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Becoming Dracula: An interview with Domenico Luciano

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

We wanted to know how someone prepares to dance the role of Dracula, so we interviewed Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Domenico Luciano.  He is one of the dancers who will jump into the role when Colorado Ballet presents Dracula later this month.

 

1.  How do you prepare for the role of Dracula?

I got really excited as soon as I heard that DRACULA was on the schedule for this season.  Over the summer I started doing some research on the subject.  Although, I read the book many years ago, I wanted to familiarize myself again and looked for literature, plays, movies, ballet versions, to get as much knowledge about the story, as well as the time period and the characters.  I read Stoker’s Dracula, and a few essays on the matter, I saw a few different movie versions, and I’m still on the look out for more material.

 

I have to also mention that from the first rehearsal, the Ballet Mistress Lorita Travaglia, that is staging the ballet, has already given me directions and guidance about the intentions and the meaning behind the movement.  My partner Maria Mosina, has been very helpful and generous with me, she has danced the role of Mina Harker several times, and with many different partners, so she is able to help me out with both technical and artistic advice.

  

I believe that for approaching a role like the one of Dracula, a deep artistic preparation is required to have as many tools as possible, and have many options on how to deliver the character to your partner and for the audience. 

 

2.  Is Dracula the hero or the villain of the ballet?

After all the reading that I did for the past couple of months, I have to say that Dracula’s figure is very complex.  Stoker, the author of the original novel, uses Dracula as a vehicle to shine light on the strengths and weaknesses of the human kind.  One of the interesting messages in the Dracula tale is the comment about the human emotions suppressed.  The way I see it, Dracula does not manipulate behavior or emotions, such as lust, aggression or fear, he simply brings out what already exists within the characters and invites them to be as they are naturally, free from any restraints. 

  

Another interesting debate Stoker presents in the novel is the question of who is the monster and who is the man? The men in the story become savage-like as they decapitate Lucy and drive a stake through her heart. 

He is also offering never-ending life, the fountain of youth in a way, a quest that the human species is repeatedly on. So, I am considering all of these facets that are presented in the novel as I build my interpretation of the character.

  

3.  Why should people come see Dracula?

I think this version of DRACULA has an amazing theatrical power.  I believe the audience it is going to have a rich and fulfilling experience through the combination of the dramatic musical score and strong and raw emotions from the artists.

 

For more information about Colorado Ballet's upcoming production of Draculaclick here.

Artists of Colorado Ballet in "Dracula" by Terry Shapiro

Getting to know the new dancers: Emily Dixon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

1. Where are you from? I was born in Lubbock, TX but I grew up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in a city called Colleyville, Texas.

2. Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet? I received my early training at the Ballet Academy of Texas under the direction of Lisa Slagle, Tom Nicholson and Jenny Johnston. After graduating high school, I joined Tulsa Ballet II where I stayed for two seasons. Next, I moved to Sarasota, Florida to dance with Sarasota Ballet under the direction of Iain Webb. I performed with the Sarasota Ballet for five seasons until I moved here to Denver to join the Colorado Ballet.

3. What did you do with your summer break? The word that comes to my mind when I think about my summer break is "transition." I spent the summer at home in Texas with my family as I prepared to make the big move to Denver. It's a heavy thing to leave a place that you've lived in for five years. I have so many wonderful friends and memories of my time in Florida, so it was both exciting and difficult to leave. It was great to spend time in Texas to mentally transition and gear up for the next chapter in my life. There's something about home that reminds you of who you are, and I believe that before a big life change it's important to remember that. I was poured into by many close friends and my parents which I'm incredibly grateful for! Aside from preparing for the move, I kept myself in shape by taking ballet and yoga classes every day. I also taught ballet to little ones quite a bit- that's always fun!

4. What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class? I took my first ballet class when I was five years old. I wish I remembered it, but I don't. My mom tells me that she first took me to a gymnastics class, and I insisted that I wear a tutu to that class. I did! The gymnastics teacher came out after and told my mom to put me in ballet!

5. Who are your ballet role models? Dancers that inspire you. Kelly Yankle. I met and danced alongside of Kelly in Sarasota. She taught me so much. Not only is Kelly a beautiful dancer, but she's a beautiful person. Kelly took me under her wing, so to say, and coached me from the inside out. She immediately recognized my battle with fear and made it her goal to battle alongside with me. Kelly constantly reminded me to be bold and to not apologize for who I am no matter what. I saw that fearlessness in her dancing, and it's something I want to be someday. I strive to be the bold and tenacious, yet gracious dancer and person that Kelly embodies. 

