Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati Ballet’

Oh lovely people, how I have been neglecting this place lately.  Not for want of wishing – I’ve been thinking of lots of things to write about, but frankly, there’s been no time.  I’ve got lots of updates!!  However, some are more critical than others – and I’m going to let the gym/training plan/misc updates fade behind an event write-up* for a moment.

Last night, I had another opportunity to attend a Ballet & Beers event at the Cincinnati Ballet rehearsal studios. You may remember I wrote a bit about this last Fall for their Kaplan New Works series.  This time, the event was related to their upcoming performance – which features a triptych of Prodigal Son, Extremely Close and Concerto #4.  I saw this one on the schedule, noting that Prodigal Son is a Balanchine piece. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken in a Balanchine work. Too long. I am a girl who loves me some Balanchine. And with that realization, the tickets were bought – along with the complimentary prequel tickets for the Ballet & Beer event.

I dodged out of work early, grabbed one of my favorite gal pals, and ended up sitting next to another friend completely by accident. We were front row of the balcony. This was going to be a good day, I could feel it.  And off the rehearsal went!

We were getting a sneak preview of Extremely Close – which is described as follows on the ballet’s website:

“Taking inspiration from piano solos by Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran, [Alejandro] Cerrudo intricately weaves dancers through striking elements of visual art in a thought-provoking and hauntingly beautiful piece that is sure to stay with you long after you leave the theater”

In other words, it is not a story ballet – but rather a concept ballet – a visual art piece.

Unlike the stops and starts of the previous rehearsal I witnessed, this rehearsal allowed the dancers to get all the way through the piece. Let me say first – these dancers are ready to put on this piece! They looked phenomenal.  I was really happy to see Patric Palkens with a prominent role in this dance after he was so nice to me at the last event. Second, I can not wait to see what this piece looks like in final form onstage! Even in the rough, it was intriguing and beautiful. And that was without the feathers. What feathers, you ask…all week the ballet’s Facebook page has been releasing promo shots of this ballet being done on a floor covered in large white feathers. This day’s rehearsal = no feathers, but we were promised they would be there for the actual performance. FEATHERS! EVERYWHERE!

After the first run, the standard notes and working points were delivered, then some pain-point work on specific sequences in timing and partnering. Do it again…nope, more this way…still more of that…one more time. It’s actually pretty fascinating stuff. Then on to the Q & A and the beer & pizza.

I will tell you that in the Q & A session, the first question asked was one the entire audience was thinking – essentially:

 What is up with the chin thing?

Yes, there’s a chin thing. And no, I’m not going to tell you what it is right now. That’s why you go see the show. Because a blogger mentioned feathers and a chin thing. In a ballet. You’re welcome.

Gal pal, random friend & I all hang around for a beer after and it’s not long before we’re chatting up with Patric again. Seriously people, this man is stunning – onstage, he has a powerful, passionate presence that deservedly got him locked into the matinée role of Romeo in last month’s Romeo & Juliet after another dancer was injured. Offstage, he is devilishly charismatic with an excellent sense of humor. We spend a bit talking about the upcoming show – working out the chin thing (still not telling you!) and how much FUN working with the feathers has been.

I tell Patric I noticed that all the dancers were wearing socks in rehearsal rather than ballet shoes – unusual. He tells me it’s because of the feathers – the dancers are sliding around in them and they can slide much, MUCH further with socks on. All of the sliding with the choreography is what makes the visual art piece work – kicking up the feathers, watching them float around the stage with every movement. Sticking to you…every once in a while one ends up stuck on a hand or a foot and it’s the dancer’s job to pretend it’s not there. But, he tells me, then you kick your foot back and see one coming up 6-8 inches further than your foot and you understand how incredible this looks to an audience.

Incredible indeed! After seeing all the jumps and slides in rehearsal – a pretty aggressive choreography to be contrasted against the gentle calm of the floating feathers – I can imagine what this will look like in full dress out and I can not wait to see it in reality.

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The Cincinnati Ballet will be presenting Prodigal Son, Extremely Close & Concerto #4 on March 22nd (8pm) and March 23rd (2pm & 8pm). A Meet the Artists opportunity will be prior to the Friday, March 22nd performance at 7pm. You can purchase tickets here.  

I would also encourage you to check out information for the Club B Event scheduled for April 20th.

*This is not a sponsored post and I am in no way affiliated with the Cincinnati Ballet.

**Pffffttthpthpthp***

Nothing like getting smacked in the face with a cobweb as soon as you walk in the door. Wow – this place gets dusty fast!

Interweb, I have been a busy girl. I’ve had lots to write about on the mind – but sometimes being healthy is about more than time on the pavement and time in the gym. The husband & I have been busy getting healthy in other ways – sprucing up our home with a new couch & carpet, signing contracts on some major home improvements, signing bank documents to refinance the house for a better interest rate. You know, very grown-up healthy things to do. Celebrating a birthday and an anniversary. Hosting a dinner party.  Things I’ve been happy about doing, but things that take time.

Annnnnnd getting in workouts and doing the 40-hour work week in there as well. I’ve had to make choices between writing and doing – and most of the time, doing has to win. I said ‘most’. There was that one day that I came home from work, sat down on the couch and was out like a light for about 2 hours. A post-work nap is a very rare occurrence in my world if that tells you anything.

Among all the things that got done:

  • I did go see the Kaplan New Works ballet performance I’ve been writing about. In an ideal world, I would’ve gone to see the show at the beginning of the run and had a review out with the quickness. Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t let me get to the show until the second-to-last performance and by the time I sat down to gather my thoughts on it, the final show was going on. So there wasn’t much of a point to encouraging other people to go see it. It would’ve been more of a ‘HAHA – I saw something FABULOUS and youououou missed it!’. Because it was absolutely amazing!! I had a 3rd row center seat on the floor, so dancers were less than 10 feet from me at times and you could see into their eyes. One dancer’s eyes were tearing up after a particularly difficult solo – and it made mine well up too. If the passion, energy & creativity that were brought to that performance are any indication, the rest of this season is going to be jaw-droppingly fantastic. Next up is Alice in Wonderland at the end of October – and the ballet has been giving sneak peaks of the costumes on their facebook page. The costuming looks fun as heck – and did you notice it credited ‘puppets’. Hmmm. I’m intrigued. It’s a one-weekend show though, so I better get myself into gear a little faster this time.
  • I FINALLY had a three-run week this week!!!!! Which I know sounds pretty stupid since I’m supposed to be running my training plan for RTB – which is 3-4 runs a week. I had a feeling I would be warming up to training pretty slowly. Most of the Summer has been marked by 1-run and 2-run weeks – and I haven’t had a 3-run week since mid-July. But this week I hit a glorious 3! and I could almost feel the shift in my enthusiam as soon as I got off the treadmill on Thursday. I did my standard 3-mile run on Monday – sticking all my hills. I powered through a 4-mile pretty flat on Wednesday where my legs felt like lead the entire time. I was actually pretty proud of that one because my lazy-voice was working overtime telling me I could just walk it or interval but I said ‘suck it!’ and kept on going. I even kept on going when I got back to the starting point at 3.8 miles and felt disappointed that I was 0.2 short – so I ran up and down the block again to get to an even 4. Then Thursday was treadmill time on my lunch hour.  I have a 7k race scheduled for Saturday, so I’ll hit 4 runs by week’s end. YAY! I’m suddenly feeling more optimistic about running again! YAY!
  • I have 3 races scheduled over the next 3 Saturdays. Tomorrow is the Hudy 7k/14k. I’m in for the 7k. Next Saturday is Race for the Cure 10k. Then the first weekend in October is a huge local run here – The Reggae Run 5k with it’s hilly hilly HILLY course. So I’m thinking the renewed optimism & the race schedule should help seal in my start to the RTB training.

