A Dancer’s Musician: Christopher Ferris

Two years ago, I tweeted about and backed a Kickstarter project by Christopher Ferris. Ferris, an artist, composer and performer with a gift for improvisation, works with the Evergreen City Ballet school and training company as an accompanist. I absolutely adore Christopher’s story on his first experience playing for a ballet class –  it was part of the first promotion video about the project here. Ferris became in time a dancer’s musician, able to create just the right mood and perfect tempo for every step and moment.

Working with dancers eventually inspired Ferris to create his own class album, and during the funding push he made some nifty videos where he thanked his backers to his own live music. It was just delightful to hear my own name. Sadly, the project did not reach its goal – but Ferris didn’t let that stop him. Like the true artist he is, Ferris doubled down his commitment to his work.

Today, Christopher publishes this inaugural album, Music for Ballet Class: Syncopé, available utterly for free to listen to here, or for purchase on CD or MP3 files. This body of work represents an enormous effort by the artist, the team at Lake Union Recording, photographer Tim Aguero, designer Ryan Obermeier, and the artistic staff of Evergreen City Ballet, including two former principal dancers with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Plus, it’s beautifully played on a spectacular concert grand piano.

It’s beyond generous for this music to be available free of charge to listen to. Check out the album, and if you like it – for gosh sake’s support the arts and these artists by ponying up for the CD, MP3, or iTunes version!

Congratulations to Christopher and all the artists involved in the making of this beautiful ballet class album. May you inspire dancers and dance teachers around the world.

Advertisements

Let’s Save Pacific Northwest Ballet School

Edit: There’s limited further information on this situation, for those of you who have asked, however the main location is safe. It is the eastside location that is in peril.

As any dance enthusiast knows, Pacific Northwest Ballet School is one of the finest ballet schools in the United States and home to one of the best ballet companies in the world. Sadly, they are about to lose their Bellevue studio location. Sign this petition to save PNBS from being torn down without getting enough funding in return to rebuild.

If you’ve never seen PNBS, it’s a dancer’s dream, maybe only rivaled in the states by the Boston Ballet facilities. Below is a picture of the main campus from my visit last fall.

This is not just a Seattle ballet school, this is a ballet school that is beloved around the country and respected around the world. Please, take time to tweet, share, and post this call to action so we can all give PNBS a fighting chance to stay alive in the neighborhood they’ve been part of for 30 years.

PNBS

Ballet in Print: Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear

Are you looking for the must-have dancer gift (or self-gift!) this year? Look no further! Hot off the presses, Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet is possibly the most readable and informative non-fiction book on ballet company life available today – making it an absolute Must Read for aspiring ballet dancers.

Celebrated author Stephen Manes brought his finely-honed talents into the dance world by spending an entire season with world-class company, Pacific Northwest Ballet. Immersing himself in the microcosm of ballet business, Manes brings this experience to life for ballet fans everywhere through his latest book.

Deliciously written, Manes deftly captures the dance-world drama and ballet bustle that make it the fascinating industry that we love – without squeezing the life out of the art and distilling it to a protracted history lesson (ahem, Apollo’s Angels, ahem). The book starts with a bang and dives right into an intimate look into the professional path of Artistic Director Peter Boal, a narrative which does not disappoint in its insight and charm. Throughout, Manes allows the reader to sit alongside Boal as he juggles budgets, dancers, casting, unions, choreographers and somehow, time. Read: Invaluable insight for an aspiring dancer into the mind of an AD!

The reader also walks alongside dance luminaries like Carla Korbes, Christopher Wheeldon and Twyla Tharp as well as lesser-known – and lesser-appreciated – professionals like stagehands, musicians and apprentices. The daily lives and struggles of these myriad artistic talents unfold to reveal a full spectrum of professional accomplishments and frustrations, illuminating the realities of life in ballet, for better or worse.

This book is nothing short of everything a non-fiction ballet book should be. You don’t want to be the last dancer to discover Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear!