Pre-Performance Prep

Houston Ballet student Maddy Graupmann checks in from her fifth week of the summer intensive.

 

The time has really flown by this year! This is the week where we really have to crack down in rehearsal because next week we will mostly be staging all the pieces. We've already had some rehearsals down in the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab, but it is a very different atmosphere, especially when you realize just how much you've been using the mirror for spacing and timing. It throws a lot of people off at first, so we've started rehearsing the dances facing away from the mirrors during class.

 

People always ask me how I remember so many different dances at once without getting them mixed up—and I actually don’t even know myself. It’s just second nature! I hear a different song and automatically adjust the mood and mind-set to fit it. When learning multiple dances at once, you have to know the choreography and be able to do it in your sleep. As a dancer, you have to learn quickly, or a director may remove you from a ballet altogether. On the other hand, if you are not doing a certain role, you should also know that choreography in case you get thrown in last minute. My dormmate, Fernanda, has been helping me learn the choreography to her role (she has a different one than I do), just in case!

Some students also have the opportunity to choreograph on some level 8 students for the American Festival for the Arts performance. They get to work with young composers from the AFA summer program who write original music. It's an amazing experience for everyone involved. I even see a lot of my dormmates rehearsing the pieces they're performing in our dining room—they only get around 10 rehearsals before the performance, so it is constantly on their minds!

I am in two pieces for Houston Ballet summer intensiv'es performance this year: Serenade and Friends from Coppélia. We have two totally different costumes for each. In Serenade we'll be wearing tight, pale bodices with sheer, floor-length skirts that look beautiful when we jump and turn. We also wear a slicked back low bun. Coppélia’s costuming is very different! We have long-sleeve, maroon leotards with a matching short, wrap skirt. Our hair is going to be in a braided bun on the crown of our head with flowers beneath. For some people in the same shows (there are three different casts) for both Serenade and Coppelia’s Friends, there are only a few dances in between both pieces to change all of that!

We are still very much in the cleaning-up stage, and we've already had two additional rehearsals this week to work on finishing touches! It always seems to me that a performance is never stage-ready, but somehow the day before it’s just there, the performance just happens. I really hope that will be the case for this summer! I can’t wait to see!