Since I got a little pressed for posting time, I decided to give Twitter a try. You’ll find the ‘follow’ link on the sidebar over there ->. Follow me, please? I’m still figuring out how to work it. Seriously, do you just make up a hashtag? How the heck do you know what to hashtag things with? I don’t know. Adventures in technology are ahead, I’m sure.

Finally, I’m trying to decide if I should leave this blog as being just about fitness stuff, and create a separate blog for my ‘rest of life’ stuff, or put all of it in here and have a second blog for my creative stuff (I like to take pictures and write fiction/poetry.) Thinking. Pondering. Wandering. If anyone has any thoughts on that, or has found an effective answer to that for themselves, I’d be interested in hearing them.

 

If you wanted to read part 1, it starts here.

We’re all back in the lobby now. Allie is helping out at the “Ballet Barre” where beer, wine & water are available. Regardless of the busy, she still takes a few minutes to be personal, get my thoughts. A large table of Larosa’s encourages people to stay, congregate, be social. It hasn’t even been 5 minutes and there are already dancers wandering through the group, greeting friends.

I decide to dive in. Romel Frometa Castellon, Cervilio Miguel Amador, and Patric Palkens are sitting on the stoop to the balcony in a line. All 3 were in the rehearsal we just watched. They are dressed in very casual street clothes and look like they could’ve just stepped out of a Bruce Springsteen video. I make a lame joke, asking how are they not diving into the pizza after all that hard work? Amador smiles – telling me that they’ve stashed a whole box behind them. They will eat. Another blogger comes up asking for a picture and they all lean together with big smiles. I step out of her shot. Peeps, this is where I still have a lot to learn. Not wanting to be rude, I didn’t whip out my camera to duplicate the shot and now I am kicking myself for not having done it! Next time, I will step into the shot and hand someone else my camera! My bridge to starting a conversation with strangers has vanished and I feel my natural shyness welling up. Crap! I will regroup my confidence hiding out behind a piece of pizza.

I take a deep breath. Time to beat down the shy again. No matter how lame I feel, I am here for an opportunity to meet these beautiful creatures. If I strike out, I strike out – but I have to try. Now it is just Patric on the step. My opening is so lame, I’m not even going to tell you what it was – but trust me, it was sad. However, he doesn’t dismiss it and gives me two minutes of casual before he gets to business. Do I go to the ballet frequently? What was the last thing I saw?

I am being measured, I can feel it. If this were a traffic light, Patric is set on yellow and my answer will determine whether he floors it or hits the brakes. Luckily, Eric and I had tickets to Carmen for Valentine’s Day. Acceptable, but still on yellow. What did I think of it? [Here is where the ‘somewhat’ gets added to the ‘likeable’. If you ask my opinion, I have a nasty honesty habit.] I offer an embarrassing confession: I had confused Carmen with another ballet from a few years before, so it wasn’t what I was expecting from the beginning. Beyond that, there were things about the choreography for the male leads I didn’t understand. I inhale and wait for the light to change. I am not a girl who sugar-coats things and I may have just blown it.

The conversation is off like a shot! Green means go, and go we do! He is educating me. Carmen had an Italian choreographer and there are distinct differences between the Italian & Western styles when it comes to the male lead. Also, out of a 2-hour ballet, the character has only 11 minutes to connect with the audience. This may explain the things I didn’t understand.

If you aren’t familiar with ballet, the idea of different styles may be foreign. There are many different styles which dictate whether a hip is turned up or down in arabesque, the softness of expression in the hands, the amount of tension in the neck, which roles have more power. Working with these various styles and with choreographers from all over the world helps to produce a well-rounded dancer. But there are also challenges. We discuss the pros and cons of working with a choreographer through an interpreter – the choreographer for Carmen does not speak English. All of Patric’s notes on the performance are things I had not considered. I think to myself: what if my trainer came in one day and began giving me direction in Japanese? Comments on refining my form and words of encouragement being filtered through a third-party? What if all of my life I have trained in one style and then he announces that we are doing something different? All those refinements I have worked on – forget them now. It would be hard.

