Open Barre…From Behind the Barre

Post by Ashley Knox, Corps de Ballet

This weekend, Miami audiences will have the unique opportunity to enjoy a performance by Miami City Ballet in the intimate setting of the Lynn & Louis Wolfson, II Theatre. This venue also offers the dancers a unique onstage experience. For us, inviting you to our Open Barre Dance Series is like inviting you into our living rooms. We perform in the very studio where we approach the barre each day to prepare for the rehearsals needed for every show MCB presents. This is where we dance, but also where we laugh, cry, sweat, stumble, persevere, create, and breathe as people, friends, and artists. It becomes our second home. In this setting, the audience is able to get up close and personal to the performers. You are able to hear each step we take as our pointe shoes lightly tap the floor, see every detail of our costumes where each bead has been carefully hand sewn, and practically hear the beating of our hearts as we dance solely from them.

But how are things seen from behind the barre? Open Barre is certainly a bonding experience for the dancers. Getting ready and warming up in one studio all together while blasting our favorite songs, definitely generates high energy and lots of laughs. Usually we listen to the orchestra while warming up, here we listen to the crowd settling in just five feet away from the edge of our dancing space. The closeness of the audience is our main challenge as we try to stay focused. While performing at Adrienne Arsht Center, for example, looking out from the stage we see mainly darkness and only the outline of the audience seated in their seats. During performances of Open Barre, there are times where we actually feel as if we meet eyes with our spectators which can be somewhat alarming. We can also make out familiar faces, and find our family and friends. Even though we are used to being on display and always giving our all, feeling the presence of the audience so close makes us even more aware of our every move. Everything from our facial expressions to our ballet technique is more pronounced and exposed. Like looking through a magnifying glass. It does, however, add a certain thrill to our performance.

This weekend I will have the chance to reverse roles and be among the audience! I’m looking forward to watching the concert version of Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Edward Villella’s “Mambo: Mambo No. 2 a.m.”  Who Cares? has fun yet extremely challenging variations and three different pas de deux set to jazzy, romantic Gershwin music. “Mambo” gives the dancers a chance to let loose and shake it to some latin rhythms. This program demonstrates the Company’s diversity, from ballerina to ballroom, and will be followed by a Q&A with Edward Villella.

Hopefully, insight from a dancer’s perspective will enhance your experience at the Open Barre Dance Series. See you there!