Guest writer: Lorena Capellan, PR intern
Each year Houston Ballet performs the Jubilee of Dance, a one-night-only gala performance of audience favorites and dancer showcases. This year’s Jubilee of Dance, held on December 3, will feature the second movement of Garrett Smith’s Vivacious Dispositions. A corps de ballet member with Houston Ballet, Mr. Smith is a burgeoning young choreographer whose work has already been performed in the United States and abroad. I had a chance to chat with him about his work and what it means to him for his choreography to be featured in a Houston Ballet performance.
LC: What inspired you to create this piece? Is there a story/meaning behind it?
GS: The music is what inspired me because there is something special and unique about Baroque music. The distinct harpsichord accompanied by the dramatic strings act like the bass of a modern pop song. Vivaldi has a way of bringing dramatic sound to the strings with the heavy and pounding beat that intensifies but is also playful. When I hear his cello concertos in a minor key, I relate so well to the dark and mysterious tones. Also, the liveliness and vivacious energy you feel when listening to the music of his double cello concerto immediately draws me in, making my body move which inspires contemporary movement.
LC: How did you pick the music? Is it a piece you always wanted to choreograph to?
GS: I was searching for cello concertos, mainly works composed by Antonio Vivaldi when choosing music for this piece. I was actually on YouTube when I first heard his double concerto in G minor. I loved it! I played the music over and over, that whole night.
LC: What essence or mood were you trying to capture with your choreography?
GS: There were specific moods I wanted to capture through the three different movements, or “dispositions”. The first movement was first created when I heard “La Nolte,” which means “The Night.” This was a very fast and energetic flute concerto by Vivaldi and was meant to be the “Vivacious” disposition. It is full of energy with a hint of flirt and dramatics. The ideas were mainly about vivacious personality or energy. The second movement was inspired by a calm beautiful oboe concerto. This dance happens first as a pas de deux between a man and a woman. It also represents a calm, shy, expressive, and more intimate disposition. The last movement is inspired and created from the music itself, Vivaldi’s Double Cello Concerto in G minor. The music says it all: power, playful, friendly, expressive, and positive. This music just makes me want to dance! For the Jubilee of Dance, we’ll be performing the second slower movement.
LC: How was it choreographing on your fellow company members? Did you pick the cast? If yes, why did you pick who you did?
GS: Choreographing on my fellow company members was a huge treat. I really had no limitations. The talent in this company is crazy! I did select a certain few dancers from pieces I had choreographed in the past because I am a big fan of their movement and versatility. I also picked some others I had not yet had a chance to work with yet. I was very anxious to work with them because I knew they would bring my ideas to life without words.
LC: Were there any unanticipated challenges?
GS: There were of course challenges here and there. Sometimes I get a crazy idea or lifts in my head that are almost impossible, so I recreated them in rehearsals and changed the vision a little. This cost time, but I grew from the experience and any other challenge I faced.
LC: What does it mean to you for an excerpt to be performed on the Brown Theater with the professional company?
GS: For me to have an excerpt from my choreography on the Brown Theater stage for the very first time is some of the most exciting news Stanton could have told me this season. The Brown Theater stage is massive. I am so excited to have my work on such a great stage so the dancers can utilize all the space and let the movement really come to life as they dance this again. It really is a big step for me to have the opportunity of using this professional venue to show the viewers the second movement of Vivacious Dispositions on this stage at the gala. I think the most exciting part of this opportunity is it gives my mom and dad a good reason to fly here to see my choreography! They have never seen Houston Ballet perform, and have never been in the Brown Theater. I’m so happy that they will be here to see an important first moment for me.