Apr 14, 2015

Enslaved by the Classical Ballet: "Le Corsaire"

For the last three weekends, Maine State Ballet undertook the mammoth of a ballet, Le Corsaire (and finished on top, I might add). For a small, homegrown company, this was a major feat. Ten shows, three backdrops, and dozens of brand new costumes went into this production.

Le Corsaire is, as I like to call it, "stupid hard." I alone did over 150 fouettes on stage throughout the course of the three-weekend run. Not to mention all of the triple pirouettes, double tours, piques, and brisees from the cast as a whole. From the corps de ballet to Medora, every dance pushed the company's capabilities above and beyond what many other shows have required. I was cast as the disparing Gulnare for seven shows and the infamous third odilesque for three. Both taught me a great deal about myself as a performer and this strange art form our passions ignite for. 

Firstly, and unfortunately, I re-learned that having split casts is difficult. You focus primarily on the role you perform more and the lesser role becomes somewhat neglected. It's inevitable and unfortunate, but it happens. I would perform Gulnare in the Friday evening show and Saturday matinee, Saturday night I would switch over to Third Odilesque, and finally, Sunday I would jump back into Gulnare. I would go a full week without thinking much about Odilesque at all and focus my energy on Gulnare. It's true what they say, you reap what you sow. I was happy overall with my performances as Gulnare and will certainly miss performing that role. Odilesque was a struggle and, because of the little time I spent dancing it, it didn't feel like mine in performance. I almost felt like an understudy, throwing myself into something I wasn't fully prepared for but had to do despite that. Lesson learned, time management is crucial. Dedicate most of your time to your primary role, but don't forget about the others. 

Second, I love story ballets. Some prefer the athletic demand or the undisturbed focus on the human body that neoclassical pieces provide, but sometimes being someone you're not, a beautiful slave from ancient Turkey or Greece is forced to dance for a pasha's his entertainment, only to be sold, trapped, and finally rescued by a band of rogue pirates. How fun is that?!

My beautiful sister, Adrienne.

And finally, Maine State Ballet is incredibly fortunate to have our costume and set designer, Gail Cosboth. I wish you all could see the set in person because no photo will do it justice. We're a tiny little company in southern Maine that few out-of-staters even know about, but we produce some of the most beautiful ballets you'll ever see thanks to the vision and drive of a gifted seventy-year-old woman. Our mission is to transport the audience away from reality for a few hours and to uplift the community. Because of her, we are able to do that above and beyond.
I feel very blesssed to have been part of such a magical production.
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