This first week back to work has been really exciting. We’re welcoming back our family of dancers and greeting those new members of the Company and Studio Company. In the last week, the studios have been buzzing with rehearsals, fittings and visits by guest artists. Speaking of visitors, Sandy Jennings is here staging Theme and Variations, Edwaard Liang is working on his world premiere – which will be performed as part of Bowie and Queen, The Washington Ballet’s Luis R. Torres is staging Juanity y Alicia on the Studio Company and TWB’s Michelle Jimenez has begun staging Carmen on the trainees.
After a dizzying four days in Amsterdam the next stop was Paris. Despite the fact that I have been to Paris many times, there was SO MUCH to take in and I largely did it from the saddle of a bike. Paris’ VELIB bike-sharing system is terrific and it was such a joy to speed through the city. I visited the new Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation in the Bois de Boulogne, which is a knock-out; stopped off at the astonishing Palais de Tokyo—a mecca for out-sized contemporary art instillations that sits across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower; and attended the Saint Laurent Foundation’s jewel-box of an exhibition about Yves Saint Laurent’s scandalous 1971 show.
I’m on the Thalys fast-train from Amsterdam to Paris after four remarkably productive (and fun) days in Amsterdam. The city was enjoying its first blissful days of summer weather as I biked around the canals and sat in cafes sipping wittbier (the delicious Dutch wheat beer, which is served Dutch style: only sorta cold). Not only did I do some adventure-seeking, I got some serious ballet business done too.
I just got back from a week-long trip to New York where I judged the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition. It was thrilling on multiple levels. Our dancers, Francesca Dugarte and Gian Carlo Perez, each took home Silver Medals in the Male and Female Senior Classical Competition, dancing Don Quixote pas de deux and Le Corsaire pas de deux. They also won the Gold Medal for Ensemble/Duet in the Contemporary Competition dancing a pas de deux by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, whose works will grace our stage in the upcoming 2015.2016 season.
After the final performance of Sleepy Hollow, I needed a serious
cocktail. After a year of living/sleeping/breathing Sleepy Hollow, this
brainchild of my buddy Bill Lilley, myself and a whole lot of friends,
had finally come together in a really glorious week. Despite challenges
due to snow, injuries, technical issues, etc., the ballet came to life
and the sold-out houses were filled with engaged audiences. The being
said, after the final performance the dancers and I needed a break. So
after the last show, I invited the Company and Studio Company to my
Adams Morgan apartment to celebrate a job well done with Mojitos (which I
mixed myself with my secret ingredient—Angostura bitters) and Pozole.
Pozole is a Mexican hominy stew—delicious, filling and associated with
family gatherings. And that’s what a ballet company is—a family. Here I
share my Mojito recipe so you can celebrate with your family as I
celebrated with mine after the success of Sleepy Hollow:
These early weeks of the season in the TWB studios, we are joined by many accomplished choreographers and repetiteurs helping to set TWB premieres.
The studios are crackling with anticipation for the beginning of the 2014.15 Performance Season. This upcoming Monday marks the first rehearsals with the Company and Studio Company. The Washington School of Ballet starts its classes, bringing youthful excitement to the studios. Monday will be both a reunion for some and a welcome for many.
I couldn’t be more excited about the 2014.15 Performance Season, quite possibly our biggest season yet. We’re performing Swan Lake for the first time in our organization’s history. We’re writing Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow into a full length ballet called Sleepy Hollow. (which includes original costume design, set design and original live music, I might add…) We’re bringing back our mega-hit ALICE (in wonderland). In October, we open the season with works by three of my favorite choreographers, Hans van Manen, Christopher Wheeldon and Jiří Kylián. We celebrate 10 years of my DC-centric The Nutcracker.
And the list goes on! Did I mention that every production in our mainstage series, “The Five Series,” contains live music?
And this year, we welcome some serious new talent into the organization. First, we welcome two new dancers from Cuba to the Company, which will see a total of five new dancers. One Cuban dancer, Miguel Anaya, was a part of the group of dancers that defected to the United States earlier this year during a performance tour to Mexico. He has given up so much to be here, but knows that he’ll also gain so many opportunities and experiences here in the nation’s capital. We also look forward to having Gian Carlo Perez join the Company, another extremely talented and accomplished Cuban dancer.
The Studio Company will also see nine new dancers. This “Generation Next” talent will be working hard to become masters of their craft throughout the year. We’ll also be announcing some exciting news regarding the Studio Company in the next month or so.
Oh, and this is huge…TWB veteran Company dancer Luis R. Torres joins the administrative side of the organization as the Studio Company and Trainee Ballet Master. And because he loves to tackle and achieve everything under the sun, he will also be dancing top-notch star turns on the stage for many performances.
As many of you know, Luis has danced with the organization for 11 memorable seasons, set Peter Pan in both Washington, DC and Hawai’i, and even received his MFA at George Mason University this year. Some of my favorite memories with Luis as a TWB Company dancer are Oberon in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, Lord Capulet in Romeo + Juliet, Captain Hook in Peter Pan and the Cheshire Cat in the world premiere of ALICE (in wonderland). Torres is a king at inventive new pas de deux, showcasing this in pieces by Edwaard Liang and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, among others. So with Luis on board, expect big things out of the Studio Company this year.
I hope you all enjoyed your summers as much as I did, but as you can see, we are extremely motivated to create, champion and perform great ballet this year. Join us and stay tuned as we TAKE FLIGHT!
Until next time, friends~
inspired by The Rolling Stones’ music I grew up with, and is a celebration of
those days. It casts an ironic eye on the sixties and the attitudes of the
times including, I have to say, the rather chauvinistic mentality of most young
men during my teenage years. This is why I have created the analogy between the
strutting cockerel with his fine feathers and the man dressed up to go out on
the town. I should add that the women do hold their own against the male
posturing, occasionally taking pleasure in bringing them down to earth.
Brrrr! It’s cold outside but a little snow hasn’t stopped us from an incredibly successful run of The Jazz/Blues Project at the Harman Center or from celebrating a HOT Noche de Pasión at the Colombian Ambassador’s Residence. In addition to some rave reviews (here, here and here), check out these GORGEOUS photos: