Performance Art@Google: New York City Ballet

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 22.06.2011

>>Lee Stimmel: Hi everyone, thanks for coming to our ever expanding Performance Art@Google
series. Today we have a couple dancers from the New York City Ballet as well as Meghan
Kent who's gonna moderate the discussion promoting their performance called Dancers' Choice this
Sunday at Lincoln Center.
So Meghan you wanna take it from there?
>>Meghan Kent: Yeah. >>Lee Stimmel : Introduce Amanda and Adrian.
>>Meghan Kent: Sure.
Hi, I'm Meghan Kent and we're very pleased to be here today. We have two dancers from
the New York City Ballet, New York City Ballet Corps de Ballet member, Amanda Hankes, and
soloist, Adrian Danchig-Waring.
So first of all just to get a little background on your training, kind of how you chose this
career path, how you ended up to be a professional dancer what was that like, Amanda do you wanna
start telling us a little bit about yourself.
>>Amanda Hankes: I can start. I actually came to ballet, my mother was a professional ballet
dancer briefly and she took me to see the Nutcracker and the girl playing Clara had
very pretty hair and I wanted pretty hair so I said, "Can you sign me up?" And I didn't
end up with the same pretty hair she had but I'm not sure what she's doing now.
I trained at a school in New Jersey with a woman named Irine Fokine who was the niece
of Michael Fokine who was a very prolific choreographer, contemporary, slightly earlier
than Balanchine but they did a lot of stuff around the same time. So she came from a huge,
heavy duty ballet background and sort of got me the training that I needed and between
she and my mother kind of steered me along the right path to be where I needed to be
to get the training I needed and get the exposure that I needed to actually get a job. [chuckles]
>>Meghan Kent: And how 'bout you Adrian what was your experience like?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I was just always dancing and I started doing some Russian folk
dance. I grew up in San Francisco and I performed with like a youth company and my parents just
kinda of kept finding things to satisfy my sort of unyielding appetite to move.
So I did like Chinese acrobatics with a group called the Pickle Family Circus and then I
started doing tap and modern and jazz, and ultimately I found myself at a studio that
was very focused on ballet. And I had a teacher who was really tough as nails and he kind
of insisted that ballet was the backbone of all other movement, which in a historical
context may be a fallacy but it appealed to my mind that there could be some sort of structure
that you could adhere to always and then divert from at a later point. So that just kinda
became my path.
So I entered a pre-professional dance program when I was 13 and I did independent study
high school program so I graduated from high school when I was 16 and I moved to New York
and I started working for New York City Ballet.
>>Meghan Kent: So at what age for both of you do you think that you really decided this
is the career that I wanna pursue?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I mean I'd say it was at 13. I think it was sacrificing so much
in the way of sort of traditional academic path and the socialization that you experience
through that. I don't think I'm lacking for social skills because of it, but it was definitely
at that point a question mark.
>>Meghan Kent: How 'bout you Amanda?
>>Amanda Hankes: It was about 13. I had to make a decision whether I wanted to start
going into New York City for ballet classes to go to the School of American Ballet which
is a pre-professional school, it's the official school of the New York City Ballet. And if
I was gonna to that classes were gonna be a lot earlier in the day and I would have
to sort of work my academics around my ballet schedule. So it was sort of put to me as,
"You can do this, but if you're gonna do it this is where you need to be and this is what
you need to do. So you need to actually make the decision." And it was right before high
>>Meghan Kent: Oh. And did either of you know a lot about New York City Ballet before getting
into this school or anything? What drew you to the company?
>>Amanda Hankes: I had grown up going to see New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater.
I was very fortunate that my mom took me to see pretty much everything dance related in
New York City growing up, so I was very familiar with it.
And I chose to go to the School of American Ballet, well I was accepted into the school
and it's a school that a lot of companies draw from, so even if it wasn't gonna be New
York City Ballet which it actually wasn't right away I danced with Miami City Ballet
before I danced with New York City Ballet. But it was a great place to be seen and get
>>Meghan Kent: Just kind of wanna talk about your daily schedule 'cause it might be a little
different than a typical work schedule for some people. Amanda, if you can continue and
tell us about what's a typical day like for you when we're in season.
>>Amanda Hankes: A typical day in season is a very, very busy day. It starts out you get
to the theater probably 9:45, 10 o'clock to warm up for class; you have daily class which
when we're performing is an hour long. So you do that every single morning, or six days
a week and then you can have anywhere from an hour of rehearsals to six hours of rehearsals
and then that'll take you to about six o'clock.
If someone has gotten injured during the day they will then throw in an emergency rehearsal
which is about a half an hour, it takes you to about 6:30 where you've now canceled your
physical therapy appointment [laughs] and someone has run to the deli to get you a sandwich
which you eat while putting on your stage makeup.
If you have the first ballet, start warming up probably at about seven, 7:15, although
if you've been rehearsing 'till 6:30 you can fudge that a little. [chuckles] And then a
lot of times when you're working a lot in the corps you might have all three ballets
that night.
So if you have the first ballet then you change your costume, do the second ballet, [chuckles]
change your costume again, do the third ballet and then you go home, eat some more food or
you go out to eat with friends 'cause that keeps you sane. [chuckles]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: There's also so much adrenaline pumped like you're working like
your whole day builds to this climax, this performance, so it's like you can't go home
and go to bed and prepare for the next day 'cause you're like totally jacked. So you
kind of need --
>>Amanda Hankes: Some wind down time.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Yeah.
>>Amanda Hankes: [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: But I think that the company class like taking ballet classes
every morning is this really unique element of the ballet dancer's life 'cause everyday
you return to the ballet barre; you like start with the basics. So it would be like if every
day in whatever given field you work in you have to like go back and revisit the a, b,
cs. Like if you work in language in any capacity it's like really relearning the alphabet and
establishing it. It is warming up the body but there is this cultivation of technique
that kind of is a through-line through your career. So that is a major and it sets the
tone for the day.
So you're in and out of rehearsals all day and New York City Ballet is a repertory company
and we perform up to 65 works in a given season. So let's say Amanda or I is dancing in 30
of them over the course of 8 weeks. So like all of this choreography is like living in
your body somewhere. We talked a lot about muscle memory --
>>Amanda Hankes: Which daily class sort of reminds you of, reminds your muscles of what
the basic positions are and the steps, but then you've also got the ballets that the
sequences of steps that have to go together and a lot of it never actually makes it to
your muscles it stays in your brain and hopefully it gets there when it needs to. [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: It's like you re-establish that fluency in the morning and then you speak
it all day.
>>Meghan Kent: And speaking of company class do you guys have if you're performing a certain
role that evening do you have a different focus during on-class depending on what the
rest of your day looks like or how do you approach class, I guess personally?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I guess it really depends on like what the role is --
>>Meghan Kent: Yeah.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: how physical it is, if it's a debut, if you have nervous energy.
I think that we have a really hard time pulling back like we have a really hard time marking
and so so much of our day is like a 110 percent all the time.
>>Amanda Hankes: I don't have that much trouble marking. No. [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I don't believe that.
>>Amanda Hankes: [laughs] Sometimes if I see an --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: [chuckles]
>>Amanda Hankes: opportunity [chuckles] I'll take it. As far as company class goes if you
have something that is gonna require great feats of technical wizardry you will work
a little harder on that during class. If you have something where you have to do a lot
of pirouettes or a lot of tricks, what we would call tricks, which would be very different
from something that was a more contemporary or neoclassical piece that was in either barefoot
or in flat shoes. We don't have a lot of those, but your weight shift changes, you sort of,
you might start to think about it, you're more likely to think about it while you're
warming up for the show to sort of tailor whatever your warm-up is to what you need
to do that night.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Also something interesting that Amanda touched on and that is like in
a given performance, one of us might dance three separate roles in three separate ballets
by three different choreographers that were made over the course of 60 some odd years.
So it's this kind of incredible like quick transition from one idiom to the other. Like
you often find yourself doing some jazzy Jerome Robbins things like West Side Story Suite,
and then you have to go put on a leotard and tights and be a prince, and then you close
out the evening doing some sort of Fred Astaire inspired soft shoe finale. So it's like this
roller coaster.
>>Amanda Hankes: Frantic.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Yeah.
>>Amanda Hankes: It's completely [laugh]. You could have three different types of shoes
that you're wearing which affects how you move and three different characters. I think
I had one show where I had five different characters, it was one of those like West
Side Story,typic, fancy-free and I mean by the end of the night you're not really sure
what just happened. [laughs]
>>Meghan Kent: So you probably have a lot of, you're able to kind of jump around too
in the rehearsal process. I mean your whole day you could go from doing one style to the
next to the next. Could you tell us a little bit about the rehearsal process at New York
City Ballet. How do you learn a ballet that you've never done before, one that's been
in the repertory for a long time?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: There are ballet masters on staff who are each responsible
for a given allotment of works. So you go into the studio and whoever's in charge of
X Balanchine ballet knows it, like, intrinsically, like knows every role for every person in
a cast of 45. And so they, I guess they really decide how much rehearsal needs to be had,
like how much time needs to be allocated in order to get everyone doing what they need
to do.
>>Meghan Kent: Exciting, ever changing. I mean I think that's something with our company
because we do our repertory one night we'll have three different ballets as opposed to
some other companies where they'll do a run of Sleeping Beauty for two weeks and then
a run of another ballet for two weeks. It's really mixed up really; good challenge for
you guys.
So how often, what about a new ballet when someone's choreographing on you? I know that
Adrian you've got some experience with that. What's that experience like and how does that
differ from regular repertory?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I mean I think one of the most exciting things about New York
City Ballet is that there's this legacy of Balanchine and Robbins sharing this company,
sharing these dancers and making new works in a sort of unprecedented volume, and so
there continues to be a heavy investment in new works.
Some seasons we'll do seven new commissions, some seasons one or two, but I definitely
feel that it accelerates your understanding of self as a dancer being in the studio with
dance makers, being able to sort of collaborate in the creative process. And it's definitely
personally the most fulfilling time that I have sort of learning like experimentation
and trial and error, you feel safe 'cause there aren't any existing restrictions except
the self-imposed ones.
>>Meghan Kent: How 'bout you Amanda, how do you feel about that?
>>Amanda Hankes: It's a different process than trying to learn a ballet that's already
been choreographed. Some choreographers come in very prepared, they know exactly what they
wanna try out that day and that is always sort of delightful [chuckles] as a dancer
because they can actually then tell you what they want and if it doesn't work out they'll
go home and rethink it and come back. It's rare for a choreographer to come in with that
clear of an idea. Most of the time they come in with sort of a sketch in their mind and
there's a lot more back and forth of communication trying to figure out what exactly they're
trying to get out of you. I find that to be sort of a frustrating experience.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I mean it's interesting. Again it sort of illuminates this polarity
that exists in that much what we do is repertory it's like learning existing information and
assimilating it muscularly, physically as quickly as possible and then getting it on
stage, and then this other part is the more sort of like artistic, indulgent element.
I just think that swinging back and forth like the pendulum from one to the other is
sometimes really difficult thing to bridge like on a five minute break between rehearsals
to sort of go from one mode to the other.
>>Meghan Kent: Now let me ask you too when you're learning a ballet that's been in the
repertory for a while, say it was choreographed in the '50s. You say you watch video tapes
and you have ballet masters. How much of yourselves are you able to put into that role?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: It really depends on the role. I think for like corps de ballet
things you often, it's about getting in line and making the line like the physical line
from like head to toe, and soloists and principal roles depending give you a lot more room for
character development, a lot more room for explorations of the physical dynamic that
exists in whatever idiom you're working.
>>Amanda Hankes: I sort of disagree that in the corps there's no room for that. I think
the staying in line becomes second nature, it becomes something that you just sort of
automatic, well you should automatically do. You have peripheral vision and if it's your
first time in a ballet you're gonna be a little more aware of everybody else. But if it's
a ballet you've been doing for awhile there can be a lot of freedom in that. That's sort
of the beauty of some of the choreographers that we perform the Robbins' work and the
Balanchine work specifically. The Robbins' work there's sort of a lot of freedom for
self expression and to associate with other dancers on stage. The Balanchine work a little
bit less so, but there is enough freedom in the choreography that you can sort of have
your own personality, musicality is trickier to play with when you're dancing in the corps,
but when you're on your own there's a lot you can do. I don't find it as stifling I
think as you [laughs],
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I accept that, I accept what you're saying.
>>Meghan Kent and Amanda Hankes: [laughing]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I think there's room for growth in that way, I don't necessarily
think it's encouraged.
>>Amanda Hankes: No it's not encouraged. [laughs]
>>Meghan Kent: Dancers' Choice Program, can you tell us a little bit about the history
of it? This is gonna be the third Dancers' Choice Program, Adrian do you wanna start?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Yeah, so Dancers' Choice is this really interesting opportunity
and challenge for us. It is traditionally, the model of it is this that our Ballet Master
and Chief, Peter Martins, asks a dancer to program and organize an entire evening's program,
like an entire evening at the ballet as a fund raiser for Dancers' Emergency Fund. And
the last two years have been singular, or the last two installments were just single,
principal dancers and this year we were asked to co-chair this event which means overseeing
every creative element of it and promotional element of it: advertising, marketing, I mean
working with it with the various divisions of the company but also fund raising and a
lot of hidden responsibilities. [laughs]
>>Meghan Kent and Amanda Hankes: [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: And so we decided, I mean for a number of reasons we decided
that we would kind of try to launch this some sort of guerrilla advertising campaign, the
major motivator being that we had no budget. So we thought how brilliant would it be if
we just like canvassed Lower Manhattan with red pointe shoes. And that turned into this
notion to make like a promo film of that process. I mean it's very tongue in cheek, obviously.
That this girl gang of ballerinas gets out of their working day of 12 hours of dancing
and dances some more.
>>Meghan Kent: They're unwinding.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: They're unwinding. So we got in touch with some friends who make
film and kind of cultivated this and this is the outcome of it and the hope would be
that it could sort of have the capacity to be some viral video somewhere in order to
stimulate younger interest in what we're doing. 'Cause we very much feel connected to this
legacy, this house that Balanchine built and consistently ask ourselves like why we struggle
to motivate our contemporaries to see why it's so compelling, why it's so relevant still.
So this is an attempt at sort of bridging that distance.
>>Meghan Kent: And you mentioned the Dancers' Emergency Fund, can you tell us a little bit
about that, the history about that, Amanda?
>>Amanda Hankes: Dancers' Emergency Fund was something that was set up to sort of help
out dancers if they find themselves needing some financial assistance outside of our salary
or paycheck for something that's gone on in their life. And it has proven to be a very
useful tool; several dancers have used it for things that really just reach beyond what
we make as artists, it's a short career, and it's an artistic career and very not for profit
[chuckles] so the fund was set up for that and then the fundraiser came afterwards. The
fund has been around I think a lot longer than Dancers' Choice has and they --
>>Meghan Kent: 1980 it was set up by Jerome Robbins. Yeah.
>>Amanda Hankes: Thank you.
>>Meghan Kent: [laughs]
>>Amanda Hankes: And so then this performance became attached to it and turned out to be
very successful as far as raising money for that fund. So it's doing very well.
>>Meghan Kent: It sounds like a thrilling opportunity for you both, but you also mentioned
some unexpected challenges and responsibilities. Can you talk about some of those?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Yeah, the most active one [chuckles] today is that we shot a documentary
that will screen the night of this performance.
But going back in time to give you some context, one of the big elements of this program is
that it provides an opportunity for young dancers to step into roles they otherwise
wouldn't have the opportunity to dance yet. So in our casting and our programming that
was very much at the forefront of our minds.
And so we decided to undertake a film tracing one of our sort of preeminent ballerinas,
Wendy Whelan, casting and coaching a young woman in one of her significant roles and
we wanted to capture that. We also wanted to tie it into this sort of broad theme of
the evening which is an exploration of the importance of the muse in the creation of
dance works, whether that be between choreographers and composers or whether that be between dancers
and dance makers. So we shot this film, this sort of mini doc, a couple weeks ago and this
gets to the meat of it.
The editors were traveling to Hong Kong for work immediately after shooting, like several
hours after shooting. So they took all the footage with them and had 10 days to edit
while in Hong Kong and then upload the file to Dropbox for me. And they couldn't find
a fast enough Internet connection in Hong Kong which is weird because it's Hong Kong.
>>Meghan Kent and Amanda Hankes: [laugh]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: And now they are backpacking in Thailand with a laptop under
their arm trying to find some way to upload this film that will take less than 40 hours
in an Internet cafe. So we're cautiously optimistic that we'll wind up with some content.
>>Amanda Hankes: We have 15 hours left --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Fifteen hours left to upload yeah.
>>Amanda Hankes: they're in the middle of it.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: They're in 15 hours left of a 40 hour --
>>Amanda Hankes: We're hoping it comes through by Sunday. [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: It must be DSL.
>>Meghan Kent: So now with New York City Ballet's repertory we have wide, vast, many pieces
to choose from. How on earth did you pick what pieces you wanted to show for this program?
What was the process like?
>>Amanda Hankes: I had sat on a committee for the first Dancers' Choice so I sort of
knew what was going to get poo-pooed [laughs] and also there is an enormous, active rep
list like you said and it's daunting 'cause then there has to be rehearsal time and dancers
donate their rehearsal time, ballet masters donate their rehearsal time, everything gets
donated so everyone's doing it for free and you kind of hope to tailor it a little bit
to alleviate some of the workload if you can.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Great incentives for people.
>>Amanda Hankes: Yeah. And we were actually very lucky that this year in the spring season
were a lot of the ballets that sort of tied into this idea that Adrian came to me with
which was this notion of the muse and how can we at least try to make a cohesive evening,
put together a program that's not just a bunch of excerpts and snippets which sort of is
like a bad tasting menu to quote a recent reviewer [chuckles]. But to actually put together
an evening with a really good program that was a pretty broad sampling of what we do.
And so we came up with a couple ballets. We started with a huge dream list [chuckles]
go big --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Like all the ballets that we always try to see from the audience
if we can. It was like what are the ballets like I just can't live without? Like what
are the reasons I'm here doing this thing? And so that was a really massive list luckily.
>>Meghan Kent: [chuckles]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: And then we sort of wheedled it down --
>>Amanda Hankes: You weed it down by picking like who you would envision casting in these
roles which is a huge incentive to even say yes to Dancers' Choice because you are always
wanting to get your hands on the casting choices. [chuckles] So we actually had that opportunity.
And you're casting sort of affects that you can't cast the same person in all six ballets
because they would be exhausted. So that sort of tweaks your list a little bit and I think
at our first meeting with Peter he looked at what we wanted at our proposed program
and said, "You have seven Stravinsky ballets on here which we hadn't really noticed. Stravinsky
can be a little hard on the ears sometimes.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: They're amazing.
>>Amanda Hankes: [laughs] They're amazing ballets and the music's amazing and for us
it's like home but if you're not used to seeing neoclassical --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Or hearing.
>>Amanda Hankes: or hearing neo-classical Stravinsky ballets, seven in a row [chuckles]
would be really hard on the audience. So that sort of shaped our ?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Highly immersive is what I would call it.
>>Amanda Hankes: Highly. [laughs] That shaped some of our programming.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Yeah. So ultimately we came up with something that we really felt
like tied into this narrative of exploring the importance of these muse relationships.
So we're opening the evening with Apollo which is a Balanchine masterpiece which quite literally
tells this story of a young disaffected demigod finding his muse. And in this way because
it's a story, although an abstracted story, it honors the inheritance of ballet which
was very much a storytelling art form sort of through the early operatic versions in
the 16th century.
And then we wanted to sort of look at more modern iterations of this relationship. So
to us the most pertinent example of that was Wendy Whelan, this ballerina working with
Christopher Wheeldon, who was the resident choreographer of the company for seven years
and continues to make work nearly every year for us.
And so we put on a program, the second act will be all pas de deux, so male/female duets.
Because so much of Balanchine's work really and Robbins' work and Wheeldon's work highlights
the dynamic between men and women in space. Like you strip people down to the barest essential
clothing that our Victorian sensibilities allow and you see what happens. So you remove
all these trappings, all the sort of Baroque frills of ballet's story and you just have
the human story and so that's what this second act is all about. So it's about the human
form as a mechanical instrument and man exploring woman in this way which you see so much in
these black and white ballets of Balanchine's, these neo-classical works.
And then we're closing it, the evening, with Rubies which is a Balanchine/Stravinsky collaboration
that really takes New York as its inspiration. So it honors Stravinsky, genius of Stravinsky,
and there's this great Balanchine quote that I will misquote for you now, or maybe paraphrase
wrongly. And that is something to the effect that like he kind of discounted, humbled himself
about his genius saying that like what I do is just translating music. All I do is translate
the musical score into movement. But the real genius lies in the composer, the real genius
lies in this person who's able to take from nothing to pull from the ether, melody. And
so we wanted to respect that and also highlight that Rubies is just this amazing work, this
amazingly dynamic work that's like sexy and fresh as the day it was made and all about
New York and all about American promise.
>>Meghan Kent: Now when you touched a little bit on the casting I think in another unique
thing with this program as you mentioned, I mean almost all the dancers are going to
be in debut roles for this, can you talk a little bit about that? How you chose who would
dance what for this program?
>>Amanda Hankes: There were definitely some people that I had been dying to see in some
roles over the years so it became sort of an opportunity to do that. Sean Suozzi's gonna
be doing the lead in Rubies and I am so excited. He is a fantastic dancer, very dynamic, very
energetic, and I think will fit the role like a glove. So we're very excited to see that.
>>Meghan Kent: So when the audience goes and see this program what do you think they're
gonna see that's gonna be different than going to a regular repertory performance? What can
they expect by going to this performance?
>>Amanda Hankes: [chuckles] Well I think that they'll see a very cohesive evening with a
really good program and hopefully it is a program that will appeal to a younger audience
and they will see that it's not all pink tutus and Black Swan [laughs] and that there's a
lot more to what we do that's interesting and dynamic and inspiring.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I also think because it's like by the dancers for the dancers there's
a really palpable energy that surrounds it, that surrounds the rehearsal process now that
I think will really culminate in this performance. So I think that there's, it's hard to put
into words, but I think that there's just such an investment of time and energy and
it's such an opportunity for all these dancers who are stepping onto the stage in these roles
for the first time, that it's kind of like being in the audience for this program is
like being present at the, I don't know, like the make or break moment of an artist's development.
>>Meghan Kent: And now dancers are also involved in other ways as well for this program correct?
Can you talk about a little bit of the other things that they've done. I mean Adrian you've
done the logo, the Make Your Move --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Yeah --
>>Meghan Kent: you wanna talk about that?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I cut the stencils --
>>Meghan Kent: [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: [laughs] and Mark, our company's designer and I worked on the
Dancers' Choice logo which is the Apollo image. We have Janie Taylor, who's a principal dancer
who styled the girls for this video and also contributed photographs, both she and Wendy
Whelan are really into Hipstamatic photography in quotes so we've issued a series of postcards
of their work collaboratively.
>>Amanda Hankes: We had a lot of people help us dye red pointe shoes because we had hundreds
of pairs [laughs] and that's everybody's old, used pointe shoes that we started collecting
a couple months ago and so there were a lot of those to spray. People have helped out
>>Meghan Kent: How long did that take to dye all of these?
>>Amanda Hankes: You do it on your hour off or if you only have the last ballet you run
up to the spray room with a can of spray paint, so we did it over the course of two or three
weeks, but then they all had to have ribbons on them. We cut the ribbons off our pointe
shoes when they're used to reuse them, so we had 200 pairs of pointe shoes with no ribbons,
how are we gonna tie them together so we put ribbons back on [chuckles] which seemed really
counterproductive [laughs].
>>Meghan Kent: Do you guys have any questions --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Job creation.
>>Amanda Hankes: [laughs]
>>Meghan Kent: do you have any questions for our artists while they're here?
>>female #1: So you said those two [inaudible] inspired you [inaudible].
>Meghan Kent: Just so everybody can hear, what are the shows that everybody can see?
What are the shows that, ballets that you love and that you wanna put out there?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I mean I think that's, in my mind they're mostly Balanchine works,
Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Agon, Apollo --
>>Amanda Hankes: Serenade --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Serenade --
>>Amanda Hankes: Serenade definitely.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Episodes. These things just like, it's also hard for us to put them
in their historical context but they still just feel so incredibly visionary. And I think
that those are the works that really stand out in my mind as always, and always offering
something to the dancers who inhabit them. So you always see they push people in ways
that not everything does. So like when you're present in those moments of performance, as
dancer or as audience, there are always some wildcards and I think that's the beauty of
dance so much of the time is that it's all this preparation, all this tireless work,
and at the end of the day it's for like this very ethereal, fleeting product, like that
moment on stage and a feeling. So I think that those works really embody that.
>>Amanda Hankes: We're very lucky to be in a company where the bulk of what we do is
really, really spectacular. To have these works available to us is kind of a gift. There
are a couple doozies but there really aren't that many. [laughs] We're very fortunate to
be able to out every night and do great ballets.
>>Meghan Kent: And I guess just for some of you who may not have seen the company yet,
can you in just a couple quick words how would you describe the aesthetic of New York City
Ballet, just for someone who hasn't seen us before?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Long, lean, exacting, voluminous, dynamic --
>>Meghan Kent: Any other questions from the audience? Yeah.
>>female #2: It's just so fun to have you here [inaudible] You talked about Black Swan
I'm sure you get this question all the time [inaudible] you kind of mentioned it with
a bad connotation. I'm thinking that probably [inaudible]
>>Meghan Kent: Just so everybody could hear too just the impact that Black Swan, the movie,
had and the effects of it.
>>Amanda Hankes: I think our spring season last year sold very, our winter season, it
was our winter season, sold very, very well. We had a run of Swan Lake that season that
we actually ended up adding shows because there was such a demand. So the exposure was
great --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Right. And people calling in asking when Natalie Portman was
on stage.
>>Amanda Hankes: So there was a lot of misinformation out there, but all press is good press to
some degree [chuckles].
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: It's true, I mean I think to bring ballet back towards the mainstream
in any way is a boon to us.
So we're still trying, we're trying to figure out how to ride that wave 'cause like so much
media right it's just like a flash in the pan, it's an Oscar season and then it's like
moving on to the next thing.
>>Amanda Hankes: But if it brings people in and gets them interested then I think it's
really good.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: Can I say something?
>>Meghan Kent: Yeah, of course.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I think it's really interesting what you're saying about attending
the ballet and that much of it stems from the fact that you were brought up doing that.
Like that your parents passed that on to you and this is a really interesting question
that we're always asking is like, "How do create that familiarity, how do you give someone
that context to appreciate this very rarefied art form?"
male #1: [inaudible]
>>Meghan Kent: So in terms of the marketing and Facebook you use social media what worked,
what didn't, what did you learn from this?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I mean in terms of marketing we see the ticket sales as they
stand right now are about twice what they were at this point for the previous Dancers'
Choice. So that's something, it's really hard to trace the direct correlation between these
things. I think that I've definitely seen a lot of like at New York City Ballet Twitter
feeds photos of red pointe shoes up in So Ho and Lower East Side so people are aware,
maybe slightly more aware that this is happening. It's hard --
>>Amanda Hankes: Facebook and Twitter have been huge places for us to sort of get out
and be seen. We've had to learn how to Twitter [laughs] some of it is new to us 'cause we
spend a day in the theater [laughs] not in front of a computer. So there's been a learning
curve for that but it has proven to be, as far as exposure goes and bringing in people
who had no idea what you were doing or what you were up to, it seems to have generated
a lot more interest with a different demographic.
