennedy Center, Julie Nakagawa—Artistic Director/Co-founder, DanceWorks Chicago, and Paul Vasterling—Artistic Director, Nashville Ballet) joined us Saturday, March 27 to cast their votes, divvying up the $15,000 purse with equal $6,000 prizes going to Nelly van Bommel for her piece Fanfarnèta and to Dominic Walsh for his The Whistling. KT Nelson rounded out the winnings, receiving $3,000 for her work When Love is Hard.

But the audience had the final say each night, texting votes to decide the winner of a nightly $500 audience prize. For the first time in New American Talent/Dance history, all three choreographers won at least once. Here are the winners of the audience vote from each night:

Thursday, March 25, 7pm Dominic Walsh
Friday, March 26, 8pm Dominic Walsh
Saturday, March 27, 8pm Nelly van Bommel
Sunday, March 28, 3pm Dominic Walsh
Thursday, April 1, 7pm KT Nelson
Friday, April 2, 8pm Dominic Walsh
Saturday, April 3, 3pm Dominic Walsh
Saturday, April 3, 8pm Dominic Walsh
Sunday, April 4, 3pm Nelly van Bommel

KT Nelson’s When Love is Hard. Photo by Tony Spielberg.

Dominic Walsh’s The Whistling. Photo by Tony Spielberg.

Dominic Walsh’s The Whistling. Photo by Tony Spielberg.

Nelly van Bommel’s Fanfarnèta. Photo by Tony Spielberg.