Sunday, March 18, 2007

Soloist Sans Pips

SONNETS: the continuing saga.

As Megan finishes and exits, her girls bow to Rachel, who has entered and taken centerstage. The quartet leaves, leaving Rachel alone on the bare stage. We now have one of the most difficult (or easy) constructs of ballet. The unadorned solo. Now you would think that every dancer would want to dance a solo. This partly true, but with a solo comes respsonsibility and pressure. There is no partner to blame if something goes wrong. There is no corps de ballet to hide within. But with a solo also comes alot of freedom. You can play with the music and hold something longer or shorter if you wish. You can throw in an extra rotation on a turn (or take one out if you are having a bad day.) If you can get into the "zone," there is nothing more satisfying than a solo.

Rachel is a born soloist. She is comfortable dancing to her own drum while trying to remain faithful to the choreographer's vision. Her solo is performed to bagpipe music. In addition to her ballet training, Rachel is also an Irish dancer, so there is a tiny bit of Irish Step dance in the piece. The two sonnets that are read during Rachel's dance deal with being separated from a loved one by great distances. Not only do the bagpipes plaintive tonalities lend themselves to this, but Rachel's husband was a band leader who would often go on the road. So I thought she could relate.

This is an interesting image because Rachel is actually facing backwards. This walking pique arabesque sequence is performed facing the back of the stage, but because of the photographer's orientation, it looks as if she is advancing towards the audience. She is really retreating. Some dances come easily, some do not. This 4 minute dance was probably choreographed in under an hour. Some people have called Rachel my "muse," because I can make things on her fairly quickly. While this could be true, it is also true that some of my best work (in my opinion) have been pieces that have NOT come easily. I don't think that time and effort (or the lack of it) are indicators of whether a piece will be excellent or not. Each piece has a different birth and growing process.

Rachel gets down. In case, you thought that the piece was all "ballerina" poses, there is alot of floor work in this piece. As a matter of fact, the SONNETS promo image with Rachel in a side split facing backards is from this solo.

Again Ahita's watchful eye. The story here is that Ahita was Rachel's ballet teacher from the time she was a wee tot. She has seen her grow up, go away, come back, get married and begin to teach other wee tots. Often ballet is a generational art form. As directors and teachers, we see children grow into teens and then adults (and hopefully some of them become artists.) As I am writing this I can hear the bagpipe music that accompanies Rachel's solo coming from our large studio. Ahita is running SONNETS and Rachel is doing her solo, just like in this picture. Ah, serendipity! Seems like a good place to finish today :)



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