Ballet News

Through the Dancer's Eyes

Kathleen Martin, company dancer at Ballet Idaho, sat down with 3 of the choreographers for this weekend's Fall Rep. Enjoy small interviews from Company C Contemporary Artistic Director Charles Anderson, Ballet Idaho Company Member Daniel Ojeda and Ballet Idaho Artistic Director Peter Anastos. Join us this weekend, November 1 and 2 at the Morrison Center.
Ballet Idaho has successfully started it's 6th season. Boise is as beautiful as ever and everyone is excited to be back. It’s been a very busy fall between the new satellite academy building in west Boise, the company’s two major fundraisers, American Girl Fashion Show and the Masked Ball Gala, plus all the new and visiting faces. Here are a couple short interviews with Charles Anderson, Daniel Ojeda and Peter Anastos. These men choreographed three of the four ballets you will see this weekend. The fourth is Serenade, returning for its second time in Boise by popular demand.
Interview 1: Charles Anderson
Charles is the Founder and Artistic Director for Company C Contemporary. He was a dancer with New York City Ballet from 1985-1993 and is from San Francisco. Here is a quick interview with the choreographer of Akimbo.
1. What was your inspiration for Akimbo?
“This ballet has come about differently than almost any ballet that I've ever done. Remembering the exact inspiration is difficult because I did it a long time ago. But what's different about this ballet is for me choreographically, it’s both a look back and a look forward. When I first started it, I had just left New York City Ballet so I was really heavily influenced by the Balanchine technique. Then as I became more of a choreographer, and influenced by lots of other things that I love like Eurich Kelian, I started going into more of a contemporary ballet situation. And then I moved into my own voice which then twisted it all again. Akimbo was choreographed over a 15 year period. A lot of the inspiration had to do with me finding my own choreographic voice.
2. Were you always interested in choreography? Or did you develop that later in your career?
I always was. My life is different than so many dancers because I had a mother, a father and a step-father all involved with dance. They were principle dancers and danced at the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theater and all over the place. I don't have a time in my life before ballet. People will remember me as the boy under the piano. My mom would take class everywhere and would have to take me. So yeah, I was the boy always under the piano. It's funny, I thought every dancer wanted to grow up and become a choreographer and run a company. I just thought that was the natural progression of all peoples. But for me, I always knew that's where I was headed.
My process with choreography is different because I've known structure and technique since I was very young. So as a choreographer, what it is about for me is NOT structuring the ballet perfectly. Not knowing every single rule but breaking the rules and that’s what makes my choreography artistic. A lot of the ballet world didn't come from where I came from, and they are trying to figure out structure. How does a line go into a square-what happens here-when do the soloists come on? That's all second nature to me. My mind is like, “How do I let go of all of that and get to the meat of who I am, who the dancers are, and make that into a piece of art.”
3. How did you come about setting Akimbo at Ballet Idaho?
I knew Peter Anastos' works for many years and there were a few times I would see them when I was younger. I would laugh hysterically, I loved them. We do a lot of the contemporary stuff {his company, Company C} and it can be really heavy. So I looked up Peter and I got to talking with him and he came out and set a ballet on us. Footage actually! Peter came to see our Gala performance where we did all sorts of different contemporary ballets and he said “Wow, I'd really like to do one of these contemporary ballets for my company.” And I said, “Well give me a call because I'd love to do it”.
Interview 2: Daniel Ojeda
The second piece of the night is by Ballet Idaho’s own dancer and choreographer Daniel Ojeda. Daniel has been with the company for three years and here are a couple questions about his piece.
1. Hi Daniel. Describe your piece and what how it came about?
The title of my piece is Qualia and it's a philosophical term which refers to those subjective experiences of individuals which cannot be communicated inter personally.
When I first heard the music it invoked an experience, a reflection, and it made me feel something I couldn't describe to you. But I could describe this memory, and maybe from describing my memory I can in turn have you feel, or experience what I was experiencing.
2. You've choreographed for Ballet Idaho before, how is this piece different?
This is technically my sixth piece with Ballet Idaho, but my first real professional endeavor where I've had real time and resources. I've put a lot of thought into this. This is my interpretation of classical ballet; it's completely different than anything I've done.
This is my first main stage performance, the other pieces were in front of an audience of 60 people, incredibly intimate. This is the first time that the work that I'm doing is achieving maximum exposure. It really feels like for the first time I'm really doing something. It's sort similar to starting all over again. I have that feeling I had when I first choreographed, ever. It’s a wonderful experience, to feel like you have something to prove.
3. What's the journey been like, getting to the main stage in Boise?
Last season Peter approached me about choreographing a piece, after of course I had multiple times approached him. Although, initially it started with a previous repertoire where one of our dancers was supposed to choreograph a piece, but was unable to due to other commitments. I went up to Peter and asked if I can fill the space, but he decided against it because at that point in time I had only choreographed two pieces. So he went with a more seasoned choreographer, which makes total sense. But really I didn't let up and I prayed to God that he viewed my tenacity as laudable opposed to annoying. So he approached me last season about choreographing for our spring rep. After I stumbled upon Schubert and his piano trios I pitched him the idea for Qualia. As I pitched the idea, I told him everything that will be happening on the stage as we listened to the music. Afterwords he looked at me and said “Fine, but you're going in the first rep”. And that was that.
Interview 3: Peter Anastos
The final ballet of the night is our very own Footage. Peter Anastos is our Artistic Director and his choreography will close the show!
1. When did you originally set Footage?
I think it was in the 80's when I set Footage, it's been a really long time. I've set this ballet with Cincinnati Ballet and it was in Garden State Ballets repertoire (New Jersey) for a while. I've done it in Berkeley, CA honestly a lot of companies have had it over the years. I set it in Europe actually, they did it in Belgium.
2. What is Footage about?
It's supposed to be a ballet about film dancing. I just think using 30's jazz music is a nice idea for a ballet and I thought it would be a great closer for the evening. The music is actually recorded in England. It's an English orchestra called the Jack Hylton Orchestra. Clearly they are intimidating American Jazz music, and clearly they did a great intimidation.
3. How many times have you set Footage at Ballet Idaho? Has it evolved?
This is the third time. I'm surprised because we normally do not set things this closely. But also it's a whole new cast, and it's always different for a choreographer to set it somewhere else, or on different dancers. You go to a different company, and it's a completely different ballet. I just think it would be boring to set a ballet from a video and say “this is it” and never really change a thing. Also the company is a lot stronger than it was in 2010 so I added things and changed a lot.
I wanted to do another pas de deux for the lead couple because they only have one at the beginning of the ballet so, I thought it would be nice to have them come back. But with the Maltise Falcon section with the trench coats-I just wanted to do some kind of a film noir, a really dark movie idea. It has nothing to do with the rest of the ballet. All of a sudden you are watching a comedy and someone puts in the 3rd reel of a horror movie.
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This weekend is something you do not want to miss. With two Boise debuts, a returning favorite and the ever so sweet Serenade it's safe to say it'll not only leave the dancers breathless but the audience as well.
Don’t forget to be in the audience November 1 and 2 at 8:00 p.m.
See you there!
-Kathleen Martin, company dancer