I want to entertain the audience. Not make them feel as though
they have to turn in a paper afterward.
Last March, Natoma was showcased as part of the Company C In-Studio Choreographic Workshop. Because it was so well received, the company decided that it should be a part of the 2013 season programming.
It requires a lot of work to transform a workshop effort into a main-stage production. For the past few months, David has been taking his Facebook followers on the journey with him, restructuring choreography, costume designs, and a totally new arena for him — lighting.
But even though he has been tremendously busy rehearsing his ballet, as well as his dancing assignments in the other ballets on the program, David took the time for an interview about the newest aspect of his career:
Dance Blitz: Are you finding that you need to make changes from the workshop performance in the studio to a full-blown stage presentation? If so, what type of things have you changed?
David Van Ligon: Definitely. In my opinion, I had to throw the piece together so quickly that there are sections needing more definition, more flavor. I am also adding a central pas de deux for Edilsa Armendariz, which should make a smoother transition from the first and what used to be the second movements. I remember last year working on what now is the third movement — I was still teaching some of the dancers the movement on the final day. I have made a lot of critical changes, so people who have watched Natoma online or who saw it live definitely will see a more polished ballet.
What attracted you to the music?
I first heard Zoë Keating’s music when I was performing with Nevada Ballet Theatre in its first Choreographers’ Showcase in partnership with Cirque de Soleil. Dancer/choreographer Krista Baker, who is still a member of NBT, used two of Keating’s pieces in her work. I instantly was hooked by her melodies and the percussive quality of the music. Listening to more of her music, I discovered she performs solo, layering each of the parts to create something truly original.
Impressed by that, and the fact that it’s hard to find 21st century classical or even neo-classical composers, I bought her entire collection. Keating’s music has a repetitive quality to it, much like Phillip Glass; but her music has a high degree of versatility, coupled with complete unpredictability.
The three movements I’ve chosen sound completely different from each other. The first movement has a lyrical quality, the second movement adagio has an unexpected sound, and then it’s an all-out fierce urgency in the third movement (the music that first inspired Natoma. I couldn’t help but dance to it, with the goal of enhancing the power in her music.
Keating’s music has inspired me so much, that immediately after finishing Natoma, I began working on another piece using four movements. Entitled Escape of the Last Bird, it’s now waiting in the wings.