miércoles, 19 de junio de 2019

The Ballet de Barcelona is born

Ballet de Barcelona in Together.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m

Barcelona, one of the most vibrant cities in the world, has since the month of May a new cultural attraction, the «Ballet de Barcelona». If the dance in the Catalan capital has a good representation in contemporary, in classic, after the dissolution of the companies of David Campos and Ángel Corella, there was a void that is now remedied. 

Carolina Masjuan

The Ballet de Barcelona is born thanks to the union of a group of eleven dancers, their passion for dance and their courage to undertake something new. Among them we find dancers of many nationalities: Spain, Japan, Belgium, Slovakia, Albania, Italy or USA who together bring decades of experience in companies such as the English National Ballet, the National Ballet of Perú, the National Ballet Company in Portugal, Les Ballets Trockadero of Monte Carlo, Tokyo City Ballet, or Ángel Corella's Barcelona Ballet

Anna Ishii & Carraig New in Le Corsaire.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
The first eleven components were joined, after auditions, by three more dancers, who have formed the cast for the presentation program at the Teatre Condal in the Catalan capital on June 14, 15 and 16. 

The artistic direction is assumed by the company dancer, Chase Johnsey. Chase with a long career in Les Ballets de Trockadero of Monte Carlo, First Artist during 2018 in the English National Ballet, has been recognized with the distinctions to "Best Male Dancer" in the National Dance Awards of the United Kingdom and the "Best Male Performance" for his role in Paquita

Installed in the bright and spacious facilities of L'Espona dance center, in Rubí, near Barcelona, they define themselves as an artistic organization committed to equality, diversity and individuality. There, they have created an artistic environment in which the perseverance, hard work and discipline, always essential, go hand in hand with respect, companionship, tolerance and transparency. Watching a class or rehearsal is a very enriching and inspiring experience for any dance lover. Thank you for always having the doors open for us to enjoy! 

Reo Morikawa and Clara del Cerro.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
It is the ambition of the company to cover a wide variety of choreographic styles, from classic and neoclassical ballet, to the modern and contemporary repertoire, including new collaborations and avant-garde choreographies. This premiere, which has been possible thanks to the trust and support of Daniel Anglés, Artistic Director of Onyric Teatre Condal, highlights the absolute premiere of Together the choreography by Antonio Carmena (ex-soloist of the New York City Ballet) with Marcus Salazar as co-choreographer. 

The program of the Condal, opens with some emotional words by the Artistic Director: Few will ever be as fortunate as myself to be able to experience what happens within the dance studio. An empty room with a linoleum floor, a mirror, windows, and a few ballet barres, where everyday we start with nothing; we create something; and then we leave it empty again. But, an empty studio isn’t empty to me. We walk in everyday to endless possibilities. Everyday, I am gifted with the results of these possibilities. I get to experience the break throughs, the frustrations, the pain, the freedom, and most importantly, through the dancing, I get to know these individual dancers better everyday. 

The curious thing about the life of a dancer is there is rarely any proof of it. No tangible product that can accurately portray the amount of work that goes into it. Even a video can never encompass the electric energy that the body is able to convey in live performance. As professionals, we need to learn to love the risk, to trust our work, and ultimately become friends with my favorite word, perseverance. 

Chase Johnsey, Dying Swan. Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m

The career of a dancer is a constant struggle with time. A race to be physically better, emotionally free, and more daring. Always striving for an idea of perfection within human limitations. My mission is to teach these dancers that the true art of dance isn’t about the reflection in the mirror. Creating art is about being in the moment, and generously giving your talent away. As artists, we are always at the mercy of the spectators. 

On May 6th, 2019, we began. We began like all dancers, with the simplest exercises that anyone could do. “We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore, except to make our lives into a work of art” - Lana del Rey. 

With 39 days, 30 rehearsals, 114 hours, 14 dancers, 7 nationalities, and 2 acts, we have created Ballet de Barcelona. 

Chase Johnsey 
Artistic Director, Ballet de Barcelona 

Lisa-Marie Veervort, Jewels.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
A video summary of these 39 days, made by Albert Renedo, opens the show for attendants to watch the dancers working at l'Espona. 

The first act has been designed with fragments of Repertory Ballets. Two from Sleeping Beauty with a beautiful Princess Florine, Clara del Cerro, and a spectacular Blue Bird, Reo Morikawa, and Jewels, Júlia Roca and Lise-Marie Veervort or Stanislava Pinčeková and Giuliana Restivo, exquisite, with an elegant Anxhelo Baqiqi. Outstanding part that of the Pdd of Le Corsaire by Anna Ishii and Carraig New and final colophon the Dying Swan, that the own Chase interpreted in two of the shows, assuming Stanislava Pincekova the difficult challenge to dance it on Saturday afternoon and in which she got to succeed. 

All the dancers shine in their variations, this is not a company of ranks, it is a company of individualities, where all the artists find a space for their creativity and brilliance while always looking for the quality of the whole show. In this way, talent is discovered that, in another way and in another type of organization, would inevitably be hidden. 

Chase Johnsey, Dying Swan.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
Particularly emotional and worthy to be highlighted is Chase solo. Unknown in our country but much admired and loved in his, the United States -a film crew follows him as they are making a documentary about his career- Chase dances a Dying Swan of enormous sensitivity and emotion that leaves everyone breathless and with more than one furtive tear in one's eyes. 

