BalletNext pirouettes into Park City
July is filled with performances
Michele Wiles brings a little New York dance to Park City.
Wiles, a former American Ballet Theatre principal and artistic director of BalletNext, took a leap of faith and relocated her company to the Wasatch Back last year.
Wiles will celebrate the move by presenting a series of small performances throughout the area. (See accompanying schedule). Thanks to a grant from the RAP Tax, all Summit County residents can get 10% off by using the code LOCAL10.
“We will move the dance floor around,” she said. “We will do performances at the Rockwell Listening Room, and then move the floor across the street to the rooftop of the Parkite and then to the Talisker Club in Tuhaye.”
Dancers will include BalletNext alumni, artists from Ballet West and the MOGA Conservatory of Dance in North Salt Lake, as well as others from around the nation, Wiles said.
Most of the works were set at the Rockwell Listening Room, BalletNext’s Park City home, after she created movement sketches in her kitchen, she said.
“I would come up with phrases, and then video tape myself,” Wiles said. “Then I would get with the MOGA dancers and have them dance the sketches.”
The first work is about the rivalry between Elizabeth, Queen of England and Mary, Queen of Scots, Wiles said.
“I was asked to choreograph a piece for two women,” she said. “I thought of famous female rivalries from history, because I wanted something strong. I thought about Elizabeth and Mary, because I had never seen a ballet about their relationship.”
Other works include “Within the Light” and the classic “The White Swan” pas de deux, and all the music in the program will be performed live by local musicians, Wiles said.
Those musicians include Koji Attwood from the Gifted School of Music, whom Wiles has known for years, and musicians from the Tribeca Ensemble, she said.
Wiles selected Vivaldi’s “La Stravaganza” as the music for the Elizabeth and Mary piece, and juxtaposed Debussy’s familiar “Clair de Lune” with the music from a more obscure Italian composer, Ottornio Respighi.
“Koji introduced me to the music of Respighi,” Wiles said. “I told him about this idea of dancing to Debussy, and he sent me lists of music. And it went from there. I think the piece fits in so well with the Debussy. It has the same flavor.”
The program will also feature another work performed by two women, set to the music of Ludovico Einaudi, she said.
“In this piece, the women are actually partnering with each other, unlike the one about Elizabeth and Mary, so I’m going outside of the box,” Wiles said. “I’m going outside the box just enough to take people into another realm of what ballet could be.”
Giving dance audiences a new perspective of dance is why Wiles founded BalletNext after leaving American Ballet Theatre 10 years ago.
“I had danced my last full-length ‘Swan Lake’ on the Metropolitan Opera House stage in front of 5,000 people, and decided to take the plunge into a more entrepreneurial path,” Wiles said. The was born out of Wiles wanting to try new things with different and unlikely artists, while still maintaining the classical foundation and the technique of classical ballet.
“I wanted to expand that into collaborations with jazz musicians like Tom Harrell, or collaborations with FlexMaster Jay Donn from Brooklyn,” she said.
The theater Wiles chose to showcase BalletNext was the New York Live Arts, home of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company.
“They are very modern dance, and I chose that theater because I wanted another audience to see what we were doing,” she said.
To further expand her artistic endeavors, Wiles worked with Bailey Anne Vincent, a deaf dancer, to create a sign-language ballet in 2017.
“The goal was to cross cultures and break boundaries,” Wiles said.
A few months later, the University of Utah School of Dance invited Wiles to choreograph a piece for their top level students, and that’s when she was introduced to Park City.
“I took a ride (up the canyon) and fell in love with the town,” she said.
After the U. invited Wiles back as a visiting professor, she took that opportunity to take eight of the U.’s top dancers to New York to perform at the New York Live Arts and at The New Victory Theater on Broadway.
“I took these dancers and put them at a very professional level in front of the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre, and (gave them) opportunities that they wouldn’t have gotten,” she said. “The idea was to bridge the gap from the university to the professional world.”
During that time, Wiles decided her time in New York had run its course.
“I decided to bring BalletNext to Park City,” she said. “I was super inspired by Park City’s vibe. I love all the art on Main Street, and I like the super-progressive and creative vibe that has this laid-back feel.”
The Rockwell Listening Room turned out to be the perfect, forward-thinking place to house BalletNext. Not only is it a performance space, but also home for JGO Gallery and Park City Desserts. So Wiles contacted owner Scott Thomson.
“Scott has been super generous by allowing me to have my dance floor there, and he has been supportive of what I’ve been doing,” she said.
In addition, JGO Gallery owner Jude Grenny created a dance art exhibit that is currently showing throughout July.
“I feel like things are falling into place, and Park City has taken me in as one of their own,” Wiles said. “It is fulfilling to partner with so many different organizations in the community, and I’m happy that BalletNext is having our rebirth here after the pandemic. I’m super thrilled and excited to share everything we’ve been working on after this crazy COVID time.”
• Friday, July 23 — Rockwell Listening Room, 268 Main St., 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, July 24 — Rockwell Listening Room, 268 Main St., 11:30 a.m. (Family performance)
• Saturday, July 24 — Rockwell Listening Room, 268 Main St., 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, July 25 — BalletNEXT 10th Anniversary Documentary in partnership with Park City Film, Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave., 6 p.m.
• Monday, July 26 — Parkite rooftop, 333 Main St., 7:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, July 27 — Parkite rooftop, 333 Main St., 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday, July 29 — Moondance Pavilion, Talisker Club, 10105 Tuhaye Park Drive, Hideout, 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, July 30 — Rockwell Listening Room, 268 Main St., 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, July 31 — Rockwell Listening Room, 268 Main St., 7:30 p.m.
For information and tickets, visit balletnext.com/events
A Park Record intern spent three weeks in New York City thanks to a Columbia University program.
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