Hard it is! Patric tells me all of this learning takes place over an intense 3-4 week span between each show. Each day starts with a 90-minute class (yes, even professionals go to school every day), followed by 6 hours of rehearsal – so 7-7.5 hours of hard physical work every day. I can not imagine working out in the gym for 7.5 hours straight. Nutcracker rehearsals are even longer – sometimes 11-12 hours. Those will begin in October. It is the type of schedule where you have to love what you do and the people you work with or you will go crazy.

I tell Patric that I had forgotten what it was like to be in a studio, particularly about the constant pirouetting popping up around the room. At this he laughs and puts his forehead into his hand. He explains: there is a contest almost every day amongst the dancers to see who can do the most revolutions. Amador drops back onto the step next to him and Patric throws a thumb in his direction. “He always wins.” They are laughing about it as Amador tells me his record is 11, but on a spinning board, which distributes balance over the entire foot, he can do 44. Pirouettes are all about the core and the spot (the whipping around of the head to keep a focal point), he says as he pulls up and gestures to his midsection, his shoulders locking straight into the form required for the turn. If you forget either for a second, you lose your balance.

Interweb, I am telling you – if you have ever swooned over a dancer on stage, these two are the reason why. Both of them smiling at me so easily it is almost too much to take. Up close, Patric has the well chiseled features of a young Christopher Reeve with eyes just as blue-sky-blue. Amador, of the rock-star gestures & dramatic entrances from rehearsal, has a huge, welcoming smile and unusually colored eyes. With his smile, if he triple-dog-dares you to do something, you’re going to try it. Saying no isn’t an option. The stereotypes of distant, haughty dancers cannot be found with these two. They have the easy physicality that comes after a great workout – I am tired, but my muscles feel incredible. They are open and warm. It was foolish to feel shy around them for an instant. Though I am a complete stranger to them, I feel like I could be their favorite little sister – stranger still because at 37, I am so much older than both of them.

The subject of age does comes up when we talk about connecting to the audience outside of rehearsal. Patric points out that sometimes it can be difficult to connect – for all intent & purpose, when he leaves the studio – he looks like a 22-year-old college kid. He is dismissed. I can see this. He is not wrong. I insert that when his audience is either 5 or 55, it must be hard – and when your livelihood depends on patronage, you have to figure it out somehow. That is why events like this one are so important for fundraising. Increasing the social media presence is a good thing. It will draw younger & more diverse crowds on terms they embrace without alienating the existing patron base. Knowing that more of my friends are attending the ballet, as well as accompanying events like the dinners at Arnold’s, I agree. They know of these things from Facebook. It would be a lot easier to get money out of my pocket to support my friends Patric & Amador than it is to convince me to donate to people I’ve never met. This event makes them personal to me. I am also far more likely to attend future events so I can say hello.

(Dear Eric, we are about to spend a lot more money on ballet. No, this does not mean we will also be spending more money on golf. Love, your wife.)

Heather Britt joins the conversation and I tell her I liked the work. It seemed like the dancers enjoyed it  and get along well. She says they have to get along well. Dancing is so intimate, it would be hard to work with someone you don’t care for. It isn’t 5 more minutes before she’s mentioning her Rhythm & Motion class to me – encouraging me to try it. Again, the vibe here is so welcoming! Everyone I speak to is encouraging COME SEE! COME DO! COME ENJOY! She doesn’t know I’ve already stashed a class schedule in my purse. LOL!

Come see, come do, I will. I told you I was planning to go full immersion on this experience. I’ve been working really hard to get back in shape for almost a year now and I can’t think of a better way to put myself to the test than by trying out Heather’s class. Something unfamiliar and different from the work I do at bootcamp/boxing and the running I submit to. My training is about being in shape to do whatever I want whenever I want, ready for adventure. This is certainly an adventure. I have a few days off coming up and a class schedule in my purse – I am armed and dangerous.

