Some tech folks are looking to help! This is rather exciting, really.

In addition, I just read this on Twitter:

San Jose just gave an unrestricted grant of $105,000 to @balletsj ! The emergency funding campaign has $487,000 of $550,000 needed 2 #SV4BSJ

(For those who don’t read hashtags, #SV4BSJ means “Silicon Valley for Ballet San Jose”. I think.)

Have you made your donation yet? If not, start by going here.

… and here are a few events you might consider attending.

Wednesday March 11, City Hall – Arts Commission Meeting 5:30pm
Support Ballet San Jose at City Hall, where the Arts Commission will be meeting to decide if and how much emergency funding to make available to Ballet San Jose. Please come and have your voice be heard; let the city and Arts Commission know how much Ballet San Jose means to you!

Thursday March 12, Brown Bag Open Rehearsal 12:00-1:30pm
Ballet San Jose Studios: 40 N First St, San Jose 95113
Please invite your family and friends to an open rehearsal in our studios on their lunch break! Get to know Ballet San Jose and support our Bridge to the Future Campaign.

Friday March 13, Beer and Ballet 4:00-5:30pm
Ballet San Jose Studios: 40 N First St, San Jose 95113
Please invite your family and friends to join us for beer and ballet, an open rehearsal event to let the public know about our institution in support of our Bridge to the Future Campaign.

Of course you could also consider donating. That would be wonderful. Start by going here.

We don’t want to lose another arts group in our extremely wealthy Silicon Valley. It’s a disgrace that we’ve lost a number already, and even more disgraceful that others are struggling.

I don’t fully “get” ballet, but this is an amazing piece. It’s feels very personal, and really helps me see the tremendous work and skill in ballet. Breathlessness, too. Especially in the first and second parts. The third section where she is motionless … it certainly will cause me to see things differently when I next attend a ballet.

“Veronique Doisneau”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

And, finally, the very brief Part 4

Does it make you think of dance differently? It does for me.

The final performance of the season closer will be followed by a program that will pay tribute to Gabay and showcase some of her work. Gabay danced for 34 seasons with the company. “A Tribute to Ballet San Jose’s Karen Gabay” takes place April 21, 7 p.m. at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.


I’ve always enjoyed Karen Gabay, and I am convinced that woman barely ages. I knew she’d retire eventually, but I’m sorry it’s now, and I’m sorry I’m not playing the set so I miss saying goodbye.

Wishing you all the best, Karen! You have always touched my heart!

This video is from 3 years ago or so:

01. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Ballet, Concert Announcements

There’s nothing quite like a glimpse into the abyss to reorder one’s priorities. After this past winter’s turmoil seemed to threaten Ballet San Jose’s status as one of California’s premiere dance companies, the organization has recommitted to fundamentals.
In its latest dramatic gesture, the ballet hired Emmy award-winning music director and conductor George Daugherty, while announcing that every performance this season will feature live music by Symphony Silicon Valley.


So glad to see that we are back in the pit for Ballet San Jose, and so glad Ballet San Jose is still dancing! :-)

05. August 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Ballet

The ballet’s website tells me the “2011-2012 Season Will Be Announced Soon” … but then I read this:

For the first time in decades, Ballet San Jose, a company known as much for its perseverance as for its innovative performances, is unlikely to stage a ballet this fall, and will probably begin its season with December’s traditional performances of “The Nutcracker.”
Typically by this time of year, the ballet company has announced its slate of performances for the coming season, which in years past has stretched from fall to spring.
But an announcement of the 2011-12 season has been delayed because of uncertainty about the company’s budget, Ballet San Jose Executive Director Stephanie Ziesel said this week. Like many arts organizations, Ballet San Jose has faced its share of budget problems over the years; it reported a deficit of nearly $1 million on its tax return for the fiscal year ending June 2010.
And in addition to questions about how much revenue the ballet will generate in the coming season, the company’s management still has not reached a contract agreement with the ballet dancers union. Against that backdrop, it’s unlikely that the curtain will rise on a Ballet San Jose performance this autumn.
“We would be putting ourselves in the position of rushing to the market,” Ziesel said, noting that the company did just that last year, announcing the season in August 2010 and staging “Giselle” in October. “We didn’t have ample runway to sell subscriptions and meet our subscription goal or our single-ticket sales goal for that first program.”
Following “The Nutcracker” in December, the company’s repertory season will likely run from February to April, she said, adding that she is hopeful the company will stage three ballets, as it did last season.


