Seeds of the Homegrown Ballet

Company member and choreographer Matt Carney shares insights into his new ballet that premieres this November.

For the past five years the Company dancers of SDB have been self-producing a show called Dance Gallery to highlight the choreography of the dancers and teachers of the SD School of Ballet. It started in the SDB studio by a few of us wanting to explore our choreographic chops. It was very grassroots and started with a few key questions. Know where we can get chairs? How about lights? Anyone have a camera for a photo shoot? And of course, who wants to choreograph?

Fast forward five years and now it is being presented in the White Box Live Arts studio theater in the Art District of Liberty Station. Intimate as it is, it gives the audience an up close and personal perspective rarely seen with dance, and especially ballet. After throwing a piece in every year, San Diego Ballet Artistic Director, Javier Velasco asked me last year, “If you had the chance to turn your piece into a longer work, what would it look like?” I replied, “Well, put the kettle on, and let’s chat.”

That seed sprouted and grew to be a half evening work entitled My Blue Heaven and Other Songs from Grandma’s Player Piano in Fall season of San Diego Ballet’s production, appropriately named Home Grown, coming the the White Box Live Arts this November.

When I’m not in the dance studio, I’m in my garden. Pictured here are seeds I planted about 60 days ago. Is art imitating life? As these seeds grow, so too with the ballet.

The audience can expect some of my favorite songs from those old piano rolls like Let Me Call You Sweetheart, It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie, Darktown Strutter Ball, and My Blue Heaven.

Stay tuned for updates on the process of choreographing these pieces. I can’t wait to get started working with the beautiful dancers of the San Diego Ballet.

Matt Carney