I wanted to share another video from Mark Dendy's Ritual Cyclical, which I was a part of this summer. As you watch the video you will see that the dancers are sectioned off into different groups that include hipsters, tree people, water people, wall streeters, opera goers, homeless people, and more! We all had our designated areas throughout Lincoln Center Plaza so that even with the crowds of people that attended, everyone had something to watch no matter where they were! Enjoy!
For the first time in several years I saw a live full length performance of The Nutcracker. I have to say I am glad I waited awhile to see a performance. Despite the fact that many veteran dancers cringe when they hear the music playing while holiday shopping at their favorite department store, I have always found the ballet to be quite magical. As I moved away from ballet in my own performing career, I have to say this was probably one of the more difficult things for me to give up and hearing the music always gives me a feeling of nostalgia.
I remember my first Nutcracker quite clearly. Being too young to audition, another little dancer and I were asked to join the production when they were in need of a couple of extra children to come out from under the giant hooped skirt of Mother Ginger who towered over us on stilts. The part has a mere couple of minutes of stage time in the second act of a Ballet that takes a couple of hours. This gave my little friend and I time to explore and get lost in all of the nooks and crannies of the Civic Center in Salisbury, MD where the performance took place. It also left us plenty of time to watch the rest of the show with all of the older dancers who we admired in their beautiful costumes.
From then on, like for many dancers, performing in the Nutcracker became an annual tradition. It was always wonderful to finally get that part you had wanted for so many years and practically already knew from either understudying or watching it. Many a slumber party was spent with friends discussing who we thought would get what part the following year and certain parts became a right of passage.
Being passed up for the coveted roll of Clara as a younger dancer, I was thrilled to dance the roll my Senior year of high school in a version where Clara is magically transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy in the second act. I remember taking the role very seriously and spent hours studying the version with Gelsey Kirkland for acting tips. For me the responsibility of Clara was to take the audience back to a time of childish wonder as they experience her magical journey. I had three more opportunities to dance the roll while dancing with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland and the picture above is from my final performance in 2006. With me is Bryan Skates who is probably one of the most skilled and knowledgeable partners I have ever had the privilege of working with.
I hope everyone finds a way to tap into their own childish wonder this Holiday Season!
This summer I had the great privilege of taking part in Ritual Cyclical, a large scale, site specific work by Bessie and OBIE award-winning choreographer Mark Dendy. Designed for Lincoln Center's Hearst Plaza, the work was commissioned to open the Lincoln Center out of Doors Festival, and to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the American Dance Festival and the 40th anniversary of the Kronos Quartet. I wanted to share this video of one of the opening sections of the work, where almost all of the 80 dancers involved are improving their way through the crowds. Enjoy!
Stay tuned for pictures of my group dancing on the side of the Met!........
JENNIFER D. YACKEL