Tulsa Ballet: Three Premieres, One Bill

 

Rehearsing a world premiere can be daunting for any dancer. This month, Tulsa Ballet principal Youhee Son is faced with triple the challenge. She'll be dancing in brand-new creations by Jorma Elo, Dwight Rhoden and Ma Cong in Tulsa Ballet's Creations in Studio K program. For Pointe's biweekly newsletter, we spoke with Son as she prepared for the performances which start next weekend.

What can you tell us about the new works?
Since Ma is resident choreographer here, he knows us very well. In his ballet, I start out sad and romantic, but the next part is really energetic. That's the hardest thing, to change my mood in a minute. For Dwight, I'd been hoping to work with him for a long time, so this is a dream come true. In his piece, we start with pointe shoes and lots of partnering before changing to soft shoes--that's hard. Dwight's movement is very rich. Even when you wave your arms, it's not just the arms. You have to use your whole body. For Jorma's ballet, he came in with sketches but didn't give us exact movements. He gave us some freedom to collaborate, so I feel like I'm really a part of his choreography.

You'll be performing in Studio K, a 300-seat theater. How is that different from dancing on a main stage?
With the audience so close, it can be harder to concentrate. But that also means they can see everything; they don't miss any part of the choreography since the space is so compact. And as dancers, we get to feel what the audience feels. When they're surprised, we can hear them gasp.
In rehearsal, do you approach a premiere differently than a ballet that already exists? 
Yes, because when I learn an older piece, I can watch a video to see how to fix a difficult movement. But for a new piece, I am in charge of driving the car. I'm not following somebody's interpretation. I'm trying to find a way to make it look better for not only myself, but for the entire piece. It's about making it a better collaboration. 
What advice do you have for dancers when they're learning a brand-new ballet?
Go for it. Be creative. And don't be afraid to be a part of it. If the choreographer is working with another dancer on a different part that's not yours, you still need to listen to him because it's all about that one piece.
For even more interviews, tips, audition info and giveaways, sign up for our FREE e-newsletter.
Phot credit: Son in Yuri Possokhov's Classical Symphony with Hyonjun Rhee. Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Courtesy Boylston

Is the #EsmeraldaChallenge Quarantine's Next Big Thing?

By this point in the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, people are completely burned out on dancing at home. So it's no surprise that last week, all-around dance superstar Alex Wong posted a video on Instagram performing the famous La Esmeralda variation... but in his living room. And with a frying pan instead of a tambourine.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks