Spring has sprung! And that means Marin Ballet is gearing up for its annual Spring Concert. As we continue to adapt to the unique challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are guided by the principles of creativity and a tenacity of faith that dance has embedded within us. Under the artist direction of Cynthia Lucas, Marin Ballet will be presenting Beauty Awakens April 24th & 25th and May 1st & 2nd, featuring performances by our Levels 5-9 students and choreography by Marin Ballet faculty. Ms. Lucas chose the classical portion of the Spring Concert series to be titled Beauty Awakens as she imagines the students reawakening into a world with live performance opportunities, renewed beginnings, and visions of a beauty-filled future.
Inspired by the essence of springtime and the classical music of the Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Beauty Awakens will also include some performances of Who Cares? choreographed by George Balanchine and staged by our very own Sandra Jennings from the Balanchine Trust. After our final performance, there will also be a watch party that will include the debut of Fire and Teeth, a contemporary dance film choreographed and edited by Marin Ballet faculty Casey Lee Thorne and Katie Meyers featuring student performers from Levels 6-9. The watch party will also share student choreography by James Hisanaga and Esther Rose Daniels, and a celebration for our graduating seniors.
Beauty Awakens has offered our ballet faculty an opportunity to choreograph new dances to the classical music of Sleeping Beauty. Artistic Coordinator Catherine Hader gives insight into her process with Level 5…..
“The Level 5’s will perform in Spring Waltz in celebration of Spring as a time of renewal, which feels pertinent as we gather together after almost a year apart! Rehearsing in a hybrid fashion, partly in-person and partly on zoom, has been both a challenge and a delight. The students have focused with such vigor on Zoom to learn the steps that the in-person time, limited as it may be, has been met with super enthusiasm to quickly understand the many patterns and spacing. Being in-person outside has also proven very exhausting. But, these wonderful students shiver in the cool evening air on the platform without complaint and with such mature dedication as they look forward to their first Spring Concert with the upper division.”
Long time faculty member Corinne Jonas explains her approach to choreographing for Beauty Awakens with Level 6…..
“Level 6’s dance in Beauty Awakens is all about friendship and the joy of dancing together again – delighting in and rediscovering our connection to each other and our passion for Ballet, especially after such a long time away and apart. Level 6 was so fortunate to have the opportunity to be on the outside platform each week so that I could create their dance in person and then use our Zoom time to clean and clarify.”
Faculty member and Marin Ballet’s beloved Nutcracker choreographer Julia Adam has been working with Level 7 and 8/9-1 on their dances for Beauty Awakens. She reflects…..
The Level 7 dance marks the middle point of this concert and holds the progression from an earth being to a Fairy. This inspired me to physicalize this idea into arm movement that feels and looks to me like young beings sprouting wings. I have taken liberty in my musical choices as far as ignoring what is traditionally happening to these divertissements in the context of the Tchaikovsky ballet score, but I do make some very subtle references to the past choreographically. This was lots of fun for me. The melodies and underlying rhythms are fabulous. The Level 8/9-1 dance is an exploration of creating a challenging balletic dance that shows us the next step in the birth of the almost fairy. The costuming helps us understand this more with silk falling from the students’ hair and along their arms describing an almost wing, and yet we step into the tutu demonstrating a purer classical reference. The music comes from the traditional vision scene but again, I have taken some liberties and even referenced other iconic ballet movement. I created vocabulary and rehearsed on Zoom so that when we got onto the platform I could then move the students around and focus on the architecture of the dance.”
Level 9, the most advanced level of our school, has been working with Artistic Director Cynthia Lucas. Ms. Lucas explains…..
“Level 9 will be dancing the Prologue in Beauty Awakens. The vision was for them to have a chance to dance together and each have a solo or duet to experience the thrill of feeling elegant, strong, and capable of dancing pure classical ballet repertoire. There can be a feeling of massive space when dancing classical ballet on an outside platform. It is my hope that the students will continue to strive for the sense of space and the thrill of excellence.”
Level 9 will also be performing Who Cares? which we had planned on performing in 2019. Sandra Jennings, who has set the piece by way of The Balanchine Trust, felt like it would be fitting to work on such an uplifting piece to perform in our Spring Concert. Ms. Jennings reflects…..
“After spending more than a year in their rooms Zooming, I felt it was time for them to have a ballet to work on that was fun but also challenging. We previously worked on this ballet for our 2019 spring concert. It feels fitting to me that we get to finally show this work to the students’ parents and most importantly for the students to feel the joy of dancing these beautiful steps to this gorgeous music!”
Fun fact! Ms. Jennings danced Who Cares? in the 1970s and 80s…..
“I performed in the corps de ballet, as a soloist, and as one of the principals. I have also staged the ballet many times through the years. I believe it premiered in 1969. I was about 12 years old. When I danced it for the first time, I was 17! I always loved dancing it. I would say that it is a classical ballet with Broadway flavor. Mr. Balanchine knew composer George Gershwin from his early Hollywood days. He had a true love of Americana and Gershwin’s music. As Mr. Balanchine used to say to us: “Sell it dear!” It’s a good time to be able to do just that!”