In the way Chase enters the dying swan, something that goes beyond the role is percieved. The dancer dedicates his solo to his beloved "grandfather boss", the grandfather of Carlos Renedo, his husband and Executive Director of the Ballet de Barcelona. The grandfather, recently deceased in the presence of Chase -something that marked him deeply and that relives every time he comes on stage- is his inspiration for this role that he dances with white tights and on pointe. 

This closes the first act, with the audience already surrendered to the evidence that these guys have made history and that they have a management able to take them far, if enough support is achieved. 

The second part is a completely new ballet created by the dancer, teacher, choreographer and friend of Chase, Antonio Carmena, in collaboration with Marcus Salazar. Antonio Carmena, former soloist at the New York City Ballet, explained to Abi Stafford for Pointe Magazine (you can read the full article here how he embarked on this adventure, after he stopped dancing in 2017 and re-directed his career). 

Júlia Roca, Jewels. Photo:  Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
« …..He then stuck his toe in choreographic waters, creating a 10-minute piece with a Spanish flamenco flair for CBC

On a whim, he sent a video of his ballet to a friend, Chase Johnsey, who was working on the artistic staff of a small dance company in Spain. The two discussed the possibility of Carmena choreographing a ballet for the company, but the collaboration needed to occur at a future date, so he went back to his job search. 

Then Johnsey, a former dancer with Les Ballets de Trockadero, called with some news a few weeks later. He was in the midst of starting his own company, Ballet de Barcelona. He had scheduled performances for June 14-16, and he needed a choreographer now. Before he knew it, Carmena had been commissioned to create a 26-minute ballet. 

While his 10-minute piece for the CBC dancers served as a starting point for his choreographic skills, Carmena had been given three whole months to create it. This time, he only had three weeks to choreograph a ballet over twice as long. What's more, he knew nothing about the Ballet de Barcelona dancers' styles or capabilities. 

Ballet de Barcelona in Together.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
Carmena enlisted the aid of his partner and fellow dancer, Marcus Salazar, and the two rented studios to create a bit of the ballet prior to leaving for Spain. After selecting the music—Carmena landed on Symphony in G by the French composer Étienne Méhul—the pair created about three minutes of choreography. But Carmena stopped there. 

He knew that he didn't want to create a work without its most important component: the actual dancers. Regardless of the stressful time constraints, he wanted a collaborative process, with input from the dancers about how his steps feel on their bodies, particularly the women. (He and Salazar found that choreographing for women in pointe shoes presented a steep challenge. "We can't even try the steps," Carmena says.) 

Before leaving for Barcelona, Carmena admitted that he was nervous about leaping so far outside his comfort zone. But he is not putting too much pressure on himself. As he puts it, "I am not trying to be the next Balanchine here!" He is simply on a new journey and is excited for this next stop on the path. Although his transition from NYCB dancer to "something else" has been a process, Carmena feels grateful for it all. » 

Anna Ishii, Le Corsair. Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
We were able to attend some of the rehearsals and we perceived the passion and enthusiasm with which everyone addressed this challenge and, once we saw the result on stage, we can say that it was really brilliant! 

The choreography evidently draws from the sources of the NYCB, above all from Balanchine, with those quick steps and that vibrant musicality, but Antonio has managed to give it his stamp, creating for this young cast, a choral piece for almost all of them, with some alternation in the three performances, including a beautiful Pdd for the main couple, Carraig New and Victoria Aletta on Friday and Sunday and Elizabeth Cohen on Saturday evening. Both Victoria and Elizabeth possess a very good technique, Victoria has an impressive physique and a great stage presence, while Elizabeth gives that typical American style quickness, which is so good with the piece. Carraig is really outstanding, we already saw his amazing Ali and here he again conqueers us completely. Amazing all three! 

Carraig New and Elizabeth Cohen.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m
As they all are really amazing in the choral parts, in which some brief solos allow even the apprentices to shine - Paula Losada, fresh out of the Corella Dance Academy school, takes advantage of her moment-. We also find comic fragments in the choreography, that the dancers, in their youth, make their own, interpreting them with great sparkle to audiences's delight. 

Audience that has been growing as the news have spread and word of mouth has been working among the ones thirsty for ballet in Barcelona, who have celebrated this premiere with great applause and cheers. Many theater programmers among the attendees that we trust they'll give this company the opportunity it deserves, for its dancers to show off to as much audience as possible everywere. 

Thank you all for taking this challenge and offering us this gift. 

The Barcelona Ballet launched a campaign to raise funds for the premiere at the Teatre Condal that is still active, since there are many expenses involved and the dancers have been working generously as volunteers. Help them with your generous contribution no matter how small! https://www.gofundme.com/balletdebarcelona/ 

Victoria Aletta and Carraig New in Together.
Photo: Aleix Alexandre @aleix_a_m

Ballet de Barcelona 

Artistic Director: Chase Johnsey 

Dancers : 

Anxhelo Baqiqi - Durrës, Albania 
Clara del Cerro San Ildefonso - Molina de Segura, Murcia, Spain 
Elizabeth Anne Calder Cohen - Chicago, Illinois, USA 
Anna Ishii - Kanagawa, Japan 
Chase Johnsey - Winter Haven, Florida, USA 
Reo Morikawa - Nagoya, Japan 
Carraig New - Juneau, Alaska, USA 
Stanislava Pinčeková - Pezinok, Slovakia 
Clara Plà Ferrer - Barcelona, Spain 
Giuliana Restivo - Palermo, Italy 
Julia Roca Muxinach- Barcelona, Spain 
Lisa-Marie Vervoort - Anvers, Belgium 
Victoria Aletta - Florence, Italy 
Paula Losada Alié - Barcelona, Spain

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