04. April 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Ballet

While I was unable to watch any of Ballet San Jose’s Carmen, I can easily see this one! Bizet is still there, but this arrangement is by Rodion Shchedrin. The choreography is by Mat Ek. (I do wish the camera just focused on the entire stage and let us decide where to look; this is an issue I have with staged opera that’s filmed, too. Oh well! I’m obviously not in charge!)

Wow … put the video up before I’d watched the whole thing. I found it pretty amazing. Not everyone’s cuppa, I’m sure, but I thought it was incredibly powerful.

(If you click on the video it will open in a larger format in another window.)

04. April 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Ballet, Mr. Nut · Tags:

I’m done with ballet for this year. I really enjoyed this run, and it was quite unstressful — I had tiny solos, but they were the sort no one even notices, I’m sure, and certainly nothing that makes me nervous. We had a guest conductor who I found enjoyable to work with. He had us seated differently and I think it was an improvement from our normal seating, even while it meant I no longer get to see a thing; I was sitting underneath the lip of the stage. Ah well … the “best seat in the pit” was fun while it lasted! This new seat does allow me to hear the strings a lot better, and I like that.

Below are a few photos of my view from the pit.

Our conductor, Andrew Mogrelia (sorry for the dim photo):

Mr. Nut visited us at the final performance:

The brass section:

Some of the strings:

I always enjoy the differences between opera, symphony and ballet audiences. It would be very rare to see people dressed this way for a symphony concert!

Next up is La bohème, but this week I have no work at all … well … aside from seventeen students!

30. March 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Ballet

… but don’t worry, I’m not dancing! Now that would be even worse than my singing!

We had our first rehearsal for the ballet set tonight, in the less than wonderful rehearsal hall. The lighting in there is horrible, not terribly bright fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent light can trigger migraines, so I now know to think ahead and bring a stand light. I’ll also take some meds tonight that might help me if I am in borderline migraine country.

Below are a few photos I took. The ballet company was rehearsing with taped music while we were downstairs rehearsing our parts. I did a couple blurry, flashless photos and I hope I wasn’t breaking any rules, but I love to post a “view from the pit”. You also see the crummy rehearsal hall and a poster outside the hall.

I am SO incredibly thankful that reviewers don’t comment on orchestra members’ bodies when we are up there on the stage — or down in the pit (but can they really see us there anyway?) — doing our thing.

Dancers? That’s another story … or at least it was with one reviewer:
Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many; and Jared Angle, as the Cavalier, seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm.

(Read here.)

He was criticized, so he has also defended his position. The woman dancer, Jennifer Ringer, who was accused of having “one sugar plum too many” has responded as well.

And does the “rest of the story” — the fact that Ringer has been open about her eating disorders — make one pause when commenting about things like this, or should the reviewer not concern himself with that?

Me? I have never eaten a sugar plum. Not even one. But you can bet I look as if I’ve eaten far too many. Sigh.

So what think ye? Does a dance reviewer have the “right” to comment on bodies? Hmmm. I wonder if they’ve ever commented on the ones who look like they could drop dead any minute, they are so skinny. (We had one, years ago, who was simply frightening. Turned out the audience agreed: the next day the office received a multitude of calls saying, “Why are you allowing someone like that on stage?” It was fairly clear the woman had an eating disorder and it really was tough to watch her dance. She has since left the company. I hope she is healthier now.)

Dancers are in such a different world than we musicians. I can’t even imagine! I am guessing they are obsessed with body image. They see themselves in the mirror constantly! (I rarely look at myself in a mirror. Really.) They wear clothes that reveal all. (I wear nice, loose fitting black.) And yet when I get to the hall for a ballet performance there so many are (especially the guys), smoking away. Body image and health are two very different things.

I’m thankful to be in black. On stage. Judged by my performance and not my body. Whew!

Side note: when an instrumentalist solos reviewers do on occasion, feel the need to comment on what is worn. Especially if a woman is the soloist. But I’m not a soloist — whew! — and you can pretty much bet I’ll be in black when I am on stage or pit.