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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Posts Tagged “Balanchine”

Midwinter Announcement!

Sunday night, the dance majors received a very exciting email from the director of the Department of Dance:

“I am very pleased to announce that this year’s Mid-Winter guest choreographer piece will be “Por vos Muero” by Nacho Duato.  Mr. Kevin Irving, assistant to Mr. Duato will be coming to cast the piece this semester and he will then return to set the work at the beginning of the spring semester.  This is very exciting for us all and continues the legacy of the masterworks that have been presented by the Butler Ballet over the past several years.”

Por Vos Muero:

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The past four years I have been at Butler, our Midwinter Dance Festivals have showcased pieces from the best choreographers.

  • 2012 Nacho Duato, “Por Vos Muero”
  • 2011 George Balanchine, “Walpurgisnacht”
  • 2010 Anthony Tudor, “Dark Elegies
  • 2009 George Balanchine, “Serenade”

I had the good fortune to participate in last year’s commissioned piece, and working with Deborah Wingert was absolutely amazing. (All dance students enrolled in Butler Ballet — i.e. almost all of them — are in the Midwinter show. The commissioned piece is not the only piece. Faculty members choreograph the rest of the program.) We don’t get to pick casting, obviously, and I’ll enjoy any piece I’m in, but I would love to learn Nacho Duato’s choreography, since we are learning the duets from Na Floresta in our Contemporary Partnering class and it is awesome. Video of Na Floresta:

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So much excitement!

Midwinter schedule II

Ever wanted to know what production week is like for a dance major? The schedule summary continues.

Wednesday:

  • Arrive at Clowes at 9 am to warm myself up.
  • Get an email retroactively saying our spacing rehearsal would not actually be starting until 11 am.
  • Read Moby Dick. (At least three people have mentioned this news story to me.)
  • Warm up again.
  • Space Walpurgisnacht.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Have ballet class on stage.
  • Run a tech rehearsal in costume.
  • Go to night class–Literature of the American Renaissance. Realize Moby Dick fits brilliantly with Jacques Derrida’s whole language-has-no-source thing. Sense a paper in the offing.
  • Plan out my summer schedule/BSI issues/senior year schedule/life in general.
  • Sleep.

Thursday:

  • EN 185 class: Q&A with Mark Halliday of the Visiting Writer’s series.
  • Mark Halliday

    Mark Halliday: Click for photo credit

  • En 366: Odes.
  • Leave English early to get to Clowes.
  • Take warm up class.
  • Run dress rehearsal.
  • Rejoice over the fact that our shoes did not have to be pancaked.
  • Do choreography homework. Do dance history reading.

Friday:

  • Attend dance history.
  • Get a zebra hot chocolate from Starbucks and read Emily Dickinson when choreography was unexpectedly canceled.
  • Take ballet class with auditioners.
  • Something happened next, but I cannot remember what it was. Did I do homework? I feel like I hung out with a friend instead.
  • Warm up at 6:30 pm.
  • Performance at 8 pm!! So much fun! My one correction? “Smile more,” Ms. Wingert told me. “Enjoy yourself.” That was easy enough to fix: I felt like I had been grinning like a fool, so I was trying to tone it down. Not so! I love Balanchine.
  • Sleep.

Midwinter Dance Festival program

Come to Midwinter Dance Festival! The Butler Ballet is performing this Friday and Saturday, Feb 25 and 26 at 8 pm at Clowes Memorial Hall. Buy tickets here or at the box office up to two hours before the show starts.

What will you see?

1. La Bayadère, staged by professor Marek Cholewa. My roommate from last year is the soloist–very neat! Also very much a classical ballet piece–it shows the importance of corps work to great effect.

2. Church Song, choreographed by professor Susan McGuire. When I saw this the first few times, I did not know what it was about; having heard it was intended to be a tribute to the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia, I watched it again with a more focused eye. Tears, I tell you.

The soloists all offer something slightly different in this modern piece. Professor McGuire did a wonderful job displaying the dancers’ best qualities, and the whole piece reads–to me, at least–as being very sincere. Brilliant.

