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COLORES DE ALMA 
 

choreography: Deanna Carter
music: Jaramar, Juan Carmona, Duquende, El Uvero
lighting design: John Bohuslawsky


World premiere of Colores De Alma, BalletMet Columbus, February 12, 2004


These notes compiled by Jeannine Potter, BalletMet Columbus, January 2004

 

 

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The Ballet



Carter's ballet is made up of several different sections utilizing large and small groups of dancers. What never changes is the dancers' relationship with the music and the energy with which they move across the floor.

 

Carter is not an artist who makes movement independent of her accompaniment. This is very clear from the way she works in the studio. Whereas some choreographers may hardly ever play music in rehearsals, relying on the dancers own rhythmic sensibilities to find the logical flow of the movement, Carter's music almost never stops. In it, she finds the clues that will lead her and her dancers to find solutions to movement problems. The choreography matches the rhythmic and dynamic qualities of the music exactly. The dancers hit every accent, grow bigger with crescendos and shrink with decrescendos.

Carter casually referred to her dance as a "gut buster" one day in rehearsal and it is easy to see why. There is almost a constant flurry of movement on the stage that leaves dancers doubled over, hands on knees, catching their breath after a run. The energy never dissipates. Even in the "slower" sections the dancers are pulled so taut that it packs as much punch as the running and jumping that happened a minute before. The affect is nothing less than exciting.

There is no direct story in this ballet, only the unity of bodies in motion and music. However, as Carter mentioned to the dancers, (quoting Balanchine), putting any two bodies on the stage calls to mind some sort of story. A trio could be enmeshed in a complex lovers' triangle, a group of men could be coming together in friendship or in battle and a large group dance could be a celebratory gathering of friends or the coming together of neighbors who rarely meet. Carter leaves it open, but one thing is clear: when you watch bodies moving with each other to such compelling accompaniment the result is satisfying.

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The Process



Colores de Alma marks Deanna Carter's choreographic debut with BalletMet, although her dances have been seen all over the world. She came to Columbus by way of a video tape of her work she sent to artistic director Gerard Charles, who offered her the opportunity to expand one of her pas de deux into a ballet. The original pas de deux appears in the ballet as one of the several sections.

 

Carter began working on her piece early in the company's season. While she created in one studio, Stravinsky's music pulsed through the walls as other dancers rehearsed for the upcoming performance of Jewels. An early start for a performance that would not see the stage until February 2004? Yes, but with Carter only in town for a few days, there was no time to waste.

It is interesting to watch Carter work. She walks through the space, sometimes with notebook in hand, but always deep in thought. Although she clearly has an idea of what the piece looks like in her head, she finds the appropriate movement through collaboration with her dancers. Instead of giving them all the specifics of every step, she experiments with one thing and then another until the dance flows with the music in perfect synchronicity.

In one section for two men and one woman, she encourages the dancers to find the natural momentum of the music that seems to swing around them. And that is exactly what she tells them she wants. "I want it to look like it's swinging and swinging," she says to the three dancers standing in front of her trying to figure out a series of lifts. Carter steps in and out of the close-knit trio, trying first one thing and then another, stepping in to be the woman, then one of the men. The dancers often look at her quizzically, attempting to follow her. When Carter steps away from them to work out a bit of choreography on her own, the male dancers experiment with new combinations of hands on the ballerina's hips and shoulders so she can move easily from the ground to the air and back again. The three of them have been given a puzzle to solve and they seem to enjoy the challenge of figuring it out. The work between dancers and choreographer results in spinning, twisting and pulling choreography that flies the ballerina over and around her partners. She is definitely the center of attention, confident and frequently sexy.

