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7/7/2015 - Dan's July Ballet Blog


Illuminate Finds Expanded Audience, Points to Exciting Future

In our recent Illuminate program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on May 30, four Harris Theater premieres and a returning favorite took Ballet Chicago's record audience of nearly 1700 by storm. The air in the Harris Theater was abuzz with remarks like, "This looks like a professional company!" "What a gorgeous repertoire!" "What unusual variety!" "We loved the contemporary works!" "We loved the classic works to Bach and Tschaikovsky!" and on and on. The diverse mix of ballets showcased choreography by Artistic Director Dan Duell, Ballet Chicago's swiftly rising Resident Choreographer Ted Seymour, and the twentieth century's grand master George Balanchine.

As we prepare for another exciting year soon to be announced, we carry with us this year's unmitigated triumph. Below is our Illuminate program with descriptions of its outstanding works, accompanied by photos from this season. I think you will agree that the photos show exemplary artistry and provide clear evidence of why the program had our audience on its feet.

Concerto in A Minor
chor. D. Duell, music, J. S. Bach - This large neo-classic group work choreographically plumbs the inner landscape of Bach's sublime "Concerto in A Minor for Violin", BWV 1041. The work gives our dancers an experience of dancing today's classicism to baroque beauty, revealing the music's essence in movement. First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2009, this is the ballet's Harris Theater premiere.


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing in Concerto in A Minor at the Harris Theater in May 2015. Choreography by Daniel Duell, Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
chor. G. Balanchine, music, P.I. Tschaikovsky - An enduring audience favorite since its world premiere by New York City Ballet in 1957, this grand pas de deux offers an opening adagio of peerlessly floating lyricism, followed by swift solos and a brilliant coda - classicism at its most exciting! First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2001, its return this season was another Harris Theater premiere.


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing in Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux at the Harris Theater in May 2015. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.

Danzon!
chor. Ted Seymour, music, Arturo Marquez - This fresh work to the engaging melodies and rhythms of the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez had its world premiere with members of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in March 2014, to the live strains of Chicago's Lakeview Orchestra under the baton of Conductor Gregory Hughes. Ted Seymour's inventive choreography for Danzon! goes south of the border in a delightfully witty, Latin-flavored romp for three senoritas and two caballeros. It was danced this season as yet another Harris Theater premiere.


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing in Danzon! at the Harris Theater in May 2015. Choreography by Ted Seymour, Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.

A Pulse Stolen
chor. Ted Seymour, music, various composers - This collage of often sharply contrasting music is an odyssey of ingenious movement invention in a very contemporary mode. Lighting design here has intimate partnership with choreographic design. An "other world" atmosphere reigns throughout the work's visual vignettes. First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2010, it was revived this season for its Harris Theater premiere.


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing in A Pulse Stolen at the Harris Theater in May 2015. Choreography by Ted Seymour, Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.

Who Cares?
chor. G. Balanchine, music, G. Gershwin - First performed in February 1970, this ballet is a jazzy, romantic romp through the songs of George Gershwin, arranged for a central male and three ballerinas supported by a large ensemble. A hip-thrusting, high-spirited work that smiles broadly and winks saucily from beginning to end, its duets are charmingly romantic in a decidedly American vein, and its closing movement, set to Gershwin's "I've Got Rhythm," sizzles with irrepressible brio. Ballet Chicago is honored and humbled to be the troupe that brought this work to the Harris Theater for the first time ever in May of 2012, and are honored to have performed it there again in 2015. As we recall our audiences whistling to the tune of the ballet's finale "I've Got Rhythm" as they left the Harris Theater on May 30, one wonders, who could ask for anything more?


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing in Who Cares? at the Harris Theater in May 2015. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.

We look to 2016 and beyond with great excitement - watch for upcoming announcements! Thanks for reading -


Dan Duell
Artistic Director


4/9/2015 - Dan Duell's Blog - Now THIS is Mr.B!


SERIOUS FUN PAR EXCELLENCE - NOW THIS IS Mr. B!


"Artistic Director Daniel Duell serves his mentor well here, lighting fire under tomorrow's stars."
Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune, May 2011


Dear readers,

Dance critic Sid Smith's words in praise of our May 2011 "Balanchine Celebration" were high acclaim for the challenging all-Balanchine program we performed that year, and those same words aptly set the tone for our upcoming Harris Theater performances of Illuminate.

