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10 Questions with Domenico Luciano

Monday, May 15, 2017

From the last movie he cried watching to why he dances, step into the world of Principal Dancer Domenico Luciano.

Maria Mosina wins Bonfils-Stanton Award

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recently-retired Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Maria Mosina is one of three Colorado arts leaders that will be honored at the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation's Annual Awards Luncheon.

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation believes extraordinary arts and leadership are essential to building a vibrant Colorado. The Annual Awards Program recognizes significant contributions by remarkable Coloradans as Artists, through their Community Service in the Arts, and who impact Science and Medicine using the Arts. This year’s honorees will receive a $35,000 award for their exceptional work, inspiration to others and dedication to driving Colorado’s arts and culture to new heights.

Colorado ballerina Maria Mosina is this year’s Artist Award honoree. Born in Moscow, Maria has been a professional dancer for 26 years, performing every major role in all the great ballets and appearing on stages around the world including Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. Her most enduring impact, however, has been on Colorado and the Colorado Ballet. 

As the principal ballerina for Colorado Ballet, Maria has delighted audiences and inspired young dancers for 21 seasons. Since her arrival in Denver in 1995, Maria’s artistry, professionalism and her ability to transpose a role on stage have set her apart from other ballerinas, and has helped to make Colorado Ballet truly exceptional. Maria brings a performance level to the stage in Denver that one would only find in major ballet companies in cities around the world.

Retiring at the end of the 2016/17 season, Maria will move into a teaching and coaching role, one that she first embraced during Colorado Ballet’s Summer Intensive Program in 1996. As Maria says, “I will dance forever, but now is the time to give my knowledge and experience to younger generations of dancers. I wish to mentor others as many mentored me over the years. It’s time for younger dancers to step in and dance for the Colorado audience.” Maria is an active ballet instructor throughout the United States, and has participated as a master teacher and judge for the Youth American Grand Prix. 

Maria has been highlighted in numerous magazine articles, and was a featured dancer on the cover of Dance Magazine. She graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia and holds a bachelor's degree in methodology and pedagogy from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.  

The Community Service in the Arts Award goes to Stephen Seifert, who has been a visionary and passionate leader in the Denver arts community for nearly 30 years. Bonfils-Stanton Foundation will present The Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program at University of Colorado’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities with the Science, Medicine and the Arts Award. The Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program is an intellectual space, cultural site and accessible resource for the campus, for colleagues and for the community.

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation will honor the three individuals during their 32nd annual Awards Luncheon on May 19.

Beyond The Barre: Francisco Estevez

Friday, May 05, 2017

By Kendra Harris

Francisco Estevez is a man of many talents. On top of being a soloist with Colorado Ballet, he impressively balances being married while running a successful photography business and being the proud parent of two dogs. In between the season ending and him heading into the summer, I sat down with Francisco to get to know him more Beyond the Barre.

*This interview has been edited from its original format for structure and clarity.

KH: Let’s talk about some of your favorites. What is your favorite restaurant?

FE: It’s a tossup between Fruition and Rioja. I just discovered Rioja on Larimer Square a couple of weeks ago and it’s very good.

KH: What’s your favorite movie?

FE: I don’t think I have one, I go through phases. Right now I like LaLa Land but before that I liked Star Wars, especially “The Return of The Jedi.”

KH: What’s your favorite book?

FE: “Being Wrong.” It’s written by my best friend's aunt, she used to work for the New Yorker and she wrote a book about the tendencies of people to not admit their wrong and how that’s very limiting for a society.

KH: What would your last meal on earth be?

FE: Pepperoni Pizza!

KH: What are your non-dance hobbies?

FE: Going out to restaurants, especially in Denver because of the variety and high quality and photography. I don’t really have much time for actual hobbies but I like drawing a lot and painting.

KH: What is the biggest misconception about being a professional ballet dancer?

FE: People think we do something else as well, that we must have an outside job to support ourselves, that’s not true and necessary. We’re fortunate enough to be in a company that supports of us well. I think people always see it as something you do and then you move on because it’s not your real job. It is our job and we do get paid for it. On a lighter note, I think the second most misconstrued thing is that men go on pointe, we don’t at all unless you’re in Trockadero, which is an all-male company that does pointe.

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

FE: I’d buy all the camera equipment that I wanted. I’d buy something nice for my wife, I’d donate to a charity we both believed in, definitely something to do with animals or homeless people or refugees. Then we’d have to see what we’d do if there was any left over.

KH: Three words to describe yourself?

FE: Passionate, curious and sometimes stubborn

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

FE: I would probably be doing something either in economics or architecture, maybe law. But once I stop doing this career I think I’ll go into photography full-time.

KH: What would you tell your younger self?

FE: To not be so independent. Family is very important and I think, especially in this career if you dedicate yourself from a young age, you tend to leave home early and that requires a lot of independence and growing up early. Sometimes I wish that I had not stayed home longer to be with my family but had that relationship a little bit longer so that I felt tethered to them. It’s not that I don’t love them or anything like that, I do and I enjoy spending time with them but it’s easy for me to be on my own and I sometimes go a long time without talking to them and I feel bad about that. Yet, it also feels normal to me so I’d tell myself to make that a priority and get in the habit of constantly being in communication with my family especially in this career because you’re most likely not going to be in the same city.

KH: What are five of your favorite things?

FE:

  1. Cameras
  2. Movies
  3. Trying different foods
  4. Puppies are a big one
  5. Traveling.

KH: What is your favorite destination?

FE: I really like Europe a lot. London’s nice for short visits because it’s very gloomy, but it’s nice to have the culture and everything’s very organized. It seems like they have their priorities in order. Spain will always have a special place in our hearts, that’s where my wife and I met. And also, my home town Ecuador.

KH: What’s your ritual before a performance?

FE: I don’t really have one. I try to steer away from rituals. I don’t like hyping it up for myself because I like to be relaxed. I used to get really worked up about it and it didn’t help, if anything it made things worse on stage. I tried one time to be relaxed about it and my performances started going a lot better. And I have a lot more fun on stage and less headache beforehand.

KH: What do you love about Denver?

FE: I like the weather and that it feels like its growing. You can feel that the energy and city is expanding, it feels like there’s a lot of potential for projects and things that may happen. I think that’s exciting because it doesn’t feel that it’s dead or standing still. I also like the little microcosms of different neighborhoods, every neighborhood is different and it’s nice to have that type of variety in one city. I also like the proximity of the mountains as well.

KH: Words to live by?

FE: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think that’s important. I try to be invested in things not to just be a passenger. Be active in your own life and in the lives of those around you. Try to be genuine and nice.

KH: What are your summer plans?

FE: We’re (him and his wife Tracy Jones) going to travel somewhere, maybe Europe but we haven’t decided yet. We teach ballet in different summer programs, so we’ll be traveling around doing that and then for five weeks every summer we work with a company that does contemporary and religious dance. Other than that, I’ll fill my summer up with photography work.

Colorado Ballet Presents: Christophor Moulton Promoted

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Christophor Moulton talks about what it means to be promoted to Soloist with Colorado Ballet.

 

He joined Colorado Ballet's Studio Company in 2009, was promoted into the Company in 2010 and was promoted to Soloist in 2017. During his time he has worked with esteemed choreographers, Val Caniparoli, Amy Seiwert, Edwaard Liang, Ben Stevenson, Stephen Mills, and Michael Pink. He has performed the roles of Lovers in Christopher Wheeldon’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Step Sister in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Arthur in Michael Pink’s Dracula, Hilarion in Giselle, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, and Red in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1.

 

#WhereAthleteMeetsArt

Colorado Ballet Presents: Tracy Jones Promoted

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Tracy Jones shares her journey of becoming a Soloist with Colorado Ballet.

Tracy joined Colorado Ballet in 2013. That June, she was named one of 10 “Stars in the Corps” by Pointe Magazine.

