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Photo: Patrick Frenette.

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It takes more than pliés to lift a ballet company to great heights. From dancers to conductors, teachers to makeup artists, this series features fascinating insight from ABT experts and an intimate look inside America’s National Ballet Company®. Take a spot at the SideBarre to get to know the incredible people behind each bourrée of American Ballet Theatre.

Posts in: Dancer DiaryView All Posts
June 21, 2021
Dancer Diary: Leah Baylin in Green Mountain Falls, CO: Sunday, June 20, 2021

"Dancing outside, especially in these Colorado mountains I know so well, is a special experience that I’ll never forget."

By Leah Baylin

The unanimous opinion as we entered week three in Colorado was, “How has this bubble flown by so quickly?” By the end of this week, we’d be on stage for the first time. It seemed as though we’d spent months together in Green Mountain Falls but it had also flown by so quickly. That’s what happens when you’re having fun, right? We were all working so hard but having such an amazing time.

Just like in previous weeks, we started our mornings sipping coffee and eating breakfast while we laughed and talked. Then one by one we’d trickle over to the studio down the road and begin warming up for the day ahead. During this pod I have had some of the best and most rewarding rehearsal experiences. Working with Silas Farley, as well as his wife Cassia, has been an incredibly fulfilling process. Not only is the choreography a blast to dance, but he also brings such a wonderful energy to the room and is continually reminding us of how much he appreciates us and our individual work – something a dancer doesn’t always hear.

Along with rehearsing for Collage & Creed, Silas Farley’s new 32-minute ballet, Patrick Frenette and I continued to rehearse and dive into White Swan Pas de Deux. This beautiful pas de deux is something that has always intrigued me. Working on it with Director of Repertoire Carlos Lopez and former ABT dancer Valerie Madonia has been incredible. They encourage Patrick and I to create our own interpretation of the movement while also imparting on us endless knowledge from their own past experiences of dancing, watching, and coaching White Swan Pas. I couldn’t be more thankful for the amazing team guiding us through this bubble.

On our day off, a few of us, guided by corps dancer and chef Luigi Crispino yet again, cooked up an Italian dinner for everyone. The menu included Luigi grandmother’s lasagna, butternut squash risotto, a salad, and tiramisu. Our stomachs were all quite happy as we sat outside around the firepit enjoying the feast as the sun went down.

Although most of our time was consumed in rehearsals (since opening day is approaching fast!) we did find some time to return to our favorite local spot – The Blue Moose Tavern. As we sat and ate on plush couches near a woodburning fire we were serenaded by live country music and the buzz of the busy Colorado tavern.

The last day of rehearsals for this third week was spent on stage – for the first time. This beautiful outdoor stage was surrounded by aspen and pine trees as well as beautiful flowers. We spaced and tried out each part of the ballet and as we all assumed our final pose for the ballet a massive gust of wind swept the last notes of the music off into the distance. Dancing outside, especially in these Colorado mountains I know so well, is a special experience that I’ll never forget.

-Leah Baylin, apprentice

June 21, 2021
Dancer Diary: Claire Davison in Green Mountain Falls, CO | Sunday, June 20, 2021

"I feel the most at home in these mountains or on a stage, so the combination is really sweet and something I know I will cherish forever. "

By Claire Davison

This week flew by. With shows around the corner, we were deep in rehearsal mode. On Friday we finished Silas’s half-hour ballet. It’s been wonderful learning and working through so much material again. Flexing that specific muscle is something I really missed during the pandemic.

Another highlight for me has been taking Company ballet class from some of my peers. Javier Rivet and Patrick Frenette each taught great morning classes. I love watching my colleagues take on new roles and look forward to taking more of their classes in the future.

On Saturday we had our first experience on the outdoor stage. Looking out to the mountains and aspen trees while dancing is breathtaking. I feel the most at home in these mountains or on a stage, so the combination is really sweet and something I know I will cherish forever. I can’t wait to perform on that stage next week.

