Moving Like Jagger

Moving Like Jagger

There is something inherently classical about ballet.

From the dance etiquette that dictates what dancers wear, to a mentorship system in which older dancers pass the canon of choreography to younger ones,

tradition is at the heart of this discipline. However, as with every art form, it continues to evolve.

While Sugar Plum Fairies and dashing princes will always delight audiences during holiday productions of The Nutcracker,

dancers and choreographers are constantly propelled by the creative urge to keep their art current and relevant.

And so it is that after the curtain comes down on Texas Ballet Theater’s production of The Nutcracker, the company will accelerate rehearsals for their March production of Rooster & Smith & Scher. Smith a

nd Scher are both world premieres, choreographed by Garrett Smith and Avi Scher, respectively.

And that makes Rooster, choreographed by Christopher Bruce and first performed in 1991, the classic work on the program.

It features ten dancers performing to the music of the Rolling Stones, the classical music equivalent for the baby boomer generation.

Dancers strutting around, Jagger-style, to eight of the band’s songs, is meant to be every bit as evocative of that era as The Nutcracker’s national dances are to 19th century Imperial Russia.

In TBT’s upcoming production, Jiyan Dai is the only dancer to have performed in Rooster previously. Jiyan arrived from China in 2012 to dance with the Tulsa Ballet.

Moving Like Jagger He was in that company’s 2014 production of Rooster, prior to his arrival in Fort Worth later that year.

It is a demanding work for a variety of reasons. “I think the big challenge in Rooster is the acting.

All the movements are quite hard. You have to learn to walk like a chicken (in the signature piece),” says Jiyan.

“The company is up to the challenge,” he says, “especially under the tutelage of its Artistic Director Ben Stevenson. Ben teaches us a lot about dancing but also how to create character.”

While his own training in China was largely centered on classical ballet, he and his fellow dance students also learned various forms of traditional Chinese dance.

That experience, he says, “helped me with acting and body movement more than classical ballet.”

Moving Like Jagger The focus on character development is one for which Stevenson is well known.

For Jiyan, working with Stevenson is the most exciting aspect of dancing with the company. “In China, everyone knows of Ben Stevenson and how great he is.

He is a legend in China,” he says. Stevenson made his first visit there in 1978 as part of a cultural exchange program.

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