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5/13/2016 - Dan Duell's Blog - The Secret is Out






"The Secret is Out"


Dear Readers,

This weekend over forty highly trained young artists of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company will grace the stage of the Harris Theater in four beautiful works of dance sure to captivate and inspire Chicago audiences.

I am placing program descriptions for these works in this blog as a preview synopsis of each these ballets, along with video snippets from studio rehearsals.

Square Dance
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Music by Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli




In this spirited and sensitive work, Mr. Balanchine draws inspiration from both classical ballet and the American folk form of square dancing. Balanchine wrote: "The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet." Originally presented in 1957 with a chamber string orchestra and a square dance caller onstage, Square Dance was revised in 1976 with the caller eliminated, the string orchestra placed in the pit, a lyrical and sensitive solo added for the principal male dancer, and the entire stage given over to the dancing, thus expanding the scale of movement in the work and revealing in grander dimension its richness of design. This remains the version performed by Mr. Balanchine's company, the New York City Ballet. This version of Square Dance was last seen in Chicago in 1993 when Ballet Chicago performed it on the stage of the Civic Opera House to critical acclaim.

First performed by members of the New York City Ballet in 1958 in New York City
Ballet Chicago Studio Company Harris Theater Premiere, May 2016


Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Music: John Philip Sousa, arr. Kay




Stars and Stripes evokes Fourth of July parades and is one of Balanchine's salutes to his adoptive country. This central pas de deux is often done on its own because of its brilliance and excitement. It is a boisterous, virtuosic romp that features "El Capitan" and "Liberty Bell" in a rip-roaring Americana-Style Grand Pas de Deux.

First performed by members of the New York City Ballet in 1958 in New York City
Ballet Chicago Studio Company Harris Theater Premiere, May 2016

Celestial Rites
Choreography by Ted Seymour
Music: P. I. Tchaikovsky




"Celestial Rites was conceived for Ballet Chicago's honoring of the brilliance of P.I. Tchaikovsky. The ballet is a space odyssey set in a distant nebula. An abstract narrative unfolds about a pair of space angels, the pro and the novice. It is a story of teaching a society's history to the youth and, in turn, passing the responsibility of universe on to them. The sweeping patterns of the corps de ballet and unique lighting design by Margaret Nelson transport you to this galaxy far away."
Ted Seymour

First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May 2013 at the Harris Theater

World Premiere
Secrets de Printemps

Choreography by Ted Seymour
Music: Maurice Ravel




"Secrets de Printemps is an energetic ballet, bringing Maurice Ravel's orchestral version of his 'Le Tombeau de Couperin' to life. The style and rhythmic intricacies of the score inspired a new world to be created. The progression of the ballet brings you deeper into the community that lives there. The work can be seen as a richly detailed fantasy novel told through movement. The first movement depicts the guardians of the realm, the second, the creatures inside, the third is the kingdom, and the fourth movement is the festival."
Ted Seymour

These performances of Secrets de Printemps are dedicated to the memory of the great French ballerina, Violette Verdy, whose internationally acclaimed career spanned many decades including her years with Mr. Balanchine for whom she created numerous signature roles.

Harris Theater Premiere, May 2016

The response of thousands to these videos tells me exactly what I had hoped - that even in rehearsal the Ballet Chicago Studio Company performs at a level that opens people's eyes to their extraordinary artistry and takes their breath away.

It is truly a "See the Music, Hear the Dance" experience not to be missed!


Sincerely,


Dan Duell
Artistic Director


Take Flight
Saturday, May 14th, 2016
2:00 PM & 7:30 PM




Harris Theater for Music and Dance
HarrisTheaterChicago.org / 312-334-7777 / 205 E. Randolph Dr.

