GASPAR RETURNS AGAIN
So, I was talking about all this stuff and went off on trying to find a name for my new company. So lets pick up about the rehearsal process again.
Okay in case you missed it, I had written the following…
“It wouldn’t be a party without dancing.”
I should explain…
This quote, which I came up with, is from the T-shirts sold in the lobby boutique at the premiere in 1994 of my 2 Act Pirate Ballet, “Gaspar a Pirate Fantasy”. The original ballet was done in Tampa Florida at the then Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. I was brought in as the Artistic Director of a newly formed company in Tampa and the year before had discovered that there is an enormous festival that has been going on in Tampa since 1907.
The Gasparilla Festival. The best way I can describe this festival is….
Imagine Madi Gras with a Pirate Invasion. Lots’ Beads, Lots’ Booze, lots’ people dressed like Pirates.
Regardless, and I have written about the festival before.
We finally started work on the ballet itself last week after months of preparation on all the other aspects that go into a production.
It was kind of surrealistic…
I have a wonderful team of Dancers that I’m working with this year. They have all signed on to do about six Projects that I have from August 2010 thru May 2011. Not sure how it happened, but I actually have a small company of my own. Have a nice space to work in and a school (Philadelphia Ballet School) to boot.
So, lets proceed about the rehearsals…
Things went very well. I have a new Jose Gaspar (Alex Crozier Jackson) and a new Christine (Samantha Barczak). They are both extremely talented Dancers and will bring I think, new energy to the roles.
Alex is a natural for this swashbuckling type of role, but will need help with the mechanics of his partnering and both of them will need to understand the focus necessary to carry a Two-Act Ballet. But hey, that’s what I do.
In reshaping this revival I went back to my original notes and will focus a bit more on the supporting cast and their relationships. I will write more about this as we proceed.
At the end of each day it just got fun. That was when I worked with the men alone on the Stage Combat aspects of the Ballet.
Stage Combat- Fancy word for controlled mayhem.
I was fortunate in my life to have been trained in Sword Fighting. This training was with a Master provided by Jerome Robbins for his Ballet/Sketch “Arts of the Gentleman”. And later by Kerry Skalski in all form of Stage Combat. This included Hand to hand, Quarter Staff, Rapiers, etc. Once you understand the safety aspects of this, it is great fun.
I have choreographed ballets such as Gaspar, Romeo and Juliet, Three Musketeers, and Dracula that all had large stage combat elements. I always bring a certified safety instructor in for the first day, 14th day and Dress Rehearsal at the end. To check all the action out and make sure everything is safe. But I must admit I love choreographing these parts of the ballet. But safety is key. How many one eyed ballet dancers do you know? And I tell the dancers that.
Stage Combat is all about acting and being coordinated enough to make it believable and sometimes spectacular.
That said, I truly enjoyed the sessions that I did with the dancers at the end of each day. As a choreographer you normally create movement. That movement can be lovely, earthy, smart, dramatic, etc.
But nothing like a day of Stage Combat to feel like a kid again.
As a kid I loved playing “War Games”. When I was 10 years old I was convinced I would be a stunt man.
Funny thing, the day before we were to start this part of the rehearsal, I had gone to the Doctors about a mole on my head. That mole was fine, but they saw one small dot thing on my shoulder and decided in needed to come out.
So, they are cutting me open and I said, “Listen, I need to sword fight tomorrow. Is that going to be a problem?” They thought I was kidding.
The rehearsals the next day were fine, I just fought with my left hand.
The Traveling Ballet Master