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A Sparkling Success
February 18, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
B.E. Taylor 'fessed up Friday night that he had never been to a ballet before last week.
Funny, how the first ballet he attended was one at which he actually stood on stage singing and playing guitar!
The evening with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre at the Byham Theatre in PIttsburgh, was titled "Forever Love." It started with a piece called "Fluctuating Hemlines" followed by a beautiful trio of pas de deux. The evening ended with a world premiere of "glint" featuring the music of B.E. Taylor.
The evening didn't actually end there: it ended with "Afterthoughts" - a discussion with B.E., PBT Artistic Director Terrence Orr, Lauri Stallings, choreographer of "glint," and artist Christo Braun, who created the scenery for "glint."
The discussion was great. It allowed those who stayed a chance to ask questions about the production to those who created it.
According to Orr, the idea for the evening came about as he thought of Valentine's Day. He heard B.E.'s "fantastic love songs," which he described as "so true, so real." Then he decided he had to find a choreographer with "an edge" and once he saw Lauri's work, he knew she was the one to tell those love stories through dance. Christo worked with resin on steel, and because PPG is a big sponsor of the ballet, it made sense to utilize his work.
Lauri has worked with Cirque de Soleil and was part of Julie Taymor's creative team for "Across the Universe." Julie Taymor is best know for her work on the stage production of "The Lion King."
(Check out these two past blogs that talk about Taymor's work: www.theintelligencer.net/page/blogs.detail/display/310.html and http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/blogs.detail/display/294.html).
Lauri had never heard B.E.'s music prior to being asked to choreograph dance to go with a number of his songs, including: "Beautiful Day," "What Will You Do," "Open Up Your Heart," "Love Never Fails," "Love You All Over Again," "Mountain," "I'm in Love Forever," "Loving" and "Without Love." Now, how's that for some Valentine's Day romance. B.E. also sang one of his popular songs, "Vitamin L," but on stage alone, without the dancers.
So how was it for B.E. to be singing on stage with ballet dancers instead of the usual band members, I asked him? His band was there, but in the pit facing him during the performance.
"It was quite different," he said. "I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to a ballet before."
WHAT!!!!!!, The audience collectively responded.
"These people have opened my eyes and my heart. It was such a thrill to see these wonderful dancers interpreting Lauri's choreography." He said he kept finding himself wanting to turn around and watch the dancers, but he had to pay attention to his own performance.
It may have been his first ballet, he said, "but it won't be my last."
"I will never forget this," he said. "I'm honored to be here. We had fun on stage and hope the audience did."
Orr noted that he has gotten many emails from people who had come to hear B.E. that had never been to see a ballet performance. Many of them also said it would not be their last. And, some in the ballet crowd have been introduced to B.E.
What a great collaboration: dance, contemporary music, B.E.'s band and voice, Christo's art ... it was so interesting, so beautiful.
It was as if all the lines were blurred ... especially during one number, when B.E. sang directly to one dancer on stage. It seemed like a curtain had risen between the singer and the dancer, each breaking into the other's world, just for a moment on that stage.
"glint" truly sparkled.
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