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PHOTOS: At Today's Dress Rehearsal

We're about an hour away from the first performance of A Dancer's Dream! To get your toes tapping, here's a sneak peek from today's dress rehearsal.

Photos by Chris Lee.

The Price of Being an Artist

Ice Maiden Video Shoot

Opening tonight, A Dancer’s Dream is what director/designer Doug Fitch calls an “über Fairy Tale,” combining Stravinsky’s disparate ballets The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka to create a new narrative.

Here’s the story: a young woman, played by ballerina Sara Mearns, sits entranced at a Philharmonic concert. She is “kissed” by the passion to become an artist and drawn into the performance, dancing to the complete score of The Fairy’s Kiss. By the second act, she has completed her transformation into an artist, becoming Columbine in Petrushka. But becoming an artist has consequences. As Giants Are Small detailed in a production plan, “she loses her ability to have an ordinary life as the demons of ambition and love claim her as their plaything.”

The real Sara Mearns can relate. As she told The New York Times, "It's kind of true that you have this massive dream to be this ballerina, to be out there onstage performing, and you pour everything into it. Then there is a point where you feel like you are trapped in it and cannot get out. And that is the curse.”

Stravinsky meditated on this theme in The Fairy’s Kiss, which he dedicated to Tchaikovsky, an artist who paid this price (“Tchaikovsky’s personal life was a mess,” Mr. Fitch says in the Times). As Stravinsky inscribed in the score: “I dedicate this ballet to the memory of Pyotr Tchaikovsky by relating the Fairy to his Muse, and in this way the ballet becomes an allegory, the Muse having similarly branded Tchaikovsky with her fatal kiss, whose mysterious imprint made itself felt in all this great artist’s work.”

Extra! Extra!

New York Times A Dancer's Dream

“It’s kind of true that you have this massive dream to be this ballerina, to be out there onstage performing, and you pour everything into it. Then there is a point where you feel like you are trapped in it and cannot get out. And that is the curse.” — Sara Mearns

Dance writer Gia Kourlas presents a peek behind the curtain of A Dancer's Dream in this past Sunday's New York Times. Sara Mearns, Doug Fitch, and Karole Armitage spoke with Gia about all-things Dream, including the narrative that will tie together Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka.

(Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Deciphering the Dream

Deciphering the Dream

"Tonight, our story unfolds as a kind of über Fairy Tale, connecting two great ballets by Stravinsky,” explains  Doug Fitch,  director/designer of A Dancer's Dream, in a note for Playbill: “The thread that weaves them all together takes the form of a young woman who slips into the world of her own imagination and is swept away by muses to become a ballerina.

"The Fairy’s Kiss is based on a haunting story by Hans Christian Andersen (The Ice Maiden) and was composed by Stravinsky as an homage to Tchaikovsky. Stravinsky saw the ‘kiss’ as a metaphor for the artistic gift — that mysterious, intangible phenomenon that can bestow immortality, but not without extracting its human price. We have merged these into a kind of daydream — a reverie induced by the seductive and transformative power of great music…. She then enters into the world of the Shrovetide Fair-setting of Petrushka and becomes the puppet ballerina character Columbine. Things in this daydream seem to have real consequences and it is hard to distinguish the artifice from the reality it is designed to imitate.

"After its premiere, Stravinsky said that dance is not applied arts — it is a union of arts; they strengthen and complement each other. It is in this spirit of developing a union between artistic media — some old, some new — that we have pursued this project…. We invite you to enter this world with us — to put together the pieces in your own mind and to weave your own stories as you watch and listen. You are very much a part of this collaboration."

(Photo of A Dancer’s Dream rehearsal courtesy of Giants Are Small)

SLIDESHOW: A Dancer's Rehearsal

Exactly two weeks before A Dancer’s Dream, we found New York City Ballet principal dancers Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar hard at work rehearsing and preparing with choreographer Karole Armitage and director/designer Doug Fitch with his Giants Are Small crew.

Photos by Chris Lee.

VIDEO: Choreographing A Dancer's Dream

Choreographer Karole Armitage says that she and Giants Are Small detailed a “second-by-second action plan” for A Dancer’s Dream, which uses Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka as the foundation for a new narrative about a young woman (played by New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns) and her dream of becoming a dancer. Check out this video of moments from a recent dance rehearsal. Read More...

VIDEO: The Making of A Dancer's Dream

Alan Gilbert and the Orchestra won’t be alone onstage when they perform Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss and Petruskha as part of A Dancer's Dream. Far from it.

They'll be joined by 30 dancing miniature mountains, 40 hand-cranked clouds, 1 million individual snow flakes, 75 floating bubbles, 1 star ballerina (the incomparable New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns), 3 puppeteers, and 1 atmosphericist.

Check out this exclusive making-of video in which the giants behind Giants Are Small, director/designer Doug Fitch and producer Edouard Getaz, and Alan Gilbert explain how they have blended music with ballet, live film-making, pre-recorded video, puppetry, circus arts, costuming, and more.

Dream a Little Dream

pinterest

Delve into our season finale, A Dancer’s Dream, with a look at our newest Pinterest board: "Inside A Dancer’s Dream. Director and designer Doug Fitch (who helped create our productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen) has given us an exclusive peek at the inspiration boards that went into costuming the Ice Maiden, Columbine, The Moor, and Petrushka for The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka, two ballets by Stravinsky that make up our season finale in June that stars New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns. See how designers like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Comme des Garçons, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Viktor & Rolf combine with artful origami and the looks of everyone from Mad Max to classical ballet to create this one-of-a-kind dream.

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