By Laura Di Orio.
This year, California’s Diablo Ballet is trying something new: a ballet composed of suggestions from the general public, gathered over the company’s Twitter feed. Twitter users may pitch their thoughts on emotions of the dancers, the mood of the entire work, choice of music and even specific dance moves. On February 14, selections will be chosen, and Diablo dancer and choreographer Robert Dekkers will create the new work, which will then be performed in March.
“Last March, Diablo Ballet offered six individuals the opportunity to live-tweet at one of our performances,” said Lauren Jonas, the company’s artistic director and co-founder. “The Web Ballet feels like a wonderful extension of that effort. Diablo Ballet is trying to make art more accessible and continue to be relevant in today’s society. If we can find a way to bring art and technology together, perhaps, we can inspire people to be engaged in ways they never thought possible.”
From the pile of suggestions received via Twitter, Jonas and Dekkers will select seven choreographic ideas and use the musical selection with the most votes (participants will have three from which to choose via YouTube links from the company’s homepage). With those suggestions, Dekkers will have two weeks to choreograph the new work on the entire company. He will incorporate the winning ideas along with his own choreographic material.
With a pool of potentially unconnected ideas, Dekkers foresees that this project could be a challenge, as he still wants the work to have elements that are cohesive and relevant. At the same time, he seems to be excited by this task and invites people to get creative.
“I want people to make some off-the-wall suggestions,” Dekkers said. “I’ll select the seven most interesting and creative suggestions, regardless of how they might seem to work together at first glance. The final work may end up being abstract or might take a more thematic trajectory. Either way, I’m open to pushing my creative limits and finding interesting ways to bring everyone’s unique ideas together in this new ballet.”
The new work will be presented March 1-2 as part of Diablo Ballet’s Inside the Dancer’s Studio, a performance series that Jonas said is “devised to offer intimate programming to individuals from all economic strata who couldn’t afford to attend a performance at a grand venue.”
Jonas hopes that the Web Ballet will be a success during this series and will continue to be shown in other outlets.
“Diablo Ballet is all about being accessible, and offering the opportunity to engage people with their ideas is thrilling to me,” Jonas said. “I truly have an open mind about what ideas individuals may submit. I am excited to see what develops. Robert is very innovative in his choreographic style and process. I believe he will be able to utilize ideas from others and incorporate them beautifully.”
“I hope that this project piques audience members’ interest in the creative process,” Dekkers said. “Most people don’t think about how a new work is actually created. They just appreciate the final product. I’m hoping that after the suggestion portion of the project is over, people will stay tuned to various video updates so that they can see how I take the selected suggestions and bring them to life with the dancers. It will be awesome to share this piece with audiences knowing that they were an integral part of the creative process.”
There is still time to contribute to Diablo Ballet’s Web Ballet project. The company is accepting suggestions up until February 14. To submit ideas, use the Twitter hash tag #DiabloWebBallet to suggest the work’s mood, the dancer’s emotions and specific dance steps. Each suggestion must be composed in a separate tweet. After February 14, be sure to stay tuned to the Web Ballet’s progress with YouTube links found on the company’s website.
For more information on Diablo Ballet and this project, head to www.diabloballet.org/performance.html.
Photo: Diablo Ballet dancer Hiromi Yamazaki. Photo by Tiffany Fong.