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Getting Up Close With Texas Ballet Theater

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It has been over a year since Texas Ballet Theater performed “Firebird” before a live audience.  Cancelling its remaining 2020 season als0 meant canceling the annual production of the “The Nutcracker.” Fortunately, they were still able to present a past performance of “The Nutcracker,” and an updated  “Nutty Nutcracker,” online. That allowed more than 33,000 school children to still see the holiday favorite.

Photo: Texas Ballet Theater.

The professional ballet troupe is the only resident company for both Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth and the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.

Not only is the company dealing with the loss of revenue from not performing but like some other arts organizations, its Fort Worth office and rehearsal space was damaged during the winter storm.

But dancers, like the song goes, “Gotta Dance.” In order to keep the dancers moving and creating, TBT experimented with a social media project called “Solo Premieres.” For these short video performances, the dancers became the choreographers.

In addition to coming up with original choreography, there was also the added component of filming the performance for digital distribution. Many of the pieces were shot on location throughout the metroplex in parks, parking garages, and a few in more unusual locales. Some of the dancers worked closely with a video production company. Others took the opportunity to direct, film, and edit the pieces themselves. You can see all 32 Solo Premieres on TBT’s YouTube page.

The freedom and innovation that came out of the “Solo Premieres” series inspired the company’s current project.

The Poetry of Expression: Part 1. March 25-April 9. Virtual. Details. The Poetry of Expression: Part II. April 15-April 30. Virtual. Details.

“We’re very excited to now offer our very first all-new digital programming. The series called “The Poetry of Expression: Part II” features four new world premieres, all choreographed by our company dancers,” said Mary Ashley Ray, marketing & communications specialist with TBT.

The series is divided into two parts. Part 1 is still available for streaming for a few more days, through April 9th.

It features “The Story of You” by Carl Coomer which takes viewers through the Perot Museum of Nature & Science bringing different exhibits to life through dance.

Samantha Pille in “The Story of You.” Photo by Carl Coomer.

“It goes through different parts of the museum and follows different dancers who are posing as museum guests and who are looking at exhibits. And then you kind of see them start to bring the exhibits to life.”

Jumping from prehistoric times and into the future, the second ballet in Part 1 is “VREC” by Riley Moyano. Ray describes the piece takes as a virtual reality experience, jumping from setting to setting and experiencing different styles of dance along the way.

“It starts when you see someone putting on virtual reality goggles and then all the different pieces that are within the video are different. So they’re all very separate from each other. There’s one that’s kind of a little bit more Western feeling. Then there’s a tango. And then there’s something that’s a little more classical. You know there are a lot of different feelings, and so each time one finishes, you come back to kind of your menu and then select the next one, and then it takes you to the next one.”

Part II of “The Poetry of Expression” will be available for streaming from April 15 through April 30th. It includes “Bloom” choreographed by Andre Silva and “Horizon” choreographed by Jiyan Dai.

“Bloom” explores the idea of in order to grow sometimes we have to go through dark times. And “Horizon” is a mix of reality and illusion that takes you on a fantastical journey.

Tickets for each program are $30 per household and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 877-828-9200 option 1 or by visiting www.texasballettheater.org.

The piece below was choreographed, filmed, and edited by the company dancers to celebrate the new year.

The silver lining for the classically trained dancers stepping away from the proscenium stage has been the freedom to experiment on the digital stage. It also gives the audience the opportunity to actually see the dancers’ faces up close.

“You know you’re watching in person you see everything from one perspective and everything has to be created to make that kind of straight-on shot the perfect view. But then when you’re filming, you can do a variety of takes at different angles and see what looks the most interesting. You can take audiences in different directions and see the dancers more up close or in different spaces that they normally wouldn’t get to see them.

“And being in different places, not just on a stage, allows for some more innovation and concepts. You can use your location to continue to tell the story as opposed to using sets. And there can be differences in how the choreography comes about. So you’ll see different things. There are definitely more classical elements too, but there’s a mix of other things going on.”

To find out how to support Texas Ballet Theater visit their TBT Relief Fund page on the organization’s website.

You can follow Texas Ballet Theater on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Got a tip? Email Gila Espinoza at gespinoza@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @espinoza_kera.

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