by Company dancer Rachel Malehorn
April 5, 2010
As we begin the second week of rehearsals for Peter Pan, I remember something Michael Pink mentioned during his initial presentation of the storyboard: we only have 24 days of rehearsal in the studio before we take the production to the stage. That means efficiency is crucial and everyone needs to be as focused as possible at all times in order to get all the choreography done. Since we are working for more hours in the day than usual, Michael has even been eating his lunch in the studio at 5pm while simultaneously choreographing.
With only a few days of rehearsal behind us, I am surprised at how much we’ve already accomplished. Wendy and Peter Pan have been playing at the top of a waterfall, the Pirates and the Indian Braves have been fighting it out on Captain Hook’s ship, Tinkerbell has been dancing around the nursery, and the children have been playing hopscotch in Kensington Gardens. We’ve only just begun, but I can already tell that this show is piquing our imagination in such an excitingly infectious way.
One of the most important areas of emphasis when creating a brand new full-length ballet is effectively telling the story, so we make sure to every day explore in greater depth the characters we are trying to portray and how they would use their gestures and movement in a particular way in order to present this plot.
Here are some photos from a rehearsal for the scene when Peter discovers that his shadow has become detached from his body. He chases the shadow around the nursery and when he finally catches it, he tries unsuccessfully to put it back on. In a moment of frustration and defeat, he begins to cry, awakening Wendy, who then offers to sew the shadow back onto Peter’s feet. This relatively short scene was rehearsed for an hour and a half on this day, because all the different parts—music, acting, dancing, prop placement—have to come together in just the right way in order for the audience to know exactly how Peter and Wendy think and feel.
There will be many more rehearsals like this one, and many discussions about the characters in the ballet and their relationship towards one another. I’ll be sure to show you an inside look at many of them!
Milwaukee Ballet Company Dancer