Meet the dancers: Andre Silva

This season we welcome Andre Silva to the stage for SKETCH 6 with 13 years of professional dancing under his belt. He began dancing for want of being around at his mother’s dance school. Andre’s favorite part of performing is “the moments before going on stage, during, and after. The sensations and emotions that rush through the mind and body.” He’s enjoying this process because “Imagery allows you to collaborate to the creation process with a more relaxed, open minded environment between dancers and choreographers. When he’s not dancing, Andre is in nature, reading, teaching, and choreographing. See Andre in his first performance with ASI in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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    Meet the dancers: Beth Ann Maslinoff

    Beth Ann Maslinoff has been taking dance seriously since she was a teenager. She began dancing for the sake of correcting alignment, but not dances to “get totally lost in the music and the movement” and “to get to experience a moment of freedom.” She states that this particular work, “Neil Gaiman’s poem…is what I mulled over the most.” She even “bought the children’s book of it”! When Beth Ann isn’t dancing, she is hiking in the beautiful Bay Area, and loves “how many beautiful trails there are close to the city and the ocean.” See Beth Ann in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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      Meet the dancers: James Gilmer

      Dancer James Gilmer finds his love of dance in the fleeting moment on stage and the community feeling of telling a story. In SKETCH, James finds a different choreographic process with “room to explore what you’re physically capable of doing.” He’s been dancing since he was 5, simply because he had been dancing around the house to anything that was playing in the background. In the past, he feels that SKETCH has given the “opportunity to organize, refine, and explore new movement.” When he’s not dancing, James is at the gym or dreaming up new meals! Come see James on stage performing in SKETCH 6 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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        Meet the dancers: Kelsey McFalls

        This season we welcome Kelsey for her first season with ASI! She found dancing at age 8 by way of living room dancing to The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and she keeps on dancing because she loves “the perpetual challenges it presents.” We’re so excited to see Kelsey on stage for SKETCH 6. When Kelsey’s not dancing, she’s working as the chief operating officer of a Berkeley-based technology company – talk about multi-talented! She loves performing because it is “an opportunity to temporarily transform an audience member’s reality… while observing the performance, the audience is given the change to forget about their bills, work, or stressors.” Kelsey will be performing in SKETCH 6 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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          Meet the dancers: Sarah Griffin

          SKETCH 6 Dancer, Sarah Griffin has been with every Sketch since 2010, and we’re so happy to have her performing with us. At a young age, she was shy but after seeing the Nutcracker when she was three, her mom put her in dance classes. In her own words, she dances because “it’s the one thing that fulfills me on all levels: physically, creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. Dance is my highest form of expression and the medium in which I feel most present and free. There is always something new to learn, so the adventure never ends!” When she’s not dancing, Sarah is reading, writing, swimming, working out, and traveling. See Sarah in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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            Meet the dancers: Peter Franc

            This is Peter’s first season with SKETCH, but he’s been dancing professionally for 12 years. For him, SKETCH is a unique process because you get to experience so many new people and influences in such a short amount of time! As a kid he “fell in love with the convergence of athleticism and musicality,” and he still dances for the conveying of “different emotions and telling a story without using words.” He says, “I experience a tremendous rush of energy and presence like nothing else when I perform.” When he’s not dancing, Peter is outside hiking, climbing, swimming, and camping! Come see Peter on stage at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason for SKETCH 6: Use Your Words, July 8-10!

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              Meet the dancers: Annali Rose

              Annali Rose has been with ASI for four Summers and we’re so glad to have her with us for SKETCH 6! She began dancing at age 8, because her mother thought it was something every child should have the opportunity to do (we think so too!). With a background dancing for ballet and ballet-based companies, Annali feels that working on a piece for SKETCH is “a much more collaborative experience,” and challenges her “to be creative in a different way and explort outside of normal ballet parameters.” A fun fact about Annali is that she’s hooked on Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends, two games that she spends her time out of the studio on! Come see Annali in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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                Meet the dancers: Scott Marlowe

                Scott Marlowe joined ASI in 2016 and was once a championship swimmer until he skipped a championship swim meet to audition for the dance program at Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. And he hasn’t looked back since. He says, “I wanted my high school experience to be just like those kids in Fame.” When he’s not dancing, Scott has been singing: in the shower, in the car, while doing dishes! His favourite thing about performing is finding connections, “both with other performers and an audience,” something he calls “magic.” Come see Scott’s magic on stage for SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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                  Fun fact: Why Sue’s butt says “Vorsicht“

                  “Vorsicht“ translates as caution. If you’re watching “Broken Open” and get distracted by Susan Roemer’s costume, thinking “why vorsicht?” when she’s facing upstage, here you go:

                  The creation process for Broken Open started with a very clear intention – an exploration of how, sometimes, absolute beauty can be born from a scar. One inspiration was a photo of a woman who had had a severe medical surgery, and turned that scar into a fantastic tattoo. Love or hate tattoos,  this woman took her scarring and turned it into her own personal statement of beauty. Something I applaud.