Carter approaches working with a large group in much the same way. The atmosphere in the studio is one of exploration and problem solving. With notebook close at hand, she listens to the running rhythm of the music and moves in front of a group of female dancers, pelvis close to the floor, fluid limbs reaching on a wide horizontal. She improvises and the dancers stand behind her attempting to "catch" her movement. Carter moves, the dancers watch and imitate. She steps back to watch the results. Carter adds a roll of the shoulder here, and a flick of the wrist there, filling in gaps and smoothing out sharp gestures. After several repetitions and looking at different versions of the same phrase, she and the dancers reach a decision. She leaves them to perfect the choreography as she moves on to the men who are performing a series of acrobatic poses on the floor that contrast the women's weaving arms and reaching torsos. They stand on their shoulders and try to find an easy way into the next movement. Carter, on her feet, watches their progress and urges them on.

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The Style and the Music



Flamenco refers to a specific type of music from Southern Spain that is a collage of sounds from that country's diverse population. The dance that carries the same name seems to have come on the scene in Spain in the late eighteenth century and reflects the complex rhythms of the music. The dance is characterized by the vertical spine and proud, uplifted chest of its participants. Wrists twist as arms snake around the body in spirals around the dancers' lifted heads and torsos. Feet tap out complicated rhythmic patterns and are often accompanied by related rhythms of hands or castanets.

 

The twisting and spiraling of traditional flamenco winds itself into Carter's more classical choreography. Soft ballet shoes replace the heeled shoes of the Flamenco dancers but the movement gently recalls the brisk pace of tapping feet and fingers.

Many of the artists Carter has chosen for her accompaniment compose their music in the "nuevo flamenco" style. Their music draws on traditional flamenco and infuses it with other styles like American jazz, rock and pop as well as the South American sounds of rumba and salsa. In this particular ballet, Carter's choreography is accompanied by the music of Juan Carmona, Duquende, and El Uvero.

The Mexican vocalist, Jaramar, is yet another example of an artist combining traditional Spanish music with more contemporary forms. She has studied the music of the Renaissance and more recently, performs the music of old Mexico that was brought to the continent by Spanish conquerors. Her style bridges the old and new, taking the medieval roots of Mexican music and fusing it with modern technology.

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Deanna Carter


 

Deanna Carter's resume reads like a chronicle of a world traveler. Throughout her career, she has been an artistic presence in places as far apart as Seattle, Washington and Kazan, Russia working as a choreographer, ballet teacher and ballet mistress.

Deanna Carter is from Seattle WA where she began her early ballet training with Delphine McDade. She continued her studies on scholarship with the Joffrey Ballet, the First Chamber Dance Company and Maggie Black in New York.

Deanna has choreographed for the Leipzig Ballet Intern 1 Concert, and Dessau Ballet in Germany, Stars of La Scala in Milan Italy, and Gudrun Bojeson of the Royal Danish Ballet and friends. She has also created for contemporary companies Danza De Contemporania of Guadalajara, and Mnenosini and Nemian of Mexico City. Deanna has also choreographed the Operetta Night in Venice, Zar & Zimmerman as well as the Musical Les Miserables.

Her ballet and contemporary works have been presented internationally in over 16 countries. In Russia her work Same Old Song was awarded best American Choreography from a panel of 12 judges at the international Ballet Festival of Kazan in 1994.

Deanna has choreographed for several Regional Dance America Companies where her works have been recognized by being placed on the National Choreography Plan of RDA. She also has been a multiple recipient of Monticello Scholarship for choreography.

Deanna has also served as Ballet Mistress of Italy's Aterballetto, Germany's Leipzig Ballet, Mexico City's Taller Coreografico de la UNAM and as assistant to the Director of Teatro San Carlo in Naples. She has been a Guest Teacher for La Scala, Milan, Maggio Danza, Florence, Semper Oper, Dresden, Northern Ballet Theater, England, as well as other companies throughout Europe, the USA and Mexico. For the last 2 seasons recently, she has been Ballet Mistress for the Dessau Ballet and Guest Choreographer with Anhaltisches Theater, both of Dessau Germany. During the past couple of years in Dessau, she has choreographed for the musical Les Miserables and the operetta Nacht en Venedig.

Colores de Alma marks Deanna Carter's first collaboration with BalletMet.

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