Ballet West digs deep to present ‘Works from Within’
Company will perform Saturday
Ballet West wants Park City to see its soul.
To do this, the world-renowned, Salt Lake City- based company will perform an evening repertoire under the umbrella title, “Works from Within,” on Saturday, March 18, at the Eccles Center. The evening is produced by Park City Institute.
“Works from Within” is a new program that is an extension of Ballet West’s “Innovations” concept, Artistic Director Adam Sklute said.
“‘Innovations,’ which I started nine years ago, was about the promotion and creation of new works for the ballet stage,” Sklute said during a Park Record interview. “A portion of that program gave opportunity to Ballet West dancers to create and choreograph. Another portion was to give audiences the opportunity to see new choreography by up-and-coming and established dancers from around the country and around the world.”
“Works from Within” is exclusively focused on presenting choreography by Ballet West dancers.
“It’s an opportunity for them to experiment and to create,” Sklute said. “It’s also an opportunity for our audiences to take chances on seeing new and untried work.”
Sklute also said “Works from Within” is making its world premiere in Park City.
“We are giving the Park City audience a whole different experience than we are giving to our audience here in Salt Lake City, because we wanted to create a special experience,” he said. “The program is being designed to tour around the Intermountain region and, potentially, the country.”
Saturday’s performance will feature four world-premiere works in a concise production that is approximately 90 minutes with one intermission.
“The pieces all range in style, energy, music and approach,” Sklute said. “They range from the more elegant and classical to the more contemporary and almost pop in some aspects.”
The pieces are as follows:
- “Kinesis” by newly-named principal artist Adrian Fry, who was inspired by the merging of Danish culture and the American dance ideals of speed and clarity.
- “Steeped in Stillness” by corps artist Kazlyn Nielsen, who describes the work as having “breath and stillness in defiance of the fast-paced world around us.”
- “Tremor,” by corps artist Oliver Oguma, whose inspiration was the power of the human body.
- “Grief and Integration,” by demi soloist Trevor Naumann. This piece is loud and colorful, and addresses the lonely responses humans can have to loss.Naumann has collaborated with California musician Boaz Roberts to create an original score, Sklute said.James K. Larsen, Ballet West’s lighting designer, will complete all lighting design. Costumes, with the exception of Fry’s piece, will be designed by Ballet West Director of Costume Production David Heuvel and executed by the Ballet West Costume Shop.Principal artist Emily Adams designed the costumes in “Kenesis,” Sklute said.
“This is exciting because this is Emily’s first commission as a costume designer,” he said. “Emily has also been a choreographer for Ballet West.”
The selection process for these four works started last fall.
“The dancers submitted their ideas in writing and I selected a handful, in this instance, eight of them, to workshop their ideas on our second company, Ballet West II,” Sklute said. “The choreographers then presented those workshopped excerpts in a stage program.”
From those excerpts, which could range anywhere from two to four minutes of dance, Sklute selected four works that the choreographers could turn into to complete works and develop for the stage.
“I looked for unique voices,” he said. “I wanted to see something that had its own point of view, an energy and style that would set it apart. But I also had to find works that would come together in a whole and organic program.
“Each piece, which will be performed by Ballet West (and not Ballet West II dancers), is between 10 and 15 minutes long.”
Sklute, who recently celebrated 10 years as Ballet West’s artistic director, knows the importance of giving his company members opportunities to do more than perform.
“I have found since we started ‘Innovations’ that dancers who are learning to choreograph, cast ballets, budget for costuming needs and oversee lighting and prop requirements build a greater understanding as overall artists on stage,” he said. “Not only does this help their current performing career, it also helps bring them into the future. It helps them understand what their strengths are and how they can continue their artistry well beyond their performing years.”
To see Ballet West return to Park City is one of Sklute’s career highlights.
“Early on in my tenure, Teri Orr and the Park City Institute brought us up and we performed a terrific program that included some of the world premieres of ‘Innovations,’” he said. “Park City is a big part of our community and we have so many supporters who live up in Park City and we now have [the Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy] in Park City. It’s very meaningful and matters to us to serve the community as well.”
Sklute said its has been an exciting decade with Ballet West.
“Our academy has more than quadrupled in size since I started and we not only host students from around the country, but from around the world,” he said.
The company has also toured all over the world and is continually being invited to other places. It also produced the TV show “Breaking Point”.
“Our dancers give of themselves tirelessly,” Sklute said. “They dance beautifully. They have great minds and think deeply. They work collaboratively. I am so honored to be a part of this.”
In May, Ballet West will present its first National Choreographic Festival, where the company and four visiting organizations from around the country, will perform new creations by outside choreographers.
“I feel really good that we are now one of Utah’s primary performing arts ambassadors throughout the world,” Sklute said. “We are proud to carry that torch with our caliber of artistry.”
Park City Institute will present Ballet West at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Tickets range from $29 to $79 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org. For this performance, parents who purchase a full-price ticket in the Amethyst section can add a $5 student ticket in the same section.
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