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!

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-'70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Natalia Voronova, Courtesy Bolshoi Ballet

The Bolshoi Is Back Onstage: We Went Inside Bryan Arias' Latest Work

This summer, when parts of the world were slowly emerging from the COVID-19 lockdown, all live performing arts events having been canceled or postponed, choreographer Bryan Arias found himself in Moscow creating a brand-new work for the Bolshoi Ballet.

Arias, who was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York City's Spanish Harlem, and danced with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and Kidd Pivot, had been invited by Bolshoi artistic director Makhar Vaziev to be part of an impromptu program of contemporary choreography titled Four Characters in Search of a Plot. Three other international choreographers—Martin Chaix (France), Dimo Milev (Bulgaria) and Simone Valastro (Italy)—had also been asked to participate. This program, unusual by all standards for Russia's esteemed classical ballet company, opened the Bolshoi's 245th ballet season on September 10. Eager to resume live events, the theater introduced a number of safety regulations for audience members, including limited and spaced-out seating, temperature checks upon entry and audio messages reminding patrons to wear masks and maintain social distance.

Below, Arias talks about his trip to Russia and his experience of creating his new piece, The Ninth Wave, on the Bolshoi Ballet dancers.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks