Interview with Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Dana Benton about "The Nutcracker."
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Interview with Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Dana Benton about "The Nutcracker."
Shelby Dyer, Morgan Buchanan and Dana Benton rehearse Dew Drop from "The Nutcracker."
Show us your teeth! Colorado Ballet's presents Dracula for an exclusive Halloween weekend run, Oct 31st through Nov 2nd. Sink your teeth into a bloody good time!
Directed and edited by Sean Omandam. Filmed by Francisco Estévez. Music: Lady Gaga - "Teeth"
We wanted to know how someone prepares to dance the role of Dracula, so we interviewed Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Domenico Luciano. He is one of the dancers who will jump into the role when Colorado Ballet presents Dracula later this month.
1. How do you prepare for the role of Dracula?
I got really excited as soon as I heard that DRACULA was on the schedule for this season. Over the summer I started doing some research on the subject. Although, I read the book many years ago, I wanted to familiarize myself again and looked for literature, plays, movies, ballet versions, to get as much knowledge about the story, as well as the time period and the characters. I read Stoker’s Dracula, and a few essays on the matter, I saw a few different movie versions, and I’m still on the look out for more material.
I have to also mention that from the first rehearsal, the Ballet Mistress Lorita Travaglia, that is staging the ballet, has already given me directions and guidance about the intentions and the meaning behind the movement. My partner Maria Mosina, has been very helpful and generous with me, she has danced the role of Mina Harker several times, and with many different partners, so she is able to help me out with both technical and artistic advice.
I believe that for approaching a role like the one of Dracula, a deep artistic preparation is required to have as many tools as possible, and have many options on how to deliver the character to your partner and for the audience.
2. Is Dracula the hero or the villain of the ballet?
After all the reading that I did for the past couple of months, I have to say that Dracula’s figure is very complex. Stoker, the author of the original novel, uses Dracula as a vehicle to shine light on the strengths and weaknesses of the human kind. One of the interesting messages in the Dracula tale is the comment about the human emotions suppressed. The way I see it, Dracula does not manipulate behavior or emotions, such as lust, aggression or fear, he simply brings out what already exists within the characters and invites them to be as they are naturally, free from any restraints.
Another interesting debate Stoker presents in the novel is the question of who is the monster and who is the man? The men in the story become savage-like as they decapitate Lucy and drive a stake through her heart.
He is also offering never-ending life, the fountain of youth in a way, a quest that the human species is repeatedly on. So, I am considering all of these facets that are presented in the novel as I build my interpretation of the character.
3. Why should people come see Dracula?
I think this version of DRACULA has an amazing theatrical power. I believe the audience it is going to have a rich and fulfilling experience through the combination of the dramatic musical score and strong and raw emotions from the artists.
For more information about Colorado Ballet's upcoming production of Dracula, click here.
|Artists of Colorado Ballet in "Dracula" by Terry Shapiro|
We sent out a questionnaire to our new dancers to get to know them a little better.
Here is the response from one of our new Corps de Ballet dancers, Emily Speed:
1. Where are you from?
The Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area
2. Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet?
I have danced with several different companies including Alabama Ballet, Ballet Tucson and Boulder Ballet. Before graduating, I trained with Marina Almayeva.
3. What did you do with your summer break?
My husband and I were married and he moved here to Denver. I also went with Kevin Wilson to Jackson, MS and competed in the USA international ballet competition there. We performed a classical pas de deux and a contemporary duet.
4. What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class?
My first dance class I was only 3 years old but didn't start my classical training until much later. I just remember I always loved dancing and performing.
5. What was your first ballet you remember attending?
It was a gala, but I remember they performed "Le Spectre de la Rose."
6. Who are your ballet role models? Dancers that inspire you.
I love watching Natalia Osipova because she is such an amazing technician and isn't necessarily what you first think of when you think of a ballet dancer.
7. Proudest moment in your ballet career?
It is hard to pinpoint one, but I am really proud to be where I am right now and it was a culmination of many events that has made me the dancer I am today.
8. Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?
Amanda McKerrow has always told me to just "stay present" on stage. It seems simple but for me it is always a good reminder to not think about what's already happened or what will and to truly focus on the role no matter how big or small.
9. Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch?
Don Quixote has so much life and is always fun to perform and I also loved performing Serenade. I love watching all the classics but especially Giselle, Swan Lake and La Bayadere.
10. Dream role?
Medora in Le Corsaire or Kitri in Don Quixote
11. What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
I really enjoy spending time with my family and husband. I love yoga, cooking, and traveling.
12. What are some of your indulgences?
13. Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals?
I get really chatty when I'm nervous or excited for a show but I like to have my hair done first and wait to finish my makeup until just before curtain. Depending on the part, I check certain sections from the piece on stage. If I do it well once I leave it there but I have to do it well once. I also like to say a quick prayer thanking God for the opportunity to do what I love.
14. What production(s) are you most excited about this year?
George Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco"!!!!!
15. What would you say to people who come to see the Colorado Ballet?
Denver is such a wonderful place with so many great things to do but there is something really special about participating in the arts. Thank you for watching and sharing in a wonderful part of this community.
Colorado Ballet promotes two of its Soloist dancers to Principals and adds six new Corps de Ballet dancers, for a total of 30 Company dancers.
Artistic Director Gil Boggs promoted Dana Benton and Domenico Luciano to Principals.
Benton is now in her 14th season with Colorado Ballet. In 2001, she joined Colorado Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member and was promoted to Soloist in 2007. Her notable roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Swanilda in Coppélia, Cow Girl in Rodeo, Ave Maria Pas de Deux, Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Gulnara in Le Corsaire, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, Lucy in Dracula, Princess Florine and Diamond Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, Peasant Pas in Giselle, Flower Girl and Cupid in Don Quixote, Hermia and Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the featured role in Amy Seiwert’s Traveling Alone.
Luciano is in his second season with Colorado Ballet. He joined Colorado Ballet as a Soloist during the 2013-2014 season after serving as a Principal dancer with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater in Houston. His repertoire includes many of the classical principal leads including Romeo, Paris, and Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet, Solor in La Bayadere, The Prince in The Nutcracker, Albrecht in Giselle, Onegin in Onegin, and Don Jose in Carmen, as well as several contemporary works.
Colorado Ballet’s new Corps de Ballet dancers include: Joshua Allenback, Ariel Breitman, Emily Dixon, Oliveira Fernanda, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch.
In addition to the new Corps de Ballet dancers, 20 Studio Company dancers will join the 30 professional Company dancers this season for the productions at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Colorado Ballet's Studio Company is a pre-professional training opportunity for dancers with the potential and desire to become professional dancers.
Colorado Ballet’s preview and repertory performance of An Evening Under the Stars will take place on August 16 at the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater. The company will officially open the 2014-2015 season with A Midsummer Night’s Dream on September 26 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
The dancers of Colorado Ballet will host Fancy Footwork from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10 at the Colorado Ballet Studios. The event has a suggested $10 donation at the door.
Join the dancers of Colorado Ballet for a one-night only show featuring pieces chosen by the dancers themselves. Selections will range from excerpts of the great classics to new contemporary works by choreographers within the Colorado Ballet family. Along with an awesome show, guests will have the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind items and experiences, in a silent auction, tailored by the Colorado Ballet dancers. Join us for what will surely be a great night of dancing and fun.
Photo: Tracy Jones, Kevin Hale and Sean Omandam
By Francisco Estevez Photography
Here is a promo video created by the dancers:
This video features artists of Colorado Ballet rehearsing Cinderella.