by Katy Pyle
23 dancers, 18 musicians, 2 theaters, 2 Acts and 2 eras, within a Ballez that canonizes L.E.S. Activist Herstory in 1893 and 1993.
About this project
The Ballez creates inspiring and funny story ballets that celebrate the narratives and performances of lesbian, queer, and transgender people. The Ballez celebrates collaborative creation, dancing that expresses the complexity of our emotions, desires and embodiment, and the virtuosity of gender-queer expression.
Our first really big show, “The Firebird, a Ballez,” premiered in 2013 at Danspace Project at St Mark’s Church, to sold out audiences and critical acclaim, and we were brought back for a reprise the following fall! Our new project, hopes to build on that base, and expand our work out to touch more lives and create more space for new bodies and stories to enter the ballet canon.
For the past three years, we have been working on “Sleeping Beauty & the Beast.” This Ballez takes these two classic tales and re-writes them in order to insert the herstory of lesbian and queer activists into the ballet canon: the striking Garment Workers of 1893, and the AIDS activist dykes of 1993.
Our show will be performed in two acts, with two theaters, and a street protest intermission, presented at the historically radical La MaMa ETC, as part of the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival.
The First Act, staged in the Ellen Stewart Theater, brings us into 1893, the Industrial Revolution on the Lower East Side, and the coming obsolescence of spinning wheels. Aurora, the daughter of a garment factory magnate, spends her life dreaming about the strong women who work in her father’s factory. When she pricks her finger on a union organizing dyke’s spindle, and falls madly in love, she is protected from the wrath of her family by the benevolent Violet Faerie, who works magic to transport the whole scene 100 years into the future.
The Second Act will bring us into La Mama’s new basement theater, entering 1993. The Beast, a leather clad stone butch top, opens Aurora’s eyes to a new world of radical sexuality and identity, within a community of queers reckoning with the fallout of the AIDS pandemic. We witness our characters from 1893 re-embodied, with the Factory Workers enacting the “Wedding Scene” variations (from the original Sleeping Beauty ballet) as club dances, and our First Act Faeries (plus 8 additional dancers) performing the roles of Dying Swans. This final Act questions what it means to really wake-up, without losing your dreams and your heart.
- Act 1: Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” score, played live by 18 members of the Queer Urban Orchestra, Conductor Julie Desbordes
- Act 2: JD Samson has created a House Music DJ set composed for our production, and Harpist Stephanie Babirak and Cellist Bjorn Berkhout will play “Le Cygne” live for our Dying Swans.
World Premiere Cast–
- Beast: Jules Skloot
- Aurora: Madison Krekel
- Carabosse: Deborah Lohse
- Violet Faerie: Chris De Vita
- Scarlet Faerie: Charles Gowin
- Azure Faerie: Chris Braz
- Bluebird: Ashley Yergens
- Bluebird: Lindsay Reuter
- The Grey Wolf: iele Paloumpis
- Little Red Riding Hood: Janet Werther
- Cinderella: Khadija Griffith
- Puss in Boots: Mei Yamanaka
- White Cat: Kirstin Dahmer
- Firebird: Erica Ricketts
- Lesbian Princess: Eliana Dell’Anna
- Dying Swans Include: Ahmaud Culver, Michael DiPietro, Helen Fourness, Hans Rausch and Max Steele
Design and Production Team
- Dramaturg: Clarinda Mac Low
- Lighting Designer: Chloe Brown
- Costume Designer: Karen Boyer
- Production Management: Brendan Regimbal
- Stage Manager: Alex Symes
- Production Consulting: Aaron Rosenblum and Caleb Hammons
- 1st violin: Nick Johnson and Reyenne Schiowitz
- 2nd violin: Alva Bostick and Stephanie Stattel
- Viola: Marvin Li
- Cello: Bjorn Berkhout
- Bass: Adrienne Lloyd
- Flute/Piccolo: Craig Devereaux
- Oboe/English Horn: Amy Yamashiro
- Clarinet: Travis Fraser
- Bassoon: Charlie Scatamacchia
- French Horn: Peter DelGrosso and Kim Spagnola
- Trumpet: George Gehring
- Trombone: Jason Svatek
- Percussion: Sean Foradori
- Harp: Stephanie Babirak
- Piano: Christian Smythe
- Music arranged by: Bjorn Berkhout and Nick Johnson
- Orchestra General Manager: Andrew Berman
- Orchestra Personnel Manager: Liann Wadewitz
Our total budget for the past three years of development, our final rehearsal period, and full production, is just under $100k.
We have thus far been generously supported by the Jerome Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Brooklyn Arts Council, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and our dear Producer’s Circle.
We are asking for your help to raise the final $25k of our budget. These fees will go directly to paying artists’ wages. We need your help to complete our work and to radically shift the ballet canon!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ATTENTION, AND PLEASE DO COME TO THE SHOW!!!!!
PREMIERE- LA MAMA ETC, ELLEN STEWART AND DOWNSTAIRS THEATERS, APRIL 29-MAY 9, 2016
Risks and challenges
We are fully prepared to proceed with our planned rehearsal and production schedule and present this performance at La Mama this April 29-May 8.
We have assembled a great team to address any challenges that arise. All we really need now, are the funds from YOU so that everyone can do their work, and then we can make HERSTORY!