6. Proudest moment in your ballet career? Goodness, that's a hard one! I just think of many times that I've been overwhelmed with gratitude over the opportunity that I've been given to do what I love. I remember coming off stage after performing a pas de deux choreographed by Sarasota Ballet Soloist Alex Harrison called The Blue Hour, in which I was partnered by Ian Tanzer. We had one shot at this difficult pas de deux, and we did it. We had the most beautiful and emotional time on stage, and we both left feeling so grateful for that chance! Another proud moment was after performing Ashton's Monotones II with Juan Gil and Daniel Pratt. That ballet is all about partnership and teamwork between the three dancers, and when you do it, you feel such a sense of gratitude for your partners...and their patience haha!!

7. Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher? I'm going to twist this one a bit and use a teacher, but not a ballet teacher- my father. I admit that I struggle with intimidation a lot in the studio. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a flashy technician. I'm not the strongest, but I love to dance. I love to perform. I want to tell a story, my story, and it's my aim in this profession to convey a message to the audience and leave them wanting more of the story. That being said, my dad (who knows me well, right?) told me this one time, and it's stuck with me ever since...it was before a performance. He said, "Em, don't dance to not mess up. Dance to give your gift to the audience. If you dance in fear, you are withholding and hiding. Give yourself freely and confidently. Don't withhold. Give." My heart is full of a story that I want to share with the audience, and I'm continually learning to give and to not withhold. We've been entrusted with a gift- and everyone's gift is different- but it's a shame to hide that gift just because you're afraid of being rejected or of failing. Thanks, Dad :)

8. Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch? Three ballets immediately came to my mind, and they're all made by George Balanchine : Who Cares?, Diamonds,  and Serenade. I found such freedom in performing all three of these ballets. I was one of the 5 girls in Who Cares? and I had SO much fun. The 5 girls part is incredibly hard, but it was a joy to dance because the movement was cute and playful, and who doesn't love a good Gershwin score?!? Diamonds holds a very special place in my heart because while we were learning and performing this ballet, I really came to know who I am. We live environment that can easily steal our identity as women and point out all of our flaws, and Diamonds reminded me of my worth. Despite my imperfections, I'm a priceless and rare creation of God- like a diamond. I was challenged to remember that. Last, Serenade. I've yet to meet a girl who doesn't love this ballet! The music alone is enough to make one cry. I found my own personal story in the four movements of Serenade,  so performing it felt like I was out there giving a testimony through my way of speaking- dancing. 

9. Dream role? Definitely Juliet Capulet. I love to act, and her role is so raw with emotion.

10. What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)? Well, there's lots of things I enjoy doing. I really enjoy taking yoga classes after work every day. I also love spending time alone digging into the Bible. I'm a believer in Jesus Christ, and I love learning more and more about biblical history and diving into the text. So I'm a bit of a book nerd in that sense! I also have some dear friends that live here in the Denver area, and I love spending time with them when I can. I'm always one for a good heart to heart conversation- I'm fueled by those deep friendships! I'm also a big shopper, so I try to keep myself out of the stores :)

11. What are some of your indulgences? Oh dear, this is a dangerous question! The earlier question about free time brought up my love of shopping. When it comes to shopping indulgences, I'll admit that I'm a Lululemon addict. When it comes to food, everyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE peanut butter. If you give me a jar of peanut butter, I'll gladly indulge :)

12. Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals? I gain my inspiration and confidence from my faith in Jesus Christ. Before a show, I will usually spend some time in the Bible getting strength from His promises. You can find me with my ipod in and turned up with a playlist of encouraging music to get my heart and head in the right place. Then, you can usually find me taking in a spoonful of peanut butter before hitting the stage :) 

13. What production(s) are you most excited about this year? Considering that my favorite ballets are all Balanchine, I'm excited about Concerto Barocco. Concerto is definitely different that the three ballets that I mentioned earlier, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've never performed a Balanchine ballet that I didn't fall in love with and many of them have pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Getting to know the new dancers: Emily Speed

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We sent out a questionnaire to our new dancers to get to know them a little better.  

Here is the response from one of our new Corps de Ballet dancers, Emily Speed:


1.  Where are you from?

The Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area


2.  Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet?

I have danced with several different companies including Alabama Ballet, Ballet Tucson and Boulder Ballet. Before graduating, I trained with Marina Almayeva.


3.  What did you do with your summer break?

My husband and I were married and he moved here to Denver. I also went with Kevin Wilson to Jackson, MS and competed in the USA international ballet competition there. We performed a classical pas de deux and a contemporary duet.


4.  What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class?

My first dance class I was only 3 years old but didn't start my classical training until much later. I just remember I always loved dancing and performing.


 

5.  What was your first ballet you remember attending?

It was a gala, but I remember they performed "Le Spectre de la Rose."


6.  Who are your ballet role models? Dancers that inspire you.

I love watching Natalia Osipova because she is such an amazing technician and isn't necessarily what you first think of when you think of a ballet dancer.


7.  Proudest moment in your ballet career?

It is hard to pinpoint one, but I am really proud to be where I am right now and it was a culmination of many events that has made me the dancer I am today.


