“If you will patiently dance in our round
And see our moonlight revels, go with us.”
In 1962, New York City Ballet premiered George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based on Shakespeare’s comedy of love and magic. I remember thinking how ingenious this ballet was the first time I saw it.
I first became involved with the classic love story while training with Boston Ballet. At age 16, I performed as a hound dog, a member of the court, and an epilogue fairy. Needless to say, it was an exciting and eye-opening experience. Also, it was my first time working with Boston Ballet.
Now, 10 years later, I am revisiting A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my professional career. This time, I have been given the opportunity to learn a variety of roles, including Hermia, Act II Divertissement, and Fairies.
The ballet was set in June 2015 by Sandra Jennings. Since then, we have been coached on various sections of the production. As the performances approached, Sandra put the final touches on the show before it opened in March.
Along with revisiting the ballet, I am also revisiting working with Sandra Jennings. When I first performed the production with Boston Ballet, Sandra was staging it. At the time, I was training with Sandra’s mom, Jacqueline Cronsberg, and continued to work with her for many years. It has been a rare opportunity to work with both of them in my career.
“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
– Lysander to Hermia
During the staging process, I spent time reading Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream so I understood the characters on a deeper level. Most importantly, I learned that Shakespearian comedy is different from modern-day comedy. Shakespeare’s comedies are stories with happy endings–their main purpose isn’t to make the audience laugh, although they often contain many incidents of humor.
Once rehearsals started, I was able to shape the characters by what I read, especially Hermia. MCB Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, who danced the role of Hermia’s rival Helena during her career, coached Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander along with other characters in the ballet.
Lourdes also brought in playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney to help us act out conversations and misunderstandings between characters. Our narrative is visual, so learning how to lay out a conversation without words for the audience can be tricky. But challenges like these are among the many things that make this art form so rewarding and exciting. I look forward to continuing my journey in A Midsummer Night’s Dream during our final weekend of performances.
Nor spell nor charm
Come our lovely lady night.
So good night, with lullaby.
– Fairies’ song
Miami City Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale from April 9-10, 2016.