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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A Wednesday Pick Me Up

Aren’t you tired?

Wait, check that –

Aren’t you EXHAUSTED? 

Fighting the good fight requires energy, and none of us have an inexhaustible supply. We need a break now and then. Sometimes a break as little as seven minutes can be life-saving.

Please enjoy this supercut of people dancing from over 300 movies. Groove, rock, get up and dance if you can, but take these seven minutes to rejuvenate yourself.

Feel better?

Good.

Now let’s get back to fighting the good fight.

Making Sense of the Senseless Entry: Footloose (1984)

Author’s Note: Yes, there is a remake; no, I never saw it. 

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Recently I visited my Mom’s hometown in South Georgia to see a sick relative. Although the relative in question is home from hospice (not in a ‘You don’t need hospice!’ kind of way, more a ‘There’s nothing to do but wait for the inevitable’ kind of way)  it was overall a stressful and trying trip, especially this close to the holidays.

While driving down the little dirt roads and looking out over gray fields full of rusting farm equipment, dilapidated trailers covered with weeds, and yards full of chickens and goats, I recognized that I had always associated the area with the rust belt, even though it’s quite a ways south of that region. Any ’80s movie depicting economic decay, agricultural stagnation, and declining small-town industry always made me think of that area, and I’m sure residents would agree that the imagery is accurate, if not agree with the sentiment. In fact, part of the reason I never saw Footloose is because I already knew the story; hell, being a city kid who’d go to the country to visit a couple times a year, I lived it. I also picked it up from pop culture references and a joke in the Elvira movie, and there’s really only so many times the ‘big city vs small town’ pastiche can be explored. But I knew it to be a much-loved classic, and when I got home from a depressing visit with relatives, I thought I’d watch something kind of fun and upbeat.

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Noooot quite on the beat… But still having a great time! 

I have to say, I was very impressed! The story and characters had surprising depth, and I really appreciated the complexity of the conflict.

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Brief Post on the Oscar Wilde-Janelle Monae Connection

Perhaps other people have already identified the meaning behind this hat tip and I just missed it. Googling has found nothing about it, and so maybe it’s just my imagination, but I’d like to think that the hat tip is referencing another famous hat tip.

Because I am scum, I have still not written the Eddie Murphy post. I just can’t seem to get it together to work on it, and put the appropriate amount of energy and fun into it. But I shall persevere! Probably next week, as this week is going to be busy between work deadlines and writing stuff.

In the meantime, I would like to throw this out there. I am SURE someone has already talked about the connection between Oscar Wilde and Janelle Monae, but in case not…

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Sweet Surprises: Frances Ha

Some people can only learn who they really are far, far from their comfort zone, when they’re backpacking through Bali or Iceland; others can learn just as much during a short trip to the grocery store.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I have the following to say about Frances Ha:

  • It sat in my queue for over a year
  • I watched it because it had Adam Driver
  • I found the first ten minutes so insufferable I nearly switched it off
  • I am so, so glad I didn’t

The movie presents Frances (Gerta Gerwig, who also co-wrote it) as just another overly precious Brooklynite of the genus Big Dreams, Starry Eyes, No Real Problems, Plenty of Cool Friends. Then, the movie gently and meticulously deconstructs both its own presentation and your expectations.

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