8.  Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

Amanda McKerrow has always told me to just "stay present" on stage. It seems simple but for me it is always a good reminder to not think about what's already happened or what will and to truly focus on the role no matter how big or small.


9.  Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch?

Don Quixote has so much life and is always fun to perform  and I also loved performing Serenade. I love watching all the classics but especially GiselleSwan Lake and La Bayadere.


10.  Dream role?

Medora in Le Corsaire or Kitri in Don Quixote


11.  What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I really enjoy spending time with my family and husband. I love yoga, cooking, and traveling.


12.  What are some of your indulgences?

Chocolate :)


13.  Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals?

I get really chatty when I'm nervous or excited for a show but I like to have my hair done first and wait to finish my makeup until just before curtain. Depending on the part, I check certain sections from the piece on stage. If I do it well once I leave it there but I have to do it well once. I also like to say a quick prayer thanking God for the opportunity to do what I love.


14.  What production(s) are you most excited about this year?

George Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco"!!!!!


15.  What would you say to people who come to see the Colorado Ballet?

Denver is such a wonderful place with so many great things to do but there is something really special about participating in the arts. Thank you for watching and sharing in a wonderful part of this community.

Colorado Ballet promotes two Soloists to Principals, adds six new Corps de Ballet dancers

Monday, August 04, 2014

Colorado Ballet promotes two of its Soloist dancers to Principals and adds six new Corps de Ballet dancers, for a total of 30 Company dancers.

Artistic Director Gil Boggs promoted Dana Benton and Domenico Luciano to Principals.

Benton is now in her 14th season with Colorado Ballet.  In 2001, she joined Colorado Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member and was promoted to Soloist in 2007.  Her notable roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Swanilda in Coppélia, Cow Girl in Rodeo, Ave Maria Pas de Deux, Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Gulnara in Le Corsaire, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, Lucy in Dracula, Princess Florine and Diamond Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, Peasant Pas in Giselle, Flower Girl and Cupid in Don Quixote, Hermia and Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the featured role in Amy Seiwert’s Traveling Alone.

Luciano is in his second season with Colorado Ballet.  He joined Colorado Ballet as a Soloist during the 2013-2014 season after serving as a Principal dancer with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater in Houston.  His repertoire includes many of the classical principal leads including Romeo, Paris, and Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet, Solor in La Bayadere, The Prince in The Nutcracker, Albrecht in Giselle, Onegin in Onegin, and Don Jose in Carmen, as well as several contemporary works.

Colorado Ballet’s new Corps de Ballet dancers include: Joshua Allenback, Ariel Breitman, Emily Dixon, Oliveira Fernanda, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch.

In addition to the new Corps de Ballet dancers, 20 Studio Company dancers will join the 30 professional Company dancers this season for the productions at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  Colorado Ballet's Studio Company is a pre-professional training opportunity for dancers with the potential and desire to become professional dancers.

Colorado Ballet’s preview and repertory performance of An Evening Under the Stars will take place on August 16 at the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater.  The company will officially open the 2014-2015 season with A Midsummer Night’s Dream on September 26 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Dana Benton

 

Domenico Luciano

Dancers of Colorado Ballet to host Fancy Footwork

Monday, April 07, 2014

Fancy Footwork poster - photo by Francisco Estevez Photography

The dancers of Colorado Ballet will host Fancy Footwork from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10 at the Colorado Ballet Studios.  The event has a suggested $10 donation at the door.

Join the dancers of Colorado Ballet for a one-night only show featuring pieces chosen by the dancers themselves. Selections will range from excerpts of the great classics to new contemporary works by choreographers within the Colorado Ballet family. Along with an awesome show, guests will have the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind items and experiences, in a silent auction, tailored by the Colorado Ballet dancers. Join us for what will surely be a great night of dancing and fun.

Click here for the event page on Facebook

Photo: Tracy Jones, Kevin Hale and Sean Omandam
By Francisco Estevez Photography

Here is a promo video created by the dancers:

Colorado Ballet's Cinderella - Waltz Rehearsal

Friday, February 14, 2014

This video features artists of Colorado Ballet rehearsing Cinderella.

Colorado Ballet Interviews Jesse Marks - One of the Cinderella Stepsisters

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This video includes an interview with Colorado Ballet Soloist Jesse Marks and features rehearsal footage of artists of Colorado Ballet.

Colorado Ballet Interviews Sharon Wehner - Cinderella

Monday, February 10, 2014

This video features an interview with Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Sharon Wehner and rehearsal footage featuring artists of Colorado Ballet.

Colorado Ballet's The Nutcracker - Interview with Dana Benton

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Colorado Ballet's The Nutcracker - Interview with Klara Houdet

Thursday, December 05, 2013


This video includes rehearsal footage featuring artists of Colorado Ballet.

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