Stay tuned for the next step: Rhythm & Motion v. 20 Years of Rust

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The Kaplan New Works Series will be performed by the Cincinnati Ballet at the Micky Jarson Kaplan Performance Studio from September 6-16th. Tickets can be purchased here.

Oh internet, I am a smitten kitten. In love with life once again and the way that it continues to bring me fabulous opportunities.

Thursday night, I went to Ballet & Beer – the rehearsal / preview event for The Kaplan New Works Series which the Cincinnati Ballet will open on September 6th. Frankly, two days later I am still reeling and thinking and hoping that I can do the experience justice.

First, though I drive by the Ballet’s home base every day on my commute, I’ve never been in the building. Situated on the fringe of Over-the-Rhine, the studio sits a block or two down from WCET and District One. The back doors of Music Hall are within a 45 second sprint across traffic. A sign outside tells me I have arrived at the Mickey Jarson Kaplan Performance Studio and Cincinnati Ballet.

When you walk in, this is what greets you first:

Right off the bat, you are put on notice. You are in a place of beauty – beautiful people, beautiful movement. The lobby is roomy and unpretentious – open and full of light. But at the same time, about business. Almost immediately off of this space are 3 practice studios. You came in to dance and CB wants to make sure you can get to it as quickly as possible. The large studio immediately in front is also the performance space. Two off of the hallway have clear glass doors and dancers are inside working, not letting the audience gathering outside distract.

I hear someone nearby say the name ‘Julie’ and see it’s attached to a redhead with energy that crackles. Julie Hammond is the ballet Marketing Assistant who invited me to the event. I go introduce myself and thank her for the opportunity. For the first time, I have introduced myself as a blogger instead of ducking for cover behind my day job. She is finishing up some details of her day but takes a moment to point out the studio on the right to me – a CBII (CB2) rehearsal is going on there. Julie tells me this is the group Cincinnati Ballet uses for their “guerilla marketing” events. Another strategy, in addition to increasing their social media presence,  that they’re working to connect with the community. I am community. I am here. I feel connected. It must be working. Julie takes a moment to introduce me to Allie Honebrink, the Director of Marketing & Communications. Even in business attire, Allie comes across as dancer also, petite & graceful. She tells me to let her know if there’s anything I need.

This whole time, there is a growing flurry of activity coming in and out of the left-hand studio. A tiny, tiny woman in an orange leotard with medical tape on her big toe comes dashing past, then dashing past again. Another woman comes past walking a white poodle. One of the last performances I did in my glory days, I had to skip en pointe pretending to have a leash while another dancer pretended to be a poodle behind me. Seeing an actual poodle in a dance studio takes me to a surreal place. It is time to be seated. I am in the balcony – there isn’t a bad seat in the house. This rehearsal space is the largest of the three, but the seating is intimate – 300 people? Dancers are moving around the back and sides of the space, some are in the center taking direction from an athletic blonde wearing a bright blue top – a choreographer. This is Heather Britt – she stops to tell the settled audience, for the next hour we will be seeing rehearsal of her piece in the Kaplan Series, Opus 5.5. You can tell she wants everyone up and moving with the quickness.

I have been absent from a studio for a long time, but there are things that do not change. This is one of them: rehearsals are messy affairs. Practice studios are where the bugs are worked out, where it’s safe for the dancers to make mistakes, maddening repeat stops and starts to tweak details. We see a few sections of the piece – which even in pieces promises to be spectacular & provocative. Sultry. It may or may not have made me blush! (It did.) There appear to be lots of entrances where the men are carrying the women. Even with their light frames, this is not an unremarkable task. Remember that time I dropped a 35-lb grappling dummy on my nose? Well, these guys are trying to carry about 3xs that, repeatedly, maneuver it around a bit, oh – and make it look beautiful. It’s not only about endurance, these guys have to be strong! I wonder if they need to weight-train at all with the lifting they do here.

She travels everywhere this way

Sometimes like this

But usually like this

About half-way through, Heather makes a motion and it’s time to put the puzzle sections together. The dancers run through from top to bottom and it is a visual wonder. Contemporary, but not eschewing tradition entirely, and dressed in the mad, mad skillz of these dancers. I can not help but imagine how incredible this is going to look in final performance. The last count passes and the dancers break pose with big smiles – relieved to make it all the way through. They like Heather’s choreography too – you can see it in their faces. The applause of the spectators doesn’t hurt either, I’m sure.

But there are still things needing work – a lead male tells Heather there is an obstacle with the timing. He is supposed to make a fast and dramatic entrance that will, unfortunately, put him in a high-speed collision with an exiting couple. This needs to be worked out. Either his cue needs an adjustment, the choreography needs changed, or the couple has to exit sooner. Like I said, rehearsal is messy. It is the place where complications like high-speed collisions need to be worked out so they don’t happen onstage. After a well-done run through a few minutes later, this same dancer throws his hands in the air like a rock star. The audience applauds and are giggling. Fist-pumping and rock-star hands aren’t things you usually see on a ballet stage – but this isn’t stage, this is practice and celebrating something well done makes everyone grin. In this venue, this dancer is a rock star.

Another thing about rehearsal – if you’re only watching the center, you’re missing most of the show. Dancers not in a specific section are on the periphery – and they are warmed up. People, warmed up dancers cannot resist moving. They play. On the sidelines, they play. Part of it is an effort to stay warmed up – the many stops and starts of rehearsal gives them too much opportunity for muscles to get cold. They are in all types of garb to accommodate movement and provide warmth while still being pulled on and off QUICKLY! This is my loving way of saying dancers dress funny.  If you thought runners dress weird – and this is coming from someone who has modeled the couture black Glad trash bag look at more than one starting line, dancers have made odd warm-up garb an art in itself. Nike & Adidas don’t make ballet shoes and sponsorship is more private than corporate – so no expensive promo’d warm-up gear. One dancer is wearing flannel pajama shorts, a hoodie, a large scarf wrapped around his neck repeatedly and, as several of them are, down booties. When your ability to earning a living depends on your feet and ankles, you make sure those feet stay warmed up. Getting cold increases the risk of injury. Nevertheless, it’s quite a look to people who don’t know how smart he’s being.

The other part of sideline play is just fun. There is always a dancer in some variation of the splits or a butterfly stretch. This one is also doing arm movements that end in her blowing kisses across the room. Not 5 minutes go by without someone doing a pirouette – the dancer’s staple and something you never stop doing, trying to see if you can add justonemorerevolution! Even 20 years later, I still practice pirouettes on the kitchen tile. They are a religious ritual for which you never lose respect. Spontaneous pirouetting is going on all over the place at random intervals. And someone else is trying to get a turning jump just. right. Except he’s only doing it when I’m not looking. And it looks like it’s something good too! I wanna see what he’s doing! Alas, I keep catching just the very ending where he chooses to land instead of crash. Good choice.

At the end of rehearsal, Victoria Morgan steps out – the ballet’s CEO & Artistic Director. She explains the significance of what we are seeing. The theme of this year’s Kaplan Series is women choreographers. Of the 290 ballets performed each year by companies of CB’s caliber, less than 10% are choreographed by women – a surprising statistic for such a female-focused art form. Of that 10%, she says and flashes quite the Cheshire-cat smile, CB has snagged 7 female choreographers for this upcoming season – 4 of which we’ll see in the Kaplan New Works performance

I am in love with watching this rehearsal, in this space, and seeing these dancers do what they love. But there is still more to come – the gathering after. .

Stay tuned for Ballet & Beer, Part 2: Conversation with the Dancers

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The Kaplan New Works Series will be performed by the Cincinnati Ballet at the Micky Jarson Kaplan Performance Studio from September 6-16th. Tickets can be purchased through links at top.

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.