Lending a Hand

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We have been back to work for nearly three months now, preparing for our 2012 season. It’s unbelievable how quickly time flies when you’re working hard!

For me, July began with work on Edwaard Liang’s world premiere. Ed is an excellent mover—his ports de bras and groundedness are absolutely lush—and it was a pleasure to be in the studio with him to watch and learn from his movement quality. The Rachmaninoff score really fits his choreography, and I’ll look forward to see how the piece comes together conceptually onstage.

August became really busy for me when Jane Bourne arrived to stage John Cranko’s Onegin. I had the opportunity to learn the role of Tatiana’s sister Olga, which challenged me in so many ways. First, I rarely get a chance to do any slow adagio pas de deux, the kind that require a lot of control and balance. I tend to be more confident moving quickly, so it was great for me to work on some difficult adagio partnering. The ballet also has a lot of dancing, so I had to learn how to pace myself for my endurance.  It was fantastic to work on a character that demands a lot of artistic depth, as well—Olga is a young girl who is in love, whose emotions in the span of two acts run the gamut from timid giddiness to childish brazenness, from unintentional cruelty to utter emotional devastation. Sometimes, you only get one step or one phrase of music to convey something really important to the audience, so every detail matters and needs to have a lot of thought put into it. I love dramatic roles, and I have played many ‘gypsy’-like roles onstage, so it was a treat to have a change of pace and portray a sweeter character.

As we moved into September, we started gearing up for our tour to Orange County. It’s been fun to revisit Romeo & Juliet (in which I play a harlot, one of those ‘gypsy’-like roles…) and Symphony in C will never cease to be a challenge. I dance the first movement demi-soloists and the third movement principal in the ballet, and they both are ridiculously challenging in different ways—the first movement for the fast footwork and the third movement for the sheer stamina of jumping like a man for ten minutes! An added bonus for me in touring to Orange County is the warm weather—my muscles always feel noticeably better when it’s hot outside.

Outside of work, a lot of my time this summer has been spent working for a great non-profit called the Children of Uganda. It’s an organization that supports AIDS orphans, and they rehabilitate and educate the kids through traditional Ugandan dance and music. A few of my colleagues and I decided to use our talents to help COU raise money to bring some of these children to perform in the U.S. As a dancer, I was really moved by their connection to the arts—sometimes, I struggle with wondering if I should be in a career that makes more of a difference in the world, but COU gave me a fresh perspective on the true purpose of dance.

When I saw  these kids dance with such joy in the midst of so much brokenness and pain, I was reminded that we do the same thing here at SFB: we create a little bit of beauty in the midst of the crazy ups and downs of life.  Watching those kids was really important to me. Who’s to say that what we do onstage isn’t equally as important to everyone who sits in the audience?

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7 Comments

  1. avatar Kristine Elliott
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful article- so interesting to hear about all your new roles and exciting dancing. I am also moved by the incredible work you are doing with the children of Uganda! Looking forward to seeing you on stage and around!

  2. avatar Talitha
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Love those little arabesques!! ;-)

  3. avatar Frances Landaas
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    This was very interestinng to learn about your dancing and other activities. It is very rewarding to involve yourself with people that have great needs and especially to h elp them to learn any thhing that will make their lives better.

  4. avatar Frances Landaas
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    This was very interesting to learn about your dancing and also about your other activities. Sounds as though you really enjoy your dancing and have had some really good parts. It is very rewarding to work with children that have lots of needs and to help them learn something that will be meaningful in their lives. It was good to hear from you through your Nan. Love, Frances

  5. avatar paul parish
    Posted September 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    i was very moved by all you said here. but especially by the response to the children. you have a wonderful talent. you are doing with it what you should. Please forgive me for presuming to say this, but DON’T feel bad if the world doesn’t give you the compensation you deserve.

    in my next life, I want to be the third girl in Bizet…….

    Merde for your performances.

  6. avatar liza
    Posted September 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Great post. Ballet makes a big difference in peoples’ lives. It brings me pure joy to watch SFB every year, and our whole family looks forward to and discusses the season every year. Don’t ever think that ballet doesn’t make a difference in peoples’ lives. Bringing pure joy to people is enough!

  7. avatar Courtney Elizabeth
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the encouragement, it is very much appreciated! It’s so important and uplifting to hear that we are making a positive impact on the audience.

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