Familiar works can become new again—especially where live jazz and ballet are concerned.
By Cindy Case
As a dancer, getting another shot at performing a piece of choreography can be an uplifting experience. We get to brush up our technique, watch new company dancers inject their personality into familiar movement, and even see how much we ourselves have grown as artists. When the piece in question includes a live Latin jazz band backing you up, the experience becomes downright electric. This is the case for the company this year, as we reprise Por Los Muertos after its premiere last season.
Por Los Muertos is a special piece to us, because it is set to Gilbert Castellanos’s Dia de los Muertos, commissioned specially by San Diego Ballet for our Ritmos series. Much like the holiday from which the composition gets its name, the seven-movement Latin jazz suite pays tribute to significant people in Gilbert’s life—fellow jazz musicians, mentors, and friends alike—making it very personal music for us to bring to life. Gilbert says that the piece “began as a spark a few years ago when I was home in Guadalajara with my family for the holidays. I was very inspired there and began reflecting more and more on my roots, where I’m from, where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced over the years. It was completely unexpected.
While we honor the past, it is important to continue living in the present. Gilbert comments, “The music really represents me NOW—who I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing.” The dancers could not agree more. The nature of live music and dance is such that they can’t help but be fresh and new. No two shows will ever be alike, even with an identical cast onstage. For a performance like this, getting to build upon the excitement of the premiere is going to be exhilarating.
Join us as we blow the roof off the Lyceum Theatre, February 15-17! Visit the Ritmos Latinos page for ticket information.