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14

Sep

*Photo by Glenn Goettler 
I think I am in utter denial of having left the sacred space of the Mystic Ballet creative venture, waking up to the terrifying heat and structure that has welcomed me back at school here in Texas. Yet I couldn’t think of a better mindset to find myself, in order to finally reflect over my exploit at Mystic Ballet this Summer.  
I will take time later to formerly assess the findings of my undertakings with this ballet company. But for now I would like to meditate on some more personal observations.
This summer I intended to be someone that conducted research, someone who observed critically, discussed intelligently, gaining a broader and more informed perspective on life in a dance company. What I did not expect to be was someone who wanted to be involved in every aspect of operations, teaching, socializing, making constructive criticism, participating in social media, and genuinely affecting the atmosphere of the company.
As I increasingly projected my efforts to influence and elucidate positivity in the company I found that I was the one who was the most affected. In order to present an opinion, and interact in meaningful ways at Mystic Ballet I was forced to assess my own methods of communication and solidify my point of view on a great range of matters. I was certainly pushed out of my comfort zone in aspects like social media and practical business matters. However, I found that if I simply approached the problem with all that I had to offer (even if applied what seemed to be unrelated skill-sets), while being humble enough to ask for advice in areas I was not familiar with, the results were respect and admiration for my honest work.
I found myself adapting seamlessly (for the most part) from social company settings, to strategy meetings, one on one interviews, and critical performance experiences like Jacobs Pillow. I discovered that it was not necessarily about finding the perfect and clearly identified place (or job description) where I could subsist and thrive in the company settings but graciously establishing my own identity within the fabric of the company. The goal was not to become irreplaceable, but at the conclusion of this summer season with Mystic Ballet I felt that I had been able to contribute to it’s larger vision.
As I interact with more innovators in the art world I realize that this is where the true entrepreneurs and devisers of the current generation begin. They do not simply look for a position and fill it. There are many ways to go about following a passion. Fortunately I was granted time and resources to integrate and observe one of my passions (dance) in order to combined it with one of many of my other personal intrigues (writing, art critique, personal interaction, and arts management). I am not saying that I have come out of this experience with a grand master-plan. But I have come into a much greater understanding of what I bring to the arts world and that my potential should not have a discernable benchmark.
After a very long and tiresome rehearsal day I received an email from a company dancer. She explained to me that her driving force in dance is the inspiration she garners from others, along with the potential of being the provider of inspiration. Her comment made me realize that many times a powerful instance of inspiration from someone in the dance world can provide a sense of kinship almost instantaneously. I learned this summer that this exchange of charged artistic influence extends in both directions. It is not to be recycled, but to be executed continually.
Last week I sat down with an alum from my boarding arts high school, Walnut Hill. As someone who danced professionally for many years then sought to involve herself into other arenas like theatre production and entrepreneurial adventures she had poignant things to say to me about the current state of affairs in the dance world. She mentioned this concept of ‘influence’ and how instrumental it was to remember those in your life that had affected you in such a way to produce positive outcomes. But she also pointed out how we are challenged to remember that we have the potential to act as that influential individual for another human being. Not out of glory or self satisfaction, but rather a greater understanding of how much we can affect change through influence.
As I remember all of those at Mystic Ballet and how they have positively affected the way that I carry myself, I have been given a new opportunity to continue writing. As a new contributor to the dance blog DIY Dancer (www.diydancer.com) I vow to continually reflect upon those who have helped me garner the potential to influence more people while writing about the exciting happenings of the Dallas dance scene.
I already miss the dancers and administrators at Mystic Ballet dearly. I wish all of you a successful and fulfilling fall!  

*Photo by Glenn Goettler 

I think I am in utter denial of having left the sacred space of the Mystic Ballet creative venture, waking up to the terrifying heat and structure that has welcomed me back at school here in Texas. Yet I couldn’t think of a better mindset to find myself, in order to finally reflect over my exploit at Mystic Ballet this Summer. 

I will take time later to formerly assess the findings of my undertakings with this ballet company. But for now I would like to meditate on some more personal observations.

This summer I intended to be someone that conducted research, someone who observed critically, discussed intelligently, gaining a broader and more informed perspective on life in a dance company. What I did not expect to be was someone who wanted to be involved in every aspect of operations, teaching, socializing, making constructive criticism, participating in social media, and genuinely affecting the atmosphere of the company.

As I increasingly projected my efforts to influence and elucidate positivity in the company I found that I was the one who was the most affected. In order to present an opinion, and interact in meaningful ways at Mystic Ballet I was forced to assess my own methods of communication and solidify my point of view on a great range of matters. I was certainly pushed out of my comfort zone in aspects like social media and practical business matters. However, I found that if I simply approached the problem with all that I had to offer (even if applied what seemed to be unrelated skill-sets), while being humble enough to ask for advice in areas I was not familiar with, the results were respect and admiration for my honest work.

I found myself adapting seamlessly (for the most part) from social company settings, to strategy meetings, one on one interviews, and critical performance experiences like Jacobs Pillow. I discovered that it was not necessarily about finding the perfect and clearly identified place (or job description) where I could subsist and thrive in the company settings but graciously establishing my own identity within the fabric of the company. The goal was not to become irreplaceable, but at the conclusion of this summer season with Mystic Ballet I felt that I had been able to contribute to it’s larger vision.

As I interact with more innovators in the art world I realize that this is where the true entrepreneurs and devisers of the current generation begin. They do not simply look for a position and fill it. There are many ways to go about following a passion. Fortunately I was granted time and resources to integrate and observe one of my passions (dance) in order to combined it with one of many of my other personal intrigues (writing, art critique, personal interaction, and arts management). I am not saying that I have come out of this experience with a grand master-plan. But I have come into a much greater understanding of what I bring to the arts world and that my potential should not have a discernable benchmark.

After a very long and tiresome rehearsal day I received an email from a company dancer. She explained to me that her driving force in dance is the inspiration she garners from others, along with the potential of being the provider of inspiration. Her comment made me realize that many times a powerful instance of inspiration from someone in the dance world can provide a sense of kinship almost instantaneously. I learned this summer that this exchange of charged artistic influence extends in both directions. It is not to be recycled, but to be executed continually.

Last week I sat down with an alum from my boarding arts high school, Walnut Hill. As someone who danced professionally for many years then sought to involve herself into other arenas like theatre production and entrepreneurial adventures she had poignant things to say to me about the current state of affairs in the dance world. She mentioned this concept of ‘influence’ and how instrumental it was to remember those in your life that had affected you in such a way to produce positive outcomes. But she also pointed out how we are challenged to remember that we have the potential to act as that influential individual for another human being. Not out of glory or self satisfaction, but rather a greater understanding of how much we can affect change through influence.

As I remember all of those at Mystic Ballet and how they have positively affected the way that I carry myself, I have been given a new opportunity to continue writing. As a new contributor to the dance blog DIY Dancer (www.diydancer.com) I vow to continually reflect upon those who have helped me garner the potential to influence more people while writing about the exciting happenings of the Dallas dance scene.

I already miss the dancers and administrators at Mystic Ballet dearly. I wish all of you a successful and fulfilling fall!  

Early Sunday morning the company got together to say a sincere goodbye to the lovely Sachi Kimura. 

It finally occurred to me that my sojourn in Mystic was coming to a close as well… 

19

Aug

I have to blame my recent lackadaisical posting, on my efforts to spend as much time with the Mystic Ballet dancers as humanly possible before I had to leave them. A wonderful long weekend of late night games, long talks, and outings to the beach reminded me that regardless of how much these dancers have given up in their life to be here working at Mystic Ballet they have so much to gain by just being around each other.

My life long best friend was able to come and visit for the weekend as well. I had absolutely no reservations about her joining in the fun, having all the confidence that this group of people would embrace her as they have so kindly embraced me for the past five weeks. I felt proud to show her the wonderful people I had been able to surround myself with this summer. Even though she wished it was her I was spending all of this time with, she realized that this experience with these people had affected me in such a unexplainably positive way. 

Every one of these people has so much else to offer besides their abilities on the stage and in the studio. I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to know them all as human beings rather than just subjects of my research.  

The family in Mystic. I was so grateful to be able to share my summer experience in Mystic with my wonderful family. Even though it was a short visit we were able to enjoy each other’s company in and around the township of Mystic. 

Goran was kind enough to invite my family out for a sushi dinner, which turned into an extended evening with intriguing conversation and good laughs. I couldn’t believe my worlds were colliding in such a way, but I couldn’t help but enjoy every second.

Despite the unseasonably cold weather in the Berkshires, I was once again floored with the Pillow’s ability to bring people and nature together to experience the emepheral art form of dance. I was honored to accompany Mystic Ballet one last time to the Pillow for their performance in the Inside/Out series last Wednesday.

