While there is a sense of pride in having created something so wonderful, there is also a fear that it all might be tarnished or even taken away by the corporate entities that run the film industry, television networks, and fashion.
“My biggest surprise, though, has been the level of creativity. People are really thinking out of the box, and we love it! For example, suggestions range from setting the ballet in an antique store to one based on the evolution of the Dodo Bird! It’s great how people are embracing that we have no limits.”
When I first started dancing, I studied at a studio in Marin that taught all styles of dance like jazz, modern, Latin American, and ballroom, along with some ballet. It was later, when I went to Marin Ballet, that I began to focus primarily on classical dance. I do think that the variety of my early training helped me be open to different styles and techniques. I also think that the diverse contemporary repertoire I had the pleasure to dance while at Houston Ballet and other classical companies helped me to be a versatile dancer.
Being an Artistic Director of two companies an ocean apart is certainly an interesting assignment. I plan to incorporate the dancers from both countries into several productions. I already have brought one male dancer from San Mateo to perform with the company in Belgrade and intend to bring three dancers from Belgrade to San Mateo to perform this season. It will be an interesting cultural exchange and benefit both the dancers and the companies.
Smuin Ballet, as part of its opening program for the 2012–2013 season, is presenting the West Coast premiere of Cold Virtues by the exciting young choreographer Adam Hougland. Popular with audience and critics alike, the work is set to Philip Glass’s haunting Violin Concerto and features fourteen dancers, whirling and leaping against a mesmerizing backdrop of spinning fans. The Louisville Courier-Journal described the ballet as “beautifully bleak, honest in unflinching fashion.”
For small companies like Diablo Ballet, social media has come into the forefront as a cost-effective vehicle to get audiences involved in the arts in a new and interactive way. In the past, marketing personnel for arts organizations had to navigate the expensive ad formats in print, television, and radio to get their message out. Often, local media would donate print space or airtime as part of their public service commitments, but this tended to be an unpredictable delivery method, dependent on too many variables, including space availability and the personal commitment of individual station managers.
Today, because of her experience in such an extensive repertory, Berman is in demand as a regisseur, assisting choreographers in bringing their existing ballets to new audiences. This past month, she has been working with Walnut Creek’s Diablo Ballet, setting Christopher Wheeldon’s Mercurial Manoeuvres, which is part of the Inside the Dancer’s Studio program to be presented Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.
The world premiere of Mark Morris’s Beaux, set to Martinu’s Concerto for Harpsichord (1935), is a gentle work created for the company men. In contrast to the usual bravura leaps and beats normally used to showcase talented male dancers, Beaux explores different territory. In a Peter-Pan-and-the-Lost-Boys manner, Morris has the men create a visual picture of the hidden, light-hearted youth inside, and the sunny, patterned costumes and backdrop by designer Isaac Mizrahi underpin Morris’s intent. The dancers were equally matched, equally wonderful.
The ballet consists of two parts. The first half, “The Classical Christmas,” is devoted to traditional ballet with classical Christmas music, including liturgical works. In the second half, “The Cool Christmas,” pointe shoes are out, stilettos and tap shoes are in, and the music shifts from Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic to Lou Rawls, Eartha Kitt, and Leon Redbone.
In “The Classical Christmas,” the big standout for me this year was the simplest. There is something timeless and charming about the minimalist line dance by the company women to “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.” It reminds us that dance does not always need to be tricky and complicated to be wonderful. Oh, there were masses of tricky solos and partner work, to be sure, but the sheer loveliness of this dance will linger in memory far longer than fancy footwork.