A Day in the Life of a Story Ballet: Belteshazzar

In just six weeks, our newest full-length story ballet Belteshazzar will take the stage at the Beverly Arts Center. We're looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, February 28th for the world premiere (don't forget to buy your tickets), but today, we're busy with preparations. In case you've never been able to peek behind the scenes during the creation of a new ballet, we're starting a journal here on the blog so you can join us and get in on the fun. Friday, January 16 - Belteshazzar Premiere in Six Weeks

Ballet 5:8 Studio I, 9:30am

The Ballet 5:8 Company Artists begin their daily technique class, having arrived at the studios up to an hour ahead of time to warm up. Technique class begins with a series of exercises tailored to systematically warm all the muscle groups needed for the long day of dancing ahead; combinations of steps start with smaller and slow movements and get bigger and more complicated as class progresses.

Ballet 5:8 Studio I, 11:15am

Lunch break is combined with our in-depth study of the story Belteshazzar is based on, the Biblical story of Daniel. Today's installment challenged us to notice how, in the Biblical account, Daniel discerned his interaction with the culture of his time in light of his identity as a follower of God. A prisoner of war, Daniel was certainly not at home or surrounded by sympathetic or like-minded people! Belteshazzar RehearsalStill, he chose to keep his identity as a follower of God, and to discern when it was good to adopt aspects of the new culture he was living in, and when it was best to set himself apart based on his convictions. In closing, we were challenged to consider how we can gain wisdom from the example set by Daniel - but ultimately, we were challenged that we must seek Christ. For it is Christ who has all the power for redemption and eternal life that "being more like Daniel" ultimately fails to offer.

Ballet 5:8 Studio I, 11:45am

Today's rehearsal begins. The full cast is present, and Artistic Director Julianna Slager is setting choreography that will go into the ballet's third act. The dancers observe steps, spacing, mime for their characters, and the emotions that must be portrayed in each section. Throughout the rehearsal, the cast will alternate between learning new sections and then practicing them multiple times for memorization.

BelteshazzarBallet 5:8 Studios, 3:00pm

Rehearsals are over, and the Company Artists scatter after taking a few moments to stretch and warm down in the studios. Artistic Director Julianna Slager is off to teach technique to a class from the Conservatory program, but before the day is over, she will use her notes from today's rehearsal as she makes plans for next week. On a tight schedule for building the ballet fromthe ground up, Slager calculates progress on the ballet after each rehearsal. Sections of the ballet that came together well today will be earmarked for cleaning within the next few weeks (a process that ensures that all the dancers have memorized the choreography in exactly the right manner). Any sections of the ballet that still need tweaks will be given an additional rehearsal block soon; the remaining rehearsal time for next will be devoted to making new progress. The ballet's third act is almost complete!

Ballet 5:8 Studios, Late Afternoon and Evening

Most afternoons, the Ballet 5:8 studios are again full of the sounds of ballet class music as the School of the Arts' many training programs begin classes. However, you can also assuredly hear the steady hum of one or more sewing machines. Since Lorianne Barclay, Ballet 5:8's Head of Wardrobe and resident costume designer, also dances with the company, she does most of her work in the afternoons and evenings. The costume room will soon grow more and more full with tutus, dresses and other costumes for the ballet, but for now, Barclay is busy finalizing fabrics and designs, cutting patterns and material, and constructing the base pieces that will eventually make up the costumes.