Sid Smith's words are also powerful testament to the fundamental artistic objectives Patricia and I pursue every day in our studios and display on stage. Below are some core artistic objectives, listed with the goal of bringing you, our readers and audience members, more closely around them.

For Ballet Chicago Studio Company stage performances we endeavor to:
  • Provide artists and audiences alike an experience of elegance, inspiration, beauty, and joy.
  • Provide performance of Balanchine repertoire and its inherent values of supreme musicality, high technical demands, and innovative, adventuresome American classicism.
  • Cultivate and present new choreography that reflects and pursues those same inherent values.
  • Guide and inspire our dancers to levels of artistic skill, expression and confidence beyond their own expectations.
  • Provide our young dancers the experience of performing at a professional level in major theaters.
  • Provide such performance opportunity for as many Ballet Chicago Studio Company members as possible.
  • Provide performance programs that stand up to those offered by professional companies.
  • Provide ongoing performing life for existing works commissioned and made at Ballet Chicago.

Our Illuminate program to be performed May 30th at the Harris Theater incorporates these goals, and also showcases our programmatic hallmarks of variety, balance, and innovation. Herewith a brief description of Illuminate's five works, with some photos of past Ballet Chicago Studio Company performances of them:


Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing Concerto in A Minor at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2009. Photography by Mark Niekrasz.


Concerto in A Minor (revival)
Choreography by Daniel Duell, Music by J. S. Bach
In this large neo-classical group work I choreographically plumb the inner landscape of Bach's beautiful score to illuminate its essence. The work gives our dancers an experience of dancing today's classicism to the music of Bach's sublime "Concerto in A Minor for Violin", BWV 1041. First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2009.
Ballet Chicago Studio Company member performing A Pulse Stolen at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2010. Photography by Mark Niekrasz.


A Pulse Stolen (revival)
Choreography by Ted Seymour, Music, various composers.
This collage of often sharply contrasting music is an odyssey of ingenious movement invention with a decidedly contemporary slant. Lighting design here has intimate partnership with choreographic design. An "other world" atmosphere reigns throughout the work's visual vignettes. First performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2010.
Ballet Chicago Studio Company member performing Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2008. Photography by Mark Niekrasz.
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.


Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux
Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by P.I. Tchaikovsky
This classic grand pas de deux, an enduring audience favorite since its world premiere by New York City Ballet in 1957, offers an opening adagio of peerlessly floating lyricism, followed by swift solos and a brilliant coda - classicism at its most exciting! It was first performed by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in May, 2001.
Ballet Chicago Studio Company members performing Danzon! at the Nettelhorst Auditorium in 2014. Photography by Ron McKinney Photography.


Danzon!
Choreography by Ted Seymour, Music by Arturo Marquez
This fresh work to the engaging melodies and rhythms of the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez had its world premiere on members of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company in March 2014. Here's Ted's inventive choreography goes "south of the border" in a delightfully witty, Latin-flavored romp for three ladies and two men.
Ballet Chicago guest artists performing Who Cares? at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in 2012. Photography by Ron McKinney Photography. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.


Who Cares? Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by G. Gershwin
First performed in February 1970, this ballet is a jazzy, romantic journey through the songs of George Gershwin. Balanchine's affinity for American athleticism and expansive movement finds a happy meeting with Gershwin's captivating music, resulting in a hip-thrusting, high-spirited work that seems to smile broadly and wink saucily from beginning to end. Arranged for a large cast supporting a central male and three ballerinas, the ballet features ingeniously rhythmic footwork and high technical demands. Its duets are charmingly romantic in a decidedly American vein, and its closing movement, set to Geshwin's "I've Got Rhythm," sizzles with irrepressible brio.


Just this past March 28th at the Lerner Theater in Elkhart, IN, the Ballet Chicago Studio Company drew a standing ovation after its performance of Who Cares?

We hope that this month's column helps "illuminate" afresh for you some of our foundational artistic objectives and the ways in which we pursue them. May 30, 2015 will be an exciting day indeed, with two performances of Illuminate!

Keep an eye out for my upcoming blogs that will explore in greater depth these five beautiful works and their history.

As the ones for whom or young artists live to dance, you, our audience members, are vitally important to their future, and I thank you most humbly for your interest and support.

Daniel Duell
Artistic Director
Founder






 

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