Ballet That Speaks

 Mara rehearsing Camino Real with Christian Clark. Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.

This weekend, Atlanta Ballet presents the world premiere of Helen Pickett's Camino Real. Inspired by the Tennessee Williams play of the same name, it tells the story of an unlikely cast of characters trapped in a dusty, dead end town. Not only is it Pickett's first full-length ballet, but the five main characters also have speaking roles. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with Atlanta Ballet dancer Nadia Mara before opening night.

You're playing Marguerite, who is based off the character in The Lady of the Camellias. What is she like?

She's a very elegant, effortless and delicate character. But at the same time, she goes through so many emotions, like anger, desperation, betrayal. That's when her movement starts getting a little more aggressive. At one point I even dance barefoot.


How would you describe the choreography?

It's very sensual and emotional. Helen Pickett does a really good job connecting the emotional state of the character to the movement. She'll say, "In this part, you feel anxiety," and does a movement. But she also gives me the freedom of creating. For a dancer, the best thing you can do is create with a choreographer and make a role your own.

 

What's it like working with Pickett?

She challenges me, and that's what I love about her. She knows she can give me anything, like speaking onstage, and I'll try to make it work. Of course, I'm from Uruguay, I have an accent and my English is not perfect. But she trusts me.

 

How is the speaking woven into the choreography?

It's pretty amazing--they happen together. I'm in the middle of a solo, and I have to scream and say things and express my feelings through movement. We have a lot of rehearsals where we ask, "Where exactly are we going to breathe?" I have a jumping solo and a microphone, so I can't inhale loudly before I'm going to say something. Everything is about timing.

 

For even more interviews, tips, audition info and giveaways, sign up for our FREE e-newsletter.


 

Latest Posts


iStock

Ask Amy: My Parents Want Me to Get a Job and Cut Back on Dance Classes

I am thinking about pursuing a career in ballet. However, my parents have made it clear that at some point they want me to get a job, which they acknowledge would mean possibly dropping dance, or at least not taking as many classes. I agree that getting a job is important so that I'm able to make my own money, but dropping dance classes is the exact opposite of what will get me to where I want to be. Any suggestions? —Kaia

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks