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Beyond The Barre: Sean Omandam

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Sean Omandam

Today’s Beyond The Barre conversation is with Sean Omandam, a corps de ballet dancer at Colorado Ballet, with a killer split jump, an energetic personality and infectious laugh. He graciously took the time in between his full schedule of rehearsals for this year’s Nutcracker to chat with me.

KH: Tell me a little about yourself?

SO: I’m from Fresno, CA and I went to school in Florida for ballet training.

KH: How long have you been with the Colorado Ballet?

SO: I moved to Colorado in 2004. They found me when I was in school and offered me a job, so I’ve been here ever since.

KH: How did you get into ballet?

SO: When I was a kid, my parents stuck me into everything from dance to acting to painting to piano and then slowly, one by one, those things kind of trailed off and dance and ballet are the ones that stuck with me.

KH: What do you eat for breakfast?

SO: I don’t like breakfast. I usually skip breakfast, but if I do eat it, I would probably have an egg with sausage and toast. Usually I just have my coffee and tea and go. I love brunch though. On the weekends I’m up for brunch. I love going to Jelly over on 13th and on Sundays I love going for Dim Sum.

KH: If I gave you $100,000 what would you do with it?

SO: I’d pay off my condo mortgage first, put some away in savings; practical things. But other than that, if I didn’t have to worry about those things, I would travel the world. Last summer I went to Japan but I would love to go around the rest of Southeast Asia, Thailand and Cambodia.

KH: If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 items, what would you bring?

SO: I would bring my iPod to have music with me all the time.  A notepad and then I’d find something on the island to make something to write with and I would bring a really good pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots. I hate the feeling of my feet on really awkward surfaces.

KH: What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

SO: Energetic, shy and awkward.

KH: What’s your favorite thing about Denver?

SO: I love the food scene and trying out new restaurants here.

KH: Do you have a hidden talent?

SO: I guess I’m a pretty good cook and I like to make videos on the side.

KH: How did you get into doing videos?

SO: I think I just picked up a camera and went along with it and started shooting videos of friends while we were out on trips to have keepsakes to look back on.

KH: What is your favorite dish you like to make?

SO: I usually like to make a lot of Asian foods but I love making this oxtail stew that my dad taught me how to make when I was a kid. It’s a favorite of mine that he makes when I go home, so now that I know how to make it myself, when I want to feel a little nostalgic and want something that reminds me of home especially in winter and fall months, I’ll make that. 

KH: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

SO: Going back to how shy I am. When people see me on stage I’m usually outgoing and really energetic but when I’m on my own or with friends I kind of sit back and let other people do the work of entertaining.

KH: What does your perfect day look like?

SO: Sleeping in, a nice long hot shower and brunch with friends. Then I’d take a nap because I always get that food coma after a really good brunch after that dinner and drinks into the night.

KH: Sleep and eat that’s all you need.

SO: Yes, that seems to be a common theme, right?

KH: What’s the last song you listened to?

SO: The Greatest by Sia. That one pumps me up and gets me going before work and everything.

KH: What is your favorite movie?

SO: “Mother," it’s a South Korean drama. It’s kind of odd and quirky, but still a little comedic. It’s about a mom who goes to whatever lengths to save her son who’s in an odd predicament.

KH: Do you have a favorite book?

SO: I don’t. I haven’t read a book in a long time oddly enough but the last book I read was “S” by Doug Dorst and J.J Abrams.

KH: What inspires you to push past your limits?

SO: Wanting to improve upon myself every day. I think we all have that in common, we always want to do better, and we want to keep pushing ourselves. We run into these stumbling blocks or we think that we’ve plateaued and as dancers we keep pushing ourselves knowing there’s another crest that we can rise up to beyond that. Even though I think I can’t, I know that I can keep pushing myself.

KH: If you hadn’t chosen this career, what would you be doing?

SO: I would want to be an architect or cook. Something that’s still creative. I think I’ll always have that aspect of me that wants to do something creative and artistic in some form, whether it’s with my body or hands.

KH: Words you live by (life motto)

SO: I always tell myself that I can do it; I can keep going before I get on stage. I can do anything that I find challenging. I’m always reaffirming myself that I’ve got this.

KH: What advice would you tell your 10 year old self?

SO: To take the advice given to you with a grain of salt. As a dancer, you can always hear these negative things and it’s up to you to filter out what’s actually useful and what’s negative and will put you down.

KH: This being your 12 season with the company, what roles are you performing and what are you most excited about with this year’s Nutcracker?

SO: I play Fritz, Solider Doll, and mouse, also I’m in Chinese, Marzipan and Russian divertissements. My favorite would be Russian because it’s high energy and a lot of fun and a big crowd-pleaser. I’m excited knowing how much joy everyone gets from it during the holiday season and that it’s a part of family’s traditions. It’s heartwarming to hear that The Nutcracker is something that sticks with everyone and that we are a part of that at Colorado Ballet.

Save on Nutcracker tickets today!

Monday, November 21, 2016
Still haven't gotten your Nutcracker tickets? Don't wait any longer!



Save 15% off your Nutcracker tickets by using promo code: SNOW



*Promo valid on all performances. Seats are subject to availability. Not valid in combination with other offers or towards past purchases. Limit 6 tickets per purchase*



The Nutcracker - by the numbers

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nutcracker load-in 3-day timelapse

Monday, November 14, 2016

This is a 3-day timelapse of Colorado Ballet loading in the sets, backdrops and props for The Nutcracker at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in 2015.  Visit coloradoballet.org.

Colorado Ballet visits Children's Hospital Colorado

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank you to Children's Hospital Colorado for producing this video of our visit this week as part of the From the Page to the Stage Program!

Colorado Ballet to host Firebird Gala in February

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Colorado Ballet will host the Firebird Gala at 6 p.m. on February 23, 2017 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  This Firebird-themed event will take place during the run of Colorado Ballet’s production of Ballet MasterWorks, which includes Firebird and two other ballets.

 

The event will begin with cocktails in the Chambers Grant Salon followed by entertainment on the stage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  Colorado Ballet’s dancers will perform excerpts from Ballet MasterWorks as well as the world premiere of a new short work inspired by presenting sponsor ARROW Electronics.

  

“We are thrilled to have ARROW Electronics as the presenting sponsor for our Colorado Ballet Firebird Gala,” said Denise Sanderson, Gala Chair.  “As part of our entertainment, Colorado Ballet’s Ballet Mistress Sandra Brown has choreographed a new work to be performed to ARROW Electronics’ Five Years Out symphony overture, composed by Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s former resident conductor Scott O’Neil.”  

  

After the entertainment, guests will participate in a paddle raise and a live auction of five experiential items.

   

“I am thrilled to be part of the second Colorado Ballet Gala to be held at the Ballet’s home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House,” said Susan Stiff, Colorado Ballet Development Officer.  “This year’s live auction will focus entirely on one-of-a-kind experiences such as a weekend at The Broadmoor including the use of a Maserati, to a dinner for 10, prepared by a celebrity chef, served in an exclusive private home.” 

  

Immediately following the live auction, guests will enjoy dinner in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House lobby and second level balcony.

  

Tickets and sponsorships are available.  According to Sanderson, there are even Gala sponsorship levels that include underwriting a Gala ticket for one or more of Colorado Ballet’s professional dancers.  By underwriting a dancer, guests have the opportunity to interact with members of the Company during the Gala in addition to watching them perform.

  

The Firebird Gala will raise money to support Colorado Ballet’s professional Company, Academy and Education and Community Engagement programs.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.coloradoballet.org/gala.  

  

Cocktail attire is recommended.

Maria Mosina by Allen Birnbach

Beyond The Barre: Kevin Gaël Thomas

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Kevin Gael Thomas

Beyond The Barre is an intimate, insightful and sometimes funny conversation with Colorado Ballet’s spectacular dancers.

Today’s conversation is with Kevin Gaël Thomas, newly promoted soloist who has graced the stage in performances of The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and La Sylphide, to name a few.

On the first day back from break, Kevin sat down with me in Studio 8. Upon meeting Kevin, I could tell that he is very humble, genuinely kind and full of wisdom. He speaks with so much passion about the people he loves, dancing of course and travel. We quickly bond over our mutual love for travel, sharing stories, reminiscing on incredible adventures and celebrating the beauty of immersing yourself into a new culture.

KH: You’ve been in Colorado since 2007, but you’re originally from France, what do you miss most about France?

KGT: The food and quality of restaurants. I really miss taking the time to eat, you’re not going to eat in 30 minutes and just go but you’re really going to sit down and have a conversation.

