Daily Memphian: New Ballet brings back ‘Springloaded’ for 20th year
Our 20th anniversary of Springloaded is fast approaching! Blair Kinsey of the Daily Memphian wrote a preview of what to expect, including the return of “Fearless Mine,” choregraphed by Ailey II artistic director Francesca Harper, and our socially conscious reframing of Stravinsky’s “Petrushka.” Click here to read her full story or see snippets of the article below.
From the Daily Memphian:
This year’s “Springloaded” takes a look back on the show’s history, featuring works which appeared in past iterations of “Springloaded,” along with two new works.
“Springloaded,” is almost as old as New Ballet itself. Memphian and lifelong dancer Katie Smythe created the organization in 2001 to provide equitable access to dance training in the Memphis area.
“The idea of calling it ‘new ballet’ was that we were going to do things differently,” Smythe said, in an April 2023 interview with The Daily Memphian. “(That) we’re going to provide free classes to whoever needed them. We’re going to change the old ballets to reflect modern society and the social change that we wanted to see in the world and undo the stereotypes. And … to have it all be informed by the youth, to bring them into the creative process.”
The 2023 version of “Springloaded,” includes four returning works: “Fearless Mine” by Francesca Harper, “O Fortuna” by Chris Roberts, “E Pluribus Unum” by Elizabeth Corbett, “Petrushka Remix” by New Ballet; along with two new works: “Let’s Go” by Michael Medcalf and “Where the Women Dance, the Rain Shall Fall” by Rochelle Wilbun.
“Fearless Mine” depicts six dancers seemingly magnetized to a wall and fighting to break free from its pull, representing people “grappling with mortality and their imminent death, Harper said.
In an interview with The Daily Memphian, Harper said the inspiration for the piece came from her mother, Denise Jefferson, a dancer and the director of the Ailey School for 26 years. Jefferson died in 2010 from cancer.
“The wall really represented death and this cancer that she battled,” Harper said. “It really was me working through her last days and this kind of empathetic lens looking at what she would have felt.
“There’s a sense of urgency in this relationship to this wall, which is just overpowering to these humans who are confronting it, that are feeling overwhelmed by it, but keep trying to either go past it or to find the other side.”
The second act of “Springloaded” consists of the “Petrushka Remix,” a re-imagination of the Igor Stravinsky ballet.
When “Petrushka” originally premiered in 1911 in Paris, it featured a foolish character in blackface. The ballet’s racial stereotypes have been widely discussed and reworked in later versions.
In New Ballet’s version, the choreography and movement aims to recall “the original flavor of the dances, but we tried to completely undo the character,” explained Smythe. “Why not just change him to be the star, the love interest?”
Posted by New Ballet at May 2, 2023