The week ended at the Blue Moose Tavern for many of us. There was live music, making it a very popular spot, but we didn’t mind the wait.

Now we have Sunday off to recuperate before an exciting week of tech rehearsals and performances!

-Claire Davison, corps de ballet

June 15, 2021
Dancer Diary: Leah Baylin in Green Mountain Falls, CO | Sunday, June 13, 2021

"Our first day of rehearsals was like a breath of fresh air as we began putting together steps and phrases with Silas Farley."

By Leah Baylin

Last Tuesday was a day we had all been excitedly waiting for. Rehearsing and learning new choreography – essentially our daily life – is something I’ll never take for granted again. I have missed this process so much during the pandemic.

Our first day of rehearsals was like a breath of fresh air as we began putting together steps and phrases with Silas Farley – the choreographer of the piece we’ll be performing at Green Box. We started the first rehearsal by sitting and having a “family chat,” as Silas and his wife Cassia explained the motivation and intention for the ballet we were beginning. We were all happily exhausted after learning and attempting several new phrases of choreography.

On day two of rehearsals, Patrick Frenette and I began rehearsing White Swan Pas de Deux. This beautiful pas has always intrigued me. The purity and emotion of the choreography and music together create such a serene moment in time. Getting to dive into the pas and rehearse all the details has been such a special process.

Although most of our time last week was spent in our makeshift studio at the Sally Bush Community Center, we did a have a bit of time to explore some nearby trails and local restaurants. A few of us took a hike up to the top of the Castle Rock trail where we had stunning views looking down on Green Mountain Falls. Later in the week we decided to venture down the street to a little restaurant called the Blue Moose Tavern – it truly was a classic small-town Colorado tavern and an experience for us all.

After an exhausting but fulfilling first week, we took the weekend to rest up and then get back to rehearsing again. We’ve decided that Silas’s choreography is so fun to dance, you just don’t realize you’re tired until rehearsal is over. For now, though, we’re sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows while talking and laughing.

-Leah Baylin, apprentice

June 15, 2021
Dancer Diary: Claire Davison in Green Mountain Falls, CO | Saturday, June 12, 2021

"It takes time for a choreographer’s style to settle into the dancer’s body, and by the end of the week, we were all sore and tired. Despite that, we had some good times outside the studio."

By Claire Davison

Hiking in Green Mountain Falls, CO. Photo courtesy Claire Davison.
Hiking in Green Mountain Falls, CO. Photo courtesy Claire Davison.

This week was the first week of creating with choreographer Silas Farley. I first met Silas at the Pacific Northwest Ballet summer course in 2009 (!) and it’s been wonderful sharing a studio again with him and his wife, Cassia, who is assisting with rehearsals.

On the first day, he gathered us to debrief before beginning. I appreciate when choreographers have the time to do that, especially when we’re in an intimate setting such as this. He told us about his process and intentions for the piece and grounded us before we started world-building.

It’s exciting as a dancer to hear the inner workings of a choreographer’s mind. It gives us meaning within the larger picture and hooks our attention immediately. The pieces themselves are wonderful to dance. Very musical and exciting, with nods to many great choreographers. I look forward to continuing with Silas next week.

With this being the first week of learning, we were exhausted in the evenings. It takes time for a choreographer’s style to settle into the dancer’s body, and by the end of the week, we were all sore and tired. Despite that, we still had some good times outside the studio.

The Colorado
The Colorado "ballet bubble" crew! Photo courtesy Claire Davison.

A highlight for me was hiking up behind the Lodge again and exploring more trails. I love these mountains and the weather has been especially beautiful.

Another highlight was exploring some of our local eateries and watering holes. The stretch of town down from the Lodge has a delicious breakfast place called The Pantry. The back garden is immense and apparently very popular on the weekends. We tried their famous cinnamon rolls while being serenaded by live music (a guy on his guitar, wearing a cowboy hat, naturally).

Right next to The Pantry is The Blue Moose Tavern. With pool tables and well-loved leather couches surrounded by funky lighting fixtures and posters, it is the epitome of a small-town Colorado bar. We will be back.

