Posted by Rebecca King on 08.01.2011
Now that our three week tour to Paris has come and gone, I have had an opportunity to look back and reflect on this land-mark event for Miami City Ballet and it’s dancers. I feel as if we all grew as artists in this short period and the lessons that we have learned will never be forgotten. Here is what I learned:
-The company’s sense of community is extremely real. If you were to stand in the wings during any of our performances in Paris, you would find almost all the other dancers who were not dancing to be standing in the wings watching, stretching, and warming up. The backstage crew had to remind us numerous times that because of the extraordinary acoustics in the Châtelet, we were not allowed to celebrate in the wings as we normally would. After a solo, or an extraordinary moment in a piece, we would all want to clap and yell a “Bravo” from the wings in encouragement. This is the kind of support and love we have for our peers.
-This company is an unlimited source of inspiration. During this summer season, if I was not performing until the end of the program, my favorite way to prepare for the performance was to sit in the wings and allow myself to become inspired by the talent around me. I would stand off stage, smiling and dancing along in my head as I watched. I would be sure to never miss the girls section of Square Dance, the fourth Pas de Deux from In The Night, or In The Upper Room. The dancers would all radiate energy that touched those of us backstage as much as the audience.
-With difficult programming, you need to be able to pace yourself and work smart. When you are dealing with a schedule of that magnitude, you need to be able to plan out the day, do only what you have to during rehearsals, so that you feel fresh for the show at night. Each day we had an hour and a half class followed by three hours of rehearsals, then a half hour to grab dinner before preparing for the show. Dancers in companies such as New York City Ballet have that sort of schedule throughout their seasons, but since it was new to us we got the opportunity to learn how to work in this manner. You would think that we would find all the work exhausting and would be looking forward to falling back into our normal pattern, but we all feel the exact opposite. Getting to dance different ballets every night, 5 nights a week, while rehearsing during the day, is the most exhilarating schedule we could ever hope for!
-Parisian audiences are fabulous. If you had been keeping up with the Paris tour via TENDUS, you may think that I am beginning to sound like a broken record when I speak about the audiences that packed the Châtelet every night to see us dance. But the reason that I keep re-iterating this point, is because the audience is the most important element in live theater. Those people in the red-velvet seats are why we put ourselves out there night after night. We dance with the hope of touching an audience member in a way that only ballet can. The two times that I was able to sit with the Parisians in the house of the Châtelet, I would take a moment during a piece to look around at the faces of the people sitting around me. I was delighted to see smiles and looks of intense concentration, as they were leaning forward in their seats as if to get closer to the action. I only wish the dancers could have seen how the audiences’ faces lit up the dark house.
-The dancers fell in love with Balanchine even more. As I felt the warm reaction from the audiences after one of his ballets, I couldn’t help but marvel at the way his works have held up over time. These ballets that we brought to Paris were choreographed decades ago, performed countless times around the world, and still bringing audiences to their feet. What kind of genius has the ability to make art like that? It is phenomenal.
-Simply put, MCB took Paris.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks for a very special two-part video blog, compiling video footage and interviews from Paris, including a special interview with Miami City Ballet Artistic Director Edward Villella. Mr. Villella talks exclusively with me about how it felt to watch his dancers up on stage at the Châtelet and how Balanchine would have reacted to our Paris summer tour. If you would like to be the first to know when these videos are posted, I invite you to become a subscriber to TENDUS email list. To look back on our last moments in Paris, click here.