Diablo Ballet presents "A Swingin' Holiday," one part of a three-part program playing November 16 and 17 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. BroadwayWorld talked with choreographer Sean Kelly. Read the full interview below.
Describe the piece itself.
It is a roughly 35 minute piece set in a 'Swing' club. There are 4 couples. The piece will explore the different characters at this club, for example: there is a wealthy elegant couple; a cute, slightly nerdy couple; and a lady who has had a little too much alcohol to drink.The costumes are form fitting period appropriate dresses for the ladies and zoot suits for the men. The inspiration for the piece came from the music, which are some wonderful re-workings of Holiday tunes, such as The Nutcracker, The Dreidel Song, and The Christmas song, among others; by such artists as Duke Ellington; Tom Kubis; and Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass. The arrangements will be done by the Music Director for Diablo Ballet, Greg Sudmeier and will be played live by a 16 member band.
What is your vision for the piece?
I want the piece to be visually rich in color, athletically exciting, humorous; and yet heartwarming since it's inspired by the Holidays. I am incorporating both Swing style movement and tricks into the piece as well as classical ballet. Having an extensive classical background in addition to the pleasure of touring with Broadway shows such as "Swing", "Movin' Out", and "Billy Elliot" I wanted to do a mix of both of these styles. I wanted to do a ballet yet with a more theatrical sensibility.
Now compared to something like the Nutcracker, this doesn't have much of a story to it. Or does it? What is the arc of the piece?
I would say it has characters but not a story line per se.
The piece is being paired up with some non-holiday themed pieces. That can deter some audiences if they're in the mood for a full program of Christmas. How would you convince someone to go?
I believe it will be a fun piece that will perhaps inspire you to attend a party or go to a dance club. I think the big band music alone has great appeal but I think the mix of the athleticism of the piece combined with the capabilities of this company will make for an exciting and entertaining piece. I think the Holiday tunes will put you in the mood for this time of year. I am using a re-working of 'Old McDonald' (It's a Jazz mix), and although it is not a holiday song, just makes you smile and laugh a little. Plus I think it will be fun for the kids.
A theater lover since childhood, Harmony Wheeler has done Marketing and Public Relations work for Sierra Repertory Theatre, Hillhouse Opera Company and other companies. She graduated with high honors from Biola University with her degree in Journalism and an emphasis in Public Relations. In addition to working for the Gallo Center for the Arts, MJM Entertainment Group, Biola University Marketing and Communications, 6th Street PR, and Zimbabwe Gecko Society, Wheeler has written for The Modesto Bee, The Chimes, Static MultiMedia, BullyPulpit.com, TUFW Alumnus Magazine, Christian Book Previews, The Christian Communicator, and Church Libraries Magazine. Her photos appear in The Dominican Dream, a book available for purchase through Biola University's Journalism Department. Her photography and video work can be found at http://photographybyharmonywheeler.shutterfly.com/. To learn more about Harmony Wheeler, or to contact her for work possibilities, visit www.harmonywheeler.com.|