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Beyond The Barre: Tracy Jones

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Thank you for tuning into another Beyond The Barre. This week, we feature Tracy Jones who has been with Colorado Ballet for 4 seasons. Tracy reigns from Ireland and has danced all over the world. We bonded over our time living in Spain and missing the quaint lifestyle of living in a mountain town.

 

KH: Where are you from?


TJ: I was born in Ireland and when I was 11, I moved to London to train, stayed there for 8 years and moved to Spain and now I’m in Colorado. While in Spain, I lived in Segovia, just outside of Madrid. I also lived in Barcelona; the company I worked for toured a lot too so I got to see a lot of (Spain) and the world which was nice.


KH: What’s been your favorite place?


TJ: I really love Segovia. It was a really simple way of living and it’s where I met Francisco, a soloist at Colorado Ballet and husband of 2.5 years. [Emphasis added]


KH: How did you know you wanted to dance ballet?


TJ: My mom used to dance when she was younger and so when I was 5, she sent to take ballet lessons. When I was about 10, my ballet teacher in Ireland took my mom aside and said this, “kid has a lot of potential” so they took me over to London to audition for the Royal Ballet School and that’s kind of when I knew I wanted to give it a go and do it for a long time.


KH: What’s your favorite thing about Denver?


TJ: My friends. I have a really good group of friends and they’re all pretty much from the company. Colorado Ballet has a really nice family feel to it, my closest friends are people I work with and I feel like not a lot of people can say that so that’s awesome.


KH: What do you eat for breakfast?


TJ: Normally I’ll have a croissant with a banana and soy latte. On the weekends I like to go for brunch or if I’m really adventurous we’ll cook some eggs and bacon at home but generally we go to brunch.



KH: What’s your favorite brunch place?


TJ: Jelly Café downtown is really great and then there’s also Four Friends Kitchen.


KH: Do you have any hidden talents?


TJ: My handwriting is really neat, does that count?


KH: Yeah! People are making a living with their handwriting.


TJ: Well, I would say that!


KH: What inspires you to push past your limits?


TJ: That’s a good question, for me as I’m getting older I realize I’m doing it for me and for the audience. Sometimes you get into places where you put too much pressure on yourself and you feel you have to do everything perfectly. You have to remember that it’s an art form and ballets never going to be perfect. People that come to watch want to be transported somewhere so for me remembering that and remembering its more about the art and why I love to dance that helps me when I get down in a rut.


KH: What is the last song you listened to?


TJ: I listened to some Christmas music this morning on the way to work.


KH: What is the next goal you have set yourself?


TJ: At the moment I’m thinking about getting my Realtor license, I think that could be cool. I like to branch out and have things outside of ballet too.


KH: What is the biggest misconception about being a professional ballet dancer?


TJ: That we don’t eat. That’s the most common question I get asked, “Do you have to be on a really strict diet?”


KH: If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?


TJ: I’d have to have an outfit of some description because that’s appropriate. I have some jewelry passed down to me from a great aunt when she passed away that’s pretty special so that would be on the list. Do my puppies count? I have 2 puppies and I guess my passport because I’d always be able to travel.


KH: What is your favorite movie?


Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann’s awesome, his stuff is great and I love Nicole Kidman and I like musicals too.


KH: Three words to describe yourself?


TJ: Organized, determined and I’d say hard-working.


KH: What does your perfect day look like?


TJ: Sleeping in a bit, going for brunch with Francisco and some friends. I’d take the dogs for a nice walk in our neighborhood and maybe go to the movies. We don’t have a lot of time to just chill out because we get so busy especially during performance times so it’d be pretty low-key.


KH: If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you be doing?


TJ: I’ve always been drawn to law. I’m not sure if that’s something I’d transition to at this stage of my life but I think if I could relive life and not do ballet, I would try my hand at being a lawyer.


KH: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?


TJ: That I speak Spanish. I don’t look like I should speak Spanish.


KH: What would you tell your 10-year-old self?


TJ: Always follow your instincts and try not to take things too seriously. I still need to remind my 28-year-old self that. Just take everything with a pinch of salt, take the good things and don’t hang on to bad things. It’s easier said than done but that’s the advice I’d give.


KH: What words do you live by? (life motto)


TJ: "Always remember, you are Braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." -A.A Milne (from Winnie the Pooh).

 

KH: How long have you been doing The Nutcracker?


TJ: I started doing the Nutcracker when I was 11 years old. I grew up doing it in the Royal Ballet production and then with English National ballet and I did the Nutcracker suite in Spain and this is my 4th season doing it with Colorado Ballet.


