This Biographical Ballet Celebrates the Life of a Famous Painter
Friends, it's finally here. English National Ballet's "She Said" program, which premieres April 13, features internationally recognized choreographers Aszure Barton, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Yabin Wang. All three women have a record of remarkable work and the three of them together on one program promises great things.
But I'm especially excited for Lopez Ochoa's piece, titled Broken Wings. It's a biographical ballet about the life of surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, who was an amazing, fascinating and extremely important artist in her own right. Her work is a little bit scary, and it looks like Lopez Ochoa is addressing that head-on.
Lopez Ochoa has been developing the work with theater director Nancy Meckler, and it sounds like they've come up with some inventive ways to portray the ballet's biographical elements. For example, when she was young, Kahlo was in a terrible bus accident which left her disabled and in chronic pain. But, bed-ridden during her recovery period, she started to investigate painting as a way to continue living her life. In the ballet, Kahlo's bed will transform into a box where she's restricted but can still move. Genius!
As for the artistic elements, it looks like Lopez Ochoa has been inspired by Kahlo's surrealism. These costume sketches, by designer Dieuweke van Reij, are reminiscent of Kahlo's unsettling self-portraits.
Sketch by Dieuweke van Reij
Check out the trailer below for a glimpse at Lopez Ochoa's choreography!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.