Los Angeles

Monday, June 24, 2013

Old Friend Found

By Heather Toner

Kara Wilkes and I were very good friends.  We were very good friends when we were just 17.  We danced together at Milwaukee Ballet and it was one of the most memorable, challenging and exciting times in my life - made all the better by Kara's friendship and her constant support and humor.  

Me & Kara in Don Quioxte, October 2000

We grew apart over the years...As so often happens.  When I stopped dancing it seemed like we probably would have nothing more in common, and we went our separate ways.  

But last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kara again and seeing her dance in Alonzo King's Lines Ballet.  She danced the lead in Scheherazade this weekend at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion -  A truly breathtaking work, and Kara was nothing short of incredible in it.  I felt so proud.  

Kara Wilkes and David Harvey in Scheherazade
Photo Credit: Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times / June 21, 2013

I love that I was able to connect with this old friend.  I love that it seemed like no time had past when we linked arms and chatted after the show.  I love that, even as the years go by, we'll always have a friendship grounded in those seminal, tumultuous years when the world was a blank slate and we had no idea where we were headed.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Lost Variation for Alicia Markova

By Heather Toner

There are lots of times when I happen upon a ballet variation or a piece of dance I've never seen before and it makes me want to put on my pointe shoes and immediately start learning the choreography.  This variation is one of them.

This is just so much my style it's insane.  I was always cast in these kinds of parts when I was dancing - cute, allegro, soubrette- type parts, with a bit of humor thrown in.  If I was still workshopping variations, this would definitely be one I'd want to learn and perform.

Originally choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton on prima ballerina Alicia Markova back in 1934, here is "Foyer de la Danse" danced by Royal Ballet dancer Romany Pajdak.

I also wonder if the ballerina's starting pose and paused positions may be harkening to this Edgar Degas painting of the same name...

Perhaps this was part of Ashton's inspiration for the piece?  Perhaps not, I'm just speculating.  Still I love discovering old works from ballet's past...I know I sound like a total fuddy-duddy as I write this, but they sure don't make them like they used to...

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