>>Meghan Kent: Questions? Yes.
>>female #3: [inaudible]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: In the Courts at Versailles --
>>Meghan Kent: [chuckles] bringing --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: maybe not of the masses right so I guess it was never a populist
thing. I think that if you, I don't know, I think that the most palpable sense of ballet
being in the mainstream was very much embodied by Baryshnikov in the '70s and '80s. I think
that because he had this sort of crossover appeal with Hollywood, made a couple films,
impregnated actresses, and it seems like it's a successful path 'cause it's yeah, yeah.
So I think that there is, I think that that's the sort of the peak of it when people were
like lining up in the subway tunnels at Lincoln Center to buy tickets to see Nureyev and Fontaine.
It's interesting 'cause I think ballet very much relies on this codified language so the
syllabus that can be used like the steps that can be used, there's this Balanchine quote
that something to the effect that there are no new steps just new combinations of steps,
and I think there are no, I wanna say there are no new words, but there are 'cause we
keep changing the dictionaries. I think that the sensibility can change, I think that at
the end of the day that the--
format needs to remain intact. I don't necessarily think that needs to be your traditional opera
houses, I don't think that necessarily needs to be --
I mean there are so many constraints, right. There's the pointe shoe, there's this vocabulary,
I don't know like the more I try to answer this question the more I feel like it's unanswerable.
>>Amanda Hankes: I think the art form has changed, I think as the art form has evolved
the audience has evolved a little bit. We've seen examples of where Broadway shows have
been hugely successful, so ballet companies try to do stuff that's more Broadway oriented,
and while it may initially sell tickets what I think they're finding is happening is that
they've done something, I don't wanna slam Broadway, but I think they feel like they
dumbed it down for the audience and then the audiences don't come back they just come for
that one show. But they've found where if you have a really good, cohesive program that
brings people back to the theater. So I think programming is a big thing, I think getting
the word out, I think sort of --
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: It's like, it's a question of the commercialization of a rarefied
art and I think that there need to be concessions made if this specific art is to stay alive,
and I don't necessarily know what that means from a dancer's perspective I don't know what
that means, but I think that there do, we do need to incorporate a greater awareness
of what audiences want and what they're willing to pay for.
>>Meghan Kent: Yes, one more.
>> [inaudible]
>>Meghan Kent: Ah.
>>Meghan Kent: So what's next after your performing career, what do you see for yourselves? Has
this experience impacted you any?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: To a degree. I used to have a lot of anxiety about this and like
I have less and less, I don't know why. 'Cause I'm like my life is so structured I kinda
look forward to a moment of uncertainty.
>>Amanda Hankes: Look forward to a nap. [laughs]
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: [laughs]
>>Amanda Hankes: Yeah, it's a very anxiety inducing question it's something we all deal
with, but because of the threat of injury it's not like you can, I mean you should plan
for it absolutely, you should try to get your ducks in a row as you get older, but you could
also turn around and have an injury tomorrow that ends your career. So it's a very scary,
it's a scary reality.
This has probably shaped my, this experience has probably shaped my transition plans a
little bit just to sort of see what goes into, see what actually goes in to putting a ballet
up on its feet or marketing an evening. You think you wanna transition into the ballet
world, you're not quite sure, and it sort of has exposed us to all the different maybe
opportunities or possibilities that are out there.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: I do think though that like whatever I know I personally do
after dancing it will involve going back to school and sort of learning a new skill set
'cause I feel like that's what feeds me. I don't necessarily think that like transitioning
to another element, another role in the ballet establishment is right for me, but I really
can't say at this time.
>>Meghan Kent: Anything else you guys wanna say?
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: No, thank you guys for your --
>>Amanda Hankes: Thank you.
>>Adrian Danchig-Waring: afternoon interest.
>>Meghan Kent: Thank you.