MOVE: Big Apple ballet

By on July 21, 2015

Renowned dance company returns with myriad offerings

From performances and classes to open rehearsals, New York City Ballet Moves delivers a bevy of interactive events this week. (Photo: Paul Kolnik/dancers’ workshop)

From performances and classes to open rehearsals, New York City Ballet Moves delivers a bevy of interactive events this week. (Photo: Paul Kolnik/dancers’ workshop)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Years ago, when Noelle Houser, now 17, was a little girl, she watched the New York City Ballet perform the “Nutcracker,” in New York City. Afterward she had her picture taken with the dancers and flew home, never forgetting the experience. It could have been decades before she saw the famous dance company perform live again – it’s a long and expensive trip from Wyoming to New York. But six years ago the legendary dance company did something unprecedented. It created a traveling company comprised of principal, or the highest-ranked dancers, as well as soloists and members of the corps, who traveled to Jackson to perform and teach classes. New York City Ballet Moves returns this week with performances, classes and open rehearsals.

Houser has seen the dancers almost every year they’ve come to Wyoming.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” she said.

Not only is it incredible to see them perform, the company’s residency program gives students the chance to take classes in the Balanchine method, a technique named after legendary choreographer George Balanchine and associated with New York City Ballet, Houser said.

This year, the residency program expanded to include teacher training for regional dance instructors, said Babs Case, artistic director of Dancers’ Workshop.

Since Case first dreamed of luring New York City Ballet to Jackson, she knew she wanted a relationship that ran deeper than just performances (as amazing as it is to see the dancers on the stage).

Master classes and open rehearsals, which are Thursday and Friday, were always part of the vision.

“For me, the open rehearsals are an opportunity for the public to see the work in progress and see the working process,” Case said. “It allows us to look closer when we’re watching any dance because we have a greater understanding of it.”

Seeing the creative process allows people to notice the subtleties of dance, something that is especially important when bringing a company known for its classical ballet to a community that might have limited exposure to the art form. And for those who are already aficionados, it deepens the understanding of what the dancers do to transform themselves into art on stage.

“It sort of demystifies the dancers in a way,” Case said. “They are almost other-worldly creatures when they are up there on stage. You get to see them as people. You get to see the hard work that goes into looking so effortless.”

The performance program, which runs Friday and Saturday, includes “Pictures at an Exhibition.” There isn’t a story but a sense of community in the colorful, lyrical dance set to piano music, said Jean-Pierre Frohlich, ballet master with the company and artistic administrator for Moves.

The dance explores a variety of emotions from wild to solemn to soulful.

“You get to make your own story up,” he said of the piece.

“A Place for Us,” a pas de deux, or two-person dance, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon is set to a piano and clarinet. The dancers interact on stage with shifting patterns of light.

“A Suite of Dances,” choreographed by Jerome Robbins, is set to “Six Suites for Solo Cello” by Bach. The work features a solo male dancer and a cello player on stage.

Peter Martins’ “Hallelujah Junction” is also on the program, performed to a score by John Adams, which is written for two pianos. It’s high-energy, exuberant and neoclassical, Frohlich said.

“They are all contemporary pieces, but this has more of an edge to it,” he said.

All of the dances are different and meant to give people a sense of the company and the dancers.

The company’s orchestra also performs the music live for the pieces.

“The music is so extraordinary, you almost forget it’s being played live,” Case said.

The program, most of which hasn’t been performed in Jackson before, along with the live music, should lure people who are new to dance, as well as those who have seen the company in previous years, she said.

“Just because you’ve seen something does not mean you know it or can’t be surprised by it time and time again,” Case said.

Master class & open rehearsal schedule at DW/Center for the Arts

Wednesday

Beginning intermediate ballet, 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Advanced ballet, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Thursday

Open rehearsal in Center Theater, 2:45 to 3:45 p.m.

Beginning intermediate ballet, 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Advanced ballet, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Friday

Free open rehearsal in Center Theater, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Master classes are $25 and advanced registration is recommended.


About Kelsey Dayton

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