Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Watching Dance: Interview with Kelly Myernick, 'Without Boundaries'

This weekend and next, Houston Ballet will be performing Without Boundaries-- a mixed- repertoire program featuring Jiří Kylián's Falling Angels,Stanton Welch's Elements, and Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room. I swung by the Wortham Center earlier today and had a sit-down with Kelly Myernick, an HB First Soloist. We had a lovely chat, which went a little something like this:

Notes From Upstage Left: So, Kelly, can you tell me about the roles that you'll be dancing?

Kelly Myernick: I'm dancing "Fire" in Elements, I'm a Stomper in In The Upper Room, and I'm one of the women in Falling Angels.

NFUL: Great. Can you tell me a bit about what it was like working on the Twyla Tharp ballet, In The Upper Room?

KM: We've never done a Tharp ballet before, so it's a new style for all of us. It's a whole new set of rules. We've gotten pretty familiar with the Jiří Kylián choreography-- we dance it pretty often-- and so we sort of understand the shapes and what he's looking for. But with dancing the Tharp ballet, we had to break those rules a little bit. The Stompers in the Tharp ballet are in tennis shoes.

NFUL: Oh. Wow!

KM: So that's been a bit of an adjustment; getting used to moving that way. Twyla Tharp's musicality is different; she looks for a different kind of relaxation in your movement. So, yeah, it's been a lot of trial and error; I would say that it's maybe been the biggest challenge in the rep-- especially for the Stompers. There are Stompers and there are Ballet Dancers in that piece, and they kind of battle it out.

NFUL: Very cool. And what about Elements? You're dancing the role of Fire, right?

KM: Yes. There are four women in Fire. Stanton describes it as a "Minimalist" ballet, so it's not very expressive, and there's not a very clear narrative to it. But it's a lot of pure dance and a lot of energy-- and a really difficult score. But it's a really exciting score, too.

NFUL: Hindemith?

KM: Yes! He did The Four Temperaments as well.

NFUL: Have you danced Elements before?

KM: No, this is a new creation. We started it the first day of work this season. It was our first project of the year.

NFUL: Wow. That's wonderful! Can you tell me more about the Kylián ballet, Falling Angels?

KM: The Kylián ballet is a challenge, and it's so fantastic. It's just eight women; and it's a Steve Reich percussion score, so you have to count every second of it from start to finish. It takes complete concentration from every single dancer; nobody can break, and there is so much choreography. It was so much to learn. But it was really exciting, and the energy of everyone being so focused and moving so quickly is really great. It's kind of over before you know it. And there are a lot of younger girls in this piece, and I think it's their first time doing a Kylián... it's really fun to see how they've taken on this challenge, and I think everyone looks wonderful. I'm really excited about this.

NFUL: That must be challenging for the new dancers.

KM: Yes. But we have this woman, Rosalyn Anderson, who has been setting Kylián's work for years. She's so clear, and she really knows how to create the imagery you need to make those shapes and find the movement.

NFUL: You are performing this opening weekend, right?

KM: Yes. I'll be in every show.

(Ian Casady performing the role of Air from Elements. Photo by Pam Francis.)

Are you intrigued yet? (Hint: You should be.) Houston Ballet opens Without Boundaries this Thursday, September 24th. Guess what else? Friday, October 2nd is an Under 25 performance-- meaning that if you're between the ages of 18 and 25, you can get a ticket for just fifteen dollars (or two tickets for $25). Don't miss it, folks.

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