Monday, February 9, 2015

A peek In The Wings

I just got home from one of The Washington Ballet's In The Wings presentations. These are hour-long discussions of up-coming ballets featuring TWB's Artistic Director Septime Webre and others. Tonight's topic was Sleepy Hollow, a telling of Washington Irving's classic story of a headless horseman chasing Ichabod Crane through the woods late one night. Joining Webre tonight was Composer Matthew Pierce, Trainee Ballet Master Luis Torres, who also dances the part of Ichabod Crane, and a friend of Webre's whose name I missed, but is a retired professor of history and helped inspire the selection of the subject.

The presentation started with Webre's description of the sequence of events that led to the creation of Sleepy Hollow, which led into an overview of the historical context of Washington Irving's stories. We learned how the score was developed, and were treated to bits and pieces played by Pierce on the violin he uses for much of his composing, one his mother bought for him decades ago when he was first mastering the instrument. The presentation wrapped up with some insight from Torres into how the choreography developed. Finally, Webre outlined the hectic schedule for opening week, starting next Monday, including the revelation that the female lead dancer broke her ankle doing laundry Friday, and is being replaced with a principal from American Ballet Theater who just started rehearsals this week! Ain't live theater a trip!

Walking into the facility I was reminded again that The Washington Ballet was started and continues as a school, as I had to worm my way through younger students who had just finished classes and were waiting to be picked up and older students who were getting ready for evening classes. Other than being dressed a bit differently, it wasn't a lot different from many other evenings. I recognized an instructor who teaches at both schools and nodded to him, receiving that odd acknowledgment you get when the other person thinks you look a bit familiar but otherwise can't place you. On the way out I bumped into a pianist who plays at both schools, as several do. At the end of our time, Webre shooed us out exclaiming, "There's a class in this room in 3 minutes, so we have to get out!" Checking the schedule I noted with a laugh that the class coming in was their Adult Beginner class. Maybe I should have stayed!

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