KH: What roles are you playing?


TJ: The doll, Clara’s mom, crystals, Spanish, Arabian and Marzipan divertissements.


KH: Do you have a favorite role?


TJ: I would say the Arabian is my favorite but I also like doing Doll because there are some funny moments like fake slapping Drosselmeyer. It’s always cute to hear little kids laughing and seeing that reaction. That’s why we do it, for them. 


KH: What are you most excited about with this year’s Nutcracker?


What gets me through Nutcracker every year is remembering that for most people in the audience it’s their first time coming to Nutcracker or the ballet or it’s a family tradition that they do every year, that always makes me excited when were about to go into 28 shows. I always think there’s a little girl out here and this could be what makes her dream of becoming a ballerina.


Relive The Magic of The Nutcracker with 25% Off

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Save 25% on all Thursday Nutcracker performances with promo code: TBT 

Tickets at Coloradoballet.org


*Promo valid on all performances. Seats are subject to availability. Not valid in combination with other offers or towards past purchases. Limit 6 tickets per purchase

Beyond The Barre: Kevin Gaël Thomas

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


Beyond The Barre is an intimate, insightful and sometimes funny conversation with Colorado Ballet’s spectacular dancers.

Today’s conversation is with Kevin Gaël Thomas, newly promoted soloist who has graced the stage in performances of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and La Sylphide to name a few.

On the first day back from break, Kevin sat down with me in Studio 8. Upon meeting Kevin I could tell that he is very humble, genuinely kind and full of wisdom. He speaks with so much passion about the people he loves, dancing of course and travel. We quickly bond over our mutual love for travel, sharing stories, reminiscing on incredible adventures and celebrating the beauty of immersing yourself into a new culture.

KH: You’ve been in Colorado since 2007, but you’re originally from France, what do you miss most about France?

KGT: The food and quality of restaurants. I really miss taking the time to eat, you’re not going to eat in 30 minutes and just go but you’re really going to sit down and have a conversation.

KH: How did you know you wanted to dance ballet?

KGT: My mom is a huge fan of Grease the musical and she used to play it and I remember seeing Olivia John Newton and John Travolta just dancing and there was that beat and I would get up and start dancing. I would start improvising and dance my heart out.

Across from where I lived was an art school where the young gentlemen were singing and the young ladies were dancing. I got into that program and was singing for an entire year until they came to my parents and said, “You know, Kevin is very enthusiastic, and he’s a sweet little guy but I’m not sure singing is quite his talent. We should try to put him into the ballet program.” So because I couldn’t sing I ended up studying dance.

KH: What do you eat for breakfast?

KGT: Coffee, croissant and a banana. Café and croissant is very French, it’s a cultural thing I grew up with.

KH: If I gave you $100,000 what would you do with it?

KGT: I would spend a month in Brazil with all my peeps. We’d rent a villa or castle and party on. I’d have the time of my life with all the people I love.

KH: That sounds like a blast!

KGT: Yea, I love to share. I just lost my grandmother during Swan Lake and it made me realize how we get upset over tiny details but in the end what matters is being alive and healthy. I guess when she died the message I got was to keep sharing, keep loving. The more you love the more alive you feel. More than having the best job or $100,000, spreading love, that’s the true goal.

KH: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

KGT: Sincere, passionate, and determined.

KH: If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring?

KGT: I would bring an MP3 that can last forever so that I could have music with me all the time. I'd have great dancers I could choreograph on because I choreograph all the time, and I would have the woman I love.

KH: What’s your favorite thing about Denver?

Being at the theater and performing. I feel I can connect with the most people in 5 minutes, I can dance for 5 minutes not needing to talk to the audience but I feel we shared something together. 

KH: Do you have a hidden talent?

KGT: I played piano for 10 years, I choreograph and I write poetry but only in French, not English yet. For some reason it’s harder to express the complexity of what I feel when I write in English. I grew up on the French Riviera, close to Nice. I wrote a poem after the attack on July 14 and also choreographed a 20 min ballet called ‘Riviera’ as homage to the victims.

KH: What is your favorite movie?

KGT:  Leon:The professional. I love the complexity that I find in films because I can relate to it, like our lives it’s not just black and white but there are so many grey areas. Also, Dracula, I’m a huge Gary Oldman fan, talk about complex characters.

KH: If you hadn’t chosen this career, what would you be doing?

