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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.



5/12/2014 - Director's Insights - A Personal View


Inside Ballet Chicago's On Pointe Program
May 17 & 18, 2014 at the Harris Theater

A "Director's Insights" Essay Series
Serving a Vision of Dance - A Personal View


As we finalize preparations for the program of works the Ballet Chicago Studio Company (BCSC) will perform this May 17 and 18 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, I am reminded daily of the vision of dance the program represents and serves. What follows is my attempt to share in words and pictures elements of that vision, the vision that Patricia and I serve every day as we work to unlock the individual potential of our dancers.


Left: BCSC members performing in Ballet Chicago's 2013 production of Celestial Rites. Choreography by Ted Seymour.
Middle: BCSC members performing in Ballet Chicago's 2013 production of Swan Lake.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.
Right: BCSC members performing in Ballet Chicago's 2013 production of Serenade.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.
Photography by Ron McKinney Photography


First and foremost, it is a vision that fearlessly pursues beauty, of movement, of music, of costuming, of lighting, and of the unique spirit that resides in each and every dancer.


Top Left: BCSC member performing in Ballet Chicago's 2008 production of Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux, photo by Mark Niekrasz.
Top Right: BCSC members performing in Ballet Chicago's 2012 production of Rubies,
photos by Vincent Chaigne and Ron McKinney Photography respectively.
Bottom: BCSC members performing in Ballet Chicago's 2008 and 2012 productions of Concerto Barocco,
photos by Mark Neikrasz and Ron McKinney Photograph respectively.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.


Monumentally vast in breadth yet painstakingly specific in detail, that vision's foundation is the American classicism developed over five decades by George Balanchine at his School of American Ballet and his company, the New York City Ballet. Drawing on his Russian roots, Mr. Balanchine re-visited in depth the full movement vocabulary and technique he had grown up with, re-fashioning body placement, extending the length of body lines, clarifying directions, making positions more exact, incorporating clear rhythm as an integral part of the dancer's technique, and liberating dancers from having to look where they are going in order to know where they are going, no matter what the step.



BCSC members performing in Ballet Chicago's 2012 and 2013 performances of The Nutcracker, photos by Ron McKinney Photography.


That vision encourages a "sky's the limit" exploration of energy, speed (all speeds, not only quickness), rhythmic clarity, and variety of nuance. It also shows us how to heighten and refine all the "little moments," the quick transitions, the in-betweens, the simple steps, so that they become visible little miracles in their own right, and in so doing, transform academic technical vocabulary into a visual equivalent of good musical technique.

That vision also shows us how completely we may trust design of movement in space and time to reveal deep universal messages, eschewing theatrical gimmicks, wasteful virtuosity, and personal mannerism.

The result is very pure, brilliant dancing!

You will see much brilliant dancing as that vision is served throughout the five ballets in our On Pointe program on May 17 and 18 at the Harris Theater. As our young artists dance their way into your hearts, please take note of the stunningly beautiful costumes made by our wonderful wardrobe team, of the beautiful lighting painting the air onstage, and of the sublime music throughout the program. It is an experience you will surely treasure.

Sincerely,

Dan Duell
Artistic Director






 

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