Her notable roles with Colorado Ballet include Zulma in Giselle, Arabian in The Nutcracker, Summer Fairy in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Principal couple in Sandra Brown's The Last Beat, Hermia and Scherzo Fairy in Christopher Wheeldon’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pas De Deux and 3rd Girl in Jerome Robbin’s Fancy Free, Effie in La Sylphide, Caterpillar in Septime Webre's ALICE (in wonderland), The Muse in Dominic Walsh's Wolfgang (for Webb), Gerald Arpino's Light Rain Pas de Deux, Pas de Trois and Big Swans in Swan Lake, Sea Witch in Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s The Little Mermaid, Dark Angel in George Balanchine’s Serenade and 5th Pas de Deux in Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort.

#WhereAthleteMeetsArt

Colorado Ballet Presents: Asuka Sasaki Promoted

Monday, May 01, 2017

Behind the scenes footage of the moment Asuka Sasaki was told she was being promoted to Principal dancer with Colorado Ballet.

 

She joined Colorado Ballet's Company in 2005, was promoted to Soloist in 2010 and was promoted to Principal in 2017. With Colorado Ballet, she has worked with accomplished choreographers such as Val Caniparoli, Eldar Aliev, Michael Pink, Ben Stevenson, Martin Fredmann, Lila York, Shelly Washington, Jessica Lang, Dwight Rhoden, Edwaard Liang and Amy Seiwert. Sasaki has danced many soloist roles with the Company. Her notable roles include, Clara and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, Mercedes and Flower Girl in Don Quixote, Gulnara in Le Corsaire, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, Myrta and Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, Fleur de Farine, Miettis Fairy and diamond in The Sleeping Beauty, Autumn Fairy and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Red and Pink Couple in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Soloist in George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco and Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Nutrition with Arianna Ciccarelli

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Arianna Ciccarelli

If you’ve been curious about how a ballet dancer eats, keep scrolling to find out from Arianna Ciccarelli. She also shares some of her favorite recipes!

My nutrition plan varies from rehearsal weeks to performance weeks but it looks something like this:

Rehearsal day

Breakfast 6:45 a.m.
Coffee
Chia seed pudding

Snack 11 a.m.
Kashi granola bar

Lunch 2 p.m.
Hard-boiled egg
Toast with avocado

Dinner 7:30 p.m.
Quinoa roasted vegetables and baked chicken

9 p.m.
Dark chocolate or popcorn

Performance day

Breakfast 7 a.m.
Decaf coffee on performance days
Oatmeal with almond butter and banana

Snack 11 a.m.
Cucumber and hummus

Lunch 3 p.m.
Berry smoothie with protein powder

Snack 5 p.m.
 (last snack until after a performance so I have a lot of time to digest)
A handful of pretzels
Piece of chocolate

Dinner 10 p.m. (after show)
Chicken or vegetable curry

Banana Chia Seed pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup  milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup, to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mash up the banana with a fork until all the lumps are gone. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour. Enjoy!

Lentil Spinach Coconut Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tin coconut milk (14 fl. oz.)
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • Juice of half a lemon (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander (optional)
  • salt to taste

Method

  1. In a large lidded pan or skillet, heat olive oil over a medium heat and add onions. Sauté until softened, about 4-5 mins. Add Garlic and ginger, and cook for a minute longer
  2. Add the curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper to the pan and give everything a good stir so the onions are coated in the spices.
  3. Next, add the lentils, coconut milk, water (or stock), and cover. Gently simmer for about 20 minutes stirring frequently (I find that my lentils stick to the bottom of the pan otherwise). If the mixture looks dry at any point, stir in a few more splashes of water.
  4. After 20 mins, fold in the spinach and cook for a minute or two more until the spinach wilts. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan
  5. Finally add lemon juice and coriander if using, and adjust the seasonings to taste.
  6. Serve with rice or naan.

What’s the most important food in a dancer’s nutrition?

