The company and I are racing to the finish line. As of 4 PM Friday, all the ballets are now finished for the Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Performances begin next Friday. This schedule means, two full length shows, nine smaller works, and the collaboration with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. This is over 400 minutes of choreography that the company dancers retain in their minds. Remember they don’t write the steps down anywhere. Sound like 3 dimensional chess?
Next week, the rehearsal process moves to the hardest part of a dancer’s work. Bringing out the artistic essences of each work is what makes each presentation unique. It is the art of squeezing out finishing touches. The power of the ballet master or coach is synonymous with a personal trainer for an Olympic athlete, or an executive coach for a CEO. Dancers often need the single of eye of a trained eye to offer important tips to make a performance day an unforgettable moment in a person’s own experiences. The coach must be the third pair of eyes, and the scale that keeps it in balance.
Many dancers have a lot of things they can tell you with their soul, but sometimes they don’t feel their body. They need to free up their upper body, need to breathe and let air in.” A coach emphasizes musical phrasing and reminders or “make good transitions a normal occurrence at this time.
Coaching is a special process that takes the dancer to the next level. It ignites the imagination and burnishes the luster of a performer’s unique qualities. Even in the age of videos and virtual imaging, there is no substitute for the intimate exchange between coach and dancer that passes on the artistry of ballet from one generation to the next.
Regular coaching sessions are as essential as taking class if dancers are to maintain their characterization and grow as artists. The famous ABT ballerina Dvorovenko once was quoted to says, “It is like dust on the furniture. If you don’t clean it, the next day there will be dust a little bit more.”
Bringing along young talent and helping dancers reach their potential is another aspect of coaching especially for the less experienced dancers of a company. For many apprentices have a long way to go in the way they present herself.” “They can absorb the information on one day but not necessarily put it into their bodies. It can be processed overnight and become crystal clear the next day, or it may take years. It can only be a work in progress.”
Besides me, the other two members of CBT’s coaching triumvirate are Stephen Gabriel and Jessica Roan. Before Gabriel assumed the ballet master leadership role at CBT, he had been principal dancer with CBT for almost a decade. With his regal beating, exceptional musicality, and pure American style, he brought unusual depth and emotional power to a wide range of leading roles–from the classics to psychological dance dramas. Mindful of the diverse training of any dancer dancers, coaching requires I encourage them, and in some cases, demand that they consider styles outside their training. As principal ballerina Jessica, can only great insight into many of the challenges the ladies of the company face including the demands of unison in corps de ballet work or the use of the pointe shoes. Both dancer still dance principal roles..
This is why we are too busy.
The perfect example of the coaching process has been the extensive work with Miki Kawamura and Alexander Collen in the Bedroom Pas de deux from Carmen. To create the role of Carmen and Don Jose, the process takes extensive coaching in melding of the complexity of two main characters magnetism. Carmen is a portrayal of magical temptress, a captivating story that exalts sensuality and an alluring sexual energy. It is an emotionally vivid and dramatic pas de deux that echoes the percussive, strikingly memorable score. The story, the music and the hard dancing make a strong challenge . Make sure you catch the tempting tidbit during Spoleto to whet your appetite for next season’s Full Length presentation of Carmen in the fall.
So next week we will still be a busy
William Faulkner once said – “ An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.”