3. 1st of 3 in 17, choreographed by professor Cynthia Pratt and revived for this performance. Set to classical Mozart, the dancers in bare feet and quirky red costumes (see picture above) begin by shaking their hips. The piece is lighthearted, offering a great sense of humor without sacrificing any integrity.

4. Karelia Suite, choreographed by professor Stephan Laurent and revived. Originally choreographed about Finland’s gaining independence from Russia (I THINK. I’m not entirely certain on this one.), the dance has been newly dedicated to the protestors in Egypt, making this dance both traditional and timely.

5. Hong, or Swan Goose, choreographed by professor Tong Wang. This piece is about birds, so I am bound to love it. The narrative that runs through it is quite sad; the music, costumes, and choreography make the piece stunningly beautiful.

6. Walpurgisnacht, staged by Deborah Wingert, a former NYCB soloist. I’m rather partial to Balanchine, and I am dancing in the piece, so my perception will naturally be skewed… but I very much enjoy it. Like I said, you should come.

Clowes. Feb 25 and 26. 8 pm. Be there.

All the small things

Loads of little things have been happening. And I promise there will be neither weather nor cooking/baking represented in this post.

1. I was in an advertisement in Dance Magazine with some other students from the Dance Department. (Come to Midwinter!)

The piece depicted is Professor Cynthia Pratt’s work “1st of 3 in 17,” which is set to Mozart and very cool, in my opinion.

2. My Interlibrary loan books came. So much Welshness! Butler students have access to the extremely cool WorldCat Union database that lets you search for books worldwide. So many libraries! So many books! I get really excited!

3. Midwinter Studio Dress is this Saturday. I have no photos to show you… I suppose you will simply have to watch a performance February 25 or 26 at 8 pm in Clowes Memorial Hall.

4. In pas de deux class on Wednesday, my dance professor lifted me above his head. Never having done a Bluebird lift before, I listened to his explanation. Then, without completely understanding the process, I was balanced on his shoulder, suddenly much, much taller than normal. Just a day the life, etcetera etcetera.

It just surprised me, since I did not at the time realize quite how I had gotten there.

A Midwinter plug, plus food pictures

What does one do after a long day of dancing? This week, our rehearsal schedule was relatively light, but last week was fairly typical. The dance department is in the thick of preparations for our Midwinter Dance Festival.

If you are in the area, please come and support us! Not only will you see a piece by one of the biggest names in American choreography (though Balanchine was Russian, true), but you will also find new works choreographed by Butler’s faculty. The Clowes box office is open from 10-5 on weekdays, 10-2 on Saturday, and 2 hours before ticketed events begin… hint hint.

Tickets you will buy aside, what does one do after a long day of dancing? One embarks on a spice adventure!

  • Gather most every spice in the apartment’s kitchen.
  • Add lemongrass, olive oil, and onion to fish.
  • Add spices at will. Mix and match
  • Bake in a foil packet for 20 minutes.
  • Eat.
  • Consider the spice adventure a success, but wish you had not added quite so much paprika.

Afterwards, I fried a banana in cinnamon sugar. My friend kindly arranged it for me to optimize the photo shoot.

Come to Midwinter!

Balanchine all week long

I do love me a Balanchine ballet. I performed in Serenade with the Richmond Ballet trainee program when I was a senior in high school. When I was a college freshman, the upperclassmen performed it at Butler. I was so jealous, since dancing in Serenade had been one of the defining moments of my performing life.

Now I am rehearsing Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, a slightly more obscure ballet requiring twenty-five dancers (twenty-four of them women). Last week was the first week of classes, and it was definitely a tornado-on-the-rampage sort of week. Learning choreography requires (for me) a particular sort of mental concentration and physical exertion different from rehearsal of previously learnt material.

I described my first day back for the spring semester in the last few posts. Wednesday was day number two, and it saw another few hours of rehearsal after classes. I have a night class which meets Wednesdays on the literature of the American Renaissance (EN 341). Reading, reading, reading. We’ll tackle Moby Dick in three class periods.

