The Importance of New Works

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In the midst of dancing Myles Thatcher’s world premiere Manifesto (onstage in Program 3) and Liam Scarlett’s Hummingbird making its return this season in Program 4, Soloist Dores André took a moment to reflect on her creative process and discuss why working with young choreographers inspires her.

Why are new works important?

New choreography ensures that the art of dance stays alive. Working with new choreographers gives dancers the chance for versatility and opportunity to grow as both artists and people. As a dancer we have input and can discover new areas of creativity within ourselves. It is as though we are a part of history in the making.

When originating a role, as I did in Myles Thatcher’s Manifesto, there is a very unique and fulfilling creative process that you go through. You aren’t copying what someone else has done or danced, you get to be an individual.

It’s incredibly important to work with new choreographers to keep work relevant and current. It’s so important that audiences can relate to what’s onstage.

What makes Liam Scarlett’s Hummingbird one of your favorite new works?

As a piece of art, Hummingbird is flawless. The music, choreography, and production design together make for a perfectly cohesive work. It’s very special because Liam created a dynamic environment for everyone involved. All the dancers perform every rehearsal full out with total respect, even when there’s nobody watching. That’s how much the dancers love this work.

Liam Scarlett and Dores André rehearse Scarlett's Hummingbird. (© Erik Tomasson)

Liam Scarlett and Dores André rehearse Scarlett’s Hummingbird.
(© Erik Tomasson)

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Sensorium: A Total Sensory Experience

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I won’t ever forget the first time I stepped through the doors of the War Memorial Opera House: the grandeur of the vaulted lobby ceiling, the light pouring in from the windows, and the excitement of those whirling by to find their seats. Once all the bells had chimed and everyone was settled down, the atmosphere was calm, the theater was still, and the lights dimmed. And when the lights dimmed, my heart began to race. Anticipation. Once the conductor took his position in the pit, one of the most incredible moments of live theater transpired…the curtain began to rise. From then on I, as an audience member, was taken on an unexpected ride, through movement, music, and moments that would never be performed in the same way again.

Our lives are marked by experiences. What we see, hear, and feel have a profound way of influencing our perspectives and transforming our realities. But there are few things in this world that compare to the experience one can have with live theater. It’s relatable, it’s tangible, it’s beautiful.

Sensorium on March 10 will be one of those incredible nights.

An evening not to miss and an experience not to miss out on.

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Meet Joseph Walsh

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Born in Pennsylvania, Joseph Walsh was introduced to ballet because his older sister was taking classes. He began dancing at three years old as an elf in Nutcracker, which he recalls is “the American way to start dancing.” Joseph received his formal ballet training at Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts. Being surrounded by other artists and other art forms had a strong influence on him and helped shape his focus on ballet. He attended summer dance intensives with American Ballet Theatre in New York City, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Houston Ballet School where he was invited to join Houston Ballet.

When asked about what it was like deciding on a professional ballet career he says, “it was a leap of faith in becoming a better artist.” He danced for Houston Ballet from 2007-14 where he was promoted through the ranks from apprentice to principal dancer.

Joseph Walsh rehearses Possokhov's Swimmer. (© Erik Tomasson)

Joseph Walsh rehearses Possokhov’s Swimmer.
(© Erik Tomasson)

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Posted in Becoming a Dancer, Behind the Scenes | 1 Comment

Working with a Dance Legend

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When Soloist Sasha De Sola first heard of Natalia Makarova, she was a young dancer in Winter Park, Florida. She remembers seeing Makarova dancing in old videos, though it wasn’t until De Sola was 14 and went on to train full- time at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. that she really came to understand how iconic Makarova is in the dance world.

With La Bayadere ranking highest among her most favorite ballets to perform, De Sola was beside herself last season when she found out she would be cast in two of the Act II solos. She was even more thrilled to learn her coach would be the legendary Makarova herself. De Sola admits to being quite nervous before rehearsals began, as Makarova was known to be a tough and demanding coach. She quickly came to realize that Makarova’s passion and intelligence brought out a new focus in her dancing that she had not yet tapped into. “She approaches ballet in an emotional way, with more focus on the feeling rather than the technical side of it. She will often tell us to be ‘more spiritual’ with our work, and ‘sing the music,’ all of which makes the technique easier to approach.” De Sola feels that she directly responds to how Makarova emphasizes the emotional and artistic approach over the technique.

San Francisco Ballet in Makarova’s “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadère, Act II. (c) Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Makarova’s “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadère, Act II.
(c) Erik Tomasson

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