American Repertory Ballet Honors Its Inspirations

ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Sea Shadow will be presented on September 21 & 22 as part of ARB’s Season Opener at the Bart Luedeke Center Theatre at Rider University.  

American Repertory Ballet is presenting a triple play this spring.

The company’s program “Generations: Influences from the Modern Age” will offer three ballets by Jose Limon, Gerald Arpino and Douglas Martin, the ARB’s artistic director.

The program, which will be performed at McCarter Theatre, April 20, will open with Limon’s “There is a Time.” ARB presented the premiere of the work in 2015 during the Jose Limon International Dance Festival in New York.

 The other works on the program, “Sea Shadow” and “Rite of Spring,” were performed by Martin when he was a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet.

“Sea Shadow,” set to music by Maurice Ravel and choreographed by Arpino, is a story of a man who falls in live with a being who lives in the sea. It will be danced by Aldeir Monteiro and Nanako Yamamoto.

“There’s no storyline, there are ideas, but it’s up to the audience’s interpretation, and the dancers,” Monteiro says of “Sea Shadow.” “So my idea of it is that I’m on a beach by myself. And I’m just hanging out there and enjoying it. And then suddenly I just fall asleep and then I dream of this beautiful ocean creature that comes along.”

His interpretation he says, is that the man on the beach is thinking of a love who’s far away. In the dream, the person he loves becomes this ocean creature.

“We take over the ocean, we just swim and enjoy each other, that’s kind of my idea of the ballet,” Monteiro says.

Yamamoto says this is the first time she and Monteiro are dancing “Sea Shadow,” and they started working on it late in 2017.

Trinette Singleton, who works with the ARB as a guest choreographer, danced the piece in 1969. Martin danced it in 1989 and the two dancers have been working with Yamamoto and Monteiro on their performance. One thing Singleton told Yamamoto is she didn’t count when she danced “Sea Shadow.”

“She never counted when she used to perform it,” Yamamoto says. “It’s one of those things that you have to get very very familiar with, the music, to the point where you can you can almost sing to it, from the beginning to the end. . . . I didn’t understand that [at first] but now that we’ve been on it for so long, it just naturally happens to the body.”

Singleton also told Yamamoto that the sea creature she plays has never seen the world outside of the water.

“She’s very curious at first and then she finds a man on the beach, but she’s never seen a human before,” Yamamoto says. “We have a one-second scene where we have clear eye contact, then from then on, it’s the emotions and feelings built up.”

The program will conclude with “Rite of Spring,” choreographed by Martin, inspired by works the company Ballet Russes brought to America in the early 20th century. Martin has set the story in 1961 corporate America, similar to “Mad Men,” and explores offices relations and gender roles.

“This program represents the influence that past generations have on their future counterparts,” Martin says. “Current artists absorb the knowledge of past generations and explore and expand upon their ideas.  As a dancer, you are influenced by the style, narrative and construction of the works you perform. As a choreographer, you process those experiences and reach out to find your voice.”