KH: How did you know you wanted to dance ballet?

KGT: My mom is a huge fan of Grease the musical and she used to play it and I remember seeing Olivia John Newton and John Travolta just dancing and there was that beat and I would get up and start dancing. I would start improvising and dance my heart out.

Across from where I lived was an art school where the young gentlemen were singing and the young ladies were dancing. I got into that program and was singing for an entire year until they came to my parents and said, “You know, Kevin is very enthusiastic, and he’s a sweet little guy but I’m not sure singing is quite his talent. We should try to put him into the ballet program.” So because I couldn’t sing I ended up studying dance.

KH: What do you eat for breakfast?

KGT: Coffee, croissant and a banana. Café and croissant is very French, it’s a cultural thing I grew up with.

KH: If I gave you $100,000 what would you do with it?

KGT: I would spend a month in Brazil with all my peeps. We’d rent a villa or castle and party on. I’d have the time of my life with all the people I love.

KH: That sounds like a blast!

KGT: Yea, I love to share. I just lost my grandmother during Swan Lake and it made me realize how we get upset over tiny details but in the end what matters is being alive and healthy. I guess when she died the message I got was to keep sharing, keep loving. The more you love the more alive you feel. More than having the best job or $100,000, spreading love, that’s the true goal.

KH: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

KGT: Sincere, passionate, and determined.

KH: If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring?

KGT: I would bring an MP3 that can last forever so that I could have music with me all the time. I'd have great dancers I could choreograph on because I choreograph all the time, and I would have the woman I love.

KH: What’s your favorite thing about Denver?

Being at the theater and performing. I feel I can connect with the most people in 5 minutes, I can dance for 5 minutes not needing to talk to the audience but I feel we shared something together. 

KH: Do you have a hidden talent?

KGT: I played piano for 10 years, I choreograph and I write poetry but only in French, not English yet. For some reason it’s harder to express the complexity of what I feel when I write in English. I grew up on the French Riviera, close to Nice. I wrote a poem after the attack on July 14 and also choreographed a 20 min ballet called ‘Riviera’ as homage to the victims.

KH: What is your favorite movie?

KGT:  Leon: The Professional. I love the complexity that I find in films because I can relate to it, like our lives it’s not just black and white but there are so many grey areas. Also, Dracula, I’m a huge Gary Oldman fan, talk about complex characters.

KH: If you hadn’t chosen this career, what would you be doing?

KGT: I would be a musician because I played piano for 10 years and I was just as good as in dance and had the training but I end up choosing dance because I had the opportunity to come to America.

KH: What are words you live by?

KGT: “Enjoy while it lasts.” Nothing ever lasts; even your deepest depression moments. It’s going to go away because somebody’s going to give you that phone call or that one person is going to look at you and it’s going to be so comprehensive and all of a sudden you feel like you’re not alone anymore. I’m one of those guys where I’m not just going to just take a bite but I will close my eyes and savor it. It can be a New York cheesecake or potato gratin it doesn’t matter but I really like to savor things.

KH: Why do you dance?

KGT: It’s the best way for me to express my deepest emotions. When my grandmother died, I got back in the studio and told myself that I would dance for her and that helped me so much.

KH: What inspires you?

To see others on stage or in the studios transcend themselves. When I see those dancers who are able to take one moment of their lives and make something out of it all of a sudden I feel they transcend themselves. It’s not about what you see it’s about what you can perceive, what you can sense and I think that’s the beauty of the art.

KH: What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

KGT: Never let go of your dreams. Believe in your dreams and believe it is truly possible. I remember when I was getting ready to come to America and I had big dreams and everybody looked at me like I was crazy, had I listened to those people… (Drops off)

"Also, smile at life and life will smile back."

Colorado Ballet adds additional 2017 performance of The Little Mermaid

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Colorado Ballet added an additional performance of its season closer The Little Mermaid due to the large number of tickets that have already been sold.  The additional performance will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 2, 2017 at the June Swaner Gates Concert Hall at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

“Two of the four performances of The Little Mermaid are already sold out and the other two are extremely full, so we decided to add a fifth performance to the run,” said Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs.  “We knew that The Little Mermaid would be popular, but we did not anticipate that we would almost be completely sold out of tickets before we even open The Nutcracker.  This is the first time that Colorado Ballet has ever presented this classic ‘under-the-sea’ fairy tale and we expect tickets for the additional performance will go quickly.”

