Also see the film, if you’d rather https://youtu.be/dSURBaT3XF4
Or the 1936 film version (Stella Dumi) https://youtu.be/m6PI5b6YKeY
Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley succeeds with ‘do-or-die’ fundraising effort
By Karen D’Souza
POSTED: 03/16/2015 06:00:07 AM PDT# COMMENTS| UPDATED: A DAY AGO
Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley successfully overshot its do-or-die fundraising goal over the weekend by almost $100,000. Many see it as a much-needed shot in the arm for the valley’s fragile art scene.
“The community does not want to lose another arts organization,” said Lisa Mallette, head of City Lights Theater Company. “People are willing to step up and ensure that this one remains strong and vital.”
The South Bay’s major resident dance company snagged $640,000, more than the $550,000 it needed to stay alive. With the emergency push behind it, ballet leaders said they intend to reboot its operation, including rebranding it: Silicon Valley Ballet.
Corps de Ballet members, from left, Alison Stroming, Grace Anne Powers and James Kopecky, practice during a company class taught by San Jose Ballet Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño, at Ballet San Jose in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group) ( LiPo Ching )
“This campaign proves that people care about the ballet as much as we do and it gives us the ramp we need to get out ahead of the situation,” said ballet CEO Alan Hineline. “Finally there is some good news for the arts in the South Bay. We believe the ballet can be a rallying point for the city and the downtown.”
Withhttp://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site568/2015/0310/20150310__SJM-BALLET-0311~1_300.JPG many in the arts community still reeling over the loss of San Jose Rep, the fact that the ballet stayed afloat is the source of great relief. It was also seen as a vote of confidence that the valley, often knocked as an industry town interested only in high tech, also values the arts.
TEETERING ON THE EDGE
It’s also a refreshing outcome because it comes after a series of devastating losses in recent years.
The region has lost not only the Rep, which went under last year, but also Shakespeare Santa Cruz, which died in 2013 (before being reincarnated in a smaller form) and American Musical Theatre of San Jose, which perished in 2008.
Hineline, for one, has been pushing hard to buck the trend of local arts groups teetering on the edge.
“We know that the collapse of the Rep hurt everyone. A loss like that sends shock waves,” Hineline said. “We wanted to change that narrative, to change the ending of that story — and we did. Finally there is some good news for the arts in the South Bay.”
So, what made the ballet better positioned for survival than the Rep, which was also a beloved local institution?
One of the smartest moves the ballet made may have been making a public appeal over its fate, instead of slipping away quietly.
“The Rep went under without a word, which upset a lot of people,” said Andrew Bales, head of Symphony Silicon Valley. “The ballet made some noise and gave people a chance to have their say.”
Of course, this could be just a temporary reprieve. Ballet leaders must stay on their toes because there is another deadline looming. Company officials say they will need to raise $3.5 million by October to restructure the company’s business model and re-brand itself as Silicon Valley Ballet. The troupe, now led by ballet hotshot Jose Manuel Carreno, wants to raise its profile and reach out to a wider geographic audience.
The troubled company, which partnered with New York’s American Ballet Theatre in 2012, has weathered many fiscal crises over the years. Old debts have piled up, including a $500,000 tax bill, and the company’s biggest patron, John Fry, CEO of Fry’s Electronics, dialed back his patronage. The ballet has countered by cutting back, scrapping some performances and dropping live music accompaniment here and there. The budget for the organization, which includes 32 professional dancers and bustling school of 350 students, now stands at $5.6 million, down from a high of $8 million.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the harsh South Bay arts economy is the comparative wealth of groups in San Francisco and Berkeley. Yet local arts honchos suggest these struggles may simply be growing pains.
“The San Francisco art scene was built over 150 years, seeded in the Gold Rush,” said Randall King, head of San Jose Stage Company. “South Bay cultural resources have a relatively short history. We have built a competitive environment in a very limited timeline. We are younger, but no less valid or viable.”
Contact Karen D’Souza at 408-271-3772. Read her at http://www.mercurynews.com/karen-dsouza, and follow her at Twitter.com/karendsouza4.
Posted on February 16, 2015
On Thursday and Friday evening last week we showcased two key strands of our work, the Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award and aDvANCE. These innovative projects provide opportunities for Royal Ballet School students to explore their creativity and develop skills creating original work.
Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award
This year nine 2nd Year students were shortlisted to develop and show their choreography for the Award, which is generously sponsored by Peter Wilson. There was a rich display of ingenuity put before our three distinguished judges Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, Jeanetta Laurence OBE, Associate Director of The Royal Ballet and Arthur Pita, choreographer. After much deliberation they awarded first prize to Arianna Maldini for Quia Contra (For and Against), a piece of choreography inspired by an imagined meeting of the four elements of nature: water, fire, air and earth. The piece was set to Ezio Bosso’s music Thunders and Lightnings.
Second prize went to Joseph Sissens for his piece inspired by the transatlantic slave trade called Let My People Go. His emotive choreography was set to The Bitter Earth by Max Richter and On the Nature of Daylight by Dinah Washington.
Third prize was awarded to Grace Paulley for Amo, Amas, Amat, which explored the grammar of love, and the luminosity of impressionist art. It was set to Debussy’s Reverie.
The Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award has played an important role in encouraging the development of young choreographers since its inception nearly half a century ago. It has provided a launchpad for many influential figures including David Bintley, Christopher Wheeldon, Cathy Marston and Liam Scarlett.
Ursula Moreton was an instrumental figure in the encouragement of emerging choreographic talent in the mid-20th century. By nurturing great artists, such as Kenneth MacMillan and John Cranko, she played a vital role in the development of the British style. She was Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dance’s Production Club and later became Principal at The Royal Ballet School.
