As any artist knows, there are many layers and seasons involved in the artistic process.
Ballets often begin as a spark of inspiration in the mind of a choreographer, ignited by a piece of music, a sound, a picture, a movement or simply a thought. As the spark grows into flame, the creative process ensues. The original idea grows into a bigger, more completed thought or even a story. As layers of sound, movement and color are added within the creation, they allow that which was elusive at its conception grow into something visible and tangible. The creation - in this case, the ballet - eventually takes on a life of its own. This life will be the basis for the choreographer and the ballet's dancing artists ability to share the finished creation with others in the context of performance.
The seasons of growth of any idea into an artistic work is not a steady process.
Often, the journey involves fits and starts of inspiration and punctuated by lows of struggle or silence. Some days, the work of art will have taken on so many layers in the span of a day that an observer would not recognize the work in process compared at morning and then evening. Other days, the artistic process is characterized by the choreographer's critical evaluation of every aspect of the tender, developing work. The creation may arise unchanged at the end of the day, or if the choreographer decides, entire sections may be pruned to make way for the creation's new, more mature growth. It is an incredible process to watch.
This week, Ballet 5:8's studios are brimming with the excitement and thrill of a new work that has now, through highs and lows, joys and challenges, fully taken shape. Artistic Director Julianna Slager's newest ballet, The Four Seasons of the Soul, is a mesmerizing, real-life exploration of the seasons that may take your breath away, as it did mine - and on one level, the ballet's storyline is a reflection of the very creative process that was used to create it. Having watched the full, completed product for the first time today, I can honestly say that the intensive 40 minutes of the ballet captures you when you see it. The full ballet easily seems like a breath and an instant - though don't we know from Scripture that life is actually just a breath and an instant?
O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Psalm 39:4-5).
Four Seasons inspires the reflection, introspection and soul-searching that is fitting for any experience that takes a moment to step back from the details and observe the bigger picture (Psalm 90:12).
All in all, if you could be here during a rehearsal run, you would be able to literally feel the eager expectation, thick and electric in the air, as we put the finishing touches on Seasons - and it's counterpart for the fall season, The Story of Job - ahead of upcoming performances on September 27 and October 4. We keep wishing that someone else could see the ballet and understand what we're talking about. But happily, Lord willing, that wish is about to come true.
We can't wait to see you at the theater.
Davenport/Quad Cities, Saturday, 9/27 - Ruth Page Center, Chicago, Saturday 10/4