A POSTCARD From Michele Wiles on BalletNext’s Upcoming 2018 Season at New York Live Arts
Michele here, artist and BalletNext's artistic director, writing from New York where we’re cranking into full gear preparing for our spring season at New York Live Arts. This series of performances is special both for the company and for me personally, since it is my return to the stage after giving birth to my daughter last year.
Highlights from the season:
There are so many things I’m excited about this season. Each piece really has its own personality. I’m thrilled to be collaborating once again with eminent jazz musician Tom Harrell on Vibrer, which fuses classical ballet with the improvisational flow of jazz. The music for Vibrer is very colorful, it has a lot of attitude and jaggedness, and adds a unique quality to the ballet. All of the dancers are extremely happy and excited to dance it, and I love to hear that. I also am looking forward to the collaboration with the amazing dancer Bailey Anne Vincent. Bailey is deaf, and the piece we worked on together, Follin, incorporates American Sign Language into the ballet.
What the Audience Can Expect:
The audience can expect an underlining dedication and appreciation for the ballet technique, but on top of that, they can expect some amazing music and musicians who are going to be playing live the whole show. Each piece is going to have two musicians, whether it’s violin and piano or piano and trumpet. It’s fascinating to have classical music next to jazz, and the way in which all of these musical styles are paired with the ballet. Another piece, Experience, explores female partnering. One of the dancers Natalie, lifts another, Violetta. They make for a great team, but what they’re doing is an unusual sight for most. This is also the only piece that is not en pointe. Female partnering was part of the impetus of BalletNext and has been a staple of the company since its inception. It’s great that so much of the conversation now is about toying with and challenging gender preconceptions.
The audience will also feel a sense of community that arises from the dances, which mirrors the huge change in my personal life. There will be a lot of eye contact, closeness, and free dancing, but it will still be technical and tight.
How Motherhood Has Informed my Choreography:
BalletNext is a company of strong female dancers, and everyone has a voice and an opportunity to participate. I’ve found myself working even harder to create these channels of communication and give each dancer a sense of ownership, which is something that I want my daughter to also have and to grow up with.
Returning to the Stage:
I am going to be honest and say that it has not been easy. Giving birth is a life-changing and incredible experience, but your body goes through something very taxing. I’ve had to work hard to bring my body back to performance shape, both physically and mentally. My feet didn’t even want to go into pointe shoes for the first 5 months!
This is the longest I’ve taken to come back at any point in my life. I was still choreographing and working, but it was a process to try to figure everything out. This was a huge transformative experience that I’m happy for, but it raised a question that I think every dancer asks themselves at some point in their career, whether it’s in their 20s, 40s, or after a baby — how do I continue to do this?
That being said, I am very excited to be able to share these works both with our audience and with my daughter, it’s a whole new experience.