Interview with Grand Rapids Ballet- Spring to Dance Preview

Coordination– the tricky business of getting separate entities to come together for a desired purpose.For the dancer, this means the design of each limb to aid the step, for a company this means each of those bodies working together within a framework of space and time. For a festival such as Spring To Dance, this means thirty companies from all over the U.S., carefully selected and aligned into order, coordinated into one weekend of the best the dance world has to offer.
Now in its’ sixth annual production, the performance series highlights a diverse array of dance style with everything from classical ballet to flamenco to tap. Now in 2013, more than half of the visiting companies are new additions to the highly-competitive lineup. One such company is Grand Rapids Ballet, currently the only professional company in the state of Michigan. The group is bringing the beloved piece, The Envelope’ from renowned choreographer, David Parsons. I had the great pleasure of posing a few questions to two dancers from Grand Rapids Ballet (actually a married couple) about the piece, why they love dance, how they annoy each other, and how they’re feeling and preparing for this great collaborative effort.
I asked dancers Nick Schultz and Laura McQueen Schultz (the latter spent two years dancing with Saint Louis Ballet)  each the same questions but their answers were as varied as the types of dance and dancer on the Spring to Dance stage- a tribute to the beauty of dance and its ability to coordinate different personalities and perspectives through a shared yet diverse passion.
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Jess asks:  I understand that Grand Rapids Ballet is performing a David Parsons piece. Please tell me about the  rehearsal process. Is this the kind of repertoire that GRB often performs?

Nick says:  The Envelope is a great piece and is one of the many types of pieces that we do in our company. The process for this piece was amazing. we were taught this work by Liz Koppen and she is David Parsons number two person. She was amazing and really tried to get us to understand his movement and his vision on this piece. I feel that this piece really helped my modern technique and added to my whole outlook on other works we do.
Laura Says: Liz was great. She is really a big deal in the Parson’s world, so basically it is like getting it right from his mouth.  We also did a Paul Taylor work, Company B, but I would say that we have a large diversity in our rep.
Jess asks: There will be many companies in many styles performing at this year’s Spring to Dance Festival. What special characteristics or qualitites are you hoping to bring? What impact are you hoping to have on the audience?
 Nick Says: This piece is such a great work and I hope that we will bring humor and a great time to the festival. Our company has so much to offer and I hope that thru this piece people see us as not only a company that does great work but a company that does all our works with a strict regard to the piece and true to the setters demands.  I feel that we are a company that embraces each work we do fully and sometimes even better than the videos they show us.
Laura Says: I hope that we will bring a rendition of The Envelope as close to the Parsons Company as we can so the audience will get a great show
Jess asks: How does participation in selective festivals such as Spring to Dance help dance companies, choreographers, communities or artists as individuals? Why is a festival such as this exciting or necessary?
 Nick says: I feel that festivals, like Spring To Dance, are very important because we are a wonderful company who hasn’t had the chance to be seen by the larger national audience and through festivals like this one we will hopefully get the recognition we need. I also feel that we will gain so much by this festival, because we will hopefully impress presenters in the area, and maybe others, and that will lead to more tours for us in the future.
Laura says:  I think that it is a great thing to get a community of artist together so that we can see what else is out there, as well as letting the St. Louis audience see what we can offer. It is so important to get the arts out and through festivals like this there is lots of opportunity to do that.
Jess asks:. Why do you love to dance and what keeps you motivated?
 Nick says:  I love to dance because I feel that dancing is such a true form of expression. When I dance I feel that there is such a freedom and thru that I am able to give the audience a great journey. My motivation comes from the fact that in this art form there is never perfection and I need to continually strive to improve myself and compete with every new dancer out there. Making myself the best dancer possible is a big drive to keep an open mind and try everything presented before me.
Laura says:  I love to dance because I can’t stop moving and if I was stuck behind a desk I would go crazy. Music is a huge motivator and dance is a truly freeing experience.
Jess asks: What makes you feel prepared for a show? Do you have rituals or good-luck charms?
Nick says:I like to make sure and wish every one of my colleagues merde before each show. I don’t really get nervous so as long as I am there, I am ready to go.
Laura says:Rehearsals make me feel prepared for a show. I don’t really have any rituals or good luck charms. I just try to always have fun, because if we aren’t having fun why are we doing it.
Jess asks: (Just for fun) What guilty pleasure do you enjoy that drives your dancing spouse insane?
Nick says:My wife and I are pretty good together and don’t have a lot of things that drive each other insane. If I had to pick something I would say maybe wanting to do every house project you can think of. I am sure there are many others that drive her crazy, but I am not sure.
Laura says: Not a guilty pleasure, but it happens sometimes. Eating with my mouth open, because it drives him crazy.  It is kind of fun to be annoying.
Many thanks to Nick and Laura for sharing a little of their experience, thoughts, and personality. I’m a big fan of David Parsons and I’ve actually taken a masterclass from Liz so I feel connected to the back story behind this piece a bit already (and I won’t hold it against GRB that they didn’t accept my audition back in 2008!)
So many wonderful artists coordinating travel, rehearsal, and bodies into St. Louis for this wonderful celebration of dance. Coordinate yourself into a seat with a ticket! Each day is worth seeing- here is the full line-up
Thursday, May 23
Lee Theater, 6-7pm
Dance Theatre of Tennessee —- (Nashville, TN)
Joselyn Renae Simms (duet) —- (St. Louis, MO)
Saunders in Motion — (St. Louis, MO)
Leverage Dance Theater —- (St. Louis, MO)
DAMAGEDANCE —- (Brooklyn, NY)
Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall, 7:30-9:30pm
Big Muddy Dance Company (1 of 2) —- (St. Louis, MO)
Grand Rapids Ballet —- (Grand Rapids, MI)
Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater —- (Minneapolis, MN)
Chicago Human Rhythm Project —- (Chicago, IL)
ODC/Dance —- (San Francisco, CA)
Jennifer Muller/The Works (duet) —- (New York, NY)
Big Muddy Dance Company (2 of 2) —- (St. Louis, MO)
Friday, May 24
Lee Theater, 6-7 pm
Chicago Dance Crash —- (Chicago, IL)
Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company —- (St. Louis, MO)
MOMENTA (solo) —- (Oak Park, IL)
Houston Metropolitan Dance Company —- (Houston, TX)
Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall, 7:30-9:30pm
Natya Dance Theatre —- (Chicago, IL)
Kansas City Ballet (solo) (1 of 2) —- (Kansas City, MO)
The Joffrey Ballet – Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili (duet) —- (Chicago, IL) interview with Victoria Jaiani
MADCO —- (St. Louis, MO)
Margaret Jenkins Dance Company —- (San Francisco, CA)
Camille A. Brown & Dancers —- (Durham, NC)
Kansas City Ballet (solo) (2 of 2) —- (Kansas City, MO)
Thodos Dance Chicago —- (Chicago, IL)
Saturday, May 25
Lee Theater, 6-7pm
GroundWorks Dance Theater —- (Cleveland, OH)
TAKE Dance —- (New York, NY)
casebolt and smith (duet) —- (Los Angeles, CA)
Chicago Tap Theatre —- (Chicago, IL)
Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall, 7:30-9:30pm
Dance Works Chicago —- (Chicago, IL)
Eddie Madril – Hoop Dancer —- (Tiburon, CA)
The Joffrey Ballet – Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili (duet) —- (Chicago, IL) 
Saint Louis Ballet —- (St. Louis, MO)
Robert Moses’ Kin —- (San Francisco, CA)
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Alicia Graf Mack & Antonio Douthit (duet) —- (New York, NY)
Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater —- (Chicago, IL)

3 thoughts on “Interview with Grand Rapids Ballet- Spring to Dance Preview

  1. Pingback: Grand Rapids Ballet basking in glow of St. Louis debut at Spring to Dance Festival | Ann-Arbor NewsAnn-Arbor News

  2. Pingback: Grand Rapids Ballet basking in glow of St. Louis debut at Spring to Dance Festival | Michigan News

  3. Pingback: Spring to Dance 2014: Review | BODIES NEVER LIE

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