Every person and dancer responds differently to every food! I think that is most important to just listen to your body and plan your meal plan accordingly. Many people assume that dancers are all on crazy diets, but moderation is the only “diet” I live by.  We exercise 6 hours a day, and because of this I need to eat a healthy balanced diet, however I never deny myself of any food! I have a major sweet tooth and probably have chocolate of some sort every day!

Ballet Off Season with Domenico Luciano

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Domenico Luciano by Allen Birnbach

After a record-breaking season packed with four incredible productions, you can imagine a dancer needs time to recoup and relax. I sat down with Domenico Luciano to talk about how he spends his summers off.

What were some highlights for you this season?

Swan Lake. It was my first time dancing the Prince in the full version so definitely that. I enjoyed Petite Mort and Serenade. Also, The Nutcracker was great because of unfortunate injuries, I got to dance with two different partners so I got to experience the stage for more shows.

What did you learn this year?

To keep doing what I’m doing, to focus and work hard and to trust that things will get better.

What are you plans this summer?

I’ll be guesting with Oakland Ballet in May for their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I’ll be playing the role of Oberon. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not familiar with the company, so I’m excited to meet new people and experience a new company and learn and share with them.

Do you have any travel plans?

I’m trying to go to Italy to visit my family early July.

How do you stay in shape during the off season?

I try to take class every day, yoga, go to the gym, lift weights, and eat better. It’s very important to try to stay in shape during time off, it makes it easier to come back to a full schedule. With age, you learn and gain experience and I learned over the years it’s best to be disciplined and keep it going rather than to let it go and try to pick back up again. It’s easier to maintain and stay in shape through the summer and it helps with injuries.

Words for the summer

Swim suits, speedo and sun!

Stay tuned for more from our dancers on their summer plans!

Ballet Off Season with Tracy Jones

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tracy Jones by Francisco Estevez Photography

After a record-breaking season packed with four incredible productions, you can imagine a dancer needs time to recoup and relax. I sat down with Tracy Jones to talk about how she spends her summer off.

First, what were some highlights for you this season?

For me the biggest highlight was Ballet Masterworks, especially dancing Serenade. It was huge for me because it was the first big ballet I did on stage over ten years ago. To be back doing it again and doing a principal part was a great experience. Also, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort has been on my ballet bucket list forever. In the past, it’s been hard selling tickets to Ballet Masterworks, so to see the audience’s reactions was amazing. People always enjoy it but it never gets as much credit as it should and I feel this time, it really showed Denver not only those masterworks but also what Colorado Ballet can do and the talent we have here. It was really rewarding. 

What did you learn about yourself this season?

This season, I had the attitude of I need to do this for me and for the audience more so. The past couple of years, I’ve been very worried about what people think of me as a dancer or what the staff think. My focus was on doing really well for other people instead of remembering why I do this art form and that’s essentially for me and sharing that with the audience. That was the mentality I applied to this season. Also, that hard work does pay off. Hard work and perseverance will get you results. 

So, what are your summer plans?

We start with Fancy Footwork in the first week of the off-season, which is a show the dancers put on themselves. That’s always fun to be involved in. Also, Francisco and I have a lot of teachings scheduled at different summer intensives and I’ll be helping Francisco with his photo shoots this summer.

We also dance with a Sacred Dance Ensemble, which combines ballet with ancient rituals and brings it together. Every summer we do it for about 5 weeks. It’s nice because it breaks the summer up and it gives you a chance to dance in the middle of the layoff. I am also the marketing coordinator of that company, which is exciting because I can explore a different side. It’s fun to explore that creativity which is why I like the off-season, you get to do things you’re sometimes too busy to do during the rest of the year.

We bought a new house so we’ll be moving and furniture shopping which I love to do.

Stay tuned next week to hear from Domenico Luciano on how he spends his summer!

9News Storytellers: principal dancer retiring after 21 years with Colorado

Monday, April 10, 2017

This story about Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Maria Mosina's retirement appeared on 9News' Storytellers segment.

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