5/12/2016 - Dan Duell's Blog - Secrets de Printemps





Secrets de Printemps
An Interview With Resident Choreographer, Ted Seymour


Dear Readers,

With a cast of forty, Ted Seymour's newest ballet Secrets de Printemps is his largest work to date. Set to Maurice Ravel's orchestral score, "Le Tombeau de Couperin," its choreography is inspired by an imaginary world populated with characters drawn from the mind of the choreographer. These characters, or inhabitants, are defined by unique body postures and motifs of arms, hands, and heads that permeate the steps and patterns of the ballet. This is another take on Ted's creative impulse to develop movement through stories. Let's tap Ted's mind to explore that creative impulse through his answers to the questions below:





DAN: What led you to Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin?"

TED: I've loved this score for a very long time. In 2004 I had the pleasure of observing Richard Tanner stage Mr. Balanchine's choreography to the score while at the School of American Ballet. I was fascinated by how to count the interesting music, and the seemingly endless moods and patterns Mr. B created for a cast of eight corps couples, who dance every note of the score! I'm always looking for new music to use for upcoming shows. We were preparing for our Annual School Show and I needed to create a piece for the level 6 class. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with Ravel's music. The class did an amazing job with the piece and the seed for a complete work was planted. Secrets de Printemps is nothing like Mr. B's, but he did bring me to fall in love with this music.



DAN: Did Ravel's music suggest the stories, or did you look for music with stories already in mind?

TED: The 2nd movement was the first section I created, for the School of Ballet Chicago's Annual School Show last May. The dancers and I had a ton of fun making the piece. When I knew I was to choreograph the whole score, I started searching through this original dance to build on. The story developed over time and goes something like this. 1st movement dancers are the guardians of the realm, the gates in which to enter the ballet. 2nd movement is the cast of creatures who live there, 3 couples, 2 solo boys, demi corps members, and group of girls. They run, jump, lift, turn all around the stage. I've mentioned the words "playful mischief" to the dancers in rehearsal. The 3rd movement is the kingdom, a clear space for harmony and lastly, the 4th movement is a festival or celebration. All the dancers return for a final dance to Ravel's brassy Rigaudon.





DAN: Where besides the stage does this ballet take place?

TED: Secrets de Printemps is like a painting of an imaginary garden. It's a playful ballet that lets you look inside the personalities of all the dancers. A colorful fantasy world that operates with kindness. I think it's the job of a choreographer to transport an audience to an experience that doesn't always replicate our real lives. To enter a place that follows a different set of rules and manner.




DAN: What drove your choice to include younger dancers than the advanced Ballet Chicago Studio Company members?

TED: Over the past year I've gotten to witness the artistry and talent of so many of the young students at the school; through summer performances, Nutcracker, and their daily technique classes. When I was picturing what should occur during the third movement, the "menuet", I saw a very pure open space, a crystal castle on a cloud. I wanted to give the pas de duex couple a corps, and when picturing these small ballerinas dancing alongside, it just seemed right. They give the section an aura we're not always seeing on stage today. It makes me happy when things feel special, and the young dancers definitely make this ballet special.





DAN: Did you always conceive the ballet with a large cast?

TED: It definitely kept growing the more I thought about it! The Studio Company has reached a place, where not only are there so many dancers, but they all bring such interesting and beautiful talents to the table. I thought, why not showcase many individuals, but also celebrate the largess and bond of the Ballet Chicago community. The total cast is 40, but it took many more than that to make this new ballet happen.





DAN: How did you arrive at your intriguing choice of title for this work?

TED: The title was pretty easy to find this time around. I knew I wanted to use French to keep inside the origin of the music. Secrets, to me, speak towards mystery and unveiling. The change of the seasons is what bring us closer to the next adventure.





Come join us on May 14th, and see this beautiful ballet grace the Harris Theater stage for the first time!

Sincerely,


Dan Duell
Artistic Director


Take Flight
Saturday, May 14th, 2016
2:00 PM & 7:30 PM




Harris Theater for Music and Dance
HarrisTheaterChicago.org / 312-334-7777 / 205 E. Randolph Dr.

 

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