On Thursday, there was the Intro to the Discipline of English class again (I rotated groups in true TA-style) and Romanticism (I still have neutral feelings on the class). Then ballet, then pointe, then… no rehearsal. Ms. Wingert worked with some of the other groups. I did homework like a fiend.

Friday was much the same: Dance history, our first choreography II class, ballet, and rehearsal until five o’clock. We finished learning Walpurgisnacht. The final section Ms. Wingert called “Fire in the Beauty Parlor” since we run around with our hair down. It’s great fun. I really enjoy moving in that particularly expansive, Balanchine way.

Saturday was more rehearsal; Sunday was more rehearsal. We don’t normally rehearse on Sundays, but I understand that we had to make the best use of our time with Ms. Wingert before she flew back to New York. I loved working with her, and I appreciate the opportunity to perform Balanchine choreography, since companies must apply to the Trust to license each ballet. But boy, are my toes sore today!

I hope this also explains the rather pathetic lack of photos in my blog. I have not had time to take new ones, so I’ve been using old ones I saved for this sort of situation… except sometimes they don’t quite match. Like today’s:

This is the HRC, the Health and Recreation Complex. I used the hot tub and pool to great advantage this past week. However, the lawn is currently covered in snow, not sitting all nice and green like it was when I took this picture.

Working all the time

This title is a phrase one of the dance professors likes to use, and this week, it has been very true. (This post is also the final section of the story of my first day back, horribly dragged out into infinite blog posts. Sorry.)

The Dance Department is honored to welcome Ms. Deborah Wingert from the Balanchine Trust. Ms. Wingert watched our ballet class (the first after break… ofgh!) and chose twenty-five women and one man for her staging of Walpurgisnacht. Meanwhile, we had a pointe class. Then those of us in the piece had rehearsal. For a very long time.

Ooof, I’m so terribly sore, and my toes might fall off, but I’m really excited to be working with Ms. Wingert. She is tall, graceful, and horribly kind, and she intersperses teaching choreography with little anecdotes about the people and events surrounding New York City Ballet. “My friend Wendy,” she says causally, of famed dancer Wendy Wheldon. Ms. Wingert worked with George Balanchine, and her insight on his choreography is invaluable. She even spoke up in favor of my hair color after one of the professors asked me if I had dyed it.

(Only a little bit…)

In all seriousness, I cannot speak highly enough of her, and I’m glad we get the opportunity to work with her as we rehearse for our Midwinter Dance Festival in February.

You might say my first day back was a bit of a whirlwind. I’m glad I read a biography of Balanchine earlier this year! I love (most of) his choreography. Serenade: Still my favorite.

Dancing in the springtime

The springtime? I am dancing in the new spring semester, since it’s snowing outside and the sidewalk salter/snow plow is performing complicated maneuvers outside my bedroom window. Figure eights. Loop-di-loops. Higgs boson outlines.

XKCD comic by Randall Munroe

Erm, my nerd moment is over. Back to the first day of classes.

After a forty-five minutes break for lunch, during which I located a microwave and reheated some curried tofu and chickpeas with spinach over rice, I had ballet. However, I did not get the memo that I had been switched into a different class. Not only was my registration wrong, but I was informed while I collected the million hairpins I had dropped in the middle of the hallway.

Despite the embarrassing nature of the information transfer, this was good news. Immediately afterward, I was intercepted by another professor: My pas de deux registration was not going through because I had to add the class by paperwork because I was giong over the credit limit. Whew.

When I finally made it upstairs to the ballet studio, we greeted a guest from the Balanchine Trust who has come to set a commissioned piece on the Dance Department students for our Midwinter Dance Festival concert.

Annnnd, I promise I will explain more, but I really need breakfast. I should also probably try to finish the reading that’s due in two hours. Thus far I have completed one book of poetry, a novella, thirteen poems, and one article. I have one article left. So much reading! I have never taken three English classes before, and I fear this is reflected in my rushed blog posts. Oh well.