World premieres always put me in an interesting situation. My job responsibilities include manning the box office lines where I answer questions like when Courtney Kramer is going on as Snow Queen, or if Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy families can use their discount at the Marcus Center (yes of course you can!). Around this time a big question I get is, “What’s the Winter Series about?”
I answer “its three world premieres from Chicago choreographer Brock Clawson, our own Petr Zahradnícek, and Mauro de Candia who won last year’s Genesis competition.”
Usually that’s followed by, “But what is it about?” That’s the funny thing about world premieres. We don’t know. We often don’t know until just before you do. I could tell you what music they are using, or if the choreographer has been here before I could tell you about their last work. But there’s a beautiful leap of faith that happens when you agree to go to a show you admittedly know very little about.
I wanted to take a quick moment you applaud you, all of you, who choose to come and support Milwaukee Ballet and their world premieres. I assure you the three pieces in this year’s Winter Series are worthy of your blind faith.
I chatted with all three choreographers briefly about their pieces to give you a taste of what to expect in their respective pieces. But not too much, you want to be surprised don’t you!
Brock Clawson’s Crossing Ashland will open the series. Brock has been a wonderful presence and special light in the studio. When asked to give a brief summary of his piece, he shared, “This piece has a lot to do with vulnerabilities and connections.” He notes his background in horticulture really got him thinking about the similarities between plants and people, and it brought him to the question, “Do people also need the right environment to grow successfully?”
Brock made me promise I would include this note on our Company dancers. “It’s been a blast working with these dancers. I really love the dancers not only on a professional level but we really started to open up to each other personally. They’ve exceeded my expectations and we’ve had a blast. I don’t think Milwaukee knows what they have here.”
The second piece will be from our own Petr Zahradnícek. You may have noticed we always refer to him as “our own” Petr, and it’s because we’re so proud to say he’s ours. We’ve had a front row seat to watch him grow as a choreographer over the years and we’re always happy to see another work from him on the big stage. Petr notes he was inspired by a quote from Heraclitus, which stated “the only constant is change.” As he is approaching the sunset of his performance career, he’s been thinking a lot about seasons and change, and it became a theme in his newest work, Autumn Leaves.
Our returning champion Mauro de Candia will close the show with another quirky, highly physical piece that gives you no choice but to sit back and enjoy. Mauro admits he “feels like home” now that he’s back in Milwaukee a year after winning Genesis. His newest offering Purple Fools contains a lot of the wink-nudge humor that we loved in Something I Had in Mind. “I tried to make a parody of theater and dance and the bourgeois.” Judging from the sound of the applause last night, he produced another crowd pleaser.
Winter Series will run through Sunday, February 19 at The Pabst Theater. If you’re still on the fence, go to the show! Be brave! You won’t be disappointed.