Ella Baff, executive director at Jacob’s Pillow, gathered the entire Pillow operation near the famous “pillow” rock formation for a traditional meeting of the minds that occurs each Wednesday at the Pillow. She welcomed the students of the musical theatre program, employees of the pillow, visiting scholars and performers, as well as Wendy Whelan, who would be performing that night in the Ted Shawn theatre. Her premiere of Restless Creature was reviewed by Alastair Macaulay in the New York Times last week ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/arts/dance/wendy-whelan-embraces-modern-dance-at-jacobs-pillow.html?ref=dance&_r=0 ). Ella Baff charged the people gathered in the clearing to continue to use their gifts and persist in supporting the art form of dance in any way possible. She ended her address saying, ” Your a beautiful constellation, all of you stars. May you have the best week of your dancing lives.” These words and the immaculate presence of all of these artists reminded me how necessary it is to be open to collaboration and conspire to elevate this art form to new levels. 

Mystic Ballet’s evening performance was able to reach this level of elevation. There was something about the combination of the unbearably chilly air blowing over the stage, ruffling the feathers on the costumes along with the raw, athletic, yet calculated movement of Vaneav’s Swan Lake that finally came together for me. I felt a guttural tug as I was transported to this world of unearthly creatures, making waves on the stage. Unlike my pleasant, yet slightly unremarkable, experience watching Mystic Ballet the week before this performance stirred something in me.

Even my best-friend, and long time patron of Jacob’s Pillow, turned to me during the performance mouthing, “this is incredible, thank you for bringing me.” After having invested so much time observing, studying, and analyzing this piece I expected to feel as I had last week- nervous for the dancers and just wanting them to have the opportunity to be artistically rewarded for their hard work. But I was engulfed in the piece, and didn’t feel the need to analyze or recognize movement. For this first time this summer I was able to watch these dancers perform with an unsoiled perspective and a freshly opened mind.         

*check out the beautiful photographs taken by professional photographer Glen Goettler of Mystic Ballet. There are even a couple with me in there!

http://www.glenngoettler.com/mysticballet/13-14/pillow2/class/h65e4aa44#h624b8ce8

13

Aug

-Jacob’s Pillow Round 2-

The following excerpt is the introduction featuring Mystic Ballet’s performance tomorrow at 6:15pm on the outdoor stage at Jacob’s Pillow.

Mystic Ballet
Wednesday, August 14 at 6:15pm
“Connecticut-based Mystic Ballet (MB) is dedicated to performing a diverse range of contemporary dance works. Along with resident choreographers, MB showcases works by Stephan Toss, Sergei Vanaev, Sidra Bell, Gabrielle Lamb, Brian Enos, Jozsef Csaba-Hajzer, and Lauren Edson. MB was recently featured in The New York Times and described as “top-notch ballet.” With the support of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Cultural Development, the company has toured Germany, Japan, Central America, and Brazil. In recognition of MB’s “ongoing contribution to the cultural and artistic life of the region,” the State of Connecticut acclaims, ‘the extraordinary talent and creative genius of Goran Subotic and the Mystic Ballet have brought a new dimension of beauty to our community and our state.’”

For their second performance at Jacob’s Pillow the Mystic Ballet Company is not being presented as a part of a choreographer’s larger repertoire but standing on their own namesake. An exciting performance of Sun and Steel and Sergei Vaneav’s Swan Lake is planned to entice and intrigue the audience at the Pillow.

Since their performance last Thursday Goran has concentrated rehearsal time on preparing these two pieces for the Pillow stage. There has been a slight adjustment to the programming, causing both the Goran and the dancers to adapt and focus in the short preparation period. I am confident that these dancers have embraced the new material as well as rekindled an artistic passion for old material in order to transcend the basic steps of the choreography and transport this audience. 

-Jacob’s Pillow Round 2-

The following excerpt is the introduction featuring Mystic Ballet’s performance tomorrow at 6:15pm on the outdoor stage at Jacob’s Pillow.

Mystic Ballet

Wednesday, August 14 at 6:15pm

“Connecticut-based Mystic Ballet (MB) is dedicated to performing a diverse range of contemporary dance works. Along with resident choreographers, MB showcases works by Stephan Toss, Sergei Vanaev, Sidra Bell, Gabrielle Lamb, Brian Enos, Jozsef Csaba-Hajzer, and Lauren Edson. MB was recently featured in The New York Times and described as “top-notch ballet.” With the support of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Cultural Development, the company has toured Germany, Japan, Central America, and Brazil. In recognition of MB’s “ongoing contribution to the cultural and artistic life of the region,” the State of Connecticut acclaims, ‘the extraordinary talent and creative genius of Goran Subotic and the Mystic Ballet have brought a new dimension of beauty to our community and our state.’”

