A Busy Friday at the Joffrey

What a Friday….I was cast back into the lead with my partner, Valerie Robin, for the Joffrey’s upcoming production of The Merry Widow.  We took the beginning of the day to give it a run with the full company (noon-3pm) just to see how things were going to turn out.  At first it was a little nerve wracking to give it a first try because no matter what the circumstance is, as professionals, we want to perform and deliver the best.  And on top of that, Zachary Whittenburg from Chicago TimeOut Magazine happened to be there to have a first look at the raw format of our rehearsal.  It felt like there were very meticulous eyes running over our every move, trying to capture the details and the meaning of the production, and of course you want to do it justice.  The production itself is a full length ballet in 3 acts, including a prologue, so you can imagine my nervousness to perform well, not through just one piece or pas de deux, but throughout the entire production.
The first act went just fine, for the first run anyway.  We had a few corrections from those here staging the production, including technical corrections from John Meehan and acting corrections from Ronald and Annette Hynd.  Advice ranged from everything to the details on hand moves, to our facial expressions, timing, looks, breath, acting, comedy, and our technique.  It is very important to pay attention to the subtleties and constantly tweak them as you go along.  It’s so important to pay attention to the fine details within the ballet in order to keep the integrity of the work and produce the best result.  You rely on your abilities to know that your technique will be good enough, but it’s the details that make a performance excellent.  In this, it is acting, comedy, dancing, and overall very technical dancing.  The ballet itself is set in 3 different locations, each one bringing with it a different approach and a different style to that scene and time period.
Zachary asked me at the end if having danced Othello helps me in any way for this particular production.  It is very true that the long, full-length ballets, especially those where there is such importance to acting and story telling, help one another.  But then again, these are very different productions.  Yes, they are the same format as any full-length ballet is, but the story, the characters, the emotions are all new and unique to this ballet.  Othello was a warrior, and in a way, it is much easier to recreate the style of a fighter whose behavior is much more primal than to embody a soldier of a particular time period….perfecting the way to hold a hand, kiss a lady, present yourself and someone else.  The moves are not so free, but very conservative and classy to reflect the style of the time.
What a day….next week we are already preparing for our tour to Detroit with a very difficult, entirely different repertoire.  More blogs to come….


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  • I like the way you are thinking about this role and I know you will capture it because it is a part of your gracious personality.

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