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Ballet Rising

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Ballet Rising

Casey Herd in The Dutch National Ballet's production of La Bayadère. Photo by Angela Sterling

Casey Herd in The Dutch National Ballet's production of La Bayadère. Photo by Angela Sterling

Years ago, it seemed most big stars in the ballet world came from places like Europe and North America with a few from other places like Japan, Cuba and Argentina. Nowadays the talent pool has expanded, and more and more big names are coming from countries like China, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and many more. There is an expansion underway due to globalization that seems like it will only continue and fuel the exposure to, and the passion for, international arts like ballet.  More and more dancers are coming from a wider range of ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. As ballet expands it is changing, and we want to take an in-depth look at what these forces are and bring their stories to global audiences. Ballet already speaks to people on a profound level, but imagine the level of engagement when people all over the world see ballet as something that represents them. How will they feel when ballet becomes something attainable? This is the beginning towards ballet becoming a truly global art form that welcomes all to take part and engage with dance and art lovers all over the world.



Come join the adventure and discover how classical ballet is rising in every corner of our planet: www.balletrising.com

 

 

Support this exciting new project at www.fundballet.com *Crowdfunding campaign begins April 18, 2019*

 

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Project In The Making

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Project In The Making

On my recent trip to India and Nepal I took a moment to remind my self and my friend Chris, who was sitting next to me on a flight from New Delhi to Kathmandu, how we were in the process of doing what we had always dreamt of doing many years before. Chris and I used to dance with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam. As much as we loved our profession and the art form of ballet, there were days that seemed to drag on and not much was being accomplished. We both have had the travel bug all of our lives and had both moved to Europe around the same time. We also began to study photography as our travels started to take us on bigger and bigger adventures. There were many occasions we would be sitting in the rehearsal studio wishing we were on an amazing adventure in some far away place working on exciting projects. On that flight we realised how we were in India and Nepal to carry out a mission we had talked about years ago.

We were in South Asia to film a short documentary on a ballet project I have been planning for some time. I had come in contact with a variety of people around the world trying to build ballet communities in places far from the traditional capitals of western art and dance. I thought how interesting it is that people in places like India would fall in love with the same form of dance that I did growing up in the mountains of Utah. I wondered what drove them to fall in love with ballet so much that they would go to such great lengths to build schools and organise performances and fight so hard to see it being done the right way. Not some cheap commercialised knockoff that makes a quick buck and injures the dancers. So many things became clear to me that in these areas of the world even the simplest things can be difficult. Things like making your own sprung floor or making this weird saucer shaped dress called a tu tu. Ballet is already hard but there are many things those of us growing up in Western European and North American cities really take for granted. I felt I wanted to tell their stories and do what ever I can to help them build their communities and connect them to the global dance scene. I want to give these thriving communities a moment in the spotlight to tell the world all the amazing things they are doing and look at what we in the major centres of western art can do to help.

I traveled with my friend Chris to meet Ritiak Chandra, the director of newly formed Elan Ballet in New Delhi, India. I contacted Ritika a year ago asking about teaching and dancing opportunities in India and since then her story has been the driving inspiration for this project. She is a very intelligent and driven person who cares deeply about ballet and giving opportunities to the masses. Chris and I had an amazing time in New Delhi filming the pilot video with Ritika and were both amazed to see how articulate and powerful a woman she can be. I believe that this project and ballet around the world as a whole will benefit greatly from having such a person like her to champion its development. 

After our time in New Delhi we planned to visit Kathmandu, Nepal. Chris was meeting his awesome wife Emily to go trekking in the Himalayas after our time filming and I wanted to revisit the city that had left such an impression on me years ago. I was very interested to see how the city was developing after the devastating earth quake in 2015. It was amazing on one hand to see how much work had been done but also how much was lost. In all the city is recovering well but it was so tragic to see how much was destroyed and how many people had lost someone close to them. The recovery is coming along but there is still a tremendous amount of work left to be done. I believed from my first visit that Nepalese people are as strong and resilient as they are kind and welcoming and I believe this country has a great future. Im very much looking forward to many more trips there in the future.


Durbar Square - Kathmandu, Nepal - 2011

Durbar Square - Kathmandu, Nepal - 2018


It was a hard schedule filming, talking, planning, teaching, packing, hiking, flying, driving, getting lost and battling traffic but every second was an experience to remember. We managed to fit some sleep in where we could. Now we are getting down to editing our film and developing the project so we hope to have more material out soon. Thank you so much for staying tuned and I hope you enjoy the content.

Casey




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A Dream Come True With A Bittersweet Twist

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A Dream Come True With A Bittersweet Twist

Photo by Angela Sterling

Photo by Angela Sterling

Today is a dream come true with a bittersweet twist. Today I will fulfil a dream that has its roots in a time when my interest in ballet consisted only of a select few classical ballets. Before I saw the ballet “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” I had little desire to dance anything other than a handful of classics. It was "In The Middle,” as we refer to it, that changed forever my perspective on ballet and dance as a whole. In 1999 I joined The Pacific Northwest Ballet looking to reinvigorate my love of dance after a disappointing start to my career in New York City. I learned that we would be dancing this already legendary ballet that season and it was just what I needed. The ballet would change me agin, not because of the choreography, but because I met a man who changed the way I felt about how to work. That man was there to stage the ballet and his name was Glen Tuggle. We were all very tuned into to what he was saying and what he wanted not only because we all really wanted to dance the ballet but because he had a way of working that light up the room and encouraged us all to push further and go harder simply because we were having fun. We loved what we were doing and he encouraged us to laugh and enjoy working our selves to death. “In The Middle” is a very difficult ballet. You have to be in shape or you will collapse in the middle of the stage and pass out! We were killing our selves and as soar as we were at the end of the day we couldn’t wait to get back into the studio and do it again. Glen wanted us to have fun and he gave us the confidence to do it well but also to do it our way. After this experience I began to open my eyes and from that point on I was known as dancer who never said no to trying something unusual. I danced ballets suspended from ropes. I danced ballets in the dark. I even did a pas de deux with a car! I went on to work with Glen several more times and we always had a great time woking our selves to the bone along side his witty but crass sense of humour. After joining The Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam Glen came to stage “Middle” and again the room was on fire with dancers pouring their hearts out and loving every second of it. It was in Amsterdam where my career seemed to come to an end as I was leaving the Dutch National Ballet with an ankle surgery and an uncertain future. I thought I wanted to continue dancing but at almost 40 I didn’t know how or if I could “climb the mountain again” and get back into shape. I called Glen and as always he had a way of lifting my spirits. I thought to my self at that time, thinking that it wasn’t possible, but if I could do any ballet just one more time what would it be? It didn’t take more more than a second to think, “Middle!” I was teaching in Mexico a year later when I had a conversation with my old colleague from Seattle, Patricia Barker, who is now directing The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and she asked me if I would be interested in coming to Wellington to dance “Middle.” I almost exploded with joy before I almost had a panic attack. I first thought YES, and then suddenly wondered if I could still do it! I never back down from a challenge so I began to climb the mountain and before I knew it I was on a plane to New Zealand. Getting my self back into form for such a difficult ballet hasn’t been easy but since arriving here I have been surrounded by a group of dancers and staff that could not be more welcoming. These dancers are exceptional and set a very high standard. They also have open minds and a will to excel and they embrace outsiders as if they are one of their own. It has been a real honour to be here and to work with such a wonderful group of artists who are also wonderful people. The stager, Thierry Guiderdoni, has brought that same wonderful energy to the studio that Glen brought and the dancers have responded to his critiques and encouragement with a sense of purpose and joy. Ive really enjoyed this experience working with Thierry, Patricia, my good friend Nadia Yanowsky and the dancers and staff of RNZB and I cannot begin to thank everybody enough for this dream come true. Sadly this dream is bittersweet as just a few days ago I learned that my dear friend Glen has passed away. I had just sent him an email telling him that I am dancing “Middle” again and how much I missed him. I miss you Glen but I know you are in a better place. I will always remember the joy and love of dance that you helped me find on so many occasions. I will be dedicating these performances of “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” to your memory.  This one is for you buddy!

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