For their second performance at Jacob’s Pillow the Mystic Ballet Company is not being presented as a part of a choreographer’s larger repertoire but standing on their own namesake. An exciting performance of Sun and Steel and Sergei Vaneav’s Swan Lake is planned to entice and intrigue the audience at the Pillow.

Since their performance last Thursday Goran has concentrated rehearsal time on preparing these two pieces for the Pillow stage. There has been a slight adjustment to the programming, causing both the Goran and the dancers to adapt and focus in the short preparation period. I am confident that these dancers have embraced the new material as well as rekindled an artistic passion for old material in order to transcend the basic steps of the choreography and transport this audience. 

I have to admit it was not always a joy walking into an 8:30am class to teach Paquita or attempting to keep the focus of energetic children for extended periods of time (even with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand). However, the exuberance, the commitment, and the unrestrained passion that I witnessed on stage this past Saturday was certainly worth every early morning trip to Mystic School of Ballet.

When the dance teachers and crew (made up of entirely Mystic Ballet staff and company members) arrived at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum Auditorium I was pleasantly surprised by the high caliber nature of the theatre space. While I imagined that a stadium-seat performance venue would not cater to a dance performance, this was in fact a perfect set up. Every parent would be able to see his or her child’s expressivity and significant presence on the stage.

In order to accomplish this pleasant experience for the audience we began working immediately to set the spacing for each number. In a twenty minute block every piece was set and run twice. The entire staging process was operated with all of the proficiency of a professional program. The dancers were responsive, the teachers both concise and realistic, and the technicians (Mystic Ballet Company members) running the lights and the music were speedy and efficient. As we continued running through the diverse compilation of pieces in the show I could already see the girl’s excitement bubbling to the surface.

On the other hand it was extremely strange for me to be correcting spacing, and fixing mistakes in the dances while talking through a microphone. I have spent such a long time perfecting my ability to absorb criticism and correction that I have never taken the occasion to imagine myself as the instructor giving explicit directions. But consequently, getting to be on the other side of this performance experience was remarkably educational and satisfying.  

As I talked my girls through their jitters and apprehensions I felt myself being useful and proficient as their teacher and as their adviser. The girls in my Jazz dance (“A Little Party”) declared that they had used a whole bottle of glitter on their eyelids in order to dazzle the audience. “Do we look like we’re going to a party Miss Morgan?” I could only smile and reply “you girls look like you will be attending quite the soiree this afternoon.” The fact that they truly cared about the way they would be perceived on stage out of their own desire made me incredibly proud.

And then when it came time, I was able to watch almost the entire show backstage. Having taught every level except the “fairies” (3-6 yr olds), I found myself beaming for the duration of the performance. I had played a role in this production and I could call some of the elated energy on stage “my” creation. But my happiness was not a possessive one. In no way did I see myself reflected back at me on the stage. What I saw were girls as individuals who were proud of what they had accomplished, possessing the confidence and the respect to perform in front of an audience.

This summer I began teaching the school summer program as a part of the  responsibilities that were included in my internship. But I greatly underestimated the possibility of artistic and scholastic fulfillment in being an educator. I witnessed and experienced so many moments teaching these children that made me question my own approach to dance and instruction. I will take this unique exposure to teaching with me as I return to the University environment, thinking about tackling my own learning experience with the same energy and perseverance as the students at Mystic Ballet School.

-photos taken by Alejandro Ulloa 

11

Aug

The Mystic Outdoor Arts Festival, run by the Mystic Chamber of commerce, was celebrating its 56th year this weekend with two hundred and fifty artists taking up a two-mile residence in Mystic’s historic district. The original works of art, both wacky and traditional, drew quite the crowd to downtown Mystic on this beautiful summer Sunday. 

The rest of the Beckwith family have made their way up to Mystic for a well deserved vacation! We started our visit off with incredible food at Ford’s Lobsters in Noank, CT.

There is nothing better than discovering new eateries by the water with family and friends. The grilled ahi tuna burger with wasbi sauce was the finishing touch to such a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. 

09

Aug

Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out

Here is the promotional video for this summer’s festival at Jacob’s Pillow