Interview: Orlando Ballet Director Robert Hill’s quest to keep the passion going in Carmina Burana

This past week, we were given a second opportunity to interview Orlando Ballet director Robert Hill during a rehearsal for Dies, nox et omnia (Day, night, and everything), one of his dances for the upcoming Carmina Burana.

We sat in the relocated rehearsal space of Orlando Ballet (more about this exciting news below) and looked on as prima ballerina Kate-Lynn Robichaux learned her dance by 21st century means: watching her 2013-era self perform it on a video monitor. “I’m much more chill about this dance today than I was back then,” Robichaux said. “It’s probably because you just got married,” Mr. Hill responded, and Robichaux grinned as she raised her left hand to show off her ring.

Mr. Hill bounced between chatting with us and leaping up to help form the dance in front of us, explaining to the dancers that the theme of this piece was the male dancer’s exploration of his passion — his reaching within to find emotion, reaching back out to share it with the world. Robichaux performs the embodiment of his dream, allowing her body to be contorted and moved and carried in a complex series of lifts as she lives out the melancholy of male dancer’s imagination.

We pulled up the lyrics to this one while we watched, and Mr. Hill chuckled, explaining that some of the lyrics were impossible to interpret literally. But in this one, the male soloist sings themes that are timeless enough to still be top-40 fodder, and the dance seems to interpret the lyrics well: “Your fair face makes me weep a thousand times, but your heart is ice; to restore me, immediately would I return to life with one kiss.”

How to explain this ballet? Mr. Hill debuted it with Orlando Ballet in 2013, in collaboration with Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra conductor John Sinclair. They were looking for an interesting piece that could combine choral, orchestral, and dance elements to make a dynamic impact on audiences, and struck gold when they decided on Carmina Burana. The music, composed by Carl Orff in 1936, has a lot in common sound-wise with Igor Stravinsky, and is based on medieval yet surprisingly relevant poetry.

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Orlando Ballet Presents: Contemporary Wonders

Once again, Late to the Theater was very graciously invited to the Orlando Ballet. For a write up of Romeo and Juliet, go here. For a write up of Beauty and the Beast, go here.

For the final performance of Orlando Ballet’s 2017-2018 season, Artistic Director Robert Hill decided to do something more experimental than the season’s previous offerings: three different styles of performance. Although they ranged from modern/experimental to classical, all were united by the common theme of love.

Some guest artists also lent their considerable talents to the show: New York based choreographer Jessica Lang, and local chanteuse Sisaundra Lewis.

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The Best of Both Worlds – Ballet and Black History Month

Today, Achariya and I are going to see Romeo and Juliet performed by the Orlando Ballet. We interviewed Artistic Director Robert Hill and principle dancer Chiaki Yasukawa a few weeks ago and you can read the whole interview here. 

It goes without saying we are BEYOND excited!

To honor both the ballet and Black History month, please check out this trailer for Misty Copeland’s documentary, A Ballerina’s Tale, available on Netflix.

And if you’re already familiar with Misty, here is a video showcasing some more up and coming ballerinas of color.

In the Name of the Monster, the Robot, and the Bleeding Ghost ~ An Art Installation

No reviews today, but I did want to share this fantastic art installation in LA.

Gallery Nucleus has a limited art event inspired by the works of Guillermo Del Toro – hence the titular reference to the monster, robot, and bleeding ghost. The artworks are created by fans and artists and come from any and all of Del Toro’s works, from the most recent Oscar-nominated The Shape of Water  all the way back to The Devil’s Backbone.  The media run the gamut from charcoals to sculpture and represent a wide variety of styles. And all of them are gorgeous! I wish I could go.

If, like me, you can’t get to LA let alone drop a grand on art, you can enjoy the offerings online through this link. I’ve included a few screenshots to give you a taste, with the artists credited. As always, I wasn’t paid to write this post, I just thought the installation was neat.

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‘The Shape of Love’ ~ Nathan Anderson
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‘Three Tasks’ ~ Carly Janine Mazur 

I love how in this one, Ofelia is split by the labyrinth motif, invoking the duality of her life. Even her skin tone varies a bit – a nice touch.

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‘The Prophecy of William of Ox’ ~ Tomas Hijo

I think I love this one the best – I love works that evoke illuminated manuscripts while putting a clever spin on them (I have one of The Hobbit). Translating Del Toro’s name into that of a monk is a masterful touch. I bet the colors are amazing in person!

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‘A Thousand Children Eaten’ ~ Rebnor

Bless the artist who came up with this and the person who bought it. I appreciate the artistry, and the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the all-time great disturbing monsters of cinema, but this couldn’t hang on the wall in my house. Me + too much wine one dark night x walking around a corner too fast = – artwork. Art shouldn’t be accessible to high-strung drunk people. I applaud the artist and the buyer for being much braver than I am.

If you are in LA and love art based on cinema, I highly encourage you to check it out. Then leave a comment and tell us all about!

In the Name of the Monster, the Robot, and the Bleeding Ghost closes January 28th, so you’d better hurry!

In Theaters Now – Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name is at once beautifully shot, perfectly acted, and possessed of some of the richest visuals I’ve ever seen. It is nominated for a slew of awards, and rightfully so.

It felt strange watching a peak arthouse movie (a bildungsroman about a young musical prodigy falling for an older grad student in 1980s Italy doesn’t get much arthouse-y-er) in a multiplex theater, especially when we already have an arthouse theater down the road that’s still playing The Shape of Water, but the times they are a-changing.

My co-blogger Achariya loved it, devoured the book, and has been looking forward to it since last summer, and although she watched a screener for her most excellent preview earlier this week, we wanted to get the full theater experience.

Achariya: At the end of the movie, I looked around and spotted no fewer than three gay couples (and a few more straight couples) wiping tears from their eyes due to a certain scene. It’s nice to see this at an AMC.

Jen: I know, it was so sweet!

Call Me By Your Name, as mentioned, is a coming of age romance about Elio (Timothee Chalamet), a 17-year-old Jewish musical prodigy summering with his family in their elegant Italian villa. His family are warm, cultured, and incredibly European as they all dine alfresco all the time, read each other 14th century sonnets, and smoke like burning tobacco warehouses.

Every summer the family takes in a grad student for six weeks who helps Elio’s father, an archaeology/antiquities professor, with his notes and projects. Enter Oliver, played by Armie Hammer. Almost from the start, Elio is captivated by the tall, blond, dashing Oliver, who wears his Star of David as easily and overtly as he wears his billowing blue shirt.

I would recommend CMBYN to anyone who loves a good romance amid beautiful settings. The sex scenes are carefully blocked to avoid any full frontal, per the actors’ contracts, but there’s still lots of male nudity on screen, which you would expect in a movie where men get it on. Do not take an elderly, conservative relative to see this film unless you are really hoping to broaden their horizons or kill them with a heart attack.

For a more in-depth discussion involving spoilers, journey under the cut. We are going to demarcate my reaction to the film from our chatter by putting our discussion in italics.

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