                  Another inspiration came from the city of Berlin, where I had the good fortune to spend a couple of weeks back in 2009. On a warm spring day I stumbled across Kunsthaus Tacheles, a building originally slated for demolition by the GDR. Artists had taken over the site by squatting there after the Berlin Wall came down. I spent hours in the garden reading and writing in my journal, wondering how someone was able to create graffiti murals five stories tall. I was amazed at the large scale beauty created by the artists. It wasn’t pretty, but it was absolutely beautiful. How a place with such a horrid history (the building housed a Nazi prison at one point) became a vibrant hub for beauty and expression. I was amazed at how a wound so deep healed over, and something beautiful came from that scar.

                  Early on the process designer Sandra Woodall mentioned graffiti for the costumes. This was totally by coincidence, she didn’t know of the Berlin inspiration. I sent her images of murals I had taken in the city, the  image above, which in my memory is from a stairwell in the Kunsthaus Tacheles, was one of them. In her search for fabric she found a print that must have been inspired by the same wall. She then had them painted over so the scale would read from stage.

                  Costumes being painted for the premiere of "Broken Open." Design by Sandra Woodall.

                  Costumes being painted for the premiere of “Broken Open.” Design by Sandra Woodall.

                  I am sad to say the Kunsthaus Tacheles was closed in September of 2012. I have to wonder if any of the murals were preserved. And I have to thank those artists who inspired me with the beauty they created.

                  If you’ve read this far – you were really interested in some background for Broken Open.  So a little bit more. These ideas: the graffiti, surgical scars – they were a spring board. As often happens, the ballet took a left turn and demanded to have a life of its own. 

                  “It seemed a straightforward story, and it was only when I came to write it I discovered it was like trying to hold fine sand: every time I thought I’d got hold of it, it would trickle through my fingers and vanish. ”

                  -Neil Gaiman on the creative process

                  I often find Mr. Gaiman inspiring, both his fiction and his comments on the how and why of creating. Broken Open was a difficult birth as far as ballets go. I had I very clear idea where I wanted the ballet to go before I began, but the ballet had a different agenda. While I encourage the dancers to thrive while being “lost in process,” I know deep down it is a highly uncomfortable place to be. When creating a ballet, I feel I’m watching something unfold that already exists, my job is simply to help it into the world. Broken Open hid from me a little bit, but perhaps I was looking in the wrong direction. Finally, I shifted my perspective and met what this ballet wanted to be.  

                  So in viewing, I encourage the audience to not look for the intention with which I began. There’s no right or wrong way to view a ballet, there’s no quiz afterwards.  Experience the work in a way unique to you. Gathering together a community to have a shared yet unique experience is one of the fantastic things about what we, as dance makers, get to do.

                  Video teaser for Broken Open.  https://vimeo.com/140251223



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                    The making of…”But now I must rest”

                    “Today will be the day I finish my ballet.”

                    That’s what I woke up with in my head this morning. Same thing happened yesterday, which was a day when I definitely did not finish my ballet. Today, finally, it’s fully sketched out. I hesitate to say it’s been born, but it’s…so…close…

                    But now I must rest

                    Some music really insists on being made into ballets. The music of Cesaria Evora started tugging at my subconscious last spring. By the summer I was mildly obsessed, I could see the ballet. Celia Fushille, the Artistic Director of Smuin Ballet, had originally asked me to look to classical music for my 2014 premiere. I am incredibly grateful she let me change course and follow this music.


                    Costume sketch by Sandra Woodall.

                    Preview image: Susan Roemer in rehearsal for “But now I must rest.” Photo by Keith Sutter.


                    Researching this piece has been a joy. Watching video clips of The Barefoot Diva on youtube, you see an artist so intensely still that the air seems to resonate around her. When friends would recount seeing her perform at Zellerbach in 2008, I could see them travel back to that moment in their minds, temporarily lost in the memory of her performance.  The New York Times described her as “a yoda of melancholy.” As I looked at image after image of this woman, the lines of her face whispered a story to me. My challenge was how to capture that nuance and depth, the color and richness of her sound.
                    From Cape Verde, Ms. Evora always performed barefoot as a show of solidarity with the poor women of the world. The depth of her voice captures the history, pain, and hope of these islands, a place with more ex-pats scattered across the globe than current residents. When asked, after two strokes and a heart attack, why she was retiring, she told the French newspaper Le Monde: “I have no strength, no energy. I’m sorry, but now I must rest.” When Ms. Evora passed in 2011 the government in Cape Verde declared two days of national mourning in her honor.
                    In creating, I kept coming back to the translation of São Tomé Na Equador as the heart of work:

                    São Tomé, you have many of us, you are part of our history and our pain.

                    In your nectar you have Bantu, Creole and Angolan.

                    São Tomé, in your veins run only one blood.

                    You were a place of suffering, but you can give happiness.

                    If you behold all your children, São Tomé, you have richness.

                    But the biggest treasure is the value and love of all your children, and their will of living together, in a small land where the grass is greener.

                    São Tomé, São Tomé, don’t forget who you fight for.

                    São Tomé, São Tomé, in the equator of our pain.

                    São Tomé, São Tomé, the long road is already coming closer, much closer of your future.

                    The past is only weight.

                    Resentment doesn’t build anything.

                    Reality is forgiveness, and forgiveness can be the union of all your children.

                    São Tomé.

                    Smuin Ballet will premiere this work May 2, 2014, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

                    For ticket info, click here.

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