© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ballet San Antonio Takes On A Tough, Quirky Piece

Ballet San Antonio’s first Tobin Season officially closes this weekend, and they're closing with a notable production. I spoke with Philip Neal, who travels around the country to help ballet companies stage the works of George Balanchine.

“The Ballet’s name is the Donizetti Variations. So it’s really fast and it’s got syncopated jazzy inflections in the rhythms.”

I asked "So is ballet timing difficult for music that comes in and out?"

“Oh, absolutely. How dancers hear music I find absolutely fascinating. And it usually takes a couple of days to get on the same page.”

That’s what the Miami-based Neal is here to do—help the dancers get together. He says this particular work is highly accessible, even to those not that into ballet.

“It’s immediately likable, and the action gets started the moment the curtain goes up. There’s not a twenty-minute introduction of characters and plot and setting. It’s also got a good-natured bit of humor in it.”

I had to wonder out loud “How is humor manifested in ballet?”

“In an abstract way. It’s not like 'ha-ha, here’s the punch line.' There’s one moment in this ballet that can seem a bit random at first. This young girl runs to the front of the stage and starts doing this mad dance, and everyone else is sort of turned away from her. And then she lands of her toes sort of too hard and she winces. And then she runs back into position and the ballet starts all over again. It’s so odd, but it totally works and it’s so unexpected. So come. You’ll be so surprised at what you see.”

I asked him what the run of the ballet is.

“Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You have three opportunities.  I would just make a plea to everyone to come out and support the greatness you have in your own home town. It’s a full commitment, 24/7. But I don’t think a dancer would have it any other way.”

We’ve more here.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii