Dan Duell's Ballet Blog  
 

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4/9/2015 - Dan Duell's Blog - Now THIS is Mr.B!


SERIOUS FUN PAR EXCELLENCE - NOW THIS IS Mr. B!


"Artistic Director Daniel Duell serves his mentor well here, lighting fire under tomorrow's stars."
Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune, May 2011


Dear readers,

Dance critic Sid Smith's words in praise of our May 2011 "Balanchine Celebration" were high acclaim for the challenging all-Balanchine program we performed that year, and those same words aptly set the tone for our upcoming Harris Theater performances of Illuminate.

Sid Smith's words are also powerful testament to the fundamental artistic objectives Patricia and I pursue every day in our studios and display on stage. Below are some core artistic objectives, listed with the goal of bringing you, our readers and audience members, more closely around them.

For Ballet Chicago Studio Company stage performances we endeavor to:
  • Provide artists and audiences alike an experience of elegance, inspiration, beauty, and joy.
  • Provide performance of Balanchine repertoire and its inherent values of supreme musicality, high technical demands, and innovative, adventuresome American classicism.
  • Cultivate and present new choreography that reflects and pursues those same inherent values.
  • Guide and inspire our dancers to levels of artistic skill, expression and confidence beyond their own expectations.
  • Provide our young dancers the experience of performing at a professional level in major theaters.
  • Provide such performance opportunity for as many Ballet Chicago Studio Company members as possible.
  • Provide performance programs that stand up to those offered by professional companies.
  • Provide ongoing performing life for existing works commissioned and made at Ballet Chicago.

Our Illuminate program to be performed May 30th at the Harris Theater incorporates these goals, and also showcases our programmatic hallmarks of variety, balance, and innovation. Herewith a brief description of Illuminate's five works, with some photos of past Ballet Chicago Studio Company performances of them:


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing Concerto in A Minor at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2009. Photography by Mark Niekrasz.


Concerto in A Minor (revival)
Choreography by Daniel Duell, Music by J. S. Bach
In this large neo-classical group work I choreographically plumb the inner landscape of Bach's beautiful score to illuminate its essence. The work gives our dancers an experience of dancing today's classicism to the music of Bach's sublime "Concerto in A Minor for Violin", BWV 1041. First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2009.
Ballet Chicago Studio Company member performing A Pulse Stolen at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2010. Photography by Mark Niekrasz.


A Pulse Stolen (revival)
Choreography by Ted Seymour, Music, various composers.
This collage of often sharply contrasting music is an odyssey of ingenious movement invention with a decidedly contemporary slant. Lighting design here has intimate partnership with choreographic design. An "other world" atmosphere reigns throughout the work's visual vignettes. First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2010.
Ballet Chicago Studio Company member performing Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2008. Photography by Mark Niekrasz.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.


Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux
Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by P.I. Tchaikovsky
This classic grand pas de deux, an enduring audience favorite since its world premiere by New York City Ballet in 1957, offers an opening adagio of peerlessly floating lyricism, followed by swift solos and a brilliant coda - classicism at its most exciting! It was first performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2001.
Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing Danzon! at the Nettelhorst Auditorium in 2014. Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.


Danzon!
Choreography by Ted Seymour, Music by Arturo Marquez
This fresh work to the engaging melodies and rhythms of the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez had its world premiere on members of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in March 2014. Here's Ted's inventive choreography goes "south of the border" in a delightfully witty, Latin-flavored romp for three ladies and two men.
Ballet Chicago guest artists performing Who Cares? at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in 2012. Photography by Ron McKinney Photography. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.


Who Cares? Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by G. Gershwin
First performed in February 1970, this ballet is a jazzy, romantic journey through the songs of George Gershwin. Balanchine's affinity for American athleticism and expansive movement finds a happy meeting with Gershwin's captivating music, resulting in a hip-thrusting, high-spirited work that seems to smile broadly and wink saucily from beginning to end. Arranged for a large cast supporting a central male and three ballerinas, the ballet features ingeniously rhythmic footwork and high technical demands. Its duets are charmingly romantic in a decidedly American vein, and its closing movement, set to Geshwin's "I've Got Rhythm," sizzles with irrepressible brio.


Just this past March 28th at the Lerner Theater in Elkhart, IN, the Ballet Chicago Studio Company drew a standing ovation after its performance of Who Cares?

We hope that this month's column helps "illuminate" afresh for you some of our foundational artistic objectives and the ways in which we pursue them. May 30, 2015 will be an exciting day indeed, with two performances of Illuminate!

Keep an eye out for my upcoming blogs that will explore in greater depth these five beautiful works and their history.

As the ones for whom or young artists live to dance, you, our audience members, are vitally important to their future, and I thank you most humbly for your interest and support.

Daniel Duell
Artistic Director
Founder






6/30/2014 - Our Vision of Dance Onstage


DAN DUELL BLOG JUNE 2014

Dear readers,

This month's blog is devoted to a photo gallery of the outstanding artistry displayed by our Ballet Chicago Studio Company in On Pointe May 17 and 18 at the Harris Theater, the charming Dancing Through the Ages Spring Showcase by our younger divisions on May 31 at the Athenaeum Theatre, and a very big "Thank you!" to you "stars of support" who read, attend, volunteer, and contribute in support of helping make these things happen.

As these On Pointe photos show, the phenomenon of high artistic excellence in our youth comes in an amazing variety of shapes, heights, and capacities. Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of what we do is matching existing choreography to, and creating new choreography for, the specific gifts of our young dancers. Whether it is an explosive duet for a tiny spitfire with a big jump, a majestic incantation dance for our tallest dancer, a dramatic journey to tender piano music for three ballerinas of progressive maturity, a jazzy romp for three guys in hats, a sophisticated classical dazzler to Mozart, or a romantic duet to music of Duke Ellington, individuality is cultivated in each human being we grow into an artist. Patricia and I could not be more proud of our young dancers; they delivered confidence, brilliance, and complete professionalism in a program that would challenge any professional company.


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members in Ballet Chicago's 2014 production of Divertimento No. 15 at The Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.



Ballet Chicago Studio Company members in Ballet Chicago's 2014 production of Valse Fantaisie at The Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.



Ballet Chicago Studio Company members in Ballet Chicago's 2014 production of Intermezzi at The Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Choreography by Ted Seymour.



Ballet Chicago Studio Company members in Ballet Chicago's 2014 production of Tarantella at The Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.



Ballet Chicago Studio Company members in Ballet Chicago's 2014 production of Ellington Suite at The Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Choreography by Daniel Duell.


Our annual Spring Showcase for younger classes this year was entitled Dancing Through the Ages, and in it our youngsters adorably expressed themselves to music from many of classical ballet's full-length story ballets. From the tiniest tots in our Creative Movement classes where we see the first glimmerings of future stage instinct, to our Level 5 dancers who exhibit considerable confidence and technical skill, we witness a progression of human, as well as technical and artistic development. Watching individuality emerge onstage is a very exciting process!


Ballet Chicago Preparatory Division students in Ballet Chicago's Spring Showcase Dancing Through the Ages.


Ballet Chicago Student Division students in Ballet Chicago's Spring Showcase Dancing Through the Ages.


As we embark on our largest Summer Course ever and an exciting year to follow, we are ever mindful of, and grateful for your support.

Watch for announcements about our 2014/2015 year in my next blog!

Most sincerely,

Dan Duell
Artistic Director

Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.



 

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