Joffrey Ballet behind-the-scenes and upcoming “Rising Stars”

April 26, 2011
Imaginary Frend
Giselle

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Imaginary Frend got an extra special treat today (yes, we’ve been good) when Joffrey dancer April Daly (seen above) took five to answer a few questions we posed to the ballerina in anticipation of the company’s upcoming program “Rising Stars,” which will feature a world premiere of “Woven Dreams” by Edwaard Liang (side note: April was actually snapped in the photo above during a rehearsal of “Woven Dreams”), a world premiere of “Bells” by Yuri Possokhov and a company premiere of “Night” by Julia Adam. “Rising Stars” runs May 4-15 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, please visit joffrey.org to purchase tickets or for more details about the show.

Being a Joffrey fan for many years now, I am often curious while watching such polished, passionate and graceful performances what it’s really like during those long practice days and sore muscles to be willing and able to perfect something so delicately and competently that it actually looks, well, easy! Drive and determination? Talent? Life-long training? The It factor? Magic? More???

Director Robert Altman (r.i.p.) seemed to be similarly stricken and haunted by the Joffrey’s magic and in 2003 made a feature film about the Joffrey called “The Company,” starring Neve Campbell and James Franco (hello); and, from the vantage point of 2011, it seems like an indication, if straight-up inspiration and precursor, to the Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman film “Black Swan” (perhaps you’ve heard of it) that blew up the world of ballet into a place of drama and darkness that co-mingled with furious competition and all those beautiful lines, leaving audiences at once aghast and in awe.

Seems these days, with the Kanye West’s of the world incorporating ballet dancers to juxtapose the grittiness of a song like “Runaway” (see his MTV performance from the fall below, love reposting that) as well as the popularity of a hit film like “Black Swan,” the greater public is becoming a bit more fascinated by what becomes a dancer most. So, we say a sincere thank you to April for taking time out during rehearsals to provide a little insight into this world and we very much look forward to seeing her perform next week on the stage when Imaginary Frend attends “Rising Stars” on opening night!

Imaginary Frend: How do you prepare for a performance on the day of a show? Any particular routines?
April Daly: I’m very superstitious so I try not to get too wrapped up in routines! I make sure to get plenty of rest the night before a show. I usually get to the theater early so that I have time to get organized and ready for the show. I hate being rushed. After I warm up I sit on a heating pad while I do my hair and makeup to keep my body warm.

The country (and Kanye West) have gone gaga for ballet this past year, including the interest in the film “Black Swan.” Seen it? If so, is any of that stuff true?
I did see “Black Swan” and enjoyed it. I enjoyed Natalie Portman’s performance very much. However, most of the ballet side isn’t true…I don’t know any professional ballerinas who practice in their pointe shoes on their wood floors at home! They kind of went with all of the usual stereotypes. The physical therapy scene was pretty true, though. That being said, I love what the film has done for ballet. So many people are now taking a greater interest and that is wonderful!

What is it like to be a part of the Joffrey? What’s your favorite part of being part of the Joffrey?
Joffrey is a great company to be involved with. A dream come true for me. I have been here 8 seasons and I see it continually growing. Especially under the direction of Ashley Wheater. One of my favorite parts would have to be our repertoire. I love that we have such a diverse rep, from Ashton’s “Cinderella” and Lar Lubovitch’s “Othello” to world premieres by Edwaard Liang and Yuri Possokhov. There is nothing like having a brand new work created for you.

Photo by: Herbert Migdoll