A Visit With the Orlando Ballet

Last Friday, Jen and Achariya visited the Orlando Ballet’s rehearsal space to observe the company practicing for their upcoming performance of Romeo and Juliet. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Artistic Director Robert Hill and principal dancer Chiaki Yasukawa.  Achariya has a background in ballet, having danced ballet and modern. For her, it felt like a homecoming. For Jen, it was exploring an entirely new country. (Neither Jen nor Achariya received compensation for this blog post, but we are grateful to Orlando Ballet for giving two curious writers their time.)

Romeo and Juliet is playing at Dr. Phillips to live music from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra on February 9 (8 PM), 10 (8 PM), and 11 (2 PM).

Orlando Ballet production of Romeo and Juliet (2014) – Photo by Michael Cairns

When we sat down with Chiaki Yasukawa, 17-year veteran of the Orlando Ballet, and Artistic Director Robert Hill, we weren’t quite sure how the conversation would go. Would we stick to ballet, or even this specific ballet? Would we go deep into Ms. Yasukawa’s history, or Mr. Hill’s previous experience? The answer was — yes. Our chat was wide-reaching, spanning this production of Romeo and Juliet, Orlando culture, ballets that Mr. Hill and Ms. Yasukawa have done, ballets that they wanted to do, and how dance can help us process this moment in US history.

The rehearsal that we were there to observe was Romeo and Juliet, Robert Hill’s original choreography to Prokofiev’s music, first performed by the Orlando Ballet four years ago. It is also, we learned, one of Yasukawa’s favorite roles — and the one that she is pleased will be her last as a principal dancer with the company. She loves the role because of the texture it gives her as a dancer — emotions vary between joy and grief, and in one notable pas de deux, Yasukawa has to master a range of emotions as she dances out ambivalence.

Continue reading “A Visit With the Orlando Ballet”

Some Helpful Links!

Hopefully, those will give you a feel for the tone of this blog. Perhaps while you’re noodling around reading those, you’ll run across something else you might like.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Hi Y’all,

Just so we’re all on the same page, here are some links that’ll help you get a better understanding of what this blog is all about, if you happen to be visiting for the first time.

‘What This Blog Be, and Be Not’ – A little intro clarifying my thought process when it comes to reviewing movies.

The Origin of the Phrase: ‘He was Redoing His Bathroom’ – Nattering about the realities of acting, based on my extensive experience in watching movies, listening to commentaries, and reading books about acting. And making things up because they sound cool.

‘Horror Movies: I Grew Up, They Didn’t’ – Title kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

‘There’s No Such Thing as an Honorary Black Person’  – Entry detailing how the vicarious thrill that white people get from watching movies aimed at minority audiences does not come with a jacket and inclusion to that minority group. (P.S., I’m white!) Probably would also be enjoyed by fans of StuffWhitePeopleLike.com.

Hopefully, those will give you a feel for the tone of this blog. Perhaps while you’re noodling around reading those, you’ll run across something else you might like. I might do some kind of ‘best of’ thing on Friday, since the blog’s birthday is hovering around. We’ll just have to see.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

What This Blog Be, and Be Not

Woo, quite a little ratings bump the last few days! Hi Y’all, welcome to the blog.

I thought with all these new visitors, I might post a little clarification about what this blog is, and isn’t. I’m not out to draw a line in the sand, unless it’s to help people see where the quicksand is.

What’s Going On?

1. I avoid spoilers on movies less than 10 years old, but anything more than 10 years old is more than likely going to be spoiled. It’s nothing vicious, it’s just because I want to be able to discuss some things without worrying about ruining the endings. I love films, I want other people to experience the thrills of twists and turns, but let’s face it–the chances of some folks checking out the movies I review are kind of slim, especially the older films. The older reviews are in the hopes that someone, somewhere is Googling a movie title in search of interesting commentary and comes across this blog.

This should catch you up on the last 50 years or so.

2. I am a dirty socialist liberal scumbag. I tend to look at movies through the lens of my socioeconomic background, and my politics. I have a liberal worldview but a very working class background–my mom cleaned houses and my dad worked as a lineman for a power company for 37 years, and was a Union man through and through. I take pains to expand my worldview as I can, but there are limits. I think our President is awesome, the war was for the wrong reasons but can’t be abandoned, green initiatives are great, organized religion is okay when it isn’t telling people how to vote or telling people to tell other people how to run their lives, and socialism isn’t that bad. Film is not an objective medium, so my film criticism is not objective, either.

