For many ballet companies, December means Nutcracker time. But this Dec. 10-18, the Denver-based troupe Wonderbound presents the world premiere of Garrett Ammon's Winter, a multi-sensory ballet bringing audiences the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the season. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with company member Meredith Strathmeyer, who plays the magpie in this immersive ballet.
How would you compare this experience to a standard ballet?
It's our first time doing something with all five senses. It won't only be movement and live music, but the audience is going to be helped along the way. There will be little boxes of curated foods on our patrons' seats. And there will be winter scents from a Denver parfumist in the air and some truly melt-your-mind graphics that will be projected on all the surrounding walls in the theater.
Is there a narrative thread to Winter?
From what we know so far, in the beginning there's a main couple and they're heading home after a holiday cocktail party when the magpie steals away the beautiful young woman. The man wakes up to find her gone and goes on a search to find her. Along the way he is drawn into the forest and encounters all these woodland creatures.
How would you describe the movement?
My character is the magpie, a great big bird. Like a lot of ballet dancers, I saw Swan Lake at a young age, so I've always had this desire to be a beautiful bird onstage. But the challenging thing with Garrett's choreography is that he wants the exquisite and ethereal along with the awkward. I'm having to move from a statuesque-like woman-bird into a hopping magpie--bow-legged and bent with cupped feet.
What else is challenging about the piece?
I'm manipulating a 10-foot wingspan. It's like the biggest cape you've ever seen, with slightly flexible molding in the wings. And then we're doing partnering work so that's been a challenge, as well—not to poke anybody's eyes out—but to still really own the length in that wingspan.