The Little Mermaid features choreography by Tony Award nominated choreographer and Denver native Lynne Taylor-Corbett and original music by composer Michael Moricz.  The score includes narration and lyrics with the music to enhance the telling of the story.  Carolina Ballet premiered this version of Hans Christian Andersen’s story in 2012.  

This production will also open with a special performance of Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, choreographed by Clark Tippet featuring a vibrant violin ensemble composed by Max Bruch.

The Little Mermaid is perfect for families and anyone who enjoys a classic love story,” said Boggs.  “The colorful costumes, vigorous dancing and entertaining musical score will entertain audiences of all ages.  Plus, we open the production with Bruch, which has become an audience favorite.”

Performance dates and times:
Friday, March 31, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. - Limited availability
Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. - Limited availability
Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. - Sold out
Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 2 p.m. - Sold out
Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $30 to $155.  To purchase tickets, visit www.coloradoballet.org or call 303-837-8888 ext. 2.

Dana Benton by Allen Birnbach

Sharon Wehner discusses Rhythm & Grace - Dance for Parkinson's Disease class

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sharon Wehner discusses Rhythm & Grace - Dance for Parkinson's Disease class at Colorado Ballet.

Rhythm & Grace is a partnership between Parkinson Association of the Rockies and Colorado Ballet. The methods employed by the Rhythm & Grace program encourage participants to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating and creative, and improve quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s. For more information, visit http://coloradoballet.org.

Colorado Ballet seeks schools and organizations for free live streaming of The Nutcracker on December 2

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Colorado Ballet seeks schools and organizations throughout Colorado and out-of-state to participate in a free remote live stream of its student matinee performance of The Nutcracker at 11 a.m. MST on December 2.

Sites eligible for the live stream include: public, charter and private schools (ECE-12th grade); colleges and universities; as well as hospitals, homeless shelters and non-profit organizations that serve children and youth.  

“Interested schools and organizations are welcome to sign up online to watch Colorado Ballet’s live presentation of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker,” said Samantha Hyde, Colorado Ballet Director of Education.  “The in-person student matinee performance of The Nutcracker student matinee is by invitation only, so students, teachers, and patients who might otherwise be unable to see live ballet performances will have the opportunity to watch Colorado Ballet live on December 2.  The performance includes full sets, costumes and a live orchestra.  Plus, we offer study guides with suggested activities and discussion questions, so the live stream is an excellent opportunities to study one of the most beloved ballets of all time.  This is also our last live stream matinee during the 2016-2017 season.”

This is the second season that Colorado Ballet has offered live streaming of its student matinee series.  Colorado Ballet offered a free live stream of Swan Lake on October 6, which reached approximately 3,450 participants in 26 states and 6 countries including Mexico, Jamaica, Barbados, England, France and Japan.  During the 2015-2016 season, Colorado Ballet reached approximately 7,700 participants in 14 Colorado counties, 30 states and 6 countries including Ecuador, Ireland, England, Greece, Italy, and Canada through the live stream of the student matinees.

“We have received amazing feedback from schools and organizations who participated in the first season of live streaming the student matinee series,” said Hyde.  “Not only did we hear back that the video and audio quality of the live stream was excellent, but some participants commented that they felt like they had front row seats.  Teachers told us that we were changing lives and helping children to love and appreciate the arts.  It was so rewarding for us to hear that children of all ages were mesmerized by the performances and we inspired children to dance and twirl after watching the shows.  We heard that we provided something that could be understood in any language and we cannot wait to offer the free live streaming opportunities again this season.”

Interested schools and organizations should visit http://coloradoballet.org/education/live-stream and fill out the form at the bottom of the page.  For more information, contact Samantha Hyde at samantha.hyde@coloradoballet.org.

About The Nutcracker

Colorado Ballet’s 56th annual production of The Nutcracker will feature more than 300 costumes, 31 Company dancers, 25 Studio Company dancers, 76 Academy dancers, and timeless choreography paired with Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.  The Nutcracker features lavish costumes, exuberant dancing, whimsical battles, hypnotizing snow flurries, sumptuous sets, and a little bit of magic. The total run time with one intermission is 2 hours and 5 minutes.

The intermission for The Nutcracker will feature live interviews with artistic staff and dancers for organizations participating in the live stream.

 

Students participating in 2015 live stream of  "The Nutcracker"

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