Hot men? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. A movie to base your history paper on? Only if you already gave up on passing the class.

3. My understanding of film theory is kind of superficial– I’ve studied some film theory, but nothing MA-level. I want to be entertained, but I don’t want my intelligence insulted, either. I don’t think an entertaining movie should require me to ‘turn off my mind.’ I enjoyed the first Transformers movie, but I doubt I’ll see the sequels. I apply more literary criticism to film than film criticism — I don’t believe that films are made just for other filmmakers, in short.

4. I don’t read a lot of other film blogs–I read The Onion and Roger Ebert, and that’s about it. I don’t even check Rotten Tomatoes before I see a film, most of the time. After I’ve seen a movie, I read Wikipedia and IMDB, and check on the background of the film. The reason is because I don’t want my opinions colored by too many other peoples’. I may read more blogs as time goes on, I just don’t come across that many.

5. I’m pretty weird and contrary. I liked Transformers but loath Michael Bay. I hate fluff but don’t subject myself to a lot of ‘hard’ movies–I bitch about how much I hate the Sex and the City franchise but I’ll never see ‘Irreversible.’ I try to explore and understand these contradictions as I encounter them.  Even if I hate something, I try to understand why, and tend not to use unhelpful hyperbole like ‘This sucked so bad’ or ‘This movie can go to hell.’

Except this movie. This movie can go to hell.

6. I don’t like movies with lots of rape or an inordinate amount of domestic violence in them. I don’t like seeing animals or people tortured. I can take a lot of weird, even horrible stuff, but it depends on how it’s handled. A lot of horror has let me down recently in this regard.

7. Beauty Standards: I has them, and they are strange. I think the current trend towards tiny waifs and diamond-cut pretty boys is deplorable. It’s all style over substance, and it means there are amazing actors and actresses being passed over for roles because there’s something unique about them–meaning our world of escape is being populated by bland, flawless automatons. I would trade 10 Sam Worthingtons for 1 vintage Nicholas Cage, or 100 Jennifer Garners for 1 Bette Davis. It’s less because I have something against Sam Worthington (although I do-I will never forgive him for Clash of the Titans–EVER) or Jennifer Garner than I wish they would just be famous underwear models or something. They’re pretty people who can say lines–and that’s about it.

Jane Russell and her two costars.

8. Please don’t insult my intelligence. I like to think of myself and the majority of humanity of smart (although many people don’t think of themselves or others as intelligent, I have eternal hope for mankind) so I hate seeing movies where my intelligence is treated as an impediment rather than an asset. In short, it shouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility for some director/writer to have a production assistant make a pit stop on the old Information Superhighway to figure out whether something is plausible or not. I use the internet to figure out whether or not my cat’s behavior is normal, and millions of dollars are not riding on the outcome, no matter what he’s up to.

9. I don’t like mean-spirited comedy. Seriously. South Park makes me laugh, and Zoolander, and other things, but I hate Jackass, I hate comedies where everyone is a smarmy asshole out to use or degrade other smarmy assholes, and I am not a huge fan of Norbit-type humor. I like witty, I like slapstick, I like humor where everyone is in on the joke. I might just do a write up of my favorite ‘adult’ comedies–think ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Monty Python’ and the like. I’m not above dick jokes or dumb comedies –I love the Harold and Kumar movies, but again, I’m weird and contrary and some things rub me the wrong way.

So I hope that helps clarify for folks what this blog is, and isn’t about, and more importantly, the kind of things you can expect to find here in the future. I’ve been a little lax the last few weeks with posts, got a lot going on, but I’ll do my best to get back on the ball.

And to the new folks coming over from Twitter or being linked from other people’s blogs, welcome!

Your Tickets, Ladies and Gentlemen

Late to the Theater is your guide to quality (and sometimes not–let’s be honest, ranting about crap is fun too!) film and television.

And since film criticism is inherently a subjective exercise, there’s no reason for me to remain objective about my like or dislike of a film–which is half the fun, isn’t it?

Late to the Theater is a blog that discusses, examines, and celebrates stuff we missed the first time around. With access to so much media these days, it’s difficult to know what’s worth your time; easy enough to see whatever’s new, but what about all those titles from the last 100+ years? What about television? What about movies from other countries?

Late to the Theater is your guide to quality (and sometimes not–let’s be honest, ranting about crap is fun too!) film and television.

And since film criticism is inherently a subjective exercise, there’s no reason for me to remain objective about my like or dislike of a film–which is half the fun, isn’t it?

On with the show.