Ending to a Great Year
As I end my first year in the Professional Division at The Pacific Northwest Ballet, I had a number of performances that have become some highlight performances of my life. I have had the amazing honor to perform as much as I have, and as the year has gone on, I have seen a greater confidence in being out on stage in front of thousands of people. I have been extremely busy getting the last few shows of my year together, but the performances were so rewarding.
Before I talk about my final performances of the season, I want to talk about the retirement show of Carla Körbes. She is an unbelievable artist who is passionate about what she does and she is an artist who has mastered expressing true emotion on stage. I have had the incredible honor to take class with her, watch her in rehearsals, and see her perform. She works hard everyday and she is a class act. The incredible work ethic of Körbes has paid off because she is arguably one of the top ballerinas of this generation. I was lucky enough to watch her final performance. She performed "The Calling" choreographed by Jessica Lang, the pas de deux from "Diamonds" choreographed by George Balanchine, and "Serenade" choreographed George Balanchine. This performance, hands down, was the best piece of live ballet I have seen in my life. At the end of Serenade, as Carla was being lifted away, I cried. I had never seen something so exquisite in that moment. Her career is inspiring! I wish Carla Körbes all the best in her future.
It is hard to follow up talking about my last few performances of the year after talking about the most amazing performance I have seen, but I will do my best.
Carmina Burana is a very well known piece of music composed by Carl Orff. The score is set to poems from medieval monks which depict the human condition, human desires, and human lusts. Kent Stowell has created a ballet to this music in order to express those desires through dance. The ballet is intoxicating to the audience with lots of dancers flying across the stage while a chorus of 72 singers are hanging above stage singing their hearts out. It is 60 minutes of a roller coaster of emotions expressed through dance and music. I had the incredible honor to be a part of this ballet. Men are used heavily in this ballet and the choreography is not easy or classical. We have to run around, lift other guys, act drunk, turn and jump like mad men... you get the point, it is crazy. I was huffing and puffing backstage through the performance, but it was incredible to be on stage for a long period of time while doing a lot of challenging choreography in front of a huge crowd. The magnitude of the performances for me was immense! This run of performances gave me a lot of confidence on stage. One year ago, if you told me I would be performing Carmina Burana with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, I would have laughed! I have been blessed with great opportunities on stage and this is just one of many.
Next Step is a one night performance where members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet choreograph original works on the Professional Division students. We have been working on these pieces since January. The process of creating the works has been a new learning experience for me because I have not had ballets created on me. It was great learning how to communicate with a choreographer meaning, for example, when to ask questions or when to give suggestions if a move is not working or feels awkward. I learned to be patient because sometimes the choreographer needs time to develop an idea while I just wanted to know the steps right then and there. Overall, it was a great learning experience. Being able to perform the pieces was awesome. When I perform with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, I usually am in the Corps de Ballet, so I am not a soloist or anything. With the ballets created on me, I was able to be in the spotlight on a big stage. It was a ton of fun getting on stage and dancing orginal works that were not classical ballet. It was a huge step for me and I loved every moment of the night.
The next day, I was able to cap off my year with two more performances. The first show was a reconstruction of the ballet "Le Corsaire" from the notes from the the late 1800s and early 1900s. The movement is more character based and simple ballet technique compared to the technique of classical ballet in the modern age. It was defintely different flipping back the calenders a few years to get get the piece. In the night show, I was in another original work choreographed by a company member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. The piece was based on ice skaters in the rink with a love story. The piece was not very long, but it was a great way to cap off the year with a bang.
My parents and my brother were able to venture out to Seattle from Boston to see my last few performances this past weekend. I have not seen them since I was back home in January! 6 months is a long time! They have not seen me dance in over a year, which was great to show to them my progress that I have made since I moved out here to Seattle. Not only did they get to see me dance, they got to see a glimpse of the life that I have made out here in Seattle by meeting my girlfriend, my ministers, and friends from ballet and church.
As I look back on my year, I am amazed at all the opportunities that I received and all the experiences that I had. I have a had an incredible journey out here I Seattle. This year has not gone the way I planned, but in fact it has been better than I planned. I never imagined I would perform the amount and to the magnitude that I did and never thought I would meet and develop the great relationships that I have created since I have been in Seattle. Our plans never always work out, but if you are okay with adapting your plans, then you will have a better outcome than you planned (RULE 62).
Everyone is asking me what is in store for next year. The answer to that big question is I will be doing a second year as Professional Division student at The Pacific Northwest Ballet starting this coming fall and I will continue to chase my dream of that professional contract! For now, it's time for some much needed summer vacation.