KGT: I would be a musician because I played piano for 10 years and I was just as good as in dance and had the training but I end up choosing dance because I had the opportunity to come to America.

KH: What are words you live by?

KGT: “Enjoy while it lasts.” Nothing ever lasts; even your deepest depression moments. It’s going to go away because somebody’s going to give you that phone call or that one person is going to look at you and it’s going to be so comprehensive and all of a sudden you feel like you’re not alone anymore. I’m one of those guys where I’m not just going to just take a bite but I will close my eyes and savor it. It can be a New York cheesecake or potato gratin it doesn’t matter but I really like to savor things.

KH: Why do you dance?

KGT: It’s the best way for me to express my deepest emotions. When my grandmother died, I got back in the studio and told myself that I would dance for her and that helped me so much.

KH: What inspires you?

To see others on stage or in the studios transcend themselves. When I see those dancers who are able to take one moment of their lives and make something out of it all of a sudden I feel they transcend themselves. It’s not about what you see it’s about what you can perceive, what you can sense and I think that’s the beauty of the art.

KH: What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

KGT: Never let go of your dreams. Believe in your dreams and believe it is truly possible. I remember when I was getting ready to come to America and I had big dreams and everybody looked at me like I was crazy, had I listened to those people… (Drops off)

"Also, smile at life and life will smile back."

Francisco Estevez rehearses the White Rabbit in ALICE (in wonderland)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Colorado Ballet soloist Francisco Estevez rehearses the White Rabbit from ALICE (in wonderland).

PwC Presents
ALICE (in wonderland)
February 19-28, 2016
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
With live music by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra
Choreography by Septime Webre
Music by Matthew Pierce
http://coloradoballet.org

Artists of Colorado Ballet rehearse Caterpillar in ALICE (in wonderland)

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Artists of Colorado Ballet rehearse Caterpillar from ALICE (in wonderland).

PwC Presents
ALICE (in wonderland)

February 19-28, 2016
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
With live music by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra
Choreography by Septime Webre
Music by Matthew Pierce
http://coloradoballet.org

Sharon Wehner and Domenico Luciano rehearse Cheshire Cat from ALICE (in wonderland)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Principal dancers Sharon Wehner and Domenico Luciano rehearse Cheshire Cat from ALICE (in wonderland).

PwC Presents
ALICE (in wonderland)

February 19-28, 2016
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
With live music by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra
http://coloradoballet.org

Fall down the rabbit hole and join Colorado Ballet on an adventure for the Colorado premiere of a ballet based on Lewis Carroll’s books.  Experience a whimsical (wonder)land with beloved, eccentric characters including the frantic White Rabbit, mysterious Cheshire Cat, peculiar Mad Hatter, terrifying Jabberwock and other exotic creatures as young Alice escapes the clutches of the wicked Queen of Hearts.  Featuring choreography by Septime Webre and music by Matthew Pierce, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra, this ballet will charm adults and children in a theatrical extravaganza!

Colorado Ballet seeks schools for free live streaming of ALICE (in wonderland) performance on February 18

Monday, January 25, 2016

Colorado Ballet seeks schools and educational organizations throughout Colorado and out-of-state to participate in a free remote live stream of its student matinee performance of ALICE (in wonderland) at 10:30 a.m. on February 18.

“The in-person student matinee performance of ALICE (in wonderland) has been sold out since before the 2015-2016 season began, but students and teachers are still welcome to participate through the live stream,” said Samantha Hyde, Colorado Ballet Director of Education.  “Students who would otherwise be unable to see ALICE will have the opportunity to experience a live ballet performance with costumes, sets and a live orchestra.  Plus, this production follows Lewis Carroll’s classic book very closely, so students will learn a lot while watching the production.”

This is the third time that Colorado Ballet will live stream a production in its student matinee series, which brings nearly 2,000 students to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex to watch ballet performances with full sets, costumes and a live orchestra.  Colorado Ballet hosted its first live stream during the student matinee of La Sylphide in October and its second live stream during the student matinee of The Nutcracker in December.  More than 100 sites from 10 Colorado cities and 27 states streamed The Nutcracker student matinee performance.  In addition, students in England, Ireland, Ecuador, Greece, Italy and China also participated in the live stream event.  The majority of the sites were schools, but four hospitals including Denver Health also participated.

“The response we have received on the live streaming of our student matinee series has been incredible,” said Hyde.  “We heard back from so many teachers after The Nutcracker live stream and the students were mesmerized by the dancing and music.  One teacher who works in a dual-language school said it was incredible that we offered a performance that could be understood in any language.  That is what we hope to accomplish with this series; impacting students from all over Colorado and the U.S. through the power of dance.”

