Edgar Zendejas Leads The Company’s Return to the Studio Theatre
February 26th, 2016
Popular Studio Series Picks Up with Classic and Contemporary Works by
Stoner Winslett and Edgar Zendejas
MARCH 15-20, 2016 | RICHMOND BALLET STUDIO THEATRE | TICKETS
Richmond Ballet is pleased to announce that the Company will return to its own Studio Theatre with Studio Two, featuring Artistic Director Stoner Winslett’s Echoing Past and Realms of Amber, a world premiere work from Mexican-born choreographer, Edgar Zendejas. Studio Two, the second offering from this year’s popular Studio Theatre Series, runs March 15-20, 2016.
Edgar Zendejas will take up residence in Richmond once again with Realms of Amber, a new work that is both deeply spiritual and soulful, while bearing his own unique sense of cool and enviable calm. First introduced to Richmond audiences though the New Works Festival in 2014, Mr. Zendejas has found inspiration in some of the beliefs that are closest to his heart for his upcoming world premiere. “I follow a very strong spiritual path, and I believe that the soul or spirit of anybody – a woman or a man – is actually female,” explained Mr. Zendejas. “There’s an energy inside of you that’s female, which to me, means there is something that is good. I’m very attracted by this beauty, and by the beauty of women. And in my culture, Mexican culture, we celebrate women. They are icons – our mothers, sisters, grandmothers. This female figure is very strong in our lives, and gives us a very strong sense of support. So I wanted to do a piece that was about the strength of women.”
Realms of Amber also represents an exploration of contrasts, as Mr. Zendejas’ music will be selected from chants sung by Russian monks of the Valaam Monastry. “This music came into my hands, and I loved the sound. There’s a very male sound about it – it’s just voices, no instruments. And I like this idea of contrast, between the music and the dancers. So there will be a male presence, yes, with a real sense of female energy. That’s what’s in my mind and heart.”
Honest and true, Mr. Zendejas is wonderfully approachable; his warm smile is instantly memorable, as is his laugh. The Richmond Ballet dancers have embraced his organic style, and his unique movement vocabulary quickly, with many reminded of their 2014 New Works Festival experience with the choreographer. “I’ve started to have these images of movement already, because I know how versatile the dancers are,” Mr. Zendejas said before his arrival in Richmond. “It’s very refreshing to have dancers that are so willing to try things. I really enjoyed working with them last time, so I was very happy to come back for another work.”
Mr. Zendejas also looks forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the artists of the Richmond Ballet production department, which include Production Director MK Stewart, who will oversee the lighting and stage design, as well as Costumes Director Emily DeAngelis, who has been commissioned to design the work’s costumes. “I’m inspired by other artists,” added Mr. Zendejas. “It’s a collaboration. I want collaborators to have the chance to access their own inspirations. We all come together at one table.” Read more about Edgar Zendejas.
Ms. Winslett’s 1996 work, Echoing Past, takes its inspiration from the journey that we all must make through life. With lovely turn-of-the-century costumes – ladies don airy, feminine dresses, while gentlemen sport smart-looking ties and vests – Echoing Past follows a lead female dancer as she remembers important chapters in her past. Memories come into focus as dancers appear, a clear recollection from a former life, and then disappear, as such “echoes” fade. Intertwined with lessons of our own strength, our own limitations, and our spheres of influence, memories materialize as tangents upon a lighted, diagonal path that is charted by Ms. Winslett’s reflective dancer, alone at both the ballet’s opening and close.
Set to the music of one of history’s rare but tremendously accomplished female composers, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s Das Jahr (The Year) is the musical travel diary of a trip across Europe, with movements representing different months of the year; Ms. Winslett selected “June,” “November,” “December,” and the postlude for her ninth original creation for Richmond Ballet. Celebrated pianist Dr. Joanne Kong, Director of Accompaniment and Coordinator of Chamber Ensembles for the University of Richmond, returns to the Richmond Ballet stage to play Ms. Mendelssohn-Hensel’s music live.
“I originally choreographed Echoing Past in honor of Leslie Peck, who was our first ballet mistress, and had helped me found the Company. She had been a part of the Richmond Ballet for 17 years,” explained Ms. Winslett. “It was a special gift to her when she was leaving the organization.”
“Yet now, with Lauren Fagone announcing her retirement, I knew I wanted to see her in Echoing Past one more time,” continued Ms. Winslett. “When we did our New York debut at the Joyce Theater in 2005, Lauren did the lead in this work. I’ll never forget sitting there, watching Lauren and the whole cast of that ballet; they all did such a brilliant job. But when Lauren started to leave the stage, and looked back over her shoulder on the diagonal, I knew that she and the rest of the cast members has presented my work on the Joyce stage exactly like I wanted it to been seen. What I cared about in that moment, and in that New York premiere, was that each of the six ballets we had presented was danced to the choreographers’ vision. Moreover, as one of the choreographers myself, I knew that cast had done that for me that night. With Lauren announcing her retirement, I wanted to give her a chance to do that ballet, maybe selfishly, because I wanted to see her in it again.”
Ms. Winslett’s thoughtful choreography mirrors the varied tenor of the music brilliantly, with poignant moments from the past each articulated with soft, classically-inspired steps. From a young couple that a dances a sweet waltz bathed in sunshine, to a trio that is fraught with complication, and yet again on to a group of dancers that are tinged with tension, before concluding with a warm sense of togetherness and calm, the memories come to life through choreographed entrances and exits for Ms. Winslett’s lead, who seamlessly transitions between the echoes of her past. Ms. Winslett’s clear and gentle choreography infuses the experience of such memories with relatable emotion that audiences will both deeply personal and yet instantly familiar.
With a hue of soft mauves and jewel tones, Production Director MK Stewart’s intricate, cobweb-style lighting creates a stunning physical manifestation of our own collection of memories, twisted together as a lifetime of experiences become burrowed within our consciousness. Paired with costumes designed by Susan Cologne, Echoing Past’s soft, painterly palette presents a beautiful canvas for Ms. Winslett’s stories of reflection to unfold.
STUDIO TWO | MARCH 15-20, 2016 | TICKETS
Choreography by Stoner Winslett | Music by Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel
Realms of Amber
Choreography by Edgar Zendejas | Music: Chants from the Valaam Monastery Choir
Tuesday, March 15, 6:30 pm (Choreographers’ Club)
Wednesday, March 16, 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm
Thursday, March 17, 6:30 pm
Friday, March 18, 6:30 pm
Saturday, March 19, 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm
Sunday, March 20, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm
Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre | 407 East Canal Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219
Tickets start at $20.00. Tickets available at eTIX.com, by calling 1.800.514.3849, or through the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 E. Canal Street.
Photo: Company Dancer Sabrina Holland. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.
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