Looking Ahead: The Kaplan New Works Series

Posted: 08/22/2012 in Photos, Uncategorized, Wandering 'Nati
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This is another one of those posts where I tell you how awesome the internet is and in what interesting ways our world is changing. Brace yourselves for a big warm fuzzy. Or well, at least just brace yourselves.

A few weeks ago, the Cincinnati Ballet  put out an all call on Facebook to see if any bloggers would be interested in writing about them. It was general, off-the-cuff thing, but I LOVE the ballet and decided I would throw my hat in the ring. Then nothing came of it and I put it into the ‘oh well, nice try’ folder for the moment. This most current blog of mine is still relatively recent, working on its identity, and has a small following. I probably didn’t make the cut in whatever cloud-o-sphere metrics that other people can run on a site.

Except then something did come of it.

I got an email asking if I would be interested in attending a preview event for the ballet’s Kaplan New Works Series. Dubbed “Ballet & Beer“, the event would be a 1-hour rehearsal viewing followed by a reception afterward, and if I would be interested in blogging about it – they would be happy to set aside a ticket. No requests were included about what to write or could I please be nice about it, thank you. Just a ‘this is new for us and we’re willing to see what happens’ vibe. Color me VERY interested.

And while you may be wondering – Cynthia, what does this have to do with road ratting and gym junkie-ing activity? I’ll tell you it has a lot to do with it. Fact, in a long ago lifetime, I was a dancer for a bit. Feedback on an audition was the thing that got me into a gym & working with a trainer in the first place. And I will tell you, whatever illusion anyone may have about ballet being froo-froo, it is not. Dancers are MAJOR ATHLETES. Those beautiful dancer bodies do not occur by accident, but rather by hours upon hours each day of work and sweat, blood and broken bones. I would be willing to venture that a ballet dancer works as hard, if not harder, than a lot of professional athletes – and most of them cross-train outside their regular class & studio time. I have nothing but props for anyone willing to work that hard.

Back to topic – the event. This is the first time anyone, either on this blog or the last one, has asked me to blog about something. It’s uncharted territory for me. It’s exciting and new. And this is where that whole wonderful internet, world changing, warm fuzzy comes in.

In all the performances I’ve gone too and all the tenure I ‘ve devoted to being a balletfan, I’ve never gotten a free ticket to spend time at a ballet event. If I didn’t follow the Ballet on Facebook or have my own blog, I’d still be in never-gotten-land. But technology brings this to me. And I think it’s fabulous! Fabulous that I’m getting a freebie (except for what I spend on beer) – but also fabulous that the ballet is willing to take a risk on reaching out to unknown bloggers. To initiate engagement in their fan base.

You see, when you think of a lot of arts, your mind’s eye goes to the stuffy patron stereotype. Essentially, the old folks with money to blow. You’d get a couple mailers and maybe even a phone call telling you about the upcoming shows. Programs hit you up for donations while giving you the plot. There’s always merchandise to buy – and by the way, did you know how much it costs to buy pointe shoes? If you like a particular dancer, would you like to contribute to their shoe fund? Money would be given, and fundraisers would be attended by people well above my pay grade. Rehearsals are pretty private and when the show is over, the audience fades away. That’s what the old world looks like.

However, in this age of technology and easy access, people are seeking to be more engaged with the things they like than receiving a few mailers. Audiences no longer wish to fade into the background when the curtain goes down. We’re not satiated by an occasional fundraiser and mailer about tickets. It is the hallmark of the social media generation that we want to know what’s going on when we aren’t in the room.

Cincinnati Ballet has been responding to that drive in both its performance choices and in its social media presence. Performance choices have weighed more heavily towards ‘younger’ works while bringing in a few classics to keep tradition alive. One of our household favorites was an entire ballet performed to Paul Simon’s Graceland album a few years ago. They’re featuring Peter Frampton as the closing act for this season.  The Kaplan New Works Series is another example of a ‘younger’ performance – an annual series which showcases samples of brand new ballets still in progress of being completed. It’s like getting to watch movie trailers for all the best upcoming new scripts.

In the technology aspect, a quick search yields youtube clips of rehearsals and conversations with choreographers posted by the ballet itself.  There’s a daily photograph posted on Facebook from a prior performance. And now, reaching out to bloggers…

To let us sample a rehearsal no less.

They’re letting us see what’s behind the big velvet curtain to take a look at what happens when we aren’t in the room, and they’re asking us to spill the beans about it. Oz unveiled. Open architecture. See through pointe shoes. Count me in!

Ballet & Brews is tomorrow and I’m completely stoked about it. Eric & I picked up tickets to the actual performance of the show as well, and there’s another event where one of the choreographers is doing a Q&A and may teach a rhythm & motion class. I need to get some more information on that to see if it’s something my rusty ballet slippers might be worthy of bringing into daylight. So, I’ll be writing a bit about it in the coming weeks – basically, I intend to immerse myself in this opportunity as much as I can and drag you along with me for the warm-fuzzy.


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