Ballet Arkansas, the state's renowned professional ballet company, has emerged as a dynamic presenter of diverse dance repertoire throughout the region, combining the beauty and grace of classical ballet with the innovation and athleticism of contemporary movement. At the heart of the company is a magnetic ensemble of passionate artists who display raw power, maturity and technical brilliance on stage.
We had a chance to sit down with the creative team of Ballet Arkansas and ask them a few questions before their big performance this fall! Here's what they had to say...
Q&A with the CREATIVE TEAM
1. What inspired the creation of Ballet Arkansas?
Loraine Cranford founded Ballet Arkansas in 1978 as a resource to Arkansans for ballet performance viewing and educational opportunities. Over the years, numerous dancers, staff and board members have worked to keep Loraine’s vision alive; but it is only through the enduring support of the community that Ballet Arkansas continues to be the premiere dance resource for the state.
2. How does your work connect to the larger world?
The work of Ballet Arkansas connects to the larger world by expressing and communicating elements of human nature. This allows the community to reflect on their daily lives and the world around them, offering each audience member the opportunity to escape from reality into a world of beauty and inspiration. We desire to bring joy to the lives of the residents of the state of Arkansas through exhilarating performances, innovative choreography, superb educational programming and artistic excellence.
3. What types of cultural spaces/places do you draw creative inspiration from?
I feel that honest inspiration can be pulled from nearly everywhere. Locations of historical prominence or those featuring great natural beauty tend to bring forth the highest concentration of creativity in my work.
4. What is a typical rehearsal and/or performance day like?
A rehearsal and performance day is just the tip of the iceberg, in that it’s all the audience sees. The preparation, or the base of the iceberg, is where you see all of the work that breathes life into the artistry of the performance. Once we get into the theater, there is a lot of “hurry up and wait” throughout the rehearsal and pre-show process; but once the show gets going, it’s a rush of adrenaline! There is no other option but to be totally present in the moment. You can feed off of the audience’s energy, react to a moments that may surprise you and enjoy the culmination of the passion you poured into the process as it comes to fruition.
5. Pick 5 words—that start with the letter ‘B’—that best describe Ballet Arkansas.
Bold, Brilliant, Beautiful, Boundless and Breathtaking.
6. What is the best advice that you have been given?
The best advice that I have ever been given would simply be " it only takes once.” These words were uttered to me at a young age by no other than my father and ring true in so many ways. This saying echoes in my mind as I make press forward in my determinations and reminds me to be considerate of all variables when doing so.
7. Whom do you define as visionary?
I think to be given the title of "visionary" one must truly enhance and expand the field, which they are dedicated to. Within the dance world, there is a constant turning of the page, and what we know to be our movement vocabulary is morphing into a new language. Choreography today takes many forms and what is defined as "dance" is broadening to include a variety artistic mediums. I feel that choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Andonis Foniadakis and Akram Khan are great examples of choreographers that are paving new avenues forward within dance. I consider all great artists that have truly contributed to the form, and all are no less that visionary.
8. Can you tell us more about Emergence?
Emergence is a reflection of Ballet Arkansas' commitment to presenting a diverse repertoire for the state of Arkansas. Highlighting a regional hit, "Under the Lights" by Chris Stuart, a world premiere by 2017 Winter "Visions" winner Mariana Oliveira, the classical Paquita Grand Pas de Deux, the renowned Balanchine work "Valse Fantasie", and the electric "Obscura" by Kiyon Gaines, this performance is an introduction to the state's own premiere ballet company.
9. What do you hope the audience will take away from the performance?
In presenting a mixed repertory program, my hope is always that at least one of the works we present will resonate deeply with each audience member. I hope that our performance will provide each a great entertainment value while enriching their daily lives. Because ballet is a living art form, when we attend a performance we are blessed to be able to see something take life on stage. The beauty and magnificence of this provides us with a sense of escape from all the worries and stresses of the day-to-day grind. I hope that the audience can sit back, relax and witness the joy from each of our dancers as they do what they love to do best in sharing their love for live dance performance with the patrons of Walton Arts Center.
10. What songs, artists or styles of music are you currently listening to?
♪ Sinatra, Dean Martin, Schumann, Chopin, Otis Redding – Michael
♪ Louis Armstrong, Debussy, Sinatra, Haydn – Catherine
♪ The Drums, Electric Light Orchestra, Plastic Bertrand, Philip Glass, Jonas Crabtree, Hall & Oats – Erin
♪ “Tonite” by LCD Soundsystem, "Loca" by Shakira, “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers ft. Coldplay, “Wild Thoughts” by Rihanna, "Yours If You Want It" by Rascal Flatts, “My Girl” by Dylan Scott – Dancers
Ballet Arkansas' Emergence
at walton arts center
Friday, October 13 at 8pm
This innovative series brings groundbreaking artists and awe-inspiring performances to Northwest Arkansas… at a price that is right for the whole community! The performance includes a pre-show Creative Conversation, a post-show party with Ballet Arkansas and the popular Post-It® responses!
DON'T FORGET! 10x10 Arts Ambassador Memberships on sale now! Connect with the world of the performing arts on a whole new level. Membership includes early access to all 10 shows, the same seats at each performance, special invitations to member events, a 10x10 branded t-shirt and “ambassador” seats. You, as arts ambassadors, can invite someone new to the 10x10 journey. 2017-18 memberships are available now for $130.