Our thanks to the judging panel for giving up their valuable time and to composer Russell Hepplewhite, who was music consultant to the choreographers. Congratulations to all the choreographers and dancers involved.
Our aDvANCE scheme is part of our Dance Partnership & Access work, which provides broader access to ballet and the work of the School through an extensive range of primary and secondary school projects. aDvANCE offers our 1st Year students a unique opportunity to work with young people learning dance in other contexts. This year the students collaborated with students from Featherstone High School in Southall, West London. Over the past five months the young dancers have taken part in a series of creative and choreographic tasks as well as visiting each other’s schools to work together on a joint performance. On Thursday and Friday evening, the audience were treated to a performance by each school group separately before watching the collaborative piece Stabilimentum, choreographed by students themselves led by Dani Batchelor with assistance from Bim Malcomson.
The dancers took the tale of Arachne, a talented weaver who antagonised the goddess Athena and was then condemned to live as a spider, and developed it to create their own abstract interpretation of the story.
We are grateful for the generous support of the Department for Education, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and The Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation.
Ballet San Jose Sharp in Season Debut
February 24, 2015
Fancy Free, whose company premiere Friday highlighted Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley’s first repertory series, would seem a natural for the troupe. Now a close ally of American Ballet Theatre, its artistic director, stellar ABT alum Jose Manuel Carreno, was known for his macho participation in Jerome Robbins’ classic romp about three sailors on shore leave, the bones of which were to lead to the smash musical On the Town, now in Broadway revival, and thence, via Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, to the movie version and immortality.
Fancy Free, created when Robbins was still dancing with Ballet Theater, remains one of his greatest works, also paving the way for landmarks by its young and brilliant composer, Leonard Bernstein.
So entertaining, debonair and practically perfect was Friday’s performance that what it took to get it on its feet might well be left in the dust. That would be a shame. Robbins, for all his genius, was never a fancy-free choreographer, and without the precision he dictated, from inception through its passage from Ballet Theater, as the company wasthen called, down to the present, when it remains a staple of the New York City Ballet, ABT, and dozens of fortunate troupes around the world, Fancy Free would be oh, less than nothing.
But, like most great choreographers, Robbins left orders in place to guarantee that his work would be staged the way he wanted it staged. We also see this, of course, in the work of George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp among many others; both of them were also represented Friday in Theme and Variations, a BSJ standard, and In the Upper Room, which joined the rep last year.
The way staging happens is in part through the sharing of dancers’ physical and performance recollections – dance being very much a “body to body” art form, as Edward Villella says – as well as film and notation (and pointed remarks) directly from the creator. So the stagers for these three ballets, designated by the respective artists and their trusts, worked with Ballet San Jose’s dancers to make everything the way it ought to be. They were (Fancy Free) Philip Neal, who danced for Robbins when he was co-ballet master-in-chief (whew) at the New York City Ballet; (Theme and Variations)Sandra Jennings and Stacy Caddell for the George Balanchine Trust, also at City Ballet, and (In the Upper Room) two former Tharp dancers, the great Shelley Washington, and Gil Boggs (now Colorado Ballet’s artistic director).
Of the three, Fancy Free was the standout, rising way above the tinny, taped music (Ballet San Jose, still woefully short of funds, could not reach an agreement for the services of Symphony Silicon Valley). Richly nostalgic with its angular Oliver Smith bar-room set design and Bernstein’s score, its keen rhythms evoking his fascination at the time with things Latin, plus the entire notion of carpe diem or, dare we say, dame – it was, after all, shore leave in the middle of World War II; everything, particularly the rhumbas, the moments of boyish brooding, the fights, the flirts, the resilience, the friskiness of the chase, all of it came together at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts so precisely, with fine technique and such wonderful, readable nuance.
In the small cast, the great performances abounded: Rudy Candia, Walter Garcia and Joshua Seibel as the gobs; Grace-Anne Powers and Ommi Pipit-Suksun as their leggy quarry, and, in smaller roles, Emma Francis as a last-minute distraction, and James Kopecky as the long-suffering bartender.
Theme and Variations, all satin, tutus, Tchaikovsky (Suite No. 3 for orchestra) and chandeliers, went off without many hitches, though this taxing and stunning opener needed a few moments for the company to hit its stride. In the leads, principal dancers Junna Ige and Maykel Solas were prodigies of durability and grace, drawing in all viewers for the central ballet, Balanchine’s wonderfully intimate, tender yet frolicsome pas de deux.
Again, not to beat a dead horse, this company desperately needs, absolutely requires, live music. I can’t think of a ballet company that doesn’t. The likely exception would be for In the Upper Room, whose Philip Glass score might really demand the ministrations of a full-time and totally unaffordable company orchestra. On Friday, the audio sounded as good as anyone else’s, which isn’t really as grudging as it sounds, if you love Glass as much as this viewer.
As noted here before, this – thanks in no small part to Glass – is one of the great creations of Tharp or anybody else. It flies by, and the minute it’s over, you want it all again. Is it the dry-ice fog, the lights, the Norma Kamali black-and-white prison pj’s contrasted with red tops and toe shoes, or white sneakers and shirts? Nah. It’s Twyla, first, last and always. Nobody has ever pointed up as viscerally what it means to dance and perform, in so many ways, as she does. (Oh, we could perhaps argue that her Push Comes to Shove is equally brilliant in this argument, plus it came equipped with Mikhail Baryshnikov at its premiere. But no.)
At any event, Ballet San Jose, even on its uppers, gets and represents In the Upper Room to the marrow of its bones. This company needs – and all of us need it – to keep on dancing.