Based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with characters from “Through the Looking-Glass,” ALICE (in wonderland) includes choreography by Septime Webre and music by Matthew Pierce, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.  ALICE first premiered with The Washington Ballet in 2012.  The total runtime of the production including the intermission is 2 hours and 5 minutes.  The 20 minute intermission will feature live interviews with artistic staff and dancers for schools participating in the live stream.

Interested schools can contact Hyde at samantha.hyde@coloradoballet.org for more information, including technical requirements.

Students participate in live stream of "The Nutcracker" in December 2015

2nd Attitude on Santa Fe will take place on February 6

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Colorado Ballet will host the second Attitude on Santa Fe at 6 p.m. on February 6, 2016 in the Black Box Theater at the Armstrong Center for Dance, 1075 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO.  The performance will include three ballets choreographed by two Colorado Ballet dancers and one Colorado Ballet Academy teacher, performed by Colorado Ballet Company and Studio Company dancers.  The event will also include a three course meal and wine prior to the performance.

Principal dancer Domenico Luciano’s new work, Attraversiamo will feature two pieces of music, “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber and “Pavane for Dead Princess” by Maurice Ravel.  According to Luciano, while creating the new ballet, he selected specific dancers because he wanted their artistic input.  He had a basic idea in the beginning of his choreographic process and wanted the dancers to naturally contribute to the message he was trying to express in the work.  He said that he paired every couple together for a specific reason because he knows the dancers so well and he knew how they would interact with each other, which was a big part of each piece.  The theme of his ballet is a brief look on the dynamics between people; not all of it is smooth, much like relationships during a person’s life.

Principal dancer Yosvani Ramos choreographed Divertimento Pour Six for English National Ballet's Choreographic Workshop in 2002 and for the first time, Colorado Ballet’s dancers will perform the ballet during Attitude on Santa Fe.  The music includes excerpts from “Faust” by Charles Gounod and the costumes are by Suzi Skelton.  Divertimento Pour Six is one of seven ballets that Ramos choreographed during the nine years he spent as a dancer at English National Ballet.  Ramos said that he is excited to be redoing the ballet for Colorado Ballet’s dancers.  The ballet has no theme, but according to Ramos, it is fun, classical work that showcases the dancers performing in it.

Academy instructor and Colombian artist Carolina Pahde-Mallarino has spent the past 15 years of her professional life exploring the idea of “the influence of cultural identity in the creation of art.”  Her new ballet with(in)me is set to "Ode to Joy" from the fourth movement of Beethoven's “9th Symphony.”  Inspired by the text of F. Schiller’s poem from which the words of the symphony are taken, Pahde-Mallarino expanded her idea of cultural identity to that of identity as a whole.  By working with the dancers on questions such as: “Who are you?  What makes you who you are? and how are you different from everyone else?” she takes the dancers on a journey to discover their own humanity.  She starts the ballet by showing the most outer layer of the performers being, then, little by little, through the use of various dance techniques including classical ballet, contemporary and modern, she introduces new movement ideas.  Through these techniques, she reveals other layers beneath the surface until, finally, at the end of the ballet, all that is left is what she calls “original movement,” or movement extracted from the things that make each of these individuals uniquely human.

Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and the performance starts at 7:30 p.m.  The cost including the dinner, wine and performance is $75 and seating is limited.  Performance-only tickets are also available for $25.  To register, visit www.coloradoballet.org/events.

Colorado Ballet hosted another Attitude on Santa Fe event with different works by Colorado Ballet’s dancers in September 2015.  The event was sold out.

Click here to watch a rehearsal from the September 2015 Attitude on Santa Fe:

It's not too late to give to Colorado Ballet in 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

You still have time to support Colorado Ballet before this year ends!  Donations to Colorado Ballet support all of the company’s programs including the professional company, education and community engagement programs and Colorado Ballet Academy.

Click here to give.

Artists of Colorado Ballet by Mike Watson

Thank you for another great Nutcracker season!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Colorado Ballet's 55th annual production of The Nutcracker has officially come to a close at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  We want to thank everyone who helped make this the most successful Nutcracker in the history of Colorado Ballet!  More people attended this year's production than ever before, so whether it was your first time or your 55th, we hope you enjoyed our magical production.

Dana Benton and Gregory Gonzales by Mike Watson

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