Ballet AZ Blog

Behind the Scenes of Moving Movies

What was your inspiration for Moving Movies?

The cinematic theme was originally chosen by Ib as part of the season. When I was approached to choreograph, I immediately dove in with a desire to create a ballet that is both nostalgic and original.

Looking to renowned movie directors, like Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, and Federico Fellini, I took inspiration from classic films that will hopefully resonate with a wide range of audiences.

The biggest influences, however, were the film scores from composers such as Hans Zimmer, John Williams, John Barry, and Marc Shaiman. The emotions and rhythms of a piece of music are almost always where I draw the inspiration for my choreography. There was such diversity in my music selection that it inspired me to create an original story that stitched each of the movies together, helping them flow into one new fulllength ballet.

Movies catch the spirit of our imagination. They can take us to ideas beyond our reality, tell our stories, and offer an escape. Ballet can do the same thing and I am excited to blend these worlds together. I want audiences to come out of the theatre saying “I’ve never seen anything like that!”

How did you go about selecting and integrating these iconic film scores into the ballet?

At first, I chose works from various movies and made a playlist that had an emotional flow. The piece that gave me the first spark of an idea was “You Only Live Twice” by John Barry. However, many of the pieces I chose either did not have licensable scores, or they required instruments that could not fit in the orchestra pit at Symphony Hall.

I spent a long time looking for other pieces and worked with our Maestro, Matthew Kasper. The playlist finally began to develop into something that worked for both the choreography and the orchestra, while still keeping the integrity of my vision. Then the story began to unfold once I had enough music selected.

When creating a new story ballet, what is it like developing characters?

I will probably keep developing the characters until the week before the show to get the story as clear as I possibly can…

There is a villain, who exemplifies envy and the natural desire of power that resides within humans. She is eyeing the position of director and has a plan to get it, but along the way develops mixed feelings.

The director is tremendously successful, but humble. Even though he suffers throughout the story at the hands of the villain, in the end, he is forgiving. Deep inside, the director understands that envy is the true evil, a trait we all possess.

I want this plot to be set apart from typical story ballets. Traditionally there is only good and evil, where villains are defeated by heroes or magic, but that does not reflect reality.

As far as developing these characters through dance, the movement needs to reflect the emotion of the music. The embodiment of that feeling has to be amplified through the dancer to reach everyone in the theater.

Can you talk about the experience of creating a new ballet?

This is my first time creating a full-length ballet from scratch. I came up with the concept, chose the music, put together my design team, and wrote the story. There are so many elements that go into creating a ballet that are equally complex, and rising to this challenge has been the best feeling.

For sets, our production team is building pieces, designed by Clifton Chadick, which will move around the stage. I also wanted to push the boundaries of how we use backdrop projection. We are working with Jacob Pinholster and Chris Ignacio, to create projections that our dancers will interact with and have as part of the choreography itself!

For costumes, we are working with Designer, Liz Vandal. Her portfolio of work is incredible and her creativity is perfect for this project. Seeing it all come together, from the initial conversations and sketches to the pieces being created in our costume shop, has been exciting.

From the very beginning, I have found it very rewarding to collaborate with an artistic team that contributes their own perspective. They help pull different ideas out of me and made the project more fun. My hope is that the end result will be beyond anything I could have imagined on my own.

I also need to give a special thank you to Joan and Charlie Berry, as the producing sponsors, and Adam and Stephanie Goodman for their sponsorship of Moving Movies. I am deeply honored for their support of my artistic vision.

Read “A Milestone in Creative Excellence”

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