Now we have a few days to recuperate and put our feet up before continuing on with Silas. I’m excited to see what’s in store…

-Claire Davison, corps de ballet

June 7, 2021
Dancer Diary: Leah Baylin in Green Mountain Falls, CO | Sunday, June 6, 2021

"This time felt extra special as I’d get to be in my home state of Colorado."

By Leah Baylin

This being my third time taking part in a “ballet bubble” residency with ABT, I wasn’t a stranger to the feeling of anticipation and excitement of seeing my friends and colleagues again, many of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. This time felt extra special as I’d get to be in my home state of Colorado.

Our first week in Green Mountain Falls was a blast. Most days started by eating breakfast together in the Lodge and ended by sitting around the fire pit, talking and laughing. Two major highlights from this past week were our adventure to the top of Mount Dewey and our homemade gnocchi night.

The very first day of the bubble we were all eager to get out and hike in the gorgeous Colorado mountains. “Let’s go for a short walk today” was the consensus. After hiking one trail to the next and winding around several mountain slopes, we found ourselves – six miles later – on top of Mount Dewey. Needless to say, we all had a few sore muscles.

Our homemade gnocchi were another highlight of the week. Luigi Crispino, a corps dancer from Italy, taught the group how to make his grandmother’s delicious recipe. The mess we all made of the kitchen in the process was well worth it and the gnocchi got devoured while we sat chatting around the campfire.

-Leah Baylin, Apprentice

June 7, 2021
Dancer Diary: Claire Davison in Green Mountain Falls, CO | Saturday, June 5, 2021

"With some of my ABT people here with me in Colorado, it feels like a true homecoming."

By Claire Davison

I drove up from Boulder, my hometown, passing much of Colorado’s celebrated scenery. I’ve never seen Colorado so green. Even the burn areas are growing new life. It felt like a good omen as I headed to my first residency and shows with ABT since the pandemic began.

Pulling into Green Mountain Falls we passed a public swimming pool, the Sallie Bush Community Building, and some residences. There’s a small stretch of town down one of the only paved roads. A cafe, two restaurants, and a bar lead to a small lake with a gazebo in the middle. In the winter it freezes over, welcoming ice skaters. It makes me think of my mother who grew up in the small Colorado town of Fairplay. I will always have a soft spot for small Colorado communities.

The Outlook Lodge, where some of the dancers are staying, is an idyllic mountain inn. Built in the 1800s, each room is unique. We spend our mornings sipping coffee in the living room and our nights around the fire pit, customarily roasting marshmallows and catching up.

I feel like my lives are melding together here. Having left home at a young age, “home” is split in two for me: half in New York at 890 Broadway (or sometimes the basement of the Metropolitan Opera House) and half in the mountains of Colorado. With some of my ABT people here with me in Colorado, it feels like a true homecoming.

After our ballet classes on the first day (technique and pointe), a few of us wandered the trails behind the Lodge. The Thomas Trail brought us to a waterfall and some beautiful views. On our attempted descent, we ended up on a trail that brought us to the top of Mount Dewey (lovingly dubbed Mountain Dew). It was one of those happy little accidents that comes when you explore a new place.

I had the pleasure of teaching a ballet class to a wonderful group of people in Colorado Springs on Wednesday afternoon. I love teaching and felt especially connected to this group of Coloradans. They were so generous with their energy in class and their questions in the Q&A afterward. It was very inspiring.

Yesterday we had a photoshoot in various iconic CO Springs locations, including Garden of the Gods. While I’ve been to most of these places before, it was extra special experiencing them again with my colleagues. After lots of laughter, posing, and some sunburns, a few of us explored downtown CO Springs before ending up, as always, around the fire pit.

Next we have a few days to recuperate before starting rehearsals on Tuesday. I am looking forward to seeing Silas Farley, our choreographer, and